How to Self-Publish and Sell Your eBooks?

The world of publishing has changed a lot in the last couple of years. And we’ve seen tremendous changes to the ebook publishing format, so keeping up with all the changes in the industry may be a challenge for most people.

If you’ve been following the largest conventions for book publishers in the US and abroad over the past few years, you might have noticed huge conversions to the ebook format. Now, the e-book format has taken over as most online book publishers and markets offer mostly ebook options. Publishing an e-book can be pretty complicated for inexperienced publishers and authors. In this article, we’ll look at several e-publishing options, techniques and tricks to help you with the publishing process of your e-books.

What You Need to Know About InDesign

If we go back in time to 5 years ago, the e-book format was new and had little to no options when it came to publishing e-books. InDesign, although having the option for exporting e-books, was very basic to what it offered and also had very little formatting options.

E-book writers and publishers were forced to learn and use HTML, CSS and other coding in order to deal with the post export work needed. But then, Adobe got involved with the InDesign 5.5 release which had vast improvements to the digital publishing tools it provided. Ever since then, each new version of InDesign comes with significant improvements and additions to the tool.

InDesign is the leading desktop publishing software application produced by Adobe.

Today, thanks to Adobe’s hardcore commitment, InDesign has become an excellent and essential tool for online publishing. However, there are still some things that it won’t be able to help you with.

An important feature that came with the InDesign CC 2014 release is the ‘Fixed Layout ePUB Format’. This function has been requested a lot and is a big improvement to the ‘Reflowable’ function of ePUB 2 and 3.

InDesign documents can be designed and laid out in a similar manner as traditionally printed books with the new Fixed Layout option. This is great for all designers, especially for those who are used to traditional design aesthetics. Designing an e-book with the Fixed Layout option is quite similar to designing a PDF format product.

Differentiating between PDF’s and e-books is important. The PDF is not ideal for distributing e-books, and e-books cannot replace what PDF’s are commonly used for.

There is a downside to this option, however. Fixed layouts and designs, just like PDF’s, can only be scaled in size up and down, meaning that smaller devices like tablets or phones would require lots of uncomfortable scrolling and panning.

That’s why these fixed designs are mostly used for content that suits it, like e-book magazines, coffee table books or kid’s books.

Most e-books are using the reflow format which allows them to be viewed on pretty much anything, from desktop PC’s, laptops, tablets, iPads, Kindles and even on smartphones.

The majority of tablets nowadays are in the eight to ten inches wide range. So, if you’re designing a fixed layout for your document, it means you’ll have to create something that will look good and appealing on any device in that size range.

InDesign is still a very complex tool, featuring a big variety of options, so writing a complete tutorial is almost impossible. However, this article will provide with some very important tips and pointers that you need to know when you’re creating an e-book in the reflowable format.

Great InDesign Tips and Tricks

The articles panel

Since the introduction of the ‘Articles Panel’ it is no longer needed that the main texts of a book all be linked together. The order of the articles is adjustable, as well deciding to omit or include some or any articles.

Anchoring graphics

You can simply paste the art inline on a text in order to anchor the graphics. You can also drag and drop from the anchor icon to the insertion point in the text.

Chapter Building

In the past, there was no way for e-books to recognize page breaks or text boxes, so a separate ID document for every chapter needed to be created in order to assemble the whole thing together. Now, chapters can be designated in several different ways, so this is no longer the case. Navigate through the Paragraph Style menu and choose the ‘Paragraph Style Export Tags’ option to achieve this.

Use ePUB 3

ePUB 3 is becoming increasingly more adopted in the publishing industry, because of the positive feedback and the plethora of additional features that no previous version has. ID exports and Fixed Layout are some of the features exclusive to ePUB 3.

Free InDesign Alternative Tools

Although InDesign is a very powerful tool, it may prove to be a bit too complicated for authors and publishers that need a less demanding tool to publish their e-books. Luckily, there are a lot of other easier and even free options out there. Let’s look at some of them.

Open Office

Open Office is the most popular alternative to Microsoft’s Office Suite. Open Office provides a lot of tools and packages that try and mirror what Microsoft Office offers. And the best part about this tool is that it’s open source and completely free of charge.

Each package from Open Office can read and write to the exact same file format of its Microsoft Office equivalent program. Also, Open Office has all the tools at its disposal in order to create reflowable e-books. However, it doesn’t come with good export capabilities. The best export option available is the PDF format, but that’s not ideal.

A good workaround for this issue is using an Open Office plugin called Writer2ePub or the PDF import for Apache OpenOffice plugin.

Calibre

In order to combat any limitations that this option provides, there’s also another open source, powerful tool called Calibre. With this tool, you can easily convert the exported PDF’s into e-books.

Aside of handling conversions to e-books, Calibre also provides you with a built-in e-book editor which handles typos and corrections. There’s also the e-book reader which allows you to preview how the e-book would look like to your readers. And, as there are a lot of e-book formats out there, depending on your distribution needs, you can create several versions for your e-book using different formats implemented into Calibre. For the full, extensive list of supported formats with Calibre, read this manual.

eBook Publishing Services

The companies that are willing to accept, publish and sell your e-books are some of the best ways to learn how the e-book publishing process functions. The most successful and popular publishing company is Amazon and they offer a great deal of help and direction in the areas you need help in while trying to publish your e-books. Consult their Help section or read some of their great articles on these topics. They also have a special section for children books.

An alternative that is becoming more and more popular is to not publish your e-books by yourself. You can send your finished project, or even a part of your project to a paid service that will do the publishing for you, and due to competition on the market, these services are becoming increasingly cheaper. There are many companies that provide this service, Amazon CreateSpace,  Smashwords, Lulu to name a few.

There are other, smaller services that provide this option and additionally offer higher levels of customization and creative services.

A very important aspect that these services provide for any publisher is the ability to be introduced to sales channels. These are invaluable and Amazon’s CreateSpace is the absolute winner when it comes to the quality of this service. Depending on the market that your e-book is targeting, sometimes smaller online stores may be more suitable for your product, in order to help you link up with more libraries or institutions.

It’s very important to know all the details that third party service may offer. Some only offer production and after that you’re on your own. Some companies offer entire publishing solutions including distribution and retail. And there are others who offer some services in exchange for percentages of the profit or they may even claim ownership of your finished product. It’s very important to research what every company offers before you choose to sign up for their services.

Smashwords is by far the best way for publishers to distribute their e-books to the largest e-book retailers. It features several, free tools that help with marketing, distribution, sales reporting and many more. Smashwords provides the authors and publishers full control over important stuff like sampling, pricing and marketing.

And publishers get to keep 60 percent of the e-book profits.

Some of the best tools for publishing your e-book are ePub Wiki, Smashwords Style Guide and Bowker ISBN’s.

We’ve looked at some of the most important things an e-book author should know before choosing to publish their works. Hopefully, this article would be helpful to you in your quest to start your writing and publishing career in the e-book world.

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