Who Wants To Be An eBook Millionaire?

How do I...

find an editor? I cannot stress enough the importance of having an editor (or two) polish your manuscript before it goes to press! The mailing list Murder Must Advertise is a good source for recommendations from your fellow authors. A couple of freelance editors whose names come up a lot: Alison Janssen (formerly of Bleak House Books) and Jodie Renner.

scan my old out of print books? Got books that were published years ago in the days of the typewriter (or you've lost the computer files?). If you just have a regular flatbed scanner, this is a case where doing it yourself is far more trouble than it's worth. There are several book scanning services out there, but be advised, they'll probably need to destroy the book in order to scan it. SB Virtual Assistant Services and Blue Leaf are a couple of possibilities. It's a good idea to have a professional proofreader take a pass through your scanned manuscript, because errors do crop up, and they're usually not the kind that are discovered through spell check.

format my manuscript for Kindle, Nook etc.? You can do it yourself. Be sure not to use Microsoft Word! If you want to read up on formatting, Smashwords has a free style guide you can download. eBook Architects has some tips on their web site and sells a guide on formatting for the Kindle. If you want someone to do it for you, however, you can probably have your book formatted for around $100. Rob Siders is used by eBook superstar J.A. Konrath. Kimberly Hitchens has worked with L.J. Sellers and other mystery authors.

design a cover? If you or a friend have some artistic ability, do it yourself! Have you taken some great photos? If not, you can buy photos or illustrations for a few dollars at iStockphoto. DON'T use clip art, or try to find images through Google Image search (they may be copyrighted). Make sure your cover looks good even when viewed in a thumbnail size. DON'T use overused free fonts like Papyrus and Comic Sans—they scream "self-published." Myfonts.com has thousands of attractive, reasonably priced fonts. If you'd rather use a cover designer, ask around for suggestions. Carl Graves is used by lots of mystery authors. Julie Ortolon is an author and professional graphic artist who does some really nice work.

A note: if your books were previously published, you don't own the rights to those covers. You'll have to make new ones.

buy an ISBN? Go to Bowker.com. You can get both an ISBN number and a bar code. The ISBN will cost you $125 for one, or $250 for 10. Bar codes are $25 each.

publish physical books, and get them into bookstores? We used Lightning Source, a print on demand service. They made our trade paperback available on Amazon and other e-retailers, and any bookstore can special order it. We had a book designer format it for us. If you go this route, be sure to get proofs before ordering a crate of books. It took us four tries before we finally got it right! Now we order books in boxes of 32 to sell via our web site, at events, etc. Many authors are using Amazon's CreateSpace.

get my books up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.? Sign up with Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, and you should cover most of the bases. Once you're on Amazon, be sure to go to Author Central to add your biography, photos and blog (if you have one).

price your book? I suggest not pricing it higher than $4.99. Libby Fischer Hellmann, who has published many ebooks, suggests that people are willing to make an "impulse buy" when the price is under $5. Anything higher than that makes people think before clicking on that buy button. Try changing the price to see what works. If you're promoting a series, how about making the first book in the series 99 cents?

market your book? Again, Murder Must Advertise is a great source of wisdom. Neil Plakcy wrote a good article for MMA on publicizing his ebooks. You'll find lots more ideas here. Many authors have found it useful to hang out at the Kindle boards. Facebook and Twitter are good for announcing new books or sales on existing titles.

Remember, even little reviews can lead to bigger things, so don't worry about starting small. Our book (a work of music criticism) was reviewed by a couple of web sites, which generated interest from big print media like the Chicago Reader and Rolling Stone.

Some advice from experienced e-publisher Carl Brookins: "Patience is necessary.  Sales don't happen overnight for new entries. Remember that unlike with paper, nobody is going to remove the book files for a long time.  Use all available sites, not just Kindle. Plan on doing just as much promotion as for traditional printing. Be very cautious about signing
anything, whether with agent, e-publisher or aggregator. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS."

Did I miss anything? Email me your questions at trow (at) interbridge.com and I'll try to answer them for you here, after the convention!


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