Today I’m happy to have blogging friend Tasha over for a guest post.
To some, eBook is a dirty word. The electronic book is seen as a downgraded, second cousin to the print book. While it can be said there is something wonderful about holding paper and print in our hands, there is also something amazing about having one device in our pocket where we can carry thousands of books as well.
eBooks are also an amazing opportunity for writers. They make publishing and reaching new markets so much easier (not easy – just easier), and they are incredibly versatile.
First of all, let’s get one thing clear: there are no shortcuts to a great book.
Just because we are creating an eBook we still need to have the following things:
- A well written and edited manuscript —
- There is nothing that will turn off a reader faster than spelling mistakes, grammar issues and bad writing. We may have a great story, but unless we take the time to write it to the best of our ability, and then have it edited to polish it, we will not be putting our best foot forward.
- A good cover —
- Most of us have scrolled through Amazon and seen book covers that look like they have been thrown together in MS Paint in five minutes. We’ve also all scrolled straight past them. A cover gives the first impression, and whatever anyone says, people do judge a book by its cover.
- A good description/blurb —
- The second thing readers will look at is the description/blurb for a book. It has to be sharp, snappy and grab them. This is our chance to sell our story, so it needs to be good.
One of the reasons eBooks have a bad reputation in certain circles is some people do not seem to believe any of this is true. However, without a good foundation, there can be no successful finished product.
Why Are eBooks A Good Idea?
eBooks have many things going for them that paperbacks simply do not. Here are some of the reasons breaking into eBooks can be incredibly good for an author.
- For plain text books, eBooks are easier to format than print books:
- Everything in an eBook is inline and there are no page numbers to worry about.
- Amazon provides Kindle Create (Win, Mac) and/or Kindle Create add-in for Word to format eBooks, making it very straightforward.
- Smashwords (who agregate to all the other big name eBook publishers) ask for word processor files and provide the Smashwords Style Guide to help create the perfect eBook.
- eBooks are perfect for novelettes and short stories as well as novellas and novels:
- Print books, especially print on demand, can be prohibitively expensive when dealing with shorter works, so shorter works have to be put into anthologies.
- We as authors can publish short stories and novelettes as individual works in eBooks, because there is no base cost of paper and printing. A short story may have a smaller percentage return because of pricing rates, but short stories are great for showcasing work or tempting readers into a longer series.
- eBooks are cheaper to buy:
- The big six publishers keep trying to fix eBook prices high, but indies know that the reason eBooks are so popular is that they are cheaper than paperbacks. There is a lower overhead — bytes cost nothing, whereas paper and printing costs money, so the base cost is bound to be less.
- eBooks are cheaper to ship and provide instant gratification:
- Most times, eBooks cost nothing to download, taking no percentage away from the author, or adding to the cost of the book for the reader.
- eBooks are delivered instantly to a reader’s device, allowing them to impulse buy far more easily and immediately.
- eBooks are really easy to control:
- If we’re having a sale or a special offer, it is really easy to create a new version of an eBook with the extra advertising in the back and upload it almost immediately (max 48hrs usually).
- If we spot an error that even our meticulous editing missed, we can correct it and reupload it in minutes.
- If we publish a new book in a series we don’t need a whole new edition for the previous books, we just add in the information to them and upload as soon as the new book goes live.
- eBooks are really good for sales and giveaways:
- Because there is no base printing cost, eBooks can be reduced in price for sales really easily.
- Because they can be emailed or given away through other electronic means with no cost to the author, they are perfect for competitions, especially international ones where postage may have been prohibitively expensive for physical media.
What is Not So Wonderful About eBooks?
Of course eBooks are not the perfect medium and there are always going to be a few problems.
- The signal to noise ratio of good eBooks is not favourable:
- There are many, many, many people publishing eBooks, and many of them are terrible or scammers. It is hard to get an eBook noticed, even if it is brilliant.
- Scammers publish books of nonsense or non-copyrighted material and then use it to game systems like Amazon’s KDP Select – until Amazon and people like them step up to stop it, there is nothing we genuine authors can do, and these con-artists will steal a share of the pot.
- An eBook is very easy to pirate:
- The moment an eBook hits the internet, some low life will copy it and either give it away for free, or pretend to give it away for free so they can add malware to someone’s computer. There is no way to stop this completely.
- Some people will always look down on an eBook:
- Some people will always see eBooks as second class. Unfortunately, there is nothing at all we can do about this any more than we can stop certain quarters from looking down on genre fiction either.
How Can We Counter the Disadvantages and Profit from the Advantages?
As with all projects, what we need to do it play to the strengths of a product and minimise the weaknesses.
- When feasible have a paperback as well as an eBook version of the book:
- With print on demand prices having reduced considerable in the last few years, print versions of books are no longer always prohibitively expensive. Hence, it looks more professional to have print versions as well as eBook versions, and it increases reader confidence. Scammers do not usually go to the trouble of creating a print version when only the eBook will make them money from such outlets as KDP.
- With short stories this is not always cost effective, but, even if we never sell any of the paperbacks for short stories, it does not cost anything to set them up in places like KDP so they can still be seen. Just be clear what people are buying in the description because we do not wish to annoy our readers or appear as if we are trying to con them.
- Use services such a Google Alerts to check for books appearing on the internet:
- Most sites that are not malware scams and offer pirated books have a DMCA section. If we send them an email according to their instructions, they do take down the listing. It’s a pain, but it works.
- Always have a malware blocker and virus checker active when checking out such links, however, because the scam sites are just there to get malware on machines.
- Never create an account on any pirate site to check if it really is the right book.
- Check out other successful authors for tips and trick on marketing:
- How to sell eBooks changes from minute to minute, or whenever Amazon change their algorithm. Checking out current successful authors to see how they got their book noticed is a good way to figure out the system, because there always is one.
About Natasha Duncan-Drake
Natasha is a British author with Wittegen Press and has been publishing genre fiction since 2011. Her work includes everything from horror to young adult fantasy and she has never met a genre she didn’t like. A prolific producer of short stories and novels alike, Natasha currently has over twenty five titles in her back catalogue with further releases always imminent.
Where to Find Natasha Duncan-Drake
Blog – Tasha’s Thinkings: http://tashasthinkings.blogspot.co.uk/
Where to Buy Natasha’s Books
Thanks for all these wonderful tips, Tasha. Do you have any questions, readers?
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