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June 12th, 2009

9:44 PM

Why aren't more self-pub folks putting out their works in electronic form?

I find it odd how in the recent Lulu forum drama about the company's boo-boo, only one person mentioned putting out her works as ebooks. Won't it make sense to do so, when the general complain about Lulu is its ridiculous international delivery charges?

I'm not just talking about Kindle. I'm selfish, since I'm Malaysian and I can't use Kindle, I don't want ebooks to available exclusively in Kindle format only. Is it so hard to set up a Paypal account or something and sell those ebooks along with the dead tree versions? These authors had done all the work formatting the book in PDF for Lulu, Xlibris, and what not, so why not sell the PDFs as well? If that's too much work, there are plenty of third-party resellers from Scribd to RPG Drivethrough to Smashwords to do all that selling for the author.

Ebook market may be small, but given that the sales number of a bestselling ebook from Ellora's Cave can easily beat the sales number of a typical POD dead tree book, that means there is an audience for ebooks out there, one that can allow a self-published author to make a modest but surely adequate profit. Most of the self-published books I read are bought in ebook form. Rare the ones I bought in dead tree form - I only do that when I have money to spare in my book budget, which isn't often. Trade paperbacks are too expensive for me, and I only buy those written by authors I'm familiar with. When it comes to POD trade paperbacks, it is very likely I'd give it a miss with a heavy heart despite having read a good or intriguing review of it at POD People or PODRAM, because my budget doesn't allow impulse purchases of trade paperbacks.

Given that most self-published authors seem to be focusing a big part of their publicity efforts online,and they already have a PDF format of their book, and among online users, PDF formats can be very affordable impulse buys (especially short stories and novellas), I'm really puzzled as to why so many authors are recalcitrant to go the ebook route. Lack of awareness about ebooks, perhaps? Or an exaggerated fear of online piracy? Whatever the reason is, they seem to be missing out on a golden opportunity to make some sales here.

8 comment(s).

Posted by Roslyn Holcomb:

I don't get this one either Ms. G. It was definitely part of my gameplan. I already have a website, blog and paypal account. I was going to find a good editor, format it myself and sell it on my website as an ebook.

I couldn't afford Lulu or any of the other services, so it just made sense. I suspect that some people just really want to see their books in print.
June 12th, 2009 @ 10:26 PM

Posted by LKCampbell:

I hope that Kindle will be available internationally sometime in the near future. Thanks for the heads up about that, because I've been considering putting out my titles in .pdf as well as Kindle.
I've had a modest success with my titles on Kindle. Just this week from 6/4-6/11, I had 52 copies sold. (83 total copies sold since March 1) That probably doesn't equal the weekly sales for a larger epub, but I think it's very good for self-published books that are 2-5 years old.
June 12th, 2009 @ 10:45 PM

Posted by Tina Anderson:

First, putting out your eBook as PDF doesn't mean you'll get the sales Ellora authors have because you won't have distribution. I found out that in order to get picked up by some of the most popular eBook stores, I needed various versions of my eBook; so I did that. [PDF, Mobipocket format, etc] Then, I was informed that as a 'publisher' dealing directly with them, I'd need more than one eBook on the market [a minimum number of titles in eBook circulation]. Since I didn't meet their minimum, I went to another store, and they told me flat out that I needed a 'digital distributor', a company that specializes in selling digital content to online download sites and places like iTunes.

Honestly, it was like dealing with print books and their distributors. :/
June 12th, 2009 @ 11:42 PM

Posted by meh:

Mrs. G, my understanding, if you have iphone or ipod touch, you can get the free Kindle for iphone app on the apple store and use it to read kindle books on your iphone/itouch. I think an itouch is on my b-day wishlist because I'm not interested in hardware as limited as the kindle is.

For why they don't, my experience is that many authors (self-pubbed or not) are technologically challenged and the cost of hiring someone re: the formatting and dealing with user file complaints, etc., is prohibitive. PDF, of course, is pretty painless if you have adobe writer (a couple hundred dollars, I believe) and a word file already, but you have to have several titles for it to be worth the cost of picking up your own adobe software. There are some services that will convert for you on a single title basis, but by and large I view them as rip-offs. I've set up my own store with autodelivery, etc., but pulled it eventually because there are too many subject matter restrictions that I can never be confident I won't run afoul of.

It is unfortunate what happened with ebookad. They were a *good* outlet in the sense of ease of use and margin. Of course, margin doesn't matter worth a *%#& when they run off with everyone's moeny! Perhaps fictionwise will ease up on some of its requirements (they won't let rif-raf like me in) now that B&N has purchased it.
June 13th, 2009 @ 12:38 AM

Posted by Moriah Jovan:

All my remarks are outside the realm of PDF. I don't know why they don't do that, either.

1) The whole ebook concept doesn't seem to exist much outside of romance/erotica. I belong to an independent publishers Yahoo group and the whole concept stymies them. They say, "Nobody wants to read on-screen." I say, "You don't have to if you use formats X, Y, and Z." I try to preach the gospel, but nobody's converting.

2. It's very bewildering, all those formats, all those devices, trying to figure out what goes with what. I am of the opinion that you put it out in as many viable formats as possible to reach the widest range of people. Most of the anti or ambivalent ebook people don't want to put in the time or effort to learn how to do it, especially when they don't see ebook reading devices in the wild.

3. It takes a lot of time to learn how to format an ebook and format it well. If one doesn't see the value in it, one is not going to do it. I can say, "My margin on ebook sales is X over print," but that doesn't say much when people order print by a wide margin. But I'm patient and I have the luxury of time.

4. I set up my own site(s) as shopping carts with simple plugins. Nobody I have talked to who self-publishes outside of romance seems to have thought of it or, when I suggest it, wants to do it. *sigh*

5. The website design on some of the self-published authors' sites that I've seen are not attractive in the least bit. If one self-publishes, I believe one needs to put his best foot forward on all fronts, not just on the book front (which the people I know do).

My motto is making it as easy as possible for the customer to buy my book. Many of the self-publishers are still trying to get book signings and spend time going to b&m stores (which isn't BAD, but it's only one part of the bigger picture).
June 13th, 2009 @ 12:47 AM

Posted by Moriah Jovan:

"PDF, of course, is pretty painless if you have adobe writer (a couple hundred dollars, I believe) and a word file already, but you have to have several titles for it to be worth the cost of picking up your own adobe software."

meh: You can get freeware that'll do it well enough for Lightning Source to approve it. I do think they're so technologically challenged that they don't even know where to start or what questions to ask.

When I step in to explain, I get excuses as to why it can't be done or why it can't be done without a lot of outlay. I've stopped trying.

I'm not talking about Lulu. I don't hang out at Lulu. I'm only talking about the Yahoo group of independent authors who also call themselves presses.
June 13th, 2009 @ 12:53 AM

Posted by Gennita Low Jenn:

I've planned from the beginning to put out Big Bad Wolf six months after the print format. So, it's sometime end of this month or early July when it'll be available for sale in PDF from my blog with Paypal. But yes, trying to figure out every format is a lot of work. If I'm right (and that's just from a quick reading of the instructions) Kindle wants HTML and I just don't have the time.
June 13th, 2009 @ 6:19 AM

Posted by Gennita Low Jenn:

LK, ah, thanks! Much appreciated. Kindle baby, we're going to be buddies afterall.:)
June 13th, 2009 @ 12:59 PM