For years people have told me that being a writer was probably one of the hardest professions out there. Obviously, these people didn’t know about the ebook revolution.
Here we are, the battle field has cleared and no, print isn’t quite dead, but it is struggling. And the world of publishing has been reborn. As a writer, you’ve never stood in front of more opportunity than you do right now.
We can all agree that every author’s ultimate dream is to sniff the glue binding of the crisp pages of their first masterpiece. The bitter reality is that most of us will never write a book that fits a publisher’s idea of the cookie cutter, mainstream, marketable novel. But in today's new digital publishing world, it doesn't matter.
That once upon a time just died.
Information can now be delivered in an instant and is infinitely accessible. Writers no longer need permission to follow their dreams or publish edgier, riskier material. And here’s the thing, good writers have nothing to lose and everything to win.
So this is it, shine the Batman light for all the writers like me, and hopefully you, who have been waiting in the wings, this is our chance. It’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for.
The gatekeepers are MIA.
Now we are not only writers. Now we create, design, and self-publish our own material. We are out there running our own businesses. We are marketing for ourselves and doing way more than the writers that came before us.
Almost all our lives we’ve been shown that traditional publishing looks super glamorous. Book tours. National TV appearances. Lovely and large royalty advances. A publisher going crazy over you and catering to your every whim. Nothing to do but turn in a manuscript and all the layout, design, promotion, and sales will be taken care of for you.
What’s the reality? Unless you’re Stephen King, or you’re standing inside your own publishing house, assume that nobody you meet has ever heard of you or your books.
We’re not just writers anymore. We design our book’s promotional materials. Cover mockups, interior mockups, sales pages, Facebook ads, Pinterest pins, etc. We have to master the art of converting viewers into buyers.
Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing requires an investment of your own money up front. When it comes to the cost of self-publishing a book, the good news is that you control your own spending. You have the power to shop around for the best, more cost-efficient editors and cover designers. You are the one steering this self-publishing ship.
You might not have thought about this aspect of self-publishing. When it comes to making your book look like a book, but you will need interior formatting. Formatting AKA that dark time of my life, is huge when it comes to ebooks. It is UTTERLY ANNOYING AND STRESSFUL to format your MS Word manuscript for uploading to the many different platforms such as Ibooks, nook, Smashwords or Amazon’s Digital Text Platform.
So yes, there is easy money to be made in e-books, if you can stomach the crappy bit at the beginning where you actually have to make the damn thing. What needs to be understood is that Ebooks are different from print books, so NEVER attempt to make your ebook look like an exact facsimile of your print book, otherwise you’ll only frustrate yourself by creating a poorly formatted, unreadable ebook.
Everything you know. Forget it.
Page numbers are irrelevant. Your book will look different on every e-reading device. Your text will shape shift and reflow. Most e-reading devices and e-reading applications allow your reader to customize the fonts, font sizes and line spacing. Your customers will modify how your book looks on-screen to suit their personal reading preference and environment.
Self-publishers have to figure out our rights. We have to determine how much security is necessary. Do you get the twelve foot concrete wall or the white picket fence? It’s important to note that the moment you publish an original work in a tangible form, you hold the copyright, but if you really want to enforce the copyright (especially in court), it’s a good idea to file legitimately. It’s very inexpensive, but it’s not a quick process. It can take 8 months or more.
You can submit your book to obtain an official copyright from the governing entity where you live. In the U.S., you can head over to Copyright.gov.
Remember in this new world books bring information, provocation, entertainment, and comfort to many people. If you play a role in any part of the process, you’re lucky to be part of that.
A lot about publishing is unfair and inscrutable. Sometimes good books sell well; sometimes good books sell poorly; sometimes bad books sell well; sometimes bad books sell poorly. Which brings me to another thing I want you to remember, you don’t need anyone else’s approval or permission to enjoy the magic of writing. I’ve wanted to write fiction since I could speak. Nothing can stop you!
Our generation of writers are doing something special and I’m proud to say I’m part of it.