How my e-books are published
It took many tries to get to a point where I can publish an e-book without breaking a sweat. As I look back, I don’t know how I published my first book. There are so many components to putting a book together, I don’t think many people would attempt it if they knew of the frustrations awaiting them.
I’m sure there are many different ways to publish an e-book. What I’m about to explain to you is the way I do it. This is neither the best way, nor the most correct way. This is the ONLY way I know. If any of you know of a better and easier way, PLEASE share. I’ll try and break it down into steps so it doesn’t get overwhelming. And to a great degree, I won’t go into the itty-bitty details.
1. Write the story – This could take as long as years to do. If I were to do this as a full time job, I probably could crank out a book every 2-3 months. As I write the book, I need to make sure I’m up to date on The Chicago Manual of Style. This is the style that dictates how books are being published by the traditional publishers. According the the Chicago Manual, good bye is supposed to be good-bye, and alright is really not alright, but all right. Did you also know that every punctuation goes inside quotation marks? Laney asked, “Donovan, what did you mean when you said, ‘I’m a pain in the ass?'” Back when I learned quotation rules, it was ‘?”, but now the orders have changed. These are new findings for me and what’s de rigueur in the publishing world.
1.5 Design a book cover – I do NOT design my own book covers. I don’t have that kind of talent. Once the story is formed in my head, I’ll ask one of my brilliant ladies to help bring my ideas to life, in the form of a picture. So far, I love the results of every cover.
2. Edit the story – This is the hardest part of putting a book together, in my opinion. It’s TEDIOUS work! Not only do I have to constantly check my facts, I need to make sure I don’t use the same words repeatedly, or the same sentence structure, monotonously. What’s worse is when I’ve practically memorized my book and the edits become ridiculous because I’m reading it one way, but writing it another. Have you ever read (or written yourself) a sentence that’s clearly missing a word? “I am going the store to buy milk.” Did you catch the first “to” that’s missing? When you read that sentence ten times over, you’ll gloss over the error. But of course, there will be some cantankerous reader who’ll catch that mistake and give me a nasty review saying I shouldn’t be writing because I don’t know a thing about editing. What I’ve learned with putting myself out there is not to criticize others too readily. There may be reasons, unknown to me, for such errors.
3. Have others edit – Once I’ve done my edits and completely re-read the book at least three to five times over, I’ll send it out to my three readers / editors to clean up my writing. I’ve found that my most serious mistake used to be starting a quotation mark and not ending it. That finally got fixed once I learned to use the find and replace key. It’s tedious work, but paramount to looking professional. Right now my most serious error is subject-verb agreement. Those are much easier to find and correct. With each book, there appears to be different issues. I suppose as the ideas flow, I write without worrying about anything else. I’m so excited to put everything on paper, my fingers can’t ever catch up to my brain.
During the month or so while editings are being done, I’ll not look at this current book in order to try and forget the contents. I’ll work on another project and/or read. I’m sure you’ll all agree that reading is like a drug. Once you get hooked, it’s hard to get off and get back to work. It’s the same for me. I’ll have to tear myself away from the joys of reading and get back to finishing my book. That’s where I am, currently. I’m waiting for three edits to return to me for Nick & Bee Vol. 2, and once those return, I’ll go through each edit and correct my final copy. This takes a while because I need to think through whether I want to make the suggested changes, and sometimes I’m unsure why certain edits were made. That requires phone calls or emails and you all know those are not immediate, a lot of times.
4. Copyright the book – Once the final edits are in place, I have to copyright the book. There’s an online site where you fill out a bunch of questions, pay $35, and voila, they will copyright your book.
5. Upload the book to various vendors – It used to be that I uploaded to Amazon, which is super, super easy to do, but not an easy place to turn to if you have questions, and Smashwords. Now, I do it a little differently.
Here are the particulars of each vendors:
Amazon Kindle – The Good: 70% profit, super easy to upload. The Bad: No pre-sale for indie authors or any other benefits for indie authors. Also, the publicity they give is generally to traditionally published authors. I don’t know what kind of algorithms they use, but I’ve yet to crack the top 100 in any sold categories on Kindle. The Ugly: Absolutely NO support when there are issues. Sure there’s a place where we can email questions, but their canned responses rarely solve any dire issues. Also, they give one week for buyers to return books. This is too convenient for people to get away with what I consider “stealing.”
BN Nook – The Good: 60% profit, super easy to upload. The Bad: There aren’t as many people who own a Nook and I don’t know how much longer BN will hold on. The Ugly: There is also a chat function but the people who work for Nook, as nice as they have been, don’t know what they’re doing. I’ve rarely received an answer from them. It’s frustrating to think you have a “live” person to help you, but find out that they have to ask a higher up person and that higher up person has NEVER contacted me back.
Apple iBooks is a whole other animal to contend with every time a book is published. The Good: 60% profit, a LIVE, LIVE, LIVE person at an 800 number to help answer any publishing questions!!! This is huge as there are questions that pop up with every new book. Kudos to iBooks for employing people who want to help. Pre-sale is huge, and iBooks helps indie authors by coming up with ways to feature them. Whatever algorithms they use, it’s a good one. I’ve been on many different lists and have received my share of publicity. For that, I am truly grateful. There’s also real-time data. The Bad: Uploading to iBooks is complicated. The first time I did it, it took me an entire Saturday to figure it out and to create a Google Doc. outlining each step so I would have a point of reference for the next try. Once the book is uploaded, they take a good week to look over your product and to “yay” or “nay” it. I’ve yet to be “nayed” so I don’t know what else is necessary if it gets rejected. The UGLY: You need an iProduct to upload your book. If you work on a PC, you can’t publish on iBooks. Of course, I’m a PC girl and so I’ve had to make several adjustments, plus monopolize my kids’ Macbooks for hours at a time. Even in the publishing world, Apple forces you to use only their products. It’s an expensive investment if you’re publishing a $.99 book.
Smashwords – The Good: They convert your book to fit the ten or so different vendor specifications for you! This is huge because it saves an author a boatload of time. They will also send your book to iBooks (no iProduct needed since Smashwords does all the work for you), Nook, Kindle etc. Now, they have real-time sales reports that tell you which book was sold to which vendor and on which day. This is a new feature that’s making my life easier. Through Smashwords, pre-sale is available for iBooks and Nook. The Bad: The approval process takes long and even if Smashwords approves it, there’s no saying that iBooks will approve it. Also, Smashwords takes another 10% cut on top of what the other e-retailers take. The Ugly: Because Smashwords is a third party, messages don’t necessarily get relayed or received properly. I used Smashwords up until Nick & Bee Volume 1 and as happy as I was with this company, I needed complete control.
6. Sell the book – When all of these issues are resolved, I upload the books to all four vendors and hope they will accept simultaneously. It’s still a bit of a guessing game.
7. On a side note – I want to address a serious issue facing all authors. When an indie author charges $2.99 for a book and makes between 50%-70% profit, you can see it’s not much money. We’d have to sell thousands and thousands each month to make a living. Most of us don’t have that large a fan base to sell that many books. Add to that the people who return books (yes, I said, RETURN BOOKS) after they are read!!! That one kills me. When you buy five hours of entertainment that costs less than your twenty-minute caffeinated joy, and then return the book…AARGH! After you’ve finished drinking your cup of coffee, you can’t go back to Starbucks and say you want a refund because you didn’t enjoy it, or you found issues with the quality. That’s what all booksellers allow. Amazon is the worst as they give people an entire week to read a book, then come up with an excuse to return it. Couple this with the sites that illegally give away books for free WITHOUT permission – it’s frustrating, to say the least. I’ve finally learned how to take down these illegal websites, but I have to regularly search the web to make sure my books are not up for free again. These are not issues I thought I’d ever have to deal with in e-publishing. If you ever find any of my books being illegally distributed, PLEASE email me the site address so I can protect my rights.
Finally, I hope I’ve given you a good look inside my e-publishing world. I’m sure I’ve left out parts accidentally, and curtailed other parts purposely. Hope this helps answer why I can’t crank out a book every month. Leave a question if this LONG explanation is still lacking.