Despite the fact that I am not particularly computer savvy, I have still managed to self-publish my book on Smashwords.com and Amazon. I downloaded the style guide for Smashwords.com and Amazon onto my Kindle and I followed their guidelines to the letter. However, I could have saved myself a lot of time, if I had read the style guides before I wrote my book. Every single paragraph return in my document had to be deleted for Smashwords.com. The Amazon style guide was easier to implement, but there are two downsides to self-publishing on Amazon KDP: One is that people can only download your book if they have a Kindle and the other is that you have to give them 30% share of what you sell unless they are the exclusive sellers. In contrast, Smashwords.com only takes 20% share of what you sell and customers can download your book in lots of different formats. For example, they will add your book to the Apple iBookstore for download.
The most difficult thing to do for those less computer literate is the e-book cover. Smashwords.com says that the cover should ideally be 1600 pixels wide by 2400 pixels tall and the height must be greater than the width. They think that the best looking height: width ratio is 1.5:1.6 and the image needs to be in RGB colour. Now I personally would have no idea where to start producing such an image. However, for those in the know, it can be created in Paint. NET and should be saved as a jpeg image. Fortunately for me, my kind computer-programmer brother did my e-book cover after I sent him some ideas of what I wanted. He also did it for free, which is a bonus as I have no idea whether I will sell any of my books at all.
In fact, the whole process of self-publishing has so far been a bit of an anti-climax. It has been 7 days since I put my book up for sale and I thought I might immediately start selling books but apparently it doesn’t work like that. In the masses of books out there, my book is almost invisible. Therefore, I have started blogging again, in the hope of trying to attract customers to buy my book. Hopefully, someone out there is interested. I have read that some self-publishers put hours of effort into blogging/twittering etc. to advertise their book but at the end of the year, have not achieved much. So I need to make sure I don’t feel too upset if it doesn’t get me anywhere.
There has also been the question of price. What is the ideal price to start selling an e-book for? I have looked on the internet and it seems that you should start by either giving your book away for free or by selling it at a really low price such as £2/$2.99. You then raise the price of your book, once you have some reviews. Ignoring all the advice I have read, I have put my book on for a higher price just to see what happens and also because full-length parenting books seem to sell for more than £2/$2.99. I can see why people prefer to have an agent and a publisher do everything for them. A bit of advice and advertising can be very handy. As I have not had the luck of landing a publisher, I hope I can make my self-publishing journey as success. Wish me luck!
- From E-Book Ignoramus to Electronically Published in Three Days! (bartlemasanthology.wordpress.com)
- The rise of the 99-cent Kindle e-book (reviews.cnet.com)