Ebook Buyers: Can You Afford To Lose Them?

January 29th, 2012

ereader photoI recently read a guest post by Chris Keys, author of The Fishing Trip – A Ghost Story and Reprisal!: The Eagle Rises!, about the difficulties of selling self-published books.  According to Chris, he’s only sold about a dozen books.  It seems typical of independent authors, but here’s the catch: I looked for Chris’ book The Fishing Trip – A Ghost Story on Amazon and found that he only had it in print. (Update: Chris has now jumped on board and has his books in multiple formats, as well as taking advantage of the Kindle Unlimited program)

What really bothers me about this is that he used CreateSpace to publish his book.  I would think putting out a Kindle edition as well as a print edition would have been a no brainer.  It’s really too bad Chris didn’t go with both because I was poised to purchase an eBook edition, provided the price was right, on the spot.  I wishlisted the book, but that doesn’t mean I’ll remember to go back and buy it later.

I’m left wondering how many indie author sales are lost because of this kind of shortsightedness.  Between earning higher profits on lower prices and the immediate delivery (aka immediate gratification) of eBooks, how can anyone afford not to publish in electronic format?  That’s especially true now that epublishing is free on major bookseller sites like Barnes & Noble and Amazon and through 3rd party distributors like Draft2Digital and BookBaby.

I suppose many authors cringe at the idea of formatting their manuscript into eBook format. It’s not as difficult as you might think, though it does take some time. There are numerous articles on the web on how to do this, including “How to Format Ebooks” by Jamie Wilson and “Smashwords Style Guide” by Mark Coker. If you use Adobe InDesign, check out EPUB Straight to the Point by Elizabeth Castro. For basics on Kindle formatting browse Joshua Tallent’s Kindle Formatting web site.

If you still don’t want to try formatting your own book (or find you just can’t wrap your mind around it) then find someone who can. Indie Author April L. Hamilton of Publetariat warns us of taking the cheap route and simply converting a manuscript rather than having it formatted properly. It’s better to spend a little money on putting out a great book, than lose readers due to poor formatting.

Formatting is different from conversion in that formatting standardizes the manuscript and creates any companion files needed for the eBook while conversion is simply loading the work into a program and clicking a button. Conversion is easy. Formatting takes more time and effort.

Regardless of whether you choose to do it yourself or have someone else do it for you, if you want to get your book into the hands of more readers, don’t neglect the eBook format.

How important are multiple formats, especially ebooks, to you?

Photo by The Daring Librarian

Painful DRMs And Ebook Pricing

January 22nd, 2012

ebook photoI am not an early adopter. I love gadgets, but I like to wait until most of the bugs have been worked out. Then I wait a little longer until I’m sure it’s a tool I’m really going to use and not a toy I’ll toss aside in a couple of months. So I was really excited about finally buying an eReader last month.

Alas, my excitement was short lived upon discovering my new gadget couldn’t read several of my previously downloaded books. No problem, I thought. I’d just convert them with this nifty software I’d read about.

Wrong! Until that moment I had little understanding just how DRMs affected me personally. Suddenly I’m faced with undesirable choices: a) pay for yet another eBook version, b) read it on my laptop or smartphone (doable, but not exactly comfortable), c) learn to strip the DRMs from my eBooks, d) forget the whole thing. While b and d are the simplest solutions, I am actually hovering between paying what I considerate an exorbitant amount for an eBook and learning how to “pirate” my own books for my own personal use, which brings me to my topic: eBook pricing.

Traditional publishers have missed the boat when it comes to eBook pricing. In fact, many aren’t even on the loading dock. As JA Konrath points out in his post “Ebook Pricing,” customers want to pay less for eBooks than they would for a hard copy. It’s always made sense to me as a customer, but as a business person/Independent Author I wondered if it was wise to price an eBook low. If Konrath’s numbers are to be believed, however, the lower the price, the better the sales, the more money you can pocket.

With so many eBook avenues opening up to Independent Authors from Amazon’s Digital Text Platform for Kindle to Barnes and Noble’s new PubIt! pricing for high sale volume seems the better choice.

What are your thoughts on DRMs and eBook pricing?

Author generated links:
April Hamilton’s post “Avast Ye Lubbers and Hear Ye Me Pirates” on eBook piracy tells of an honest woman pushed into piracy.

Photo by TheCreativePenn