Monday, April 30, 2012

Your Super-Awesome Self-Published Book (Or, a Few Words of Wisdom from the Founder of Smashwords)

Last week I attended the PPWC, and as is the case at every writers conference, I learned many new things. (It probably goes without saying that I also talked too much and didn’t get enough sleep, but enough said about that.)

One workshop I attended was a Primer on eBook Publishing by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. His presentation was down-to-earth, candid, and did not bash traditional publishing, but instead told the story of why he founded the company. It was Mark’s experience trying to get Boob Tube published, a soap-opera novel co-written by Mark and his wife Lesleyann that inspired him.

Mark shared the meteoric success of Smashwords as well as the financial success or failure, though mostly something in-between, of self-published books. He then provided tips on how to approach self-publishing to achieve success.  So if you've decided to self-publish, here are a few words of wisdom from Mark Coker:

• First and foremost, write a super-awesome book.

• Download the free Smashwords Style Guide - How to Format Your Ebook by Mark Coker so that you can then format your super-awesome book. Consider the different types of e-readers that are available. Small screens and large, horizontal and vertical, most are supported and you want your book to look professional – so it’s very important to format correctly.

• Your super-awesome book needs a super-awesome book cover. This is VERY important. Mark shared several examples of bad book covers, and they were, to be perfectly candid, horrific, which immediately implied that the writing might follow suit. Sales absolutely did follow suit for these examples, at zero. So if you’re not graphically inclined, he strongly suggested hiring a professional to design your book cover, and there are many affordable options. If you do decide to design your cover, remember that the overall image needs to look snappy in both color and B&W, in a thumbnail size. So the graphics need to be vivid and the text larger, hence more readable, than what you might see on a paperback or hard cover book.

• Carefully consider the keywords that will best describe your book in the search engines.

• According to their statistics, the “sweet spot” for pricing an ebook is between $2.99 to $5.99.  Non-fiction is typically more expensive.

• ISBNs are free when you utilize Smashwords.

• You may want to consider copyrighting your work if you’re self-publishing.

• In addition to the Style Guide, There are two additional free books by Mark Coker that you may want to download before embarking on this new journey: Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success and the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide - How to Market any Book for Free.

By Janet Fogg


Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for the report on Mark's presentation, Janet. The people I know who've used Smashwords seem to be happy with their decision, especially with a long backlist who are way too busy to tackle this project on their own.

fpdorchak said...

Good post, Janet, and Mark is a great guy! I love how he comes across as an "every man," and has no attitude (at least that I witnessed). Even when he counters all the arguments, he just presents facts. And as I love to say, just "dazzle people with the facts"!