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Thursday, July 22, 2010

eBook Explosion Brings New Avenues For Seasoned & New Local Authors

Barnes & Noble Nook
As many authors locally will tell you, getting a book published is not an easy task.  One can go through the painstaking task of submitting their work to major publishers waiting sometimes for months for a response.  New avenues have opened up over the years such as 'Print-On-Demand' through services like iUniverse, Xlibris, Lulu, and others.  These fee-based services allow authors to submit their manuscript to the publisher which is then made available on-demand through multiple major booksellers.  These services make it very easy in terms of handling printing and the logistics of distribution, but they do not fully accomodate the barriers to actually getting the books onto shelves in physical stores.  In the good majority of cases, authors soon find out they need to spend a great deal of time and expense working to get their books into stores.  Well, now there is a new avenue . . . ebooks.

eBook sales are growing at explosive rates as a popular new book format.  Amazon, for one, just released to the media that ebook sales through their store are outpacing hardcover sales around 143 ebooks to every 100 hardcover sales.  As well the publishing industry has stated that ebook sales have risen to 8% of book sales up from 3% compared to the same period last year.  It's easy to see that the ebook is becoming a popular and preferred format for readers.  eReaders that are affordable and easy to use are being scooped up by readers everywhere.  B&N's NookAmazon's Kindle, Apple's iPad, etc. are all showing up as reading devices in the hands of every generation.  Authors who make their book available as an ebook now have similar access to readers.  They are on the virtual store shelf the same as major authors like Grisham, King, Patterson, etc.

One of the common questions I get from authors is, "How do I make my book available as an ebook?"   There are several different options:
  1. Already published (or going to publish with) with a Print-On-Demand Publisher - If this is you, many of these services are including the ebook format and distribution to ereaders in their fees. Simply check with your publishing service to see if your book is already available as an ebook, and if not find out what you need to do to make it available. Local author of Ila's Diamonds, Donna Banks is a print-on-demand author who currently has book II in her series available as an ebook with major booksellers such as Barnes & Noble.
  2. Self-Published - There are new free (or virtually free) services that you can publish straight to ebook such as, and Barnes & Noble's PubIt (coming this summer).  Both services allow you to get your book available through Barnes & Noble's huge ebook store and also provides distribution to Amazon's Kindle book store.  These services typically allow you to set the price.  This allows authors new opportunities to "test" a book and get reader feedback prior to putting out large amounts of money or simply publishing in a low-cost manner "just to see what happens" and possibly raise money towards going to print as well.   For example, pricing your book at $1.99 might seem extremely low; but keep in mind . . . volume!  If you sell 2000 ebooks at $1.99 and you receive 70% to 80% of sales ('s distrbution), you're looking at making around $3,000 with little upfront cost (if any). 
  3. Make it an App! - This is a great option for authors of children's books which creates your book as an app available to iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android device users.  Basically you are bringing the book to life in interactive ways.  The difficult part with this is finding a developer and you'll need to work out the financial end with the developer.  A great example of this type of publishing is what Oceanhouse Media has done with Dr. Seuss books as apps for Apple products like the iPad.  It will be interesting to see developments in this area evolves.
Now, the next part is . . . is how do I promote my book as an ebook and get people to buy it?  It's actually easier in many respects.  The first step is making sure everyone knows it's available as an ebook.  It should be a part of all your advertising (i.e. print ads, promo materials such as bookmarks, email campaigns, etc.) and link to where it can be purchased when possible (i.e. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, Sony, etc.).  And the most important . . . look for the owners of ereaders and mention your book is available for $x.xx on their Nook, Kindle, Sony eReader, etc.  It's a great conversation starter and opportunity to sell a book.

It's exciting times in the world of books as great new avenues open up for authors and readers alike.  

What are your thoughts?
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