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Entries in self-publishing business (2)

Tuesday
Sep132011

Publishing Options for Indie Writers:

Indie U Banner

Option 2: E-Book Services

By Tara McClendon, the Despicable Muse of Indie U

Earlier this week, we talked about full-service publishers, and we're going to follow that up with e-book services. As you might expect from the name, this type of publishing involves the creation of e-books. So, let's take a look at whether or not this might be the best publishing option for you.

What is an e-book service?

Photo courtesy of go XunuReviews at FlickrAn e-book service takes your manuscript and converts it into a digital format. Unfortunately, this definition leaves quite a bit up to the discretion of the service. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of e-book services.

Pro #1: Quick Service. Most e-book companies can convert your manuscript in less than an hour, depending on the number of graphics you have in your book. This can be a great asset to indie writers who want to produce a large number of books over the course of their careers.

Con #1: Quick service can often lead to mistakes, and it often comes at the sacrifice of quality. E-book services tend to offer formatting options only, which means you'll have to hire an editor, a cover artist, and a layout designer, among other professionals.

Pro #2: An e-book company can create digital formats that are compatible with different e-readers. This means you can get the right format for the Kindle, the Nook, Sony Reader, and other devices all from the same company.

Con #2: Like many facets of the self-publishing business, e-book services don't have a regulating agency. That means that any old Joe can open up an e-book service. While e-book services can create different formats, those Joes may only offer one type of formatting. That's one of the main reasons why you need to shop around to find the best service.

Pro #3: Low-cost publishing. When you're starting a business, you need to find inexpensive ways to produce a top quality product. Using an e-book service is a fraction of the cost that you will pay to use a full-service publisher.

Con #3: As with other businesses, e-book companies tend to outsource their work to overseas markets. This often leads to underprivileged workers doing what most Americans would consider slave labor. You can still get savings by using an e-book service even if you use an American-based company.

Pro #4: Be on the forefront of the industry. As with full-service publishing, this is another area where there isn't a con. Traditional publishers are still trying to figure out digital rights and publication, but e-book services have been working with the literacy for years.

Tips for Working With an E-book Service

Photo courtesy of goXunuReviews at FlickrIf you plan to work with an e-book publisher, keep the following things in mind:

  • Check the qualifications of the people who will be handling your account. Some companies, like eBook Architects, have founders who have actually pioneered developments in the e-book world.
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  • Look for e-book publishing companies that are willing to offer you a warranty. These companies will guarantee their work for a set time so that you don't have to worry about errors. If you find one that you can contribute to the company, the e-book service will correct the error at no cost to you.
  •  

  • Compare publishing services and ask about a discount for return business. Some companies will give you a discount if you use their services for more than one book over the course of a year.

E-book services can be a great way to get your book ready for publication; however, many indie writers believe that producing an e-book is one of the easiest tasks to perform as a publisher. If you have a technical mind, you can check out the information at Lulu blog. The amazing Suzan Harden also gave some great tips for creating an e-book when she was our guest blogger last month. You can also find some insight from Michael Hyatt.  

Using an e-book company can be a fast and effective way to get your book up for sale, and it may be just the thing you need to launch your writing career. I'll be back later in the week with more indie publishing options. Until then, happy writing.

Tuesday
Aug092011

Day Three: Creating a Business Plan for Indie Writing

From Tara, the Despicable Muse of Indie U:

Happy day, folks. Today's post is a continuation of our business plan series by the talented Suzan Harden. If you missed the first and second posts, what's wrong with you? Just kidding. Review Why Go Indie? and Treat Writing Like a Business and then join us for today's topic.

You've Got to Have Product

By Suzan Harden

Time ClockYesterday, we started talking about business expenses. But, to run any business, an owner needs to account for time spent, as well, especially her own!

Get out your pens and paper!

Under your business plan, write all the job/roles needed to produce a book, any book. When you finish, your list should look something like this:

  • Author

  • Copyeditor

  • Proofreader

  • Cover Artist

  • Blurb Writer

  • Formatting and Interior Design

  • Salesperson

  • Bookkeeper

  • Distribution

Now, go back through your list and write down who will perform each job. If you're the typical indie publisher, your name will be in every slot. If it is, your new business is already in trouble.

Going Out of BusinessIn fact, one of the reasons the SBA says 4 out 5 businesses shut their doors within three years of start-up is that the new small business owner "fails to adequately consider all capitalization costs and business expenditures."

If You, the Publisher does not give You, the Writer time to actually write, your new indie publishing venture is going to FAIL!

A business must have product to sell. Period. End of story.

Indie publishing guru J.A. "Joe" Konrath recently started his blog with the following:

Right now, you're reading one of the most relevant, controversial, popular, and opinionated blogs about the world of publishing, and it is an epic fail on your part. . . Because this blog is a time suck. There are hundreds of entries to read, and tens of thousands of comments. It's easy to get pulled in and waste hours, days, weeks. Here's the bottom line: every minute you spend here is a minute you aren't spending on your writing.

Yes, you need to do your research, but limit your time.

Remember, no product = no sales.

Grab that pen and paper again!

Write down the amount of time you can spend each day on the writing business as a whole. Be realistic! If you've got a spouse and kids (and you actually want to keep them in your life), you'll need to account for date nights and soccer games. Schedule the time spent on the day job if you have one, the commute, chores at home, religious activities, etc.

Now, take a hard look at the time sucks in your life.

  • Can you ditch the WoW or Halo nights with your college buds?

  • Do you really need to watch Real Housewives of Fresno?

  • Must you post puppy or grandchildren pictures every five seconds on your Facebook wall?

Once you have the amount of time you can spend on writing each day, it's time for some calculations. Let's use two hours per day as an example. How are you going to divide that time? If you're a slow writer like me, you're going to need an hour and a half just to produce 1,000 words. In reality, a 3 to 1 ratio between writing and publishing activities is more than adequate when you first start indie publishing. Anything more and you start entering the Land of Diminishing Returns.

Speaking of time management, remember back on Day 1 when I said my husband started researching indie publishing before I did? He noted something regarding Amanda Hockings, Jon F. Merzes, and Selena Kitts. Two points actually. They all had multiple books for sale, and the tripping point for self-sustaining regular sales averaged at 10 books.

Before everyone goes crazy on me, you should realize three things:

  1. Mr. Practical is a computer whiz who's been working with accounting software for 20 years,

  2. This was not a scientific survey by any stretch of imagination, and

  3. Ten is the average! Some writers did it with more; some with less.

NO ONE has been an indie publishing success with just one book!

One more time, folks: You've got to write; you've got to have product.

Product = Sales

Tomorrow, we'll start looking at some areas where indie writers can find a balance between time and monetary costs.

If you have questions, I'll be happy to answer them. If you're too shy to leave your question in the comments, feel free to e-mail me at suzan@suzanharden.com.

From Tara, the Despicable Muse of Indie U:

Suzan will be covering more on the costs of running a self-publishing business, but here's my helpful tip for the day: You can often outsource portions of production to one individual or company. For example, an editor may be willing to copy edit, proofread and pump up your cover copy. You may be able to get a discount for the bundled services.