Here’s a dirty little secret for you. Successful bloggers aren’t necessary propeller heads. We may or may not know more about how to navigate all things digital than the lowest common internet denominator in your life.
Personally, I suck at it. I’ve thrown more money at third-party consultants than I have at my CPA. Which is sort of sad.
It’s frustrating sometimes, because pretty much everything we do as bloggers ends up translated to a page like the one you’re reading.
And that includes self-publishing our work.
If you’ve been hanging here, you know I’ve been selling four ebooks through Storyfix. Two of which you may have purchased, and, based on results, two of which you probably didn’t. I’ve pulled “Story Structure – Demystified” and “The Three Dimensions of Character” for the time being because that content has been integrated into my new writing book (not self-published and not an ebook, unless you order the Kindle version through Amazon and other online venues).
That’s just an FYI, by the way… the ebooks I’m discussing here are the kind you see on Kindle and Nook and on iBook. The kind with more and more established names on their covers.
Some of you have observed that I’m pretty focused on “publishing,” and by implication, traditional publishing. As in, Big Six relationships. While that was true not so long ago, I’m coming around.
I’ve seen the light, and it’s blinding.
I’m in a boat that contains a large congregation of traditionally published writers who now own all rights to their previously published work. Some of which were bestsellers, some of which are dripping with starred reviews and “best of” list inclusions.
One of the newest trends in self-publishing is, in fact, authors like this — authors like me — who are re-releasing their backlist as Kindle and ePub products, and at ridiculously low prices by comparison.
I’m in that boat, too. I’ve just released my most critically-successful novel, “Bait and Switch” through Kindle. And I’m here to tell you… it was about as easy as reprogramming your DVR to send you back in time to an era when publishing was simple and straight-forward.
If you think or hope I’m going to tell you how to head down that road here and now, I’m not. Not directly. Having just done it, I’m only half confident I can even describe the process, because I still don’t understand half of it.
Still writing those checks to those third-party experts.
I’ll just say this: it isn’t as easy as downloadig an MS Word version of your manuscript to the Amazon Kindle website (which isn’t even called that in this context). No, you need to reformat it into something that will probably seem foreign and contrived… and do this before you even send it to the magician who will get it up and running on Kindle.
After the reformatting comes the re-programming. Into something called “mobi,” which is apt because it’s a whale of a complicated thing to do. And expensive to get done, even if one does know what it all means.
By the time you design a cover, design and format — or reformat — the interior of the ebook, buy an ISBN, get it uploaded to Amazon, and launch any hint of marketing for the thing, you’ll have close to two grand in it.
At $2.99, which is the going price for a Kindle novel these days, that’s a lot of ground to cover before you break even.
And that implies you know how it’s all done.
What the vocabulary means and how to wield it. You really shouldn’t even head down this road until you do, because it’s still up to you to be sure you don’t skip a step, or worse, get taken to the cleaners by an emerging cadre of suppliers who know a sucker when they see one.
I recently encountered what, for me, became an elusive and comprehensive magic pill of 101-level information on this subject. It’s a concise little training program assembled by Joanna Penn, and it anticipates and answers all the fearful questions you and I know we have at the moment the notion of self-publishing pops into our naive little heads.
You’ll learn what it all means. The order in which it needs to happen. You’ll get links to resources you need, including the Kindle, Smashwords and iBook upload pages. There are video interviews with experts — including the guy who invented Smashwords — who will talk you through the process, and in the context of understanding how intimidating this can be.
It’s the best forty bucks I’ve spent in a long time. Because I have three other backlisted novels next in line, and they won’t torment me like the first one did.
If this is you, if you’re considering self-publishing and you don’t know a mobi file from a pcp, or how to find and correct all the stuff in your word document that Kindle will reject faster than Random House heaved your last masterpiece (yes, the e-publishers have standards, and they reject books that don’t meet them)… then I encourage you to check this out.