Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Best Places to Self-Publish

Photo courtesy Joe Gemignani
The new publishing paradigm offers today's authors a wealth of opportunities to reach an audience. Never before have writers been able to get their work out so quickly and in so many ways. 

Many new companies and services have sprung up to meet the needs of the ever-growing throngs of self-publishing authors, and it can be difficult to choose from among them all. 

Not surprisingly, one of the questions I'm asked most often is:

What's the best place to publish my book (or ebook)?
There's not one single right answer, and the "best" place for you may be different than for another author, depending on your level of experience and willingness to handle the publishing process on your own. 

However, for the vast majority of independent authors, these are my recommendations:
For print books, CreateSpace has the best printing prices and distribution choices. Most of the POD printers—such as Lulu, Author House, and even the traditional publishers that have added self-publishing divisions—charge too much for their packages and WAY too much for the per-book price to the author. 

Rather than use the editorial or design services that CreateSpace or any of the others offer, I prefer to contract those services via independent editors and designers whose work I know. You can do the same and then upload your final book and cover files to CreateSpace for printing and distribution.

CreateSpace has recently added international markets through its expanded distribution, making it an even better choice for your book. 

For ebooks, I recommend using both Smashwords and Kindle to get the most coverage with the least effort and cost. Begin with Smashwords. Simply upload your Word doc and cover pdf and within minutes your ebook is available for sale. Once your book is vetted for Smashword's premium catalog (which is largely determined by proper formatting, not content), your book will also be available for sale on Nook, Kobo, Sony, and a host of other ebook sellers, including the Apple iBookstore.

Kindle uses a different format for ebooks (.mobi) and your book must be formatted to its specifications. Instructions on how to format and upload your book are available on the Kindle site. Typically, if formatted correctly, your ebook will be available for sale on Kindle within 48 hours after upload.

Both Kindle and Smashwords have free guides that can be downloaded to help you through the process. Formatting is not difficult, but can be time consuming. Upon request, Smashwords will email you a list of independent formatters who will do it for you. The fees range from $40 and up, depending on the complexity of the material. Novels with straight text are fairly easy to convert, while nonfiction with graphs, charts, or illustrations will require more work. Other considerations for pricing include whether you submit a Word doc or a pdf for ebook formatting.

Publishing your ebook via Smashwords and Kindle is free. Using both these services will give you a broad range of distribution globally. You will earn from 35 percent to 80 percent royalties on sales, depending on a number of factors. All the information is available at those sites.

You may want to explore the Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP) Select program, which offers certain benefits for exclusive rights to your work for 90-days (renewable by choice). This option is a viable strategy that has been very successful for some authors, but I suggest you understand how to best use it before committing. 

There are many other options for publishing your ebook and/or print book, but these are the ones I've tested and know to serve an author well. There's no substitute for doing your own research and becoming familiar with the publishing process, and certainly, these companies are a great place to start.

To Your Publishing Success!

My best,

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