Posts Tagged ‘ebooks’

Making Paperback Copies?

After I posted about Half-Formed Places on Friday, a friend asked if there would be a paperback version of it, which was honestly not something I had considered.

It’s not a terribly long book, but I do know that some people do prefer to have a paper copy of anything, and maybe it would be worth it to make it available to those who want it.

But then I got to thinking–there’s quite a few books I only have out as ebooks. Both short story collections, and all the Writers’ Motivation Books (the workbooks, on the other hand, are only available in paperback). Should I make them all both digital and physical?

Certainly something to think about.

I can tell you why I haven’t. I make most of my own covers, and it is a million times easier to make an ebook cover than a paperback cover. A paperback cover you need to know the exact number of pages, because it’s all one big wraparound file, and there’s bleeding and margins to worry about, and it needs to be a high enough resolution to print clearly–just a lot more things to have to think about and plan for.

(But, Kit, you say, then why didn’t you make ebook versions of the workbooks? That’s a separate but different issue. The workbooks are in a pdf format, since there’s a lot of lines and margins and other things to worry about internally. You can upload a pdf for a paperback book, but you canNOT upload a pdf for an ebook, and I haven’t figured out how to convert the files without everything falling apart.)

Anyway, that’s a lot of moaning, and the long story short is that I’m willing to fight with the covers if paperback versions are something that appeal to people.

So, here’s a poll:

Thanks for your feedback, squiders! I always appreciate your thoughts on these types of things. Otherwise I feel like I’m just shouting into the void, and the void often agrees with whatever I want to do.

Got a new blog series starting next week, so I will see you then!

Ebook Formatting for Self-Publishing

Ebooks!  Wave of the future!  Whether or not you prefer your novels cheap and virtual or paper, if you’re self-publishing these days you need to have your book on as many platforms as possible to reach the widest readership.  Ebooks are an excellent way for an unknown author to get their name out there, because it allows readers to try you out without investing a huge amount of money on you.

I spend a lot of my time formatting ebooks, as it’s one of the freelance services I offer.  (As you can see if you click the lovely ‘editing and formatting services’ tab above.)  Admittedly, formatting is a bit frustrating because the oddest little things will throw your book into chaos, but!  It is doable if you are patient and willing to spend time trolling internet message boards.  Or you can hire someone (like me) to do it for you if you are short on time/patience and don’t mind spending some money.

There are three ebook publishing venues you should be using (all are free, so if you’re not doing this you’re only cheating yourself):

1. Smashwords
Smashwords takes your Word document, converts it to a gazillion different formats and, as long as your book meets their standards, they’ll allow you not only to sell your book on their website, but will distribute it to pretty much every other ebook retailer out there, including the iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Sony, etc, etc, et al.  They’ll even create a version that will run on Amazon’s Kindle, though last I checked, it will not list your book on Amazon for you.  (Note: Smashwords is one of only a few ways to get into the iBookStore.  Lulu.com is another, and something you should look at if you are publishing a print version through them.)

However, Smashwords requires you to strip your book down, getting rid of almost all your formatting, to ease the conversion between platforms.  If you have something formatting-intensive, you might have issues meeting their standards, or you might find you cannot get your book to look like you want.

Smashwords offers a comprehensive formatting stylebook to help you meet their standards.

2. Amazon
The Kindle still owns a good majority of the ebook-reading public.  Plus it’s something to see your book listed for sale on Amazon.  Amazon offers authors a 70% royalty rate within a certain price range, which you really can’t go wrong with.

The Kindle is kind of a pain in the butt to format for, however.  Each Kindle book is, at its base, an HTML file.  (Not unlike a website.)  If you know how to program in HTML, good for you.  You are good to go.  There are some programs that you can use to convert your book to HTML (or .mobi or .prc, the other two file formats Amazon will accept) though they are a bit buggy and I recommend fixing the HTML after you’ve done so.  There’s Mobipocket Creator (which I prefer to use, because although it’s buggy, it’s easy to get into its guts to fix things) and Calibre (I honestly think it’s easier to program your entire document from scratch than use Calibre, but your mileage may vary).

If you want NCX files or a lot of pictures and you are not HTML proficient, I recommend hiring someone.  You will spend a lot of time trolling the internet and it will be full of sad, confused people.  (Luckily, if you have a novel, both are usually unnecessary.)

3. Barnes and Noble
The Nook is the easiest of the three basic platforms to use.  You can pretty much just upload your Word document, no changes needed, and it will look pretty and be readable. Barnes and Noble holds about a fourth of the ebook market these days, so even though Smashwords will eventually get your book listed on B&N.com, I’d recommend going ahead and uploading directly to PubIt!  You won’t have to eat all your formatting and it will go live faster.

So there you have it, a very basic overview of ebook formatting for your self-publishing needs.  Have at it, Squiders.

Ebooks vs Paper Books

First of all, I want to announce that next week shall be ALPACA vs. LANDSQUID guest blogger week.  You’re going to want to stop by.  My guest bloggers are brilliant and extremely funny, and I shall be drawing accompanying pictures.  You have not lived until you have seen a landsquid wearing aviator goggles.

So.  I have a Kindle.  It’s first generation, a group birthday present from my family for my birthday a few years back.  I do like it quite a bit, but I don’t use it a huge amount – mostly when I’m traveling or working out on the cardio machines at the gym.

This drives my husband absolutely batty.  “I don’t think you like it,” he’ll say, sounding personally offended (because he led the charge to buy it for me).

“I do like it,” I reply, “I just like paper books better.”

“Why?” he’ll ask.

Why indeed?  For all intents and purposes, my Kindle should be the greatest thing ever, right?  It can hold hundreds books and fits in my purse.  And it is nice in a lot of cases – I don’t have to worry about space for books when I’m on a long trip (and I can go through a lot of books), I don’t have to worry about keeping the right page open when I’m on the elliptical machine.  I can get new books immediately instead of hunting them down at a bookstore or waiting for them to show up in the mail.  And finally, finally, people can buy me ebooks as presents.

But there’s something about a real book, the feel of the paper, the smell, the sound of turning pages, and I find that despite the convenience of ebooks, I still prefer the real thing.  (Also, your Kindle cannot be on during landing or take-off and I can only read the SkyMall catalog so many times.)

As an author, I actually sell more paper books than ebooks.  Go figure on that – especially as an unestablished writer, it should in theory go the other way, shouldn’t it?  It’s priced competitively – $2.99.  I’ve seen some discussion on the interwebs about ebook price points.  Some people think that new authors should price their books at $.99 to encourage people to try them out.  (Or free, especially if there are other books in the series that people can also purchase.)  On the other hand, I’ve heard people say that they won’t buy an ebook below ~$5 because obviously that author doesn’t value their work and it sets a dangerous precedent.  I have no strong opinion either way and so I sit somewhere in the middle.

Where do you stand on the ebook vs. paper book discussion?  When you purchase ebooks, especially from authors that are new to you, what is the price range you will consider?  How much of a driving point is price?