There are so many options in publishing today that it can be daunting sifting through them all to compare and contrast to find the best option for you. There are many considerations to take into account when you are exploring your options, and whether you’re going the traditional or self-publishing route, both have pros and cons. Here’s a quick rundown of each:
- No upfront cost, money flows to you
- Editor will edit for you (no charge to you)
- Design and layout handled (no charge to you)
- Publishing house handles: distributing to B&N and other stores, assign publicist, make it available for ebook, keep track of sales and pay you
- Moves slow
- Much is out of your hands; often at the whim of others
- Confines of genre and length
- Payment good at first, but bad later
- Lots of options or both print and ebook
- You are in control; you can work different places (nonexclusive rights)
- Better royalties
- Length and genre no longer matter
- Too much control can be bad
- Quality can be inferior
- You pay possible upfront costs (design, layout, editing, etc.)
- No help with subsidiary rights
- Tougher with bookstores and book fairs
- Biggest issue: visibility and promotion
(many of these points are from a handout from the conference I attended in February, the talk was given by Chuck Sambuchino)
Now that we have those basics out of the way, I’d like to go into a little more detail about the ebook side of self-publishing. I’ve put some serious consideration into and have ultimately decided on a dual publishing approach, which means a lot of research and information.
Doing research is great, and the Google gods are immensely helpful, but I decided to speak to someone that has taken this route themselves. She’s pretty wonderful, definitely sweet, and she is one of the many fantastic people I’ve met through Twitter. Her name is Jewel E. Leonard, and she was kind enough to let me pick her brain about her experience self-publishing her first book Tales by Rails.
DMG: Tales by Rails is your first published eBook? How long is it and did you intend to publish it as an eBook?
JL: Yes, it’s my first published eBook. It’s about 27,000 words and I never even considered publishing it traditionally. I understand that short works are notoriously hard to sell and I was just writing this as light-hearted fluff.
DMG: How long did it take you from finished novel to published ebook?
JL: I wrote it in about 3 weeks. Once I started it, the words flowed better for me than they usually do. I wrote it in August, edited in December and decided to publish around Valentine’s Day for (I think) obvious reasons. So from start to publish, 6 months… Though I certainly could have done it faster. I had planned to publish it in December but I ended up participating in NaNoWriMo when I was going to edit it… Editing took about a month, when I finally got around to it because I was very undisciplined. I was too busy chatting on Twitter with new friends from NaNo.
DMG: How did you handle formatting? What considerations (if any) needed to be made?
JL: It helps to have the proper programs. I use Open Office as I don’t have Word anymore and the learning curve with Scrivener is so steep I couldn’t make it past the welcome screen… So I ended up getting help from my wonderful Ashley (@ashleygraham55) who did my formatting for me. However, I ended up discovering through experimentation that OO will save as PDF and once you save as PDF, you can convert to mobi and epub formats using free programs like Calibre.
But Amazon and Barnes and Noble will have you upload your file and then they will convert it…. Which don’t go without glitches and difficulties. Amazon, BN and Smashwords all give you a chance to review the file once converted: it is imperative to not skip this step or you’re risking complaints in your ratings and reviews.
JL: Just those three places. You have to upload to each individually which includes creating accounts, setting up payment and tax info… Really obnoxious work but the good news is, once the account is set up, it’s done.
Amazon had the fastest set up, B&N allows for the highest royalty. Amazon also has exclusivity options, which I chose to pass on.
Also, B&N didn’t have a pre-order feature and took about 5 days to process the file so plan accordingly.
DMG: That’s some great information, thank you. Did you create your author profile for each site as you created and uploaded your book, then? Could/would you maybe elaborate on what you mean by “exclusivity options” as well as your decision?
JL: Yeah, I worked one vendor at a time though really there’s no reason not to.
Amazon offers options where your book, for a certain amount of time, is sold through them exclusively. I skimmed the perks to that program and decided against it but that’s a personal choice. Obviously many others choose to do it.
I liked the idea of having multiple platforms… So that, for instance, my Nook possessing friends could read my novella the day it was released. And I know many readers are loyal to Smashwords, as well.
It made sense to me to offer through as many sites as I could easily access but, as they say, YMMV.
DMG: How was your blog tour arranged, how did it work and coincide with your book release?
JL: Ashley helped so much with the blog tour–she was a wealth of information. She set up the Google sign up form, told me the kinds of things that are normally done during blog tours and I got in contact with those who signed up and provided the content they asked for. She suggested the week prior to my novella’s release for three days which is what I did. (You don’t question a genius.)
To be honest I still don’t really know how blog tours work! Lol! The whole thing is a learning process and you just kind of have to accept that some things won’t come easily… May have glitches… And you just go with the flow.
DMG: Do you plan to continue publishing novels this way?
JL: Absolutely. My vendor accounts are set up, I know how to format my documents, I know (more or less) how to do the blog tour. Second time around should be far easier. That’s the great thing about experience!
I understand self-publishing is largely a numbers game and if you have any aspirations for success, you’re going to need to put out more than a single title.
DMG: Do you plan to keep to the romantic/erotica genre, or do you have plans to branch out into others?
JL: I really don’t feel like I’m capable of completely abandoning what is at the heart of my stories. Having said that, the second of my Rays of Sunshine series seems to be leaning a lot more toward drama with focus on interpersonal relationships and some erotic elements.
If I cannot find traditional representation for my other book series (I have 2 in progress) those will be self-published as well and the heat level of the romantic elements in those are definitely lower than Rays.
DMG: Anything you’d like to add?
JL: That the journey to publication is a personal one. I know writers who wouldn’t dream of putting themselves through the querying process and I know writers who would rather scrap years of hard work if they can’t get an agent than self-publish. Each journey has perks and pitfalls. But whatever you choose is good as long as YOU are happy with your choices. The most important thing is, as the lovely supportive writing community on Twitter will tell you: always keep writing.