Tonight, I logged on to a webinar presented by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA). Gerri Russell, a well know romance writer, was the presenter, and the topic was e-publishing. Ms. Russell took us through the reasons she chose to go down the e-publishing route which I won't share here (that's her story to tell), but it did make me think about whether I really want to deal with agents and publishers.
I will share her troubles getting an agent, mostly because this is one of the things that sends new authors to e-publishing or defeats them completely. She opened with (and I'm paraphrasing): "I've been writing for sixteen years, and I didn't get published for thirteen of those years, because the genre of Paranormal Romance wasn't of interest to publishers until just recently." Of course, now she has six or seven books, written during those years, that are selling like crazy.
I also want to share some of the information that I didn't know, like (and I updated my previous post) that CreateSpace is the division of Amazon that physically publishes e-books, not the facility that formats the e-books themselves. Lightning Source is the Barnes and Noble equivalent, and also the service used by the library (at least in the Seattle area).
So in no order other than what comes to my mind first, here are some of the things I learned from this lecture.
(1) If you're going to e-publish, buy ISBNs. Bowker.com is the place she purchased her ISBNs. Another thing, about ISBNs, is that if you plan on writing more than one book, then you should buy multiple ISBNs up front. One ISBN will cost you $125, ten will cost $250, and a hundred will cost $575. Also, an e-book has a different ISBN than a physically published book. So I'll probably go for at least ten, but my friends will tell you that I love a bargain. Ten vs. a hundred. I may have to go with a hundred, just in case I start cranking out the books.
(2) Purchase professional services like cover illustrator and copy editor. This will help promote and retain a professional reputation.
(3) Use straight quotes instead of the MS Document style quotes. The word style quotes will create an error for each quote mark in the e-pub document. That's a lot of errors. She suggested converting your whole manuscript to text format and start from there.
(4) Another formatting issue. Ever since I've been taking classes, the standard when submitting anything to anyone is Times New Roman, 12pt, double spaced. Not so with e-books. She says she uses Calibri, 10 or 11pt. And no double spacing. Basically Ms. Russell suggested doing a preview, and during that preview, pick a font that is readable in different sizes, a font that isn't going to give the reader a headache.
(5) Images can be uploaded, fairly easily, for e-books. But take into consideration that readers will be reading at different font sizes. So wrapping text around an image, like in a word document, isn't something that can be done.
(6) The big three e-publishers are Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and SmashWords (which issues multiple formats, including for palms and iPads, and just text.) Ms. Russell recommended submitting to Amazon and Barnes and Noble first, to make sure that the format comes out right on their sites. SmashWords will format for Kindle and Nook, but it may not be "perfect". But definitely submit to all three.
(7) DRM (digital rights management) is something I'll have to investigate more later. She did say that originally she chose to have DRM, to help prevent piracy, but that her books ended up being pirated anyway, and she finally stopped choosing DRM. She also said that DRM makes it more difficult for the reader. I'm not sure how it makes things more difficult, but as I said, I'll have to investigate this more later.
(8) Amazon now has a royalty "fund"because of all the bad-press about loaning books to Prime members without paying royalties to the authors. Not sure how that works, but will investigate if I go the e-publishing route.
(9) Finally, she used the term "the power of free". She typically puts her books out there for free for a couple of days, to get her name on lists and her books in circulation.
With all this said, e-publishing is looking better and better.