Thanks to Socialbrite for givingme permission to reproduce this article.
And 7 services that let you earn income for your works
Target audience: Authors, journalists, researchers, nonprofits, cause organizations, NGOs, educators, Web publishers.
By Kim Bale
Socialbrite Senior Writer
Becoming a published author is easier now than it’s ever been, particularly if you’ve got the itch to write an ebook. With more than 50 digital readers competing for consumer attention, the market is ripe for affordable Web-based writing and there is no shortage of ebookstores to sell it in, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, a short story collection or scintillating set of essays.
If you’re a nonprofit or a social cause organization, think about some of the materials, studies and reports that you’ve produced and consider whether they can be organized into an ebook that offers value to the community.
Google’s entry into the ebooks marketplace last week will likely provide new opportunities for authors and readers, given that its open platform is not tied to a proprietary ebook reader.
In an effort to make sense of the e-publishing landscape, we’ve compiled this list of user-friendly websites guaranteed to help your ebook reach an interested audience.
Some tips to prepare your ebook for publication
Before you begin to scout publishing options, you’ll need to do some research. Take the time to clearly define your subject, skim the work of your peers and potential competitors and craft a unique angle to position your book.
Make sure you acquire quality artwork and cover art. This will set your ebook apart from the thousands of others in the sector. Once completed, we suggest that you put your ebook through a sort of quality assurance testing by showing it in advance to fellow authors, publishers and agents.
Two writing and editing services you should know about:
• Authonomy by Harper Collins is a great site for writers to glean feedback on their work in excerpts or its entirety. The Authonomy community can recommend books for the “editor’s desk,” or top five, where they’re granted face time with industry professionals and have the potential to be published in a more mainstream environment.
• WeBook invites authors and readers to share their work, connect with agents and take part in writing challenges. Community members can rate stories, earn badges based on ratings and comment on each other’s writing – it’s like crowdsourced editing in a fun, virtual environment.
Sifting through electronic publishing services
What would any industry be without competition? The Web abounds with ePublishing services eager to hold your hand through the intimidating process of self-publishing – from idea formation to thoughtful illustration and cover art – and in many cases you don’t have to choose just one. Just remember, even these services are optional: You can create an ebook by publishing it as a PDF or Word document and uploading it to your own site.
Smashwords: 25,000 ebooks on the shelf
1Smashwords is arguably the most appealing free service to help take your work to the iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo and more. With more than 11,000 published authors boasting more than 25,000 original works, Smashwords is a good choice for anyone new to ePublishing.
- File formats accepted: Microsoft Word file in compliance with Smashwords Style Guide (it’s a free, useful resource even for those who choose to publish elsewhere!)
- Distribution: Apple iPad iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Diesel and other retailers. Document must comply with guidelines outlined in the Smashwords Premium Catalog.
- Fees: Free.
- Royalties: Authors can expect to earn 85% of net sales at the Smashwords.com retail site and 60% of the list price from major ebook retailers (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Sony, etc.) — the retailer gets 30% and Smashwords takes 10%. You name the price of your ebook and can change it anytime.
FastPencil: ebook publishing made simple
2FastPencil uses professional book templates to simplify the writing, publishing and selling process. A variety of publishing packages are at your fingertips, offering professional help with graphics and cover art to detailed editing while leaving you in control of the entire process.
- File formats accepted: Any! Just input your content into the Publishing Wizard and your ebook will automatically be formatted into ePUB and PDF, two very popular file extensions.
- Distribution: Depending on which package(s) you choose, your title could wind up on the virtual shelves of more than 32,000 online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Distribution costs range from $9.99 to $149.
- Fees: Free to sign up and offers a variety of publishing packages and individual services ranging from no cost to several hundred dollars.
- Royalties: FastPencil recommends that no book be priced more than $9.99. Based on this price, you earn about 80% of net sales from their marketplace and 55% of the list price from mainstream retailers.
Amazon: Get onto a Kindle
3Amazon’s Digital Text Platform allows authors to self-publish their titles straight to the Amazon Kindle Store – for free! The Kindle now produces more sales than Amazon’s hardcover books, Newsweek reports.
- File formats accepted: Kindle supports HTML, MP3, PDF and TXT files, though when publishing through the Digital Text Platform, it is best to upload your content as HTML, ePUB or TXT, as DOC and PDF are complex and may lose formatting in the conversion.
- Distribution: Amazon Kindle Store.
- Fees: None.
- Royalties: Amazon offers a 35% Royalty Option or 70% Royalty Option for digital works. When choosing the 35% Royalty Option, your ebook has a minimum list price of 99 cents, with this cost increasing based on file size and maxing out at $200. When choosing the 70% Royalty Option, your book must be priced from $2.99 to $9.99, and you can only collect 70% from sales in the United States, with foreign sales earning 35%.
PubIt: Get your work on the Nook
4PubIt! By Barnes & Noble gives authors the opportunity to sell their works with the world’s No. 1 bookseller, ideal for the Nook eReader. In three easy steps, your book will go from dream to ebook reality.
- File formats accepted: PubIt! Will convert your DOC, DOCX, HTML, RTF, most images and TXT files to the popular ePUB format used with the Nook.
- Distribution: Sell your books alongside famous authors at http://www.bn.com.
- Fees: None.
- Royalties: Your ebook must be priced between 99 cents and $199.99. For ebooks priced at or between $2.99 and $9.99, authors collect 65% of the list price. For ebooks priced less than $2.99 or more than $9.99, authors earn 40% of the list price.
Google eBooks: Do it yourself — literally
5 Both a bookstore and a library, Google eBooks is a big new electronic playpen for book lovers. It offers nearly 3 million books for free downloads (generally old public domain titles) and hundreds of thousands of titles for sale, ranging from new releases and bestsellers in every category to classics. Its singular achievement is that it’s an open platform, so that Google eBooks works with myriad devices — tablets, smartphones, computers, even most e-ink devices.
Google eBooks come from a Partner Program and the Library Project. To date, its partners have been traditional and small publishers (as well as universities and libraries), and it’s not really currently set up as a do-it-yourself ebook solution. Google assumes you already have a completed ebook in hand and want to use their marketing muscle to distribute it.
- File formats: Google’s ebooks are store in the cloud and can be read on your computer, tablet or smartphone directly within a browser or application. Alternatively, authors can upload a variety of formats to be read on an eReader (though not the closed Kindle).
- Distribution: You can purchase Google eBooks directly from the Google eBookstore or from a number of independent booksellers and retail partners such as Indie Bookstores, Alibris and Powell’s Books. A Google eBooks application can be downloaded for the Apple iPad and iPhone.
- Fees: Free for authors to add their works to the Google eBookstore.
- Royalties: Uncertain and evolving. Best Ebook Readers has a good primer on how authors can add an ebook to the Google eBookstore, however, there’s no discussion of setting prices. And while Google eBooks says authors can earn money from sales, it doesn’t detail how it works.
Lulu: Publish to the iPad
6Lulu is better known for letting you self-publish print books, but Lulu eBooks will have your work in Apple’s iBookstore — where 150,000 books are available on the iPad — in three easy steps. As of Aug. 1, more than 1,000 Lulu titles were available in Apple’s iBookstore, racking up more than 5,000 purchases and $23,000 in author royalties. (Most of the iBookstore titles come from traditional publishers.)
- File formats accepted: DOC, RTF, WPS, ePUB, PDF, PS, JPG, GIF, PNG., though the iBookstore prefers ePUB.
- Distribution: Sell your ebook in Lulu’s marketplace and in the iBookstore.
- Fees: None.
- Royalties: When selling through Lulu, you retain 80% of the net sales. When selling through the iBookstore, Apple gets 30% of the list price, leaving you with 80% of the remaining 70% of the list price. (Our calculator says that’s 56%.)
BookLocker: No-frills self-publishing
7BookLocker is a no-frills way to affordably publish your ebook. Simply fill out a short form used as log-in information, submit your manuscript and begin marketing your book however you see fit.
- File formats accepted: To list your ebook in its marketplace, BookLocker requests that you submit it in PDF form. You can do this on your own at http://createpdf.adobe.com/ (or another free service) or they will do it for you for a $35 fee.
- Distribution: BookLocker leaves this largely up to you, though will list your ebook on their system.
- Fees: BookLocker charges nothing to list your ebook on their system, though they require your book be priced at $5.95 or higher.
- Royalties: On ebooks priced $8.95 or higher, authors will earn 70% of list price. Royalties on ebooks priced lower than $8.95 will be 50% of list price.
Of course, there are many other online sources for ebook reading and publishing ebooks. One of our favorites is Diesel, the largest independent ebook store with over 2.2 million titles.
Thanks to Tech-Recipes for this snippet:
You’ve acquired a large collection of ebooks in various file formats over the years and want to put them on your Kindle, but how? If you are running a Windows computer, you can easily and freely convert them so that you can read them on your Kindle.
First, you’ll need to download and install the free Mobipocket Creator 4.2 Publisher Edition (Make sure to install the Publisher Edition, the Home Edition doesn’t have the document conversion feature).
1. Open Mobipocket Creator Publisher Edition. (Click the OK button if it is your first time using the software).
2. From the Home screen, go to the Import From Existing File section.
3. Select the appropriate file type for your conversion.
4. Go to Choose a file and browse to the file that you wish to convert.
5. Click the Import button.
6. Once the document has been imported, it will appear in the Publication Files section.
7. Select the file and then go to the menu bar and select Build.
8. Under Compression options, select the desired level of compression (No Compression, Standard Compression, or High Compression).
9. Leave the Encryption settings on No encryption.
10. Click the Build button.
11. Once the build process is completed, if you kept the default folder location, go to My Documents (on XP) or Documents (on Vista). Open the My Publications directory.
12. Find the folder that has the same name as the document you wanted converted.
13. Locate the file with a .prc extension.
14. Connect your Kindle to your computer with the USB cord.
15. Copy the .prc file to your Kindle’s Documents folder.
Why bother converting ebooks (or e-book) to different formats? And what are these formats anyway?
Well, Amazon’s Kindle supports the Mobipocket format ( MOBI as well as AZW, PRC, AZW1, TPZ, TXT), while the other popular reader, the PRS line from Sony, supports the EPUB format (and LRF, LRX, RTF, PDF, TXT). The Nook, the new reader from Barnes and Noble, can read EPUB.
Chances are that you will be able to download ebooks in the format you need, but is aren’t able to, you need conversion software. Most times you will be able to convert into the desired format, unless of course the e-book is DRMed (coded with Digital Rights Management, the anti-copying technology).
Where can you download free books from? I mention this elsewhere on my blog (in a separate post), but public domain books, legal and free, are available from the Project Gutenberg, Smash Words, from the websites of independent presses and bookstores as well as lesser known authors.
If you are on Twitter, all you have to do is write a series of Tweets that when put together make a short-short-story. If you’re not a Tweeter, a “tweet” is a string of words no longer than 140 characters total; including spaces and punctuation. The stories should be no less than 3 Tweets and no more than 5 Tweets. All stories must have a Christmas theme – beginning, end, and must maintain a pg-13 rating. Click here to enter. The prize is a free book design for your book.
Contests are a great way to get exposure, but they can be a little rough on the pocket. Fortunately, there are free contests out there. I will post links as and when I come across them. The three contests below are courtesy Funds For Writers:
INTERNATIONAL RADIO PLAYWRITING COMPETITION
NO ENTRY FEE
This is a competition for anyone resident outside Britain,
to write a 60-minute radio drama for up to six characters.
There are two categories: one for writers with English as
their first language and one for writers with English as
their second language. The two winners will come to London
and see their play made into a full radio production, which
will then be broadcast on the BBC World Service. They will
also each receive a £2,500 prize and there are also prizes
for the runners-up. The play must be in English, unpublished
and must not have been previously produced in any medium.
Whether you’re experienced, new, or somewhere in between,
we want to hear from you. All scripts submitted must be a
minimum of 50 pages. Deadline March 31, 2011.
NINTH GLASS WOMAN PRIZE
NO ENTRY FEE
Deadline March 21, 2011. The Ninth Glass Woman Prize will
be awarded for a work of short fiction or creative non-
fiction (prose) written by a woman. Length: between 50
and 5,000 words. The top prize for the ninth Glass Woman
Prize award is US $500 and possible (but not obligatory)
online publication; there will also be one runner up prize
of $100 and one runner up prize of $50, together with possible
(but not obligatory) online publication. In addition, there
will be two further Anonymous Angel awards of $100 each,
thanks to a generous donation from a Canadian woman author
who wishes to remain anonymous. Subject is open, but must
be of significance to women. The criterion is passion,
excellence, and authenticity in the woman’s writing voice.
Previously published work and simultaneous submissions are OK.
Copyright is retained by the author.
POETRY FOR THE PEOPLE SCHOLARSHIPS
Poetry for the People scholarship applications now open for
January classes. VALUE: $250. Would you love to take the Poetry
for the People Level 1 or Level 2 class starting in January but
can’t afford it? Now accepting applications for the Poetry for
the People Scholarship from Thursday, December 16 through
Friday, December 31. The scholarship recipient for each class
will be chosen based on the following criteria: demonstrated
past effort, need, and enthusiasm as determined by presenter
Sage Cohen. The recipient commits to participating fully in
the class and delivering all six assignments on time. Please
do not apply if you cannot make the commitment to participate
in the class.