E-Books are the digital embodiment of your book. The beauty of E-books is the low overhead and the mass appeal to them. With the proper resources, you can quickly get a book on every major platform and fast. Unlike printing traditional copies, there is little to no cost to publish an eBook and it provides new authors with an economical avenue for their books to grow. You can even do flash deals where they are free or discounted to drive readership. The digital eBook industry is growing, and eBooks are a great way to get your foot in the door. It’s also an economical choice for self-publishers that don’t have the resources or money yet for print book distribution or a deal with a traditional publishing company.
There are a handful of services that help you get your eBook out there, two of them being Kindle Direct Publishing and Draft2Digital. Smash words is another popular eBook publishing service. Working through them can be fairly easy, but each has its pros and cons. By creating an account and uploading your completed manuscript directly to Kindle Direct Publishing your book is now available for purchase on Amazon and by Kindle users. There are also services like Draft2Digital that distribute to more eBook platforms than just Kindle. There are multiple commercial platforms on which you can distribute your eBook, the most popular and well-known being Amazon Kindle. Other popular platforms include Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, Rakuten Kobo and Google Play. By uploading your manuscript to Draft2Digital you can automatically distribute to these platforms all at once, streamlining the process and making it very easy for anyone to sell their book across multiple platforms. There are also subscription platforms such as Scribd where readers pay a certain amount per month to gain access to a library of e-books that publisher’s have agreed to be distributed through the platform. Kindle has its own version of a subscription service by the name of Kindle Unlimited (KU). With subscription services, payment is made to the publisher based on percentage or pages read of the book by the user. There are also library e-book platforms that you can distribute your eBook to which run on a variety of confusing revenue models. The two primary models are One Copy / One User and Cost Per Circulation (CPC). With One Copy / One User, the library purchases the book from the publisher, usually at a higher price than retail price for the ability to lend it out to users, one reader at a time. The more copies they buy, the higher their ability to lend. Cost-Per-Circulation on the other hand allows multiple readers to access the title at the same time, and a small amount is paid to the publisher each time someone rents the book. These amounts add up however, and CPC is fast becoming a competitor to the traditional One Copy / One User revenue model. Overall, the e-book industry is growing and there are lots of different, free eBook services and platforms out there for you to take advantage of.
As mentioned before, it’s fairly easy to publish your eBook once you find the right services or platforms you want to work with. Kindle Direct Publishing, Draft2Digital and Smash words are all companies that can help you turn your book from finished manuscript to digital eBook. Most e-book services simply convert a word document into the digital version. The most common is to format it at 6 x 9” then insert it into an e-reader program. On most sites, you typically upload the word document, along with the cover, and it will format it for you. Some services like Draft2Digital have automated backmatter, where it will automate certain information like “Also by” and link to other books that the author has written. It will also help you add in other information like Author Bio. It is important to remember that you will typically need an ISBN. Draft2Digital offers these for free but you can also purchase your own ISBNs from Bowker and plug them in manually. If you are only publishing on Kindle, or only WANT to publish on Kindle, Amazon will assign an ASIN number to your book, so you don’t necessarily need an ISBN. This is only if you want to sell only on Amazon and nowhere else. Best practice, however, is to have an ISBN assigned to each format of your book. Once you’ve uploaded the manuscript, the services will let you preview it. It is important to go through it carefully and check for formatting errors to ensure the book looks the way you want it to.
This isn’t used often, but it can be done if you want your book to stay in a very specific layout. True to its name, Fixed Layouts “fix” images and text elements to the page in a specific place. The images and words remain static. This is often used for books that are more complicated in nature with lots of imagery or content that needs to be set. The book will look the same on any screen size and the content will remain placed. This is opposite of the more common reflowable layouts, where the content adapts and changes to fit different screen sizes, allowing the reader to better interact and enjoy the book depending on what device they are using. If you need a fixed layout, the process will be more complicated and it would be in your best interest to do your research and work with a professional who works frequently with fixed layout formats. Fixed layout is a little more difficult for the novice to self-publish than the common, reflowable format.
There are many resources out there that can guide you on how to correctly format and publish your ebook. One place to start is by looking at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing forums, where you can find a lot of discussions on book formatting and design. Formatting needs will be different depending on the type of book you want to publish. Nonfiction, fiction and graphic novels all have different formatting specifications. Formatting can be challenging for the newcomer, so it might be helpful to work with someone on sites like Liber Writer, or freelance sites like Upwork or Fiverr if you have some extra money to spend to help you. It’s also very possible to do this yourself, however, if you do your research. Most, if not all, eBook services can simply convert a word document into the digital version, the most common format being 6”x9”. You can upload the book to an e-reader program, review, and reformat the original document accordingly. Obviously, if you happen to be working with a Traditional Publisher, the publisher will (or should) have a digital team that will help format your book for you. In the current industry, however, the chances of getting signed with a traditional publisher are slim, so if you want to self-publish you will need to do your formatting research to make sure your eBook is properly prepared for market.