Monday 18 April 2011

The Brave New World of ePublishing

Those readers who also follow me on Twitter and Facebook know that I recently attended my first ever Webinar. What an adventure! From the moment I paid my fee, I was on a steep learning curve. I watched in amazement as Outlook diarised the webinar so (thankfully) I didn’t have to guesstimate the correct time (for those of you interested, 13h00 EST in the USA means 20h00 here in South Africa). Then I had to locate a pair of USB headphones with a microphone and figure out how to use them. At one time I worried I’d actually have to dress up, but no webcams were used, so I slobbed around with my hair wild and my face bare of makeup.

When the big moment arrived, there was a slight panic. Too nervous to click on the link to the webinar before the actual moment, I waited until 3 minutes before the start, only to discover I needed to download some software, which took 8 minutes. But then it was A-for-away!

I arrived to find Jane Friedman of Writers Digest University introducing herself and then we leapt straight into the topic “Do Your EBook Right”.

Many of you know from my blog post The Fool that I’ve decided to independently publish my work as an e-book. I joined this webinar to find out more about this new and confusing world.

Here’s a random summary of what I learnt:

1. Three biggest factors of success of an E-book are:

a. Target the right readers
b. Price correctly
c. Your book cover

2. Before you leap into e-book publishing, strategize a realistic marketing plan

3. Reviews! Reviews! Reviews!

4. Make sure your book cover title is easy to read

5. It’s worth the small cost to hire a professional cover designer

6. It’s worth the small cost to hire a professional e-book converter

7. Does your book cover look good in thumbnail size and in greyscale?

8. Give away some of your work for free. Some authors make up to 60% of their work free.

9. The best E-book platforms are:

a. Amazon Kindle
b. Smashwords
c. Scribd

10. Find your dominant readership platform and focus on that one

11. You are providing a service to your readers.

12. Find out what they want and provide a meaningful service

13. Build your presence by participating in on-line communities

14. A website and a blog are the basic essential marketing tools

15. No hard selling your book. Participate and share.

I learnt so much more than the above basic points. The overall message was one of freedom and optimism, with the caveat to have realistic expectations. For an author with an established readership, payback for all the time and effort spent could be quick. For an unknown author like myself, this is a long-term strategy. I may only see rewards after the third, or even fourth book, I publish.

Does this bother me? A bit. I like instant gratification as much as the next person. But, in the end, the thought of the creative freedom that self-publishing an E-book offers me outweighs any of the risks and limitations. I write because I have things I want to say about this world we live in. The path of E-books presents me with an opportunity of speaking out and, if I end up with only a handful of people listening, I’ll be content with having had the chance to have my say.

And so my first webinar experience was exciting, thought-provoking and informative. If you’re interested in e-book publishing, I highly recommend you follow Jane Friedman’s blog. For an interesting and informative read, you can also buy Jane's e-book "The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations." I’m off to browse Writers Digest’s On-Line Courses to see if I can find another webinar to attend!

Click here to watch the book trailer of my debut novel Dancing in the Shadows of Love. Remember to comment or "like" to enter the draw to win one of four US$25 Amazon gift vouchers.

If you're a follower, remember to  leave a comment so that you're eligible to win one of those copies of the terrific anthology of short stories "Notes from Underground." C0mpetition details HERE.


Linda Cassidy Lewis said...

I wish you success, Judy! I self-published a novel for the first time less than three weeks ago, so it's too soon to tell what will happen to it. Mine is general fiction, not an easy genre to market for a self-publisher.

Damaria Senne said...

Thanks for sharing what you learnt from webinar. I'll check out jane Friedman's blog.. because I'm also looking into self-publishing an ebook (the one you edited).

Anita said...

You are so kind to share this information! I'm really thinking of my plan as a one-year plan...I try not to panic if I go a day without selling a book. You're right that we're so used to instant gratification. I'll check out Jane's blog now. Have a great day!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Judy .. that's great isn't it - it is a great way to learn. Thanks for the recommendation too.

One thing you didn't mention .. is that ebooks are there forever .. and won't be removed from shelves in bookstores .. so you have a very long term asset - that could prove itself useful in the short-term at some future stage - if that makes sense .... hope it does.

Cheers Hilary

Stephanie Faris said...

YAY, so glad you were able to get so much out of it. I'm going to pass this blog along to someone I know who's thinking about e-publishing her book.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

LINDA: General fiction. Gulp. A very competitive market! Good luck with your book, hope your first three weeks as an Indie Author have been exciting and worthwhile. (I’ll have a peek at your blog to get the link to your book when things have settled down again here)

DAMARIA: Only a pleasure! Your E-book will fill a definite niche in the market, so the quicker you get it out the better! Also look at and A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing (JA Konrath’s blog). Both are very interesting and informative blogs.

ANITA: A one-year plan is good; keeps the expectations real. I’m not expecting much from this first book of mine, but looking on it strictly as a guinea-pig book to learn the ropes. Hope you’ve sold two books today!

HILARY: Yes, absolutely correct. That is a huge advantage of e-books, they are never taken off the “shelf.” There was so much info in this hour-and-a-quarter long webinar that I only dealt with a few of the highlights; it was really good value-for-money.

STEPHANIE: It was so exciting. I couldn’t get over that here I sat, in Jo’burg, and I was attending a webinar being presented in AMERICA! Hope the blog post helps your friend. (Love your new icon picture – very nice!)

septembermom said...

I think that you'll do fine with this publishing adventure. You're doing all your homework and I know many of us will love to write rave reviews for you!! Good luck my friend :)

Claudine said...

You might be interested in a website that I frequent - or a Goodreads group called Robust. A few indie and traditional authors who hang out and discuss these types of issues and have amazing advice.

Bish Denham said...

Oh the learning curve! You go Judy, you may be breaking ground for a lot of us.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

What a wonderful experience! I've never done anything like that. Thanks for sharing the information!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

KELLY: I hope I survive this! And I’m *really* hoping you’ll all like the story enough that I, at least, don’t get rotten tomato reviews. The closer the release date comes the more I think I need all the good luck I can get!

CLAUDINE: Thanks for the pointers – I’ll drop by those two sites when the publication rush is over.

BISH: A pioneer? Hmmm. I like that! :) (will get back to you about Marvin soon)

MICHELLE: The webinar was amazing! Imagine – me here in South Africa and Jane Friedman in the US of A teaching me (the only thing I wish was that I knew how many other participants there were and where they were situated.) Wish I could have shared more info, but there the time was so jam-packed with tips I’m sure I lost a lot of info.

J.B. Chicoine said...

Oh my goodness! What a lot to absorb. I will have to bookmark this for when I get back from 'Neverland'...

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

JB: Imagine how my head was buzzing from info overload by the end of the webinar! Enjoy your break in 'Neverland.'

Lauri said...

Judy thanks for this. As you know PayPal just opened up for me so I'm going to start on the same learning path. I really want to think clearly about what would be the best way to start. I know a lot of people have interest in Botswana lately, I think I might put together some of my Botswana based short stories and creative nonfiction. But I still have a lot ot learn!!!

Anne R. Allen said...

This is a great post--a nice overview for anybody considering self-e-pubbing.

I'd also suggest a good proofreader. Sometimes you can find another writer who will be willing to change proofing duties with you. But it's amazing how blind we are to our own mistakes. I keep hearing from people who've been reading 99 cent self-pubbed ebooks and say they can't get by the typos and grammar mistakes.

Jane Friedman is my #1 favorite source of publishing advice. After her years with Writers Digest, she knows it all. And she's very pro-self-epubbing, as long as you do it right, and it sounds as if you are.

I'm looking forward to more of your posts. You can show the way to the rest of us.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

LAURI: YAY! For paypal in Bots!! And I think it’s a GREAT idea to consider self-publishing some of your short stories (I’m planning on getting a book of my shorts together and releasing them in January) and maybe consider a detective novel or two (hint! hint!)

ANNE: A proof-reader is essential (so is a paid copy editor for a macro edit) I’ve had both for my novel, plus two very good writing colleagues went over the final draft – and you’d be amazed at the number of typos I’m still picking up in the first draft from the e-book convertor. The best I’m hoping for is to keep the number down, because there’s nothing worse than a book full of typos. Jane Friedman is a great source, and Joel Friedlander is another great source of info for anyone considering self-pubbing.