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Self Publishing - An Alternative for Hubbers?
Self Publishing - Exciting Time for Writers and Authors
Self publishing is an exciting thing to consider for Hubpage authors. Many authors write at hubpges because they don't really want to write "commercial stuff" or because they can find no other home for their fiction. To me that's a mismatch, HubPages doesn't really have good matching ads for fiction, poetry and for even some more "commercial" topics, such as travel.
In the wake of changes made recently at HubPages I have been looking for alternative ways to make money online. One that has got me very excited is eBooks. No, no, I don't mean some spammy info-product which is being flogged off for $49.97 plus bonuses.
I mean books published through major retailers: predominantly Kindle Direct Publishing (for Amazon) and Smashwords.com (distributes books to many retailers including Apple, Barns&Noble, Angus&Robertson). They are "normal" legit books typically prices at $0.99c or $2.99 for eBooks. Personally I am more interested in writing non-fiction books, but most of the information I've found on the subject have been from successful fiction writers.
My First eBook
Note this book is normally priced at $2.99 - it's just that Hubpages can't get it right!
Self Publishing and eBooks - Their Time Has Come
If you are even slightly interested in reading and writing you may have noticed that the book publishing industry is going through hard times at the moment. Big book retailers are struggling, and major chains have close to bankruptcy in the US (Borders) and Australia (Angus & Robertson).
Why are retailers suffering? Basically for the same reason that CD stores are closing. People are finding it cheaper and more convenient to buy online - Amazon being the best known of the on-line retailers. And that's just for the dead-tree books. As as a non-American the weakness of the US$ means that even after freight, its cheaper to buy a book on Amazon and ship it that buy it locally, with an eBook - I'm paying about a 1/3 of the local paperback price.
Amazon is also in the forefront of eBook publishing. Since Amazon launched their eBook reader, the Kindle, in 2007, sales have skyrocketed, both of the reader and of course of the books to read on it. Kindle is a new technology though - will it catch on. Frankly I own one and love it, but weather it becomes mainstream or not: I don't care. You don't even need a Kindle to read a Kindle eBook - there is free software available on Amazon to read your eBook on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone. In fact you can read your book on several devices at the same time - and the software will remember where you had got to on one device when you pick up the same book another!
Amazon is doing to digital books what iTunes did for digital music. Is killing off the middle-men - the publishers - and connecting the producers (writers) directly with the consumers. So everyone is happy - except the traditional publishing empires - oh dear how sad :-)
Elements for Successful Self-Publishing
I'm no writer - I'm told I can put a coherent hub or website together, but I have never seen myself as an author. Until now. Now I see an opportunity to combine my skills with SEO and keyword research with my ability to string sentences together (more or less). I've read a lot of stuff on the subject in the last month or so (including all the books recommended in this hub).
1) A Subject For Which People Want to Buy Books
This isn't that hard but some market research is useful here. You would have to live under a rock not to know that romance, erotica, paranormal and vampires are hot in fiction right now. So a paranormal, erotic story about vampires should do well! Mind you will have plenty of competition too.
So, particularly for non-fiction. Do some research. Go to Amazon and search your topic in the bookstore (for dead tree books) and Kindle store (for eBooks). Are there any competiting titles? If so that's good - particularly if they are from traditional publishers - that tells you they think there is demand - go for it.
If there is nothing on Amazon but plenty of results if you do the same search on Google - even better.
If you had a hub that ranked well, and got lots of search traffic, before the recent Panda updates and doesn't anymore, or even if it does, that's pretty much guaranteed isn't it?
The Best Writing Guide for Non Fiction
Classic book - written long before the Internet, never mind eBooks! I own the paperback and really if you read one book about writing non-fiction -read this one
2) Write a Decent Book
If you google "how to make money self publishing books" you will find some crappy schemes which involve adding pictures to public domain (out of print) books or using generic articles ("PLR") to string together a so-called book. This is bullshite as far as I am concerned.
But so is the school of thought who thinks you need to write 100,000 words and agonize over each one! My first book is around 20,000 words - it covers the topic, without the fluff. That's a perfectly decent length, for non-fiction anyways.
If you are into fiction - well that's not my game - read some of the recommended books below, from what I understand you just need to write a book people want to read.
If you are serious about making some real money from this (John Locke - who sold the million books at 99c would have grossed about $350,000 in 5 months...) you need multiple books (Locke has 9). So you need to be able to write a book in months not years - I did so you can too - and probably much better than I did.
3) A Well-Formatted Book
Yes you probably need someone to edit your book - I'm struggling with that one as I write this. At a very minimum you need to have a book which has no typos or grammatical howlers. That's just the start though. You need to have your book formatted so it reads well on your reader's device of choice. If you have a non-fiction book you need a good table of contents so readers can jump to the bit that interests them (remember they can't as easily flip thru the book as they can with a paperback).
This is your front door - you need a decent cover design - even though there are plenty of free programs out there for graphics design - I used a professional designer, a fellow hubbere and friend Sybille Yates
There is lots of information out there about how to format your eBook (Self Printed, listed below is particularly good at this. If you are going to get your book printed on paper you will probably end up with two slightly different versions because of the different demands of paper and screen.
If all of this scares the crap out of you - pay someone $50 to format your book - there are plenty of authors out there offering the service!
4) A Well-Promoted Book
OK you write hubs - so you know how to promote your hubs don't you? Well promoting a book is pretty much the same, but different. There are 3 levels of promotion from what I can see.
Directly promote your Amazon listing.
Once your book is approved and up and available on Amazon - you can promote your listing directly - tweet it, facebook it, plus any other social media your already use. Write a hub and include the book in the Amazon module - that's not even self-promotional according of the TOS of HubPages!
Develop an Author Blog
Many authors use free blogs including blogspot.com or wordpress.com to develop their author blog. I don't think its a good idea to tie something as important as your online home to someone else's virtual real estate. Bite the bullet and buy hosting, your own domain and setup a blog - its not that hard - or pay someone to do it for you - you should get a basic WordPress set up for about $100. There's an example of my own author blog below - because I already have my name online associated with "making money online" - I branded my new blog as being about Lis's Travel Tips. Many authors will just use myname.com
There is a mailing list signup on this blog - I want people to sign up so I can let them know when my books are published. They can also follow me on social media (facebook, twitter etc) - its all about branding! This is where you put updates, highlight reader reviews, talk about industry changes.
Develop a Book Site
Linked from my author blog you will see my travel books site: Non-Boring Travel Guides. This is more for SEO than anything else. I want to rank that site on page one for my main topic "vacation packing tips" - obviously the Amazon listing will be out-rank it - but its always good to show multiple times in the listings.
I can also list all the ways you can buy the book - particularly the smashwords.com options. Another advantage for you is if someone books via your blogs - you get your affiliate commission as well!
I've Read and Found These Books Helpful (all ebooks - some have paper versions too)
John Locke has sold over a million fiction books in 5 months. The guy has taken his knowledge of marketing and applied it to fiction. I own this book - highly recommended
My Blog About Self-Publishing
- Publishing Books | Passive Income Online: Lis Sowerbutts
Self-publishing ebooks is an income stream that has got me really, really excited - read on to find out why
More From Me on Self Publishing
My blog is wide-ranging in topics - but self publishing is what I've been thinking about and doing for the last month or so. I can't do too many links here so here is the link to the category page: most recent posts at the top - enjoy and please leave me a comment on a post if you have questions!
My first book - live on Amazon!