Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Publishing ebooks.

I've had an email from someone asking me to blog about my experience of self-publishing on Kindle - the pros, the cons, and is it cost-effective. So - here goes.

I must begin by saying that this is only my experience. There are thousands of us uploading, downloading, groaning into our cocoa trying to make the bloody technology work and then realising we forgot to press the save button ... We all have different stories to tell.

The decision to self-publish was easy: I won a place on a mentoring scheme, as a result of which Over the Hill was lashed into shape. It was my mentor who told me that, ten years ago, I would have found a publisher. But not now - I'm neither young nor famous. But this was good enough to see the light of day and so I should do it myself. So I did - there are some early blogposts of the general angst but I made it.

And don't regret it. I've made mistakes, learned along the way, but have generally enjoyed myself. Putting the second book on Kindle was an easier decision: it's too short to be a print book but was such fun to write it made sense to give Over the Hill a follow-up.

But - there has to be a 'but' - is it cost-effective? It's not going to make me rich. In fact, if I cost the time it took the write, then paying the copy editor, then the time formatting and uploading, then it's a crazy way to spend my time if I want to make money. Amazon, of course, makes money. Cheap books (less than $3.50, I think) earn me only 35% - so that's 35p for a book costing £1; that's how many books to pay for one cup of coffee? And how many cups of coffee are needed to write one book? Pricier books earn 70%, but you still have to sell them in the hundreds or more to make serious money. Mine are niche books - they are never going to sell in huge numbers. (Well, would they if I spent hours marketing? I'll never know - that's the bit I'm truly rubbish at).

So, why do it? I'm lucky - and I know it. I have enough to live on and so am not dependent on my writing to pay the grocery bill. I can do it because it's fun, because I love it when people send emails saying they've enjoyed the book, or asking more about my travels - and yes, emails that prompted this post. And because I love the writing - I can make myself laugh. (I am already working out how to write a trip to the physio where I must ask her to get my knees strong enough to manage squat toilets ...)

That's how it was for me. How was it for you?


8 comments:

  1. Very interesting, Jo, and thanks for posting this. I'm not sure if I will be following in your footsteps, but I'm considering all options...

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    1. I have no idea how typical this experience is, Jenny - I suspect those who are more techy, and/or need to make a living at this, see it very differently.

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  2. When you cost it out like that it sounds ludicrous to even try but 35p is better than the zero that we get when we write novels and then store them in our computer's bottom drawer....... *mutters to self* knees strong enough to use squat toilets! *shakes head and wanders into fully carpeted ensuite*

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    1. Ah, but with luck my knees and their toilets might make you laugh, and even be worth 35p?

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  3. Interesting insights into e-book publishing.

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    1. Thank you, and welcome to the blog.

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  4. Jo, I've done a short review of your book on my blog. It's a kind of preview to our webterview :))

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  5. PS: On the subject of your post here, I put my first book on Kindle when it was still a very new item. I literally just uploaded the Word file and did no layout to it at all. I have no idea whether it's readable or not as I don't have a Kindle, but I seem to have sold a few, so I'm guessing someone must be reading it. The whole process of getting a book ready for Kindle now seems quite nightmarish! Hats off to you for doing it. I wonder why things have changed - that is if they have.....maybe my book is total gobbledegook and no one's ever told me:)

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