A Question of Publishing: Questions To Ask Before Publishing A Book

Before you start to publish a book, you should consider all the available options. For example, do you really know where you want to publish your book? What platforms do you want to sell your book through? Many authors choose KDP—but is it really the best way? Let’s ask a few questions before committing to a place of publishing.

 

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Is the service exclusive or nonexclusive?

E-publishing services marketed directly to authors almost always operate on a nonexclusive basis. That means you can use their service to sell your e-book while also selling your e-book anywhere else you like (or using any other service).

Are there hidden fees or charges?

You can end up paying more than standard rates for conversion/formatting if your book runs very long, if you have an inconvenient file format that needs extra work, if you have a lot of chart/table/image formatting, and so on. If your work has any kind of “special needs,” expect a service to charge you more.

Do you control the price?

While some services may have reasonable pricing restrictions standard practice is to give the author complete control over pricing.

Who owns the e-book files after they are created?

It is ideal if you own the e-book files, and that is usually the case when you pay out of pocket for conversion and formatting services. In the case of some free services, such as Smashwords, you do not. Why so? When you upload your Word document to Smashwords—the only format accepted—it goes through their “meatgrinder” conversion process to create a variety of e-book files. You then have access to those e-book files, but you’re not supposed to turn around and sell them through other services.

Where is your e-book distributed?

If you’re using a service like Amazon KPD, or Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, the answer is pretty simple: Your e-book is distributed only through those specific retailers. When you use a multiple-channel e-book distribution service, then the mix of retailers they reach will vary. At minimum, you want to reach Kindle & Nook, since they currently make up about 70–80% of all e-book sales, followed by Apple iBookstore, Kobo, and Google Play.

 

The Kindle Unlimited Dilemna

Recently, Amazon joined the e-book subscription playing field alongside other companies to offer subscribers unlimited access to thousands of e-books and audiobooks for the monthly price of $9.99. This service is called Kindle Unlimited.

When a company as big as Amazon enters a market, it signals a change for the entire industry. Many authors are wondering whether Kindle Unlimited is a good idea for them…. Let’s take a look at the negative side of Kindle Unlimited this week.

Being Exclusive:

Independent authors who want their books available through Kindle Unlimited must be members of KDP Select, which requires exclusivity to Amazon. Oyster and Scribd have no such exclusivity requirement, but self-published books must be distributed through Smashwords to make it onto Oyster’s shelves, whereas authors have the option to go through Smashwords, INscribe Digital, BookBaby, or Draft2Digital to be included in Scribd’s library.

The Payoff:

It’s unclear how much self-published authors make by selling through Kindle Unlimited. The program provides royalties to indie authors via the KDP Select Global Fund when at least 10 percent of their book is read. Amazon admits that, “The fund amount is variable and announced on a monthly basis.”

Out of Touch:

Once an author is enrolled in the program, the rules are subject to change at any time. Authors can choose not to re-enroll in KDP Select after 90 days, but these short-term promises can have long-term consequences for traction in other ebookstores. Think carefully about this before subscribing.

Is Your Price Letting You Down?

Last week we discussed the idea of giving your book away for free. This week I thought we would actually talk about pricing. We all know the frustration of having a book on the market that isn’t selling. It’s very easy to get disheartened—but sometimes it just comes down to finding a sweet spot? What’s that? The right price for the market. That’s what it is…

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Test Your Pricing

If you are looking for a sweet spot you will want to experiment. Try reducing your eBook price by .50 cents every three days until you reach $0.99. Wait three days, and then raise your price in .50 cent increments up to say $6.99. If you see an increase in sales at a certain price, repeat the same exercise again to check if the same pattern occurs. If you don’t see enough sales to form a conclusion, try again with a longer frequency of perhaps five days.

Raising Your price?

This may sound strange if you are struggling with sales, but a higher price can work on two fronts. One, a higher price often gives a potential buyer the sense of a better eBook and secondly, sales at a higher price will increase your ranking much faster.

Sacrifice…. For Gain

If you have published a series, sacrifice the price of the first book in the series at say, $0.99 to bring in new readers, and then set each subsequent title in steps of $1.00 more up to say, $4.99 for the latest title in the series.

Raise The Paperback

Did you know that Amazon compares the price of the paperback version with the Kindle version on its book sales page by putting a strikethrough line across the print book price above the Kindle price. It makes it look like a discount. So, why not make it look like a bigger discount? How could this hurt anyway?