Friday, July 8, 2011

E-Publishing Especially for the Indie Author

My writing buddy Melissa Rees and I are discussing and praying about epublishing our own novels. Why? We're both tired of waiting for that great contract from a traditional publisher. For several months, we've been checking out conversion of manuscript prices, royalties, and the general pros and cons of producing and launching our own ebooks. Here's a bit of our research FYI. . . :-)

A significant number of famous authors with HUGE name recognition have choosen or are choosing to independently epublish their own books, including J.K. Rowling. On the other side, a growing number of authors without name recognition are also successfully selling their independently epublished books. A few of those have made $100,000 or more in a single month with Amazon, and have established name recognition by themselves. For two examples, check out John Locke and Amanda Hocking.

There are HEAPS of epublishing sites to choose from. Some are inexpensive; some are definitely too expensive. A comparison of their quality? That's beyond my research so far. For this blog, I'm only going to mention two sites I'm actually considering (even as I wait for a contract I was verbally offered weeks ago but haven't received yet).

But first let me back up a bit before I share a few comparison statistics. Why do I even want to think about independently epublishing? Some of you had great answers for that question, mainly from a reader's perspective. Thanks for your input!

The main answer I received from your comments and other research was that ebooks are not only here to stay, but they're rapidly expanding because readers LUV them for many reasons (see my Feb 11, 2011 blog). Sharon Lavy, Darren Kehrer, and others shared how much they like their Kindles for travels, but prefer print books at home. Suzanne Wesley made me eager for the day Kindle adds color, as she's enjoying that aspect of her new Nook, especially for children's books. Jane McIrvin reminded me Kindle software can be used on other technology. She also stated she's frustrated when Kindle ebook costs as much as the print copy. (I'm sure we all agree there!) And several of you said you don't read ebooks yet, but you're looking forward to doing so.

A year ago on July 18, 2010, Jude Urbanski's HI blog was on epublishing (check it out). I have to admit I only scanned her blog then, as I would never have guessed that just a year later (now), I'd be considering epublishing. Jude's blog was six months before my total change of reading-heart caused by my Christmas gift of a Kindle from my son Peter. These days I'm reading more ebooks than print ones!

Part of Jude's blog referenced Randy Ingermanson's epublishing predictions. And based on her email to me a couple of days ago, I'm guessing Jude favors ebooks even more strongly this year than she did last year (like me, and I'm sure MANY others). Now she says, "I'm sold on the benefits of epub except for having a book in hand to market. Am currently in the throes of marketing my ebook and am finding there are a lot of similarities." In fact, she has two ebooks nearing release: Joy Restored in Nov this year and its sequel next June (2012). Both are by Desert Breeze, a royalty paying publisher of romances. I haven't seen Jude's contract, but it looks like she'll be getting at least 35% or 40% in royalties.

Since I haven't seen the print version of the "promised" contract for my books, I don't know for sure what royalty I'll be offered for my books in e-form. But my agent thinks perhaps as high as 50%. I'll let you know. . .

With a push from my son Peter, several years ago I started self/independently-publishing my books to sell when I speak. And I've immensely enjoyed (and profited from) the resulting experience. That's the primary reason I'm strongly considering indie epublishing, AND by the same online-accessed printer that's already printed thousands of my books, They've just recently started epublishing, which delights me.

InstantPublisher's epubbing is as inexpensive (compared to many self-publishers) as their print publishing, at least when "you" do all the paginating, etc, yourself. They charge $129.99 for the conversion and ISBN number. Plus there are minimal book cover design costs of approximately $65 if needed. As well, they offer free stock covers or you can provide your own design. IP offers two price options for listing the book with Amazon and a few other places. (Based on personal experience, I'm only interested in Amazon.) "You" can pay IP's annual listing fee of $50 and keep all of Amazon's 70% royalty split (Amazon keeps 30%). Or keep 60% from the Amazon split and pay IP the remaining 10% per book. If I go with IP, I'll take the annual fee option.

As most of you know, Amazon has an epublishing option for indie authors' books ( According to my writing buddy, there are no upfront costs (except for covers if necessary) when "you" do all the uploading work (just like IP). Melissa's paying $400 for a local artist to design her cover. Then there's the 70% author and 30% Amazon royalty split. However, if "you" want your book also available in print (by POD), there is a significant upfront production cost for that.

My writing buddy is also seriously considering epublishers and If any of you have experience with them, I hope you'll share that in a comment.

HEY! Enough for this blog. If I'm guessing correctly, I'll have more to share about epublishing in subsequent blogs, along with some of you.

Millie Samuelson


  1. Excellent information, Millie! I was wondering, what your researched showed regarding editing. Do they just do the simple punctuation and spell check, or truly assist with editing the content for a better product?


  2. Awesome post. I've considered self-publishing for a very long time but I'm not sure I have a big enough audience for it to be profitable for me at this time. My fear is putting mediocre work out there because I definitely need another set of eyes to look over my work so it shines. But if a person has a sharp eye for detail, I think this is definitely the way to go. Many of my friends are self-published and do very well.

  3. Thanks, Paul and Karla! About your question, Paul -- I think you get as much as you pay for. I've never used any of the editing options (but all sites offer them), so I can't answer your question any better than that. I do know that for every time I publish and reprint a book, I make changes and edits -- it's never ending. . . But like I used to tell my writing students, something doesn't have to be perfect to be excellent. . . One reason I've been able to print books inexpensively is because I "do" everything myself. I've sold thousands of books and have many loyal readers (in spite of imperfections here and there). :-)

  4. epublishing is just going to become more important as new devices come out and become more popular.

  5. Such an interesting world for writers right now :) Personally I'm an ebook fan (not sure when I last picked up a paperback).


  7. Darren, thanks for the tip! (above) A great example of ebooks' expansion. . . :-)