How to Publish an Ebook
Some people dislike ebooks. I don’t understand that at all. These people sing the praises of printed books, even commenting on how they like the smell of them. Only printed books are “real books” to them.
I imagine that when printed books came into existence in the 1400s, a certain percentage of the population hated them. They wanted to continue using scrolls, and they had dozens of reasons why scrolls were better than printed books.
I tend to agree with Douglas Adams, the famous author of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. He said, “Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food.”
Personally, I have collected about 10,000 print books, and I ended up giving most of them to a university library. My contribution made a material difference to their collection.
However, I seldom buy print books these days. I am thrilled to be able to access thousands of books stored on my tablet. And, of course, I can access literally millions of books via Amazon and have them downloaded to my tablet and a matter of minutes. All bibliophiles should love that!
To me, the availability and portability of ebooks far outweigh any other consideration. Ebooks are a major positive contribution to literacy, learning, and entertainment.
Ebooks are Universal
For all his sins, Jeff Bezos, did a wonderful thing when he standardized an ebook format and made ebooks instantly available through his WhisperNet delivery system.
Before the Kindle ebook format, there were scores of different formats, and people needed many different kinds of readers to enjoy them. Today, there are only two formats for ebooks. The most significant one is the proprietary Kindle format, and you can read these books on a dedicated ebook reading device, or with a universal Kindle app that works on all computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Readers want the kind of immediacy that Bezos offers. They have demonstrated they don’t want to go traipsing through bookstores trying to find a certain title, and they don’t want to wait forever to receive a copy of the book they order. Readers also want choice — they love the option of selecting a paperback, ebook, or audiobook.
The other major e-book format is EPUB. This is not a proprietary format and you can create ebooks in this format and sell them anywhere except Amazon. There are a number of different EPUB ebook readers, but you only need to select the one you like in order to read all ebooks in EPUB format.
Authors should not be prejudiced about the medium that readers choose to consume our content. We should be thrilled that we have so many options to offer them.
Creating an Ebook
An ebook is nothing more than an HTML page that has a special command set built into it. Thus, the DNA of an ebook is more like a website that it is a printed book.
That makes ebooks rather easy to create. You can use a standard fully edited Word document with proper section and work breaks, and load that directly into Kindle KDP. Your book is automatically formatted with all the peculiar Kindle proprietary conventions. It can be read on any Kindle device or app.
When you upload it, double-check it in preview mode. You want to verify that pages appear as you wish.
You don’t have to worry about font type or size, or many other factors that relate only to print books. All Kindle ebook readers allow readers to set font style and size, and to select a page color they like. Pagination is also not an issue because almost all ebooks have free-flowing text, and what appears on a page is largely determined by the size of the screen a person is using to read the book and the font size they selected.
There are plenty of places to create EPUB books. As with the Kindle, you just upload a properly structured Word file, and the ebook creator inserts all the proper conventions for easy reading.
Some writing software enables you to export your manuscript directly to EPUB format. These include (among others):
- Pages (Apple OS only)
- Google Docs
Even if you write with another word processor, you can dump your book into any of these and then select EPUB in the output option.
Creating an ebook is as simple as that.
Creating an Ebook Cover
The best practices for covers are the same as I mentioned for print books. You may wish to review that.
But you don’t need a spine and back cover with an ebook. You can use the front cover from your print book, or, if you are only publishing an ebook edition, you create just the front cover.
There are plenty of free places to create covers, from KindleKDP when you upload your book or independent services like Canva which have ebook cover templates.
The big issue is the cover dimensions. It is 2,560 pixels tall x 1,600 pixels wide. Some authors try to get cute and use different dimensions to attract attention, but Amazon and other online booksellers don’t like that. They will either delete the odd-sized image or rank your book at the bottom.
The 2,650 x 1,600-pixel size is nearly universal. If you make one this size for Amazon, you can use it anywhere. Sometimes other online booksellers suggest a slightly different dimension, but there is no material difference. You can’t go wrong with the 2,650 x 1,600-pixel cover size.
I’m often asked about the loss of back cover content with ebooks. I have said how important it is to selling. How can you sell ebooks without the back cover blurb, synopsis, and brief author bio that clinches sales?
The answer is, you can’t. You need to present it. You insert the text right after the title and copyright pages. That way, people will see it when they use the “Look Inside” feature used by Amazon and other online booksellers.
When potential book-buyers “look inside,” they want to see the table of contents (nonfiction) and a sample of your writing. Therefore, the blurb, synopsis, and bio should be short—not more than a page or so.
Ebooks are not different than any other kind of book when it comes to selling them — they do not sell themselves. When you start promoting your book in the right places, and you unceasingly promote them, you will sell them.
If you intend to put your ebook on Amazon, or any other bookselling site and expect them to sell it for you, then you’re going to be very disappointed. I suggest you look at the book promotion ideas I discuss here. Those principles apply to print books, ebooks, and audiobooks.
There are two major errors that new authors have when it comes to selling ebooks. They are:
- Thinking that offering free books will get sales, or at the very least will get reviews. That seldom happens, and in not worth it anymore. I go into depth on this matter in this video. It is worth your time to view it.
- The second major error is competing on price alone. There are many ways to sell a book, but somehow new authors think cutting price is the best way. It’s not. In almost all cases you want to sell your book for at least $2.99, and far more if you can get it.
Amazon perpetuates these myths by trying to get new ebook authors to sign up for KDP Select. It is a promotional program that allows you to give away free copies for three days, but by giving Amazon sales exclusivity for 90 days.
During that time you must also agree to accept less than 1/2 of 1 cent for every page read through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. That’s a terrible deal for most people. I explain why in this video, and you should watch it before you make a decision about using KDP Select.
To make money as a writer, you need to sell on the basis of high value, not low price. You need to tell people why your book is better than the rest and why the reader cannot live without it. Don’t rehash what’s in your book, focus instead on the benefits readers will receive when they read it.
Selling PDF Ebooks
PDF ebooks are often overlooked as a way to make money. You turn your manuscript into a PDF file and sell it yourself on your own site.
This does not work for all books. But for the right kind, it can work very well, and you can make a lot of money.
What is the right kind of book? Usually those that explain in detail how people can make money. The money-making method may vary—online methods, Bitcoin, real estate, commodity trading, or whatever. Sometimes you see these kinds of ebooks in the health and wellness space.
The key is that you must be an authority and promise inside or little-known information. Of course, you must keep your promise.
People will pay from $29.99 to $129.99 (or far more) for these kinds of ebooks. The format is not important. They are buying the information.
These PDF ebooks can be huge money-makers because you sell them on your own website (usually with a special landing page). People pay, and the money goes directly into your account. There is no middleman skimming a piece of your action. The buyer then downloads the PDF. It’s an automated process.
You can’t sell fiction this way, or normal nonfiction. You must be able to convince potential buyers that you can help them make more money or substantially improve their lives in other ways.
You Can Make Money with Ebooks
Ebooks are a powerful way to sell your writing. Your well-edited manuscript needs minimal processing to sell online.
Covers are easy. You still need one that catches attention, but only the front cover. You don’t need anything more than basic interior layout because ebook formatting is standardized.
You don’t need an ISBN number on Amazon, and most other marketing companies, like Draft2Digital.com offer them for free.
You can publish an ebook. Do it in conjunction with your print book, or as a standalone publishing project.