Articles tagged "eBook"

Top 3 Ways to Ensure Self-Publishing Success

Yes you canContributed by Dan Dillon, Lulu Director of Product Marketing

I recently had the pleasure to co-present a webinar with Bowker on Self-Publishing: Your Path to Success. Ralph Coviello, publisher relations manager at Bowker, shared copious insights into how the self-publishing landscape has taken shape over the past few years, as well as how it may continue to evolve. From all the great observations and advice, I’ve distilled the three most important lessons to be gleaned for your success in self-publishing.

1. Publish in multiple formats
It stands to reason that the more products you have to sell, the more money you’re able to make. Books are no exception. Authors who offer multiple formats of their books sell up to four times more than authors who offer their readers only a single format. To capitalize on this, make your titles available as a softcover, hardcover and an ebook. Readers across all age groups are reading print, so there’s no predicting what format individual book buyers may prefer. have ready whatever they may want.

2. Channel surf
Just as it stands to reason that the more products you have to offer, the more you’re likely to sell – the more places you make them available, the more you’ll be able to sell. Get your books into as many online retail channels as possible. The ones that will likely have the greatest impact on your print book sales are Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For ebooks, you’ll want to make your titles available on the Kindle, iBookstore, NOOK and Kobo, at a minimum. Happily, you can get all of your books into these channels — and many more — with Lulu.com. For free.

3. Press releases are very popular
This is a double-edged sword. Yes, press releases are a valuable tool for building awareness about your book, and you can reach the same journalists who the Big 6 publishers talk to. Yes, there is a ton of news out in the world and it takes a lot to get your story heard. The lesson here? Targeting the information in your press release is critical, and targeting the people you send it to is also key.

View the complete webinar, and let us know in the comments what’s worked for you to drive book sales. You can also page through the webinar deck on Slideshare.

New and Improved: Lulu now offers Kindle, Kobo and More

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Alright, we’re just going to cut to the chase: Lulu authors may now distribute their Lulu eBooks to both the Kindle and Kobo eBookstores. That’s right, upload it once and sell it everywhere – and, by the way since we’re talking about awesome news, our print book distribution service is Free!

Now with Lulu, authors have a single, free and simple method for getting all of your books into as many distribution channels as possible. No more need to publish your books in multiple places. With Lulu, you can sell what you love everywhere.

To make this even better, when you choose the Kobo and Everything Else distribution option, your eBook will be made available for purchase on eBook retailer sites in the Ingram network includinhttp://www.lulu.com/blog/wp-admin/post-new.phpg Kalahari, Booktopia, Baker & Taylor, Gardners, Oyster Books, Sainsbury’s and others – not to mention a long list specialty eBook retailers from around the world.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We are not yet able to offer Kindle and Kobo distribution options to authors residing in Australia.

New eBook Pricing and Manage Distribution Pages

mediumAs part of this release, we have redesigned the Manage Distribution page and the pricing step in the eBook publishing wizard. Authors may now enter a retail price and then choose the retail sites (distribution channels) on which they want to sell their books. The retail price, distribution fees, Lulu commission, and creator revenue are clearly displayed for each channel.

How do I get my previously published eBook in the Kindle and Kobo Stores?

If your eBook is already in distribution, simply click the Manage button next to the project title, add the Kindle and Kobo options, and save your changes. Since your eBook previously passed the Lulu QA Review, we will pass it directly to Ingram for distribution into their network. You eBook will, however, be subject to each retailer’s review procedure before being made available for purchase on those sites.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If your eBook is already published through Kindle Direct or available for purchase on Amazon.com, you may not distribute a duplicate copy to the Kindle Bookstore. Doing so will violate both the Lulu eBook distribution terms and your Amazon agreement.

New Sell Page Design

Intensive studies and user feedback indicate that people really like the Lulu site, but the most important question of all “How much money will I make?” is not readily apparent. To help answer this most important of questions, we have redesigned the Sell page to provide an at-a-glance summary of Lulu’s distribution options, services, tools, and retail pricing examples for both print and eBooks in distribution. It’s glorious!

Other Improvements

  • eBook Title Capitalization Validation. 

One of the most common causes for our QA team rejecting an eBook is that the author did not follow proper capitalization rules for their title. This new feature alerts a creator a title does not meet these capitalization rules, so that it can be fixed on the very first step.

  • Select Between Previously Used Publisher Names.

When an author brings their own ISBN, they must also provide the publisher name that they tied to that ISBN when they bought it. This name is then sent to all of our distribution and metadata partners. To help reduce the number of almost-the-same duplicate publisher names, we have replaced the text entry field with a dropdown that allows a creator to choose a previously used publisher name or enter a brand new one. This list is account-based, and an account without any publisher names will see a blank entry field.

  • eBook Approval Email.

We now send an email to an author when our QA team approves their eBook for distribution to retailers. Previously, they were only notified if we had rejected their eBook. This keeps our authors informed on their eBook’s status, and will help prevent support cases from authors asking for a status update.

  • Edit Price on Manage Distribution Page.

When we gave the eBook Manage Distribution page the same interface as the Price step in the Wizard, we also opened up the ability for creators to edit their eBook’s price on the Manage Distro page. This allows them to manage all aspects of how their book is sold in one place.

The artistic possibilities of self-publishing span far and wide

Two articles concerned with the question of the artistic possibilities of self-publishing a book caught my attention this week.

Courtesy of Redux.com

The first was a testimonial by Mark Bastable published in The Telegraph and titled “How I overcame snobbery to self-publish an e-book.” In it, Bastable gives a variably convincing account of his decision to self-publish his fourth book, after having gone the “proper” route for the last three (ie. the traditional publishing model). What I found most interesting, however, was the paragraph where he rattles off all of the decisions he had to make when he went DIY:

“So, this month I launched a novel into the e-market,” he writes, “the culmination of several months’ slog, proofing the text, writing the blurb, doing the cover design (or, actually, paying someone to), getting the internal text layout right (or, actually, paying someone to), developing and launching a website (or, actually – yeah, that too). All the stuff that a publisher used to do, the e-author has to do for himself. Or pay someone to.”

Whew. It’s always sobering to see a list like that in print and be reminded of the immense amount of work self-publishing requires. But Bastable makes the case for the silver lining: message control. From the writing, to the editing, to the marketing, you’re in the driver’s seat, and you get to call the shots.

I found an inspiring echo to this book talk in a piece by Jason Boogon Galleycat extolling the virtues of Shane Carruth’s excellent 2013 indie sci-fi film Upstream Color. Produced entirely outside of the Hollywood system and released on a wide range of streaming platforms at about the same time it hit theaters, Upstream Color received widespread acclaim, cementing Carruth’s position as an indie auteur. But is this a stepping stone for blockbuster success? Probably not. Boog nails it, I think, when he goes on to write about how films like this can only exist outside the normal system of production:

“Writers spend too much time arguing about the goldmine potential of self-publishing. When we talk about indie books, why does money dominate the conversation? Instead, we should worry about the artistic freedom that creators like Shane Carruth have found by taking the DIY route.”

I like what Bastable was saying about having total (anxiety inducing) control over your book and it’s presentation, but what about the artistic space that emerges without the confines of the publishing industry? That’s what I’m looking forward seeing discussed. So, hat tip to Jason Boog and Simon Carruth for getting us going.

 

Are eBooks a different genre than print ones?

eBooks as their own genre?

Writing in The Guardian, Stuart Kelly has proposed a radical idea: that eBooks should be treated as a different genre than regular print books. Why? The fantastic possibilities of eBooks shouldn’t be bound (haha) to the confines of print and pages. In short, Kelly calls for something that proponents of eBooks have been saying for a while: let’s treat it like a bold new invention, rather than a standard digital copy of a physical book.

Of course, there are always going to be eBooks that closely mimic a regular physical book. eBooks based on older works, or eBooks that would like to closely mimic a physical one because of market reasons (think of Harry Potter — you only want one version running around, really). But the possibilities that eBooks (as a genre) present have yet to be fully explored.

For one, we don’t read eBooks like we read a physical book. Physical books have a monopoly on our attention and also don’t receive information from us. They are static. eBooks are often read as one choice among many of digital applications, with the ability to be amended, personalized, and improved.

An eBook that allows an author to change section, to move up plot points depending on reader input, to change the entire setting based on a reader’s location — that is a wholly different genre than that of regular books, and is obviously where we’re heading (some of the more adventurous of us). Not only that, but eBooks can be constantly updated to provide for further coverage of a current event (or a fictional one). Imagine an eBook that updates the details of a giant, mythical battle, as it was happening. It would basically be a real-time report of total fiction. In other words, incredibly exciting!

I believe that eBooks will become their own genre, much in the way that board games became video games. First, they were limited facsimiles of the original, then they became immersive and even more user-oriented. While some eBooks will remain very much similar to our concept of a regular book now (as they should), enhanced eBooks will become their own genre, replete with all the technological wizardry and components that the medium (tablets, computers, phones, etc.) can afford.

We have barely begun to scratch the surface of what eBooks can do, and a call to think of eBooks as something wholly different from our romantic notion of the hardback will lead us to some very interesting (and cool) places.

As authors, what do you think about eBooks as their own genre?

How to make a great science eBook

Science journalism has always been at the forefront of innovation — the first to utilize diagrams in reporting, the first to experiment with the advantages of digital books. But what makes a great science eBook? Download the Universe, a wonderful new website devoted to reviewing science eBooks, has highlighted the best eBooks of the past year, and shared some of what makes them so great.

One of the things that they point out is something we take for granted in a lot of science books: get your facts right and include a lot of them! A lot of the books they disliked this year were thin on backing up their argument, and left a lot unexplained. As readers of science books know, they can sniff out a weak argument from a mile away. One of the advantages of publishing an eBook and not an article online, is that you’re working with a little more of a deadline — make sure you’re taking advantage by backing up your facts. Once it’s out there, it’s tough to edit your eBook.

Another tip they give is to take full advantage of the medium of eBooks (this might depend on your ability to code, however). If you’re writing about the body, interactive features help a lot, while if you’re writing about geography, maps are obviously the way to go. As the famed theorist Marshall McLuhan noted, the medium is as much the message as the book itself. Take advantage of the eBook’s ability to complement your science writing with some truly exciting animations, images, or audios.

Download the Universe gives high marks to book publisher The Atavist, which published a series of eBooks that took full advantage of the eBook medium, including some wonderful illustrations, audio features, and diagrams. Look for more, smaller publishers in the future to offer software that will allow independent authors (like yourselves) to put together simple interactive features that will not only enhance your eBook, but allow readers a much better understanding of what can be, at times, very difficult content.

The future of science writing is as bright as a supernova! Just make sure you’re using eBooks to their full extent with a wonderful assortment of features.

What have you used to enhance your eBook to better explain an idea or discovery? What do you wish you knew how to do with your eBook?

2013 Predictions for the eBook

2012 was a landmark year for both independent publishers and eBooks. While eBooks surged ahead of sales of hardcover books, independent publishers were heralded with widespread acclaim and acceptance as part of a vibrant literary scene. This piece on NPR, summarizes the hurdles that independent publishers have overcome, as well as a few success stories and author insights. Listening to the piece is a great way to cap a landmark year for independent publishers.

But don’t rest on your laurels just yet! Over at The Huffington Post, there are more predictions for the year ahead, including the idea that the glut of eBooks will probably continue. The guess is that as more independent authors bypass major publishing houses, eBooks will flood the market and that out-of-print titles will find new circulation as previously established authors begin to convert their titles to eBooks. But the increased competition should not scare off aspiring writers, the article states. More readers than ever will be searching for eBooks, providing even more opportunities for authors to find an audience.

Another phenomenon to watch out for is the “Black Swan” effect. The Black Swan effect is when a book from an unheralded author becomes a runaway success despite improbability. Expect to see even more of this in 2013 because large publishers have trouble locating Black Swans because of the myriad boundaries they put between themselves and authors. Publishers need to work through agents, who are yet another barrier between the writer and the marketplace. The marketplace, with its democratic way of allowing the cream of the crop to rise to the top, has a penchant for identifying Black Swans. Readers reward novels that are genuinely good, different, and provide something that readers have not already seen. For aspiring writers, the hope is to be that Black Swan, while publishers will continue to put up barriers between themselves and those classics-in-waiting. Expect more and more modern classics to emerge from the ranks of independent publishers.

Expectations for 2013 are sky-high in the world of independent publishing. 2012 was a year of success after success, and 2013 looks to be just as awe-inspiring. What are your predictions for independent publishers? In which new direction would you like to see publishing go? What are your own personal writing goals for 2013?

Creative ways to ‘gift’ an eBook (since you can’t put it in wrapping paper)

When we think of the holidays, we think of children ripping off wrapping paper in a near-psychotic frenzy, holding up their gifts, and then profusely thanking their parents (or sometimes not — sweaters from aunts just don’t get treated with that much excitement). Adults tend to be more restrained when receiving gifts, but still look forward to the mystery of gift-giving, be it in a large plastic bag or cardboard box (I still prefer ripping off the gift-wrapping).

But how does one give an eBook? I mean, it’s obvious why someone would want to do it, but it lacks the physicality of, say, a new personal electronic, or that beloved Lego set. So how do you capture that magic in something that will be electronically delivered?

By getting creative.

Slate has a wonderful roundup of ways to give an eBook. They point out the great idea of matching an eBook with beloved reading accouterments like blankets or coffee mugs. I would throw in a “Snuggie” for good measure. While Slate‘s piece is a little tongue-in-cheek, pointing out how difficult it is for an eBook to replace the physical nature of some other presents, The Chicago Tribune points out that most readers and online shops allow you an option to buy an eBook as a gift, which will automatically download eBooks to your loved one’s reader.

While it doesn’t quite match the wrapping paper frenzy, it will pack quite a wallop when all of a sudden someone’s e-reader is now packed with new titles.

Personally, I’m still a little attached to gift wrapping. By pairing an eBook with something that will enhance the reading experience, like an e-reader holder or a bean-bag chair (those still exist, right?), you make your gift larger than just an eBook — you make it a whole experience.

So how do you give eBooks? How have you surprised your loved ones, and how are you planning to do so this year?

How to Market Your Book During the Holiday Season

November and December are the most lucrative months of the year for retailers because people are in a crunch to find and buy the perfect holiday gifts for their loved ones. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the season and show off your written wares.

Publicize your ultimate holiday gift list. At this time of year, people looking for the perfect gift often need help in the form of suggestions and ideas. Offer up your suggestions on your blog, on a contact’s blog, or perhaps even for a local magazine or newspaper. Whatever you suggest should be in line with what your book is about. For example, if you’ve written a cookbook, then come up with a list of the best bake ware — and no matter where you publish your gift tips, make sure you provide a bio with a link to your book.

Make a donation. Giving during the holiday season means more than handing out shiny new presents to friends and family, it means giving back to your community. Pick a charitable organization that inspires you and offer to partner with them. Offer signed copies of your book as perks for donors who contribute at a certain level (perhaps the charity will even name that level after you or your book!) You can also vow to donate a percentage of your profits to a charity that you support. This is a great way to boost holiday spirit and to get a charity to help promote your book to their audience. You can also donate books to families, libraries and schools that are in need. There are countless ways to give back. Which will you choose?

Drop the eBook price. Between the iPad, the Kindle, the Kobo Reader, and the Nexus 7, among many others, e-readers are becoming more and more hot, and with every new user comes the potential for many more eBook libraries. So entice potential customers by dropping the price of your book for a limited time.

Give away copies to friends, family, and social media followers/fans. Perhaps the most obvious tip but not to be overlooked since the best way for people to learn about your book is to hear about it from others. So order extra copies and stuff them in stockings or offer signed giveaways to fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter.

Strategize for 2013. There are another 365 days coming up… soon. This means you have holidays to capitalize on, anniversaries to plan, promotions to fund, and even new books to promote. Spend the last few weeks of this year thinking about how you want to handle the next 52 weeks and come up with a marketing and social media plan that will get you to your new year’s goals. This may help: Pre-Publication Marketing Timeline for Authors.

Tell us, what are you doing to prepare for the holiday season? Are you buffing up your marketing efforts?

 

EPUBs Made Even Easier with Lulu Ebook Enhancements

Getting your eBook ready for the world to see can be a learning experience – for authors and for Lulu. We always want to give you the best, easiest tools possible to get your eBook out there, and part of reaching that goal is making changes to the process to make it as painless as possible. Case in point: the new multi-file upload and table of contents preview features that help you to make sure you’re well on your way to having a distribution-ready EPUB file.

Making your EPUB file was already pretty easy. You can upload Microsoft DOC and DOCX, RTF, and ODF files, and we’ll take care of converting them into an EPUB for you. For print books you could always upload multiple files and we’d stitch them together into one coherent, print-ready PDF. Now you have the same convenience for your eBook. Maybe you’ve been serializing your work or maybe you’re just taking it one chapter at a time; either way, it’s simple to move forward. Just get  your individual files ready with the first line formatted as Heading 1, upload all of the files and move them around so they’re in the order you want, and you’re done! You’ll have a finished EPUB in no time.

(For more info on our recent enhancements, click on the image above.)

Speaking of those headings, if you’ve ever created an eBook on Lulu you might have received an error message regarding your NCX – the eBook’s table of contents that lets the reader jump instantly to any chapter or section. After all, it’s one of the top ten reasons why eBooks are rejected for retail distribution. Creating a proper NCX requires a pretty straightforward but very specific use of styles and headings so that all of your chapters, sections, and subsections line up appropriately. Not sure if you’ve done yours correctly? After you upload your eBook files you’ll now find a table of contents preview that will let you see how everything will be ordered in your NCX. If you’ve used the method above to upload multiple files for your EPUB, this preview is a simple way to make sure everything was put together just the way you wanted.

You’ve already got the Lulu eBook Creator Guide with all the information you could ever want about eBooks right at your fingertips, and these new additions to the Lulu site will help you out even more along the way. Plus, we still have our great paid services available if you want everything taken care of for you with no hassle. There’s never been a better time to create your eBook, and it’s never been easier to do it with Lulu.

How To: Create Your Own Audiobook

When publishing an eBook, it’s smart to promote it with sample chapters or an author interview. But what about producing your own audiobook to accompany it as well?

Producing an audiobook can be time consuming, but it’s extremely fun and makes your book available in yet another medium. You can just choose a brief excerpt to use, maybe a funny scene or illustrative passage, which will help promote your book when you give it away on your personal website. Here’s a short guide to how to create your own audiobook, entirely for free.

1) Get an audio editing program. If you don’t have professional audio recording programs, like Protools or Ableton, don’t fear! A simple, free program called Audacity is incredibly simple to learn, and can be used on almost any computer. If you have an internal microphone, you’re all set to record.

2) Pick a passage to record. For starters, pick a manageable goal. Try not to aim to record your entire book. Consider focusing on a scene or chapter you find particularly strong, and maybe one that includes a variety of characters, to allow for some fun voice acting.

3) Cast and record. Cast your audiobook by either reading it yourself, or sharing the narration with a variety of friends or colleagues who have been assigned roles. You don’t even have to be in the same room — you can record different parts at different times.

4) Edit. Try to make the recording as clean as possible by eliminating pauses, editing out background noise, and re-recording unclear parts. If you haven’t edited audio before, it should take just a little practice to get the hang of it.

5) Add some character. Here’s where you get to have a lot of fun. Add some background music and sound effects to liven up your narration. Just a few additions can completely change the quality of the audiobook. For some free background music published under Creative Commons license, check out the Free Music Archive. For sound effects, be sure to explore FreeSound.

6. Post. After making sure everything sounds right (make sure to play it for a few people), post that audiobook! Be sure to post in a compressed format, such as .mp3. You can even post streaming audio at Soundcloud.

So now that you have the tools, the red light is on!

Who’s tried this? How’d it go?