As iPads, Kindles and Nooks continue to gain traction among avid readers, eBooks surpassed hardcover books for net sales revenue in the first quarter of 2012, according to GalleyCat. This is great news for business owners and independent consultants. Why? Because eBooks are much easier to bring to market than traditional print titles, and they provide an opportunity to promote your expertise to an exponentially larger audience than a traditional marketing campaign.
Having a published book to your name is viewed as an instant credibility builder. People don’t care much about whether the book is long or short, or whether it ever made the bestseller list. The mere fact that you have documented your knowledge and insights in book form indicates to outsiders that you are an authority on a given subject. Your book says, “I’m an expert.” People trust experts, and people do business with people they trust. The math is simple: Write a book, get more business.
Of course, a lot of legwork is still involved in translating your tome into increased revenue. But, the growing trend toward eBooks has reduced the amount of effort considerably.
The New Model of Publishing
The advent of eBooks has had a profound impact on the publishing industry and has made it much easier for just about anyone to become a published author. The old model of publishing required writers to pitch their book idea to dozens of literary agents in hopes of finding representation. The agent then would help pitch the concept to publishers large and small. Assuming that a publisher agreed to take on the project (an exceedingly rare occurrence, mind you), the writer not only had to turn out the tome according to the publisher’s schedule and guidelines, but was subject to untold rounds of editing and had little say on critical issues, like cover design. (We all know that a shabby looking cover can tank sales, regardless of how good the content may be.)
Today, new technology has cut out the middle man, giving authors more creative control and empowering them to promote their work online through affiliate programs and social media. All you need to do is write. If you happen to have a Mac, check out the iBooks Author program, which provides user-friendly tools and templates for creating an iPad eBook. Whether you’re on a Mac or PC, you also can write your book the old-fashioned way with a program like MS Word, then team with a graphic designer to create a more appealing layout. (Be sure to find someone with experience in book formatting — and don’t just take their word for it. Ask for examples of their work. The graphic design should not cost more than a few hundred dollars, but you need a designer who has the chops to do the job right.)
If writing seems arduous, you can always work with a ghostwriter. Bear in mind, too, that eBooks do not have to be nearly as long as a print title. Whereas a 100-page print book would look silly on store shelves, the abbreviated length is acceptable for an eBook (especially if you set a lower price point; e.g., $0.99 – $4.99). When you have finished your manuscript, hired a freelance editor to proofread every page, and had a graphic designer finish the formatting, it’s time to turn your manuscript into an eBook. Again, look for a service provider with extensive experience in this area — this is not the time to cheap out or trust your neighbor’s nephew to get the job done. Technology is constantly changing, and only a seasoned eBook specialist will be able to deliver a quality product. (One that I recommend is BookNook.biz. Owner Kimberly “Hitch” Hitchens knows the business inside and out, and she will take the time to answer any questions.) You will want to have your book formatted for both ePUB (Amazon/Kindle and iPad) and mobi (Nook), which will set you back a few hundred dollars, but the investment is a fraction of what you would spend on printing costs.
Selling Your eBook Online
How do you get distribution? To sell your book through Barnes & Noble (for Nook readers), visit the Pubit! registration site for details. Similarly, Amazon offers Kindle Direct Publishing, and Apple has iTunes Connect. Review the guidelines for each distributor carefully to know whether you need to purchase an ISBN number for your eBook and also what revenue share you will receive from book sales (generally 60-70%).
Now that you know the steps that are involved, it’s time to start planning your first release! Don’t have time to write? Consider working with a freelance ghostwriter, like yours truly. Just drop me a line or call [two one four] 704-6661 and I will be happy to discuss your project with you.