Friday, November 26, 2010

An e-Pub Solution for Traditionally Published Authors with One or Two Titles

When I signed up for Colorado author and publisher Brian Schwartz’s workshop on The Fast Path to Publishing, I had every intention of formatting my own manuscript for Kindle and the rest of the e-books on the market.

It was a great workshop, but I quickly realized the process would take more time than I had available over the next few weeks. My second published novel won’t be eligible for e-book publication for at least a year, and by then, the rapidly changing world of digital publishing could make all that learning obsolete. In addition, while older book contracts rarely included digital rights, it will be harder for authors to retain those rights with future sales. These two books may be my only opportunities to convert manuscripts for digital reading devices.

The published author with an extensive backlist and enough time to do the work on his own will save money and possibly gain enough experience to set up his own e-book formatting business. In my case, remaining a e-dunce was the better way. An experienced digital book expert could turn my manuscript around in a jiffy, leaving me only the task of uploading and reviewing the materials. The decision was easy, especially since another Colorado author I know had highly recommended Brian's work.

I submitted my manuscript as a Word document, and I had my formatted files back in a couple of days. Brian even provided the links to make my life easier when I’m ready to finish the job. The price was reasonable. My schedule is intact. And I’m a happy camper.

Before you hire your own expert, there are a few tasks you’ll want to complete ahead of time:

1. If possible, get all rights to your published novels back from the publisher in writing. When this is not possible or desirable, ask the publisher to confirm in writing that you own your rights to digital publication and that you won’t be in violation of any part of your contract.

2. Unless you own the rights to your book covers, commission new cover art (or do your own) and have it ready before you submit your manuscript for formatting. Make sure the cover looks good and the print is legible when reduced to a thumbnail size. To fill the Kindle screen, your cover should measure 600 x 800 pixels.

3. Learn as much as you can about promoting your ebook, including blogging, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and the Kindle and Amazon forums.

To learn more about Brian Schwartz and his 50 Interviews projects, visit his 50 Interviews website. For more information on Kindle and ePub Conversions, see the Kindle & ePub Conversions for Publishers and Authors website.


Patricia Stoltey is a mystery author, blogger, and critique group facilitator. Active in promoting authors in several genres, she also helps local unpublished writers learn the critical skills of manuscript revision and self-editing. For information about Patricia’s Sylvia and Willie mystery series, visit her website and her blog. You can also find her on Facebook (Patricia Stoltey) and Twitter (@PStoltey).

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  1. Thanks for this information, Patricia! I have a friend who was asking for just this. I'll pass it on to her. :)

    Marian Allen

  2. Patricia - Oh, this is so useful!! Thank you!!! I've been toying with the idea of getting my books turned into Kindle-ing ;-), and now you've given me exactly the info I need if I decide to go that route :-).

  3. Glad I could help, Marian.

    Hi Margot. It's nice to have options, isn't it?

  4. This is an informative post, Patricia. I'll be referring back to it as I get my own manuscript ready.

  5. I am taking note of Brian's Web site for future reference. I have a couple of projects I'm thinking of taking straight to Kindle and don't want to do the formatting myself.

  6. If you're thinking of taking your print book to an ebook, it's really helpful to get a recommendation from an author who's already taken that step. Thanks Patricia.

  7. Thanks, Patricia. I've been looking at using Book Baby ( to get the first of my o-p books back into print via ebooks, and I'll check out the link to the epub and kindle site. Most word processing programs (including Word) have the option to save a document as a pdf file, and that works for some kinds of electronic publishing (but not Kindle of course, since Amazon has to do everything it's way!).

  8. I'm actually in the process of creating an ePub from scratch (not my own book, an author friend sent me their manuscript). It's not that difficult but it is time consuming to do correctly (the encoding at least).

    As a reader I'd like you to take the time and re-read your book in e-format. I've bought several eBooks (from big publishers) which were a chore to read due to formatting and mistakes. If it would have been a paper book I would have returned it.

  9. Man of La Books makes a great point. It is very important to go through the review process. I've also purchased a couple of books to read on my Kindle for PC app and discovered the formatting to be a real problem in one of them. That's why I'm doing a complete read of the documents Brian gave me before I do the final upload. So far, so good.

  10. Good article, Patricia. Your Colorado groups have awesome workshops! Since I'm limited in time and e-ability, I'm fortunate that Oak Tree converted all four of my Passenger to Paradise novels into Kindle books and Red Rose Publishing converted Dangerous Hearts. Things are changing so fast in this industry that I may need to use the information from your article somewhere down the road! Thanks!!!

  11. Handy information ... which I've bookmarked, even though I've been lucky enough to find a couple e-publishers to do the formatting for me.

  12. This is great information on making your work an e-book!

  13. That was a lot of good information, Patrick. With e-books becoming a big new wave, your post is going to invaluable.

  14. Never realized what it takes to turn a book into an e-book. There's a lot of work involved. Great tips.

    Thoughts in Progress

  15. Good advice, although I had no trouble converting my book to digital format--probably because since everything is submitted digitally anyway, I already had most of the work done. It's not hard to do, especially if you start with Smashwords and follow their guidelines.

    Good advice about the cover. I've found some stock photo websites that have free artwork, or very reasonably priced images. It helps to have family with Photoshop skills to add the title and your name to the images.

    I've also found that if you're an unknown author without a following or an extensive back list, that "reasonable" cost factor might not be recouped in sales.

    But it's not about the money--wasn't in print, and isn't in digital either.

    Now that I have my new NOOKcolor, I'll be buying more digital books, and I think the market will continue to grow.

  16. You do need to treat epubbing as you would print pubbing, which means your book needs to be ready in all aspects before getting it out to the public, and even before that, getting it to the person who will set it up for publishing in the correct format for where you want it sold.

    Morgan Mandel

  17. Thanks for the info, Patricia! I think I'll stay an e-dunce, too. :)

  18. Pat,

    Thanks for the great advice. I'm tucking it away for future reference.

  19. Thanks, Pat,

    That will go into my "Saved" file for future use.



The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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