WRITERS. Last week, I attended a terrific 90-minute webinar entitled “Do Your E-Book Right (and Start Making Money).” Presented as part of the Writer’s Digest Webinar Series, this particular session was led by the former publisher and editorial director of Writer’s Digest, Jane Friedman.
She described how e-books are providing new opportunities for aspiring authors to publish their work electronically at little or no cost. Friedman also talked about some of the services that can help you convert your manuscript into book formats that can be read on media tablets, smartphones, and computers.
One free service Friedman highlighted was Smashwords, which allows you to become a published author in minutes. You can use Smashwords to publish full-length novels, short fiction, essays, poetry, personal memoirs, non-fiction, and screenplays.
Smashwords will convert your manuscript into multiple e-book formats, making your book readable on most e-reading devices, including: the Amazon Kindle; the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad; the Sony Reader; the Barnes & Noble nook; Android devices; and personal computers.
You can set your own price for the book and retain full control over sampling and marketing. You receive 85 percent of the net sales proceeds from your titles (70.5 percent for affiliate sales).
Based in Los Gatos, California, Smashwords was founded in 2007 by aspiring novelist Mark Coker. After he and his wife co-authored a book in 2002, they were unable to land a book deal even after two years of representation from one of the most respected literary agencies in New York City. Coker concluded that that in today’s digital age, authors should be able to publish whatever they want and readers should be able to decide for themselves what’s worth reading.
“Authors lucky enough to land a book deal rarely sell enough books to earn royalties beyond their initial $5,000 to $10,000 advance,” noted Coker. He learned that trade publishers were losing money on nearly 80 percent of the books they publish because of the high costs of production, warehousing, distribution, and marketing. Bookstores were often returning up to 50 percent of their inventory for a full refund.
With the launch of the iPad and other improved media tablets and e-reading devices, e-books are becoming increasingly important to the book-publishing industry.
Smashwords has already published more than 30,000 ebooks for more than 13,000 authors and independent publishers.
“By digitizing a book, authors and publishers can immortalize their works, making them permanently discoverable to new audiences,” explains Coker. “For authors and publishers of out-of-print books, e-books offer a great way to bring these works back to life.”
Of course once you publish your ebook, you will still need to promote it. To get started, download the free “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.” This marketing primer presents an overview of how Smashwords helps promote your book, and then provides 26 simple do-it-yourself marketing tips.
If you want Smashwords to distribute your book to major e-book retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobe, and Diesel, you will need to download and use the free Smashwords Style Guide. The guide provides step-by-step instructions for formatting the manuscript for your e-book.