January 6, 2012

Self-publishing my novel as an ebook (1)

My recently-completed novel, Where the HeArt Is, having been turned down by all the New Zealand publishers I cared to submit it to, I think self-publishing. I self-published Take It Easy, a earlier novel as a print book and managed the process well, except for the dreaded self-promotion and marketing. At which I was a failure.

The advantages of publishing as an ebook, once you have an edited, proofread manuscript, as I see it, are:
1. Little or no upfront costs (depending on whether you do your own cover, layout and so on.)
2. Riding the wave (well, there are a lot of people saying there is one) of sales for ebook readers.
3. There are some online promotional options that seem to be accessible to individual authors. Some of these I can contemplate doing, others I can’t. (More on this is a later post.)

There are a lot of people writing on the web saying how easy it is to publish an ebook. Don’t be fooled. To do a proper job you have to do a lot of work. I’ve been cruising (as it were!) the web for some months now, gathering information about how to epublish and how to sell ebooks, some of it contradictory, some downright offensive (like spamming your friends), some useful.

I’m sure there will soon be, and probably are already, people who will do all this for an author, epublishing agents/ publishers if you like, for a fee or a percentage. I am not interested in a new career, but I do want to figure out how to do my own book/s, producing a quality book for all the major ereaders. (Amazon/Kindle has to be done separately, in usual Amazon restrictive style.)

(For a touch of visual interest, this is where I do most of my writing.)

I plan to use the aggregator (a way of distributing to all the main ebook sellers, except Amazon) Smashwords. I’ll write more about Smashwords in a later blog, but it’s worth checking out the author sections of their website at http://smashwords. com

Some not-so-obvious things I have discovered:
1. The US Inland Revenue Service (IRS) will take 30% of your earnings on US sales unless you jump through a whole bunch of hoops to get an IRS exemption number. Which you can do from New Zealand. I have a notarised copy of my passport from the US embassy in Auckland (no other sort will do) and am waiting for a letter (an email won’t do) from Smashwords so I can submit (by snail mail) an application to the IRS. I got the “how to” for this from Roz Morris’s blog, “Nail Your Novel” at https://nailyournovel.wordpress.com I am extremely grateful to Roz Morris for this information.
2. To get a good-looking ebook that is a pleasure to read on an ereading device it has to be formatted to very specific instructions. I am familiar with the Smashwords ones, for which you can get a free-to-download pdf from their webiste. Search for Style Guide on their website.
3. People who write about epublishing on the web write with authority, as though their information is accurate, sensible and up-to-date. Sometimes it is. You have to find websites etc with information you trust. This takes time, and is not as simple as me putting in here a list of ones I like: finding the ones that work for you is part of figuring out how to do this thing.

Maybe I am making more of a meal of this than is necessary. If that is the case, so be it. I’m kind of enjoying the trip.

This is number 1 of a series!


  1. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!


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