I 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?