Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Ebook far

Well, yesterday I launched (or resurrected) my first novel, Draugr, as an ebook.

A few weeks before that I released Dust as an ebook (available only in the US and UK because I don't have the Canadian rights).

Total sales so far: 6
I'm actually very pleased with that. I don't see this as a massive sales rush, but more a long term project that (I hope) will pay off over time. If I only make $1000.00 a year from the experiment...then that's ten grand after ten years (because the books will not be taken off the shelves unless something major happens to the internet or people start downloading them into their brains).
Why bother? Well, two main reasons. One is that these books were out of print in various countries, so I could at least be making an income from them. The second is that right now in the publishing world there is great, numbing fear about the changes coming to the industry via ebooks (umm...update the changes are here) and, frankly, the e-rights being offered by major publishers are not very generous (to make it simple if I sell an ebook through a publisher I make $25% of net which on a $10.00 book would be $1.75. If I upload that same book to amazon myself I make $7.00). Obviously there are a multitude of factors on why a traditional contract is still very much in the cards for a new book ("paper" books are the vast majority of my sales and, at this moment, the sales of the Children's market, publishers have promotion budgets, editors, sales staff, etc.) For my out-of-print books it was an easy decision to go it alone.
I am a bit of a techie and I like to have control over my own work. I was inspired by blogs by people such as JA Konrath

and Robin Sullivan of Ridan Publishing.

Read those blogs. They are very inspiring and eye-opening about the ebook world (Konrath has a long list of authors who have been successful on the epublishing front--some heady stuff, to be sure, though of course I can't find a corresponding blog about failures of e-pubbing--then again you can't win if you don't play).

So armed by inspiration, I researched how to make an eBook. And you know what, it's relatively easy. First I signed up at Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)(Amazon's ebook publishing program). Then I converted my book into html following this guide by Derek Canyon:

Then I asked an artist friend to do the cover for a fee (in the case of Dust it was Christopher Steininger and Draugr was done by Derek Mah--hire them, they're great). Then I uploaded my file to KDP and within 24 hours it was for sale worldwide (C'mon a book...I dare you!).
Of course, Amazon isn't the only game in the ebook market. There are many others including B&N, Apple, Sony etc. I am in the process of getting my books on iTunes myself, but for the rest of the distributors I used Smashwords. What Smashwords does is take a word file (prepared exactly to their specifications) and put it through their "meatgrinder" which spits out your book in various formats (epub/pdf/html) and then distributes it on their website and to all the major ebook sellers (Amazon/B&N etc.,). For a fee, of course (15% of net). This is likely the easiest way to go--I chose to put up my book on iTunes and Amazon on my own because it was easy enough to do and I kept that 15%.

Anyway, that's been the journey so far...

Hmm in the time it's taken to write this blog another sale appeared on Smashwords. That's 7 total. I'm gonna open the bubbly when it hits double digits. Err, maybe I'll wait until after 11 AM.



Unknown said...

Very cool, Art! I'm definitely behind the eBook thing, which (I think) makes me behind the 'author' thing. I follow Joe's blog, and many others, along with doing ePublishing updates on my own blog.

I'll be honest, my main interest is writing YA material, but I just haven't seen that many success stories for ePubbing in that market. My guess is that the tech hasn't permeated that age group yet. (I definitely think it will.) While I do see students reading on their phones/iTouch occasionally at the school I work at, I don't see that many eReaders.

I'll be watching your blog, and hoping for your success.

Thanks for sharing,


Jenny said...

Art, I love your attitude. It's refreshing and inspirational. Having just released my first full-length novel almost three weeks ago, it's been an interesting and exciting journey. Good luck to you, and may the sales continue to pour in like rain.

Unknown said...

Thanks Jenny and E.J.

It is a changing market. There was an article recently in the NY Times about how parents are starting to buy eReaders for kids (partly because they are giving them something that only has books on it and a few games). So the eReader/kid market is growing. But yeah, paper books are still the main way to go. We'll be a year or so behind the curve on that, I imagine.

Colleen Friesen said...

Thanks for such a great post. It's refreshing to read something that sounds like an authentic experience that I can actually relate to.

It's a nice contrast to some of the gushing and enthusiastic stories I've read that sound a little like infomercials...hmmm...

Colleen Friesen said...

Thanks for this post. It was refreshing to read something less infomercial-ish :)
It's exactly the kind of information I was looking for.
Best of luck with the sales and don't forget to crack the champagne at 10!

Unknown said...

I've officially cracked the champagne! : )

PK HREZO said...

Thanks, Arthur. I plan to do this in the next month, so I really appreciate your info. Best of luck with your books! :)

Unknown said...

you're welcome Pk! Good luck, it's a fun adventure...