What We Wish We Had Known About Publishing an Ebook

~ By Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

So you’ve written the next American masterpiece. Or maybe more like the next Bridget Jones Diary. And you’re ready to share it with the world. What the hell do you do now?

When we first decided to go out on our own and digitally publish our second novel, The D Word, we hade no freakin’ clue what we were doing. We had no idea of ebook distribution, for example, which probably would have made a big difference to the publishing process if we did know at least the basics. We actually thought one click publishing really meant ONE CLICK PUBLISHING! We had so much to learn.

Um, yeah, it doesn’t.

But don’t despair! It can be done without throwing yourself off a bridge in the process. (um, not that we thought about doing that…) Here are five things we wish we had known before we published our eBook.

1. Make sure your ready to roll Don’t even think of beginning the process until your manuscript is in tip-top shape. We recommend hiring a professional editor to make sure it’s as clean as possible. And how about the cover? It’s vital! Even though you are self-pubbing, you don’t want a cheap-looking book cover to shout it from rooftops. iStock is a great place to pick up a nice image or you can pay a photographer to create the perfect pic.

2. Decide what your game plan is Our two cents? Set up accounts with Amazon KDP and Barnes and Noble first-you will make most of your sales there. Want to reach other retailers easily? Then you’ll need to hook up with Smashwords too.

3. Speaking of Smashwords…. Yes, they are an absolute pain with all those crazy formatting rules, but Smashwords can make it easy to deliver your book to multiple retailers, such as Apple iBooks, Kobo, Sony and more. Just make sure to “opt out” for Amazon and B&N-it’s much more efficient to deal with them directly.

4. Play by their rules I’m talking about the dreaded formatting. Trust us when we tell you that you should definitely read through the entire Smashwords formatting guide before you even get started. (We had to go “nuclear” with our book!) Amazon and B&N are much easier and require little formatting, but you still need to make sure it looks correct when it’s downloaded to an eReader. Because, trust us, nothing turns a reader off more than a poorly formatted book.

5. Be patient Give yourself plenty of time for this process. None of the sites will put your book on sale right after you upload it. And if you have any problems, it maytake much longer than you had anticipated. Also, if youdiscover a mistake, Amazon can take up to 72 hours to make the document available again for editing. (Which believe us, will be the longest 24-72 hours of your life!) Smashwords only delivers the files once every 1-2 weeks to their retailers so it’s really important that you get it right the first time, otherwise you may have inaccuracies in your book for weeks.

One more thing! Now that you’re masterpiece is ready for mass consumption, make sure you have a solid game plan for your book launch. Have your blog tour dates ready, Facebook page locked and loaded and get ready to tweet your face off! With Ebooks, it’s more important than everto have a strong social networking presence. And don’t forget to pester your friends to write fabulous reviews and basically stalk everyone you’ve ever met to purchase it.

Good Luck!

Liz and Lisa have kindly agreed to give away copies of The D Word to a few lucky commenters. So don’t be shy. If you’ve got a question or a thought on digital publishing, leave a comment!

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke are the co-creators of the popular website Chick Lit is Not Dead and the co-authors of I’ll Have Who She’s Having and The D Word. They are currently at work on their third novel. You can read more about them at www.chicklitisnotdead.com.

7 thoughts on “What We Wish We Had Known About Publishing an Ebook”

  1. Sounds like a long process. I am glad that you took all the time and effort because I love reading Ebooks. Once I am done with one I can download another without ever having to leave the house!

  2. I love my kindle but I still like to read books the old fashion way too. As a matter of fact, now I read twice as many books because I usually read at least one book of each type at a time.

  3. While I still love printed books, I just love books in general, and I love that e-books make it so much easier for readers and authors to share them.

  4. I finally broke down and bought myself a Kindle. There are so many great books That I have wanted to read (including both of Liz’s and Lisa’s books) but are only available in E-Book format. It looks easy all I gotta do is click buy and boom there it is. So can’t wait to be able to see what is available for me!

  5. Excellent advice, especially about going directly to Amazon and B&N, and then letting Smashwords distribute to the rest of the sites. I actually go through Smashwords’ “meatgrinder” first to make sure everything is okay, and then I make necessary adjustments for Amazon and B&N. One other benefit of a Smashwords presence is the ability to make the book free to everyone or to select people, i.e., reviewers. Thanks! Go chick lit!

Comments are closed.