Or rather, the question should be why NOT publish an E-Book?
On the upside, E-books are:
- Another way to get books to your readers
- Almost immediate availability upon purchase
- No printing, shipping, or storage costs
- Minimal time from finish to sale
- Easy to revise
- Can add links and resources not available in print
Really, there aren’t too many good reasons to not e-publish, but there are some things to keep in mind for different types of books.
If you have a standard doc, docx or rtf file with no special formatting needs, your file is relatively easy to convert to a reflowable text e-pub file. Because this format is more about content than appearance, it allows the reader to select font and type size, and affords an easy reading experience on most devices.
While there are specialized software programs, independent authors can find free options that work fairly well to convert their manuscript. One of my favorites for personal use is Cailbre E-book Management, which converts free rights documents into several version for e-readers and has a personal library system.
If you want to sell your book, you might look into e-distributors (more on those below) since they tend to have their own conversion software available for free. If you’d rather hire it out and get a quality guarantee for various devices, you will pay on average $100-$250 per manuscript. Quite a few printers offer e-book conversion and distribution services.
Be aware that any special text, pictures, illustrations, charts, graphs, etc add to the cost of conversion.
As a publisher, I prefer my authors to use paragraph and character styles to ensure an easy conversion. A file filled with manual tabs, extra returns, unusual bold and italics, centered lines, and various fonts, colors and sizes makes any conversion very messy.
Generally seen in children’s, cookbooks, art and photography books, and textbooks because they are graphics heavy and the layout is important. This is quite a bit more complicated and tends to start around $125 plus a page count, depending on what is needed. Amazon does have a free children’s book app with limited functionality for conversion upload to KDP.
You can produce fixed layout E-books from a PDF file if high quality is not a consideration, such as pamphlets or small organization publications. A high quality ebub really requires all illustrations and photos be in Photoshop (psd) or Illustrator (ai) files.
These are much more complicated to produce, and are generally used for children’s books, education, and business training documents. Motion, sounds, buttons, pop-ups, quizzes, slideshows and touch-based interactivity – primarily produced for tablets like iPad and Kindle Fire or online use. These need specialized conversion software and services start around $300.
There are many options for distribution including your own site. If you do sell your own books, ensure you have cross platform usability and some kind of Digital Rights Management (DRM) to restrict use and sharing. You will also need a new ISBN for the epub version of your book unless you only upload through Amazon KDP.
Most distributors have special requirements for pricing and may provide software or specifications for input files, so be sure to read all the terms carefully.
All royalty payments from e-distributors are based on a percentage of profit, rather than retail price, but there is a wide variation for the terms and conditions.
Single Site Retailers
The top 4 retailers have very specific considerations and requirements for authors and publishers (including some non-competitive pricing considerations), so if you are going to submit to them, be sure to read all the terms and conditions very carefully.
- Amazon KDP and Amazon KDP Select – If you only sell on one site, this is where you need to be.
- Google Play Books – SEO ranking is the biggest reason to sell on Google
These distributors have many linked sales sites, including Amazon, iBooks, B&N, and Kobo. Also know that the author payment is based on a percentage of what they receive from their partners. There are quite a few options, but the two biggest are:
- Draft2Digital is a new and growing site with easy to use tools. They provide conversion, which is a plus in my book.
- SmashWords has been around a long time and has many partner sites. They provide the tools, but you have to convert your manuscript yourself.
Ebook production and distribution has become almost a necessity in today’s mobile oriented word. If you haven’t converted your text based book to an electronic format, it’s definitely something you need to consider.