With people buying kindles and iPads by the millions, you may be wondering if you should jump in and be a part of the e-publishing revolution. It’s free and relatively easy to get your eBook listed with the major online resellers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. Profits are high, as well, for indie authors (you’re not represented by a publishing house, so there are no middle men to share earnings with). Expect to keep 60%-85% of the royalties on every sale.
But e-publishing may not be for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of turning your own book into an ebook:
Advantages of E-Publishing
It’s a speedy process
Between the hunt for an agent, the hunt for an editor, and the wait-time before a book is actually printed and available in a bookstore, the traditional publishing model is slow. You can expect that process to take one to two years, if you’re able to find an agent and publisher at all!
It’s much different with e-publishing.
For my first ebook, it took me about a month from first deciding to publish it to having it go live. In that time, an editor proofread it, an artist created a cover, and an eBook formatter turned my Mac Pages file into something readable on the kindle, nook, iPad, etc. When I uploaded the finished file at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (a distributor that gets your ebooks into the stores that require ISBNs), it took a maximum of two days for it to go live.
You have full control
Everything is up to you with e-publishing. You write the story or book you want to write, and you choose the artwork. You also choose the price, and you can experiment with the price at will. This means you can tinker around and see if you sell ten times as many books at $0.99 as you do at $2.99, or if you can raise the price to $3.99 or higher and people will still buy.
You can also see novel sales as they’re happening, which gives you some insight into what marketing tactics are paying off and which are taking up time and money and returning no profits.
We may be in the “perfect storm” for ebooks
I’m no Nostradamus, but with eBook readers leaping off the shelves, this feels like the time to jump on the e-publishing bandwagon. Actually, I wish I’d jumped on in 2009, because some of those people are the ones making a living as indie authors now! Still, with more and more people grabbing kindles, nooks, ipads, etc. the market should only grow.
Downsides of E-Publishing
Okay, I can see you’re getting excited, but it’s not all fun and profits. There are certainly downsides, and the indie-author road may not be for everyone. Here are a couple “cons”:
If you want to create a professional looking product, something that can compete with ebooks from publishing houses, you’ll need to invest money up front.
Unless you’re artistically inclined, you should pay for custom cover art. You’ll also want to hire someone to edit your work. It’s best to have a professional editor (you can find freelancers on Elance or any job board) do the task, someone who edits for a living and can quote the Chicago Manual of Style to you. The formatting is something you can learn to do yourself if you want to save a few bucks.
I paid $600-$800 to put together each of my fantasy novels, and I’ve seen people spend more if they had heavy line editing done (I had several critique buddies read my work first so didn’t feel I needed that).
You’re on your own for marketing
While traditionally published authors may complain that they don’t get much help from the publishing houses any more when it comes to marketing, you’re really and truly on your own as an indie. If you’re not willing to push your book and network online, this business is not for you.
That said, I’m a hardcore introvert who isn’t that comfortable with selling either, and I’m doing all right so far. The internet does offer many ways to market, and it’s likely you can find something that works for you as long as you’re willing to invest time in learning.
There you have it: some of the pros and cons of e-publishing. I hope this article has helped you decide whether or not this road is right for you. Good luck!
For more information on this topic, visit the author’s e-publishing blog, where she covers everything from internet marketing basics to social media promotion to explanations of the Amazon sales rank system. She also maintains a “for fun” Kindle blog that highlights fantasy, science fiction, and geeky non-fiction releases for the popular e-reading device.