Dec
03

EEEEEE-Books!! 5 Top Questions – A Short Intro to Digital Media for Authors Who Haven’t Got a Clue

By on December 3rd, 2011

A short intro to digital media for authors who haven’t got a clue from author, coach, book marketer Lynn Serafinn.

I’m a fairly techie person. I’m on the computer so much, sometimes I think it would be more practical to have a microprocessor implanted directly into my brain so I wouldn’t have to sit at my desk all the time. But although I’m pretty expert with the Internet, social media, WordPress, web pages, etc., there are two areas in which I’m a bit of a late bloomer. One is mobile technology (I’ll be talking more about that in a later issue). I only just got my first “smart” phone (a Blackberry) less than 6 months ago. And while I work with authors ALL the time, the second area to which I am admittedly a late bloomer is the world of digital books—eBooks.

Actually, these two things (mobile technology and digital format books) are very, very much related, and if we authors do not have a clue about them, and how they work together, we are quite likely to miss out on half (if not more) of our potential book sales. In fact, my good friend Tony Eldridge from “Marketing Tips for Authors” recently became a #1 seller SOLELY because of his digital book, and only last week my own new book The 7 Graces of Marketing hit #1 & #2 in Kindle shops on both sides of the Atlantic.

I used to think an eBook was just a PDF file that was pretty much a duplicate of your print book. And up until a few years ago, that was true. Then, along came the Kindle, and a whole new market opened up. But THEN, “smart” mobile technology, such as iPhones, iPads and so many other formats entered onto the scene. It’s a confusing quagmire of technology, and it’s VERY easy to get overwhelmed with the options.

So I thought I’d write a VERY basic introduction to some of the practical considerations for eBook creation and distribution for authors who are self-publishing.

Question 1:
Do you need to bother publishing your book in an electronic format if you have a print edition?

Answer:
ABSOLUTELY YES!!! Amazon actually sells MORE Kindle eBook sales than it sells print books! Can you believe I don’t even own a Kindle yet? What was I thinking? (I’m ordering one next month!)

Question 2:
What eBook formats are there? Which format should I use?

Answer:
There are many formats, but the two you should concern yourself with most are Kindle (a bespoke format from Amazon) and the ePub format, which is used by iPad and other companies.

Kindle is the big leader in eBook sales (having been around for almost 5 years now), but iPad is catching up with currently nearly a quarter of all eBook sales at last count. Also, the ePub format is compatible with many other mobile devices besides the iPad. You should use BOTH formats, as well as PDF.

Question 3:
Where do I have to go to set up accounts for an eBook?

Answer:
My suggestion is to use THREE: Amazon (for Kindle), Lightning Source AND Smashwords for other electronic formats. They all distribute to completely different channels (the only overlap I have found between LS and Smashword Kobo).

For Kindle, go to https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin and get started. Be SURE to read all their guidelines before submitting anything. You don’t have to have an ISBN, but I think it’s a great idea to have one.

For Lightning Source, go to http://lightningsource.com. Download their list of “CoreSource” Fulfilment partners (there are probably about 60 of them, including MBS Books, Lulu, CyberRead, The Book Depository, Kobo and many others. They deliver eBooks in Adobe Acrobat ebook Reader, Microsoft Reader, and Palm eBook formats. You WILL need a new ISBN for your eBook version.

If you go to Smashwords at http://smashwords.com you’ll see their distribution partners on their home page as Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store. Again, you don’t need an ISBN, but I think it’s a lot better to use your own, as it associates your book with YOU as a publisher, and not with Smashwords.

Question 4:
How do I get my book into digital format for Kindle and ePub? Do I just upload my PDF of my print book?

Answer:
Nope. Each company has their own formatting guidelines and it’s EXTREMELY important you follow them. If formatting is not your “thing” someone can help you prepare your book for digital format. Smashwords will even send you a list of suggested formatters, who are all quite reasonably priced.

The Kindle Direct site is a bit confusing (I think it’s because their gradually updating their information), but if you hunt around it enough, you’ll also find a of suggested places where you can get your book formatted for Kindle. The one I’ve been using is called “LiberWriter” (LOVE the name!) at http://liberwriter.com/. You can test them out for free, and then if you want to use their services, it’s $25 to use their do-it-yourself conversion, and $50 to have them format and convert for you. They also actually respond to personally to customer service requests (always a plus).

Question 5:
Let’s talk about money. How do I price my book, and what kind of royalties will I receive per sale?

Answer:
The short answer to how to price your book is at LEAST 50% LESS than your print version. So, if your print book sells for $15.95, then price your eBook around $7.95 or less. If, however, you’re using this book more or less as a promotional tool (as opposed to a proper “book”), consider selling for as low as $0.99.

Regarding royalties, it goes like this:

Smashwords
Wholesale compensation = 60% of retail (when sold on sites other than their own)
Example: if your eBook is selling for $7.95, the author would get $4.77.
When your eBook is sold ON the Smashwords site, you get 85%. In other words, if your eBook is selling for $7.95, the author would get $6.76.

Lightning Source
LS take 7.5% taken from net (in other words, the author gets 92.5% of net sales). Net is calculated by taking the list price and subtracting the discount you are giving the distributor. For example, if your eBook is selling for $7.95 and wholesale discount is 50%, net world be $3.98, and the author would get $3.68. Of course, you could set your discount at a much lower rate wholesale discount if you wish to achieve a higher profit (example: at 30% discount, you would receive $5.14).

Kindle
You can get as high as a 70% royalty rate from Kindle, minus “delivery” costs. Deliver costs are relative to your file size. On Amazon.com, the delivery cost is $0.15/mb. So, if your eBook that is selling for $7.95 is 5mb in size, your royalty would be: $7.95 X 0.70 = $5.57 – (5 X $0.15) = $4.82.

NOTE: to qualify for a 70% royalty your Kindle retail price must be between $2.99 and $9.99. If it is higher or lower, you are restricted to 35%. That means that you will actually make MORE money selling your Kindle at $9.99 than you would if you were selling it at $18.99, and you would probably sell a load more Kindle versions of your book if you price it as low as is reasonable.  For example, I make only about $5.00 per print copy of my book that sells at $24.95, but I make almost $7.00 on my Kindle sales that are priced $9.99.

ALSO: The 70% royalty is NOT valid in all countries. If you select 70% and your Kindle sells to someone who does not live in one of the participating countries, you will receive 35% for those sales. It IS valid in countries such as US, UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and many others. The 70% royalty is NOT valid (as of this writing) for sales made to residents of  the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries. See Kindle Direct for the latest listing of sales territories that qualify for the 70% royalty.

Please note, these prices and calculations are correct as of this writing, and may have changed since that time.

The key idea with eBooks is to get your book OUT in as many formats, and in as many distribution channels you can. Make sure that links to where people can purchase these products is very visible and easy to find on your website.

I hope this short introduction has given you a bit more information about the practical why, where and how of eBooks. There’s a LOT more to talk about, especially how to make the most of your eBook format and how to market it. But, we’ll save that for another day.

I would very much welcome to hear about your own experiences, so pleae LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW or drop me a line at http://spiritauthors.com/contact to let me know what you have learned in your own eBook adventures.

And do subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for more info and insight into the world of writing, publishing and book promotions.


Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach and teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and bestselling author. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. She is also the creator of Spirit Authors, which offers training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Passionate about re-establishing our connection with the Earth, she supports the work of the Transition Town network in her hometown of Bedford, England.

Lynn’s Books:

International #1 Bestseller in Business Ethics, Marketing and Communication (Dec 2011)

Spirituality Bestseller (2009):

The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self (2009)

To contact Lynn for coaching, campaign management or media appearances, please fill in the form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Katrina says:

    An excellent resource! I’m publishing a book this spring and this answered a lot of my questions. I am excited to create an iBooks Author version of my book as well. Have you explored this option yet?

  2. I published and ebook about spirituality for children.It is not easy to promote it. I asked people
    in this field to review or comment it ( I even gave them a complimentory copy) but i didn’t have a lot of response. Anyone interested in reviewing or commenting my ebook, please contact me
    http://francinegrimard.com/en/
    francine.grimRd@videotron.ca

    Thank you very much

  3. Yvonne says:

    Love the content, very clear concise and extremely helpful. Thank you.

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