If you're new to ebook publishing, you won't want to miss this episode. This introductory primer on ebook publishing will give you the foundational knowledge you need to get started. Mark presents a complete ebook publishing checklist. Learn how fast, free and easy it is to self-publish an ebook. You'll learn how to produce, publish, price and promote an ebook. You'll learn how to make your book discoverable and purchasable by millions of readers around the globe. Although it's easy to publish an ebook, reaching readers is difficult. This episode introduces several important best practices that help authors reach more readers, and it'll prepare you for Episode 3, Bestseller Secrets, which does a deeper dive into 16 of the most important best practices.
About Smashwords - How to Publish and Distribute with Smashwords
The apples and oranges of editing - A professional editor describes the different types of editing: Editing Workshop Part 2
Mark's List, a directory of low-cost ebook formatters and cover designers - Access it here.
Federal copyright registration - Copyright.gov
Where to get ISBNs: Free at Smashwords. After you upload your book, click to your Dashboard's ISBN Manager screen to assign. If you'd rather purchase your own ISBN:
US - Bowker | UK - Nielsen | Canada - ISBN Canada | Australia - THORPE-Bowker | New Zealand - National Library | Other countries - Google 'Country ISBN registrar' |
Smashwords Book Marketing Guide - Mark Coker's free ebook offering over 40 free book marketing ideas (new edition coming soon, which you'll hear first on the podcast!).
Smashwords | iBooks | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Welcome to the Smart Author Podcast where you'll learn to publish eBooks with greater pride, professionalism and success. I'm your host, Mark Coker. Let's get started.
In this episode, An Introduction to eBook Publishing, I'll share a step-by-step checklist for how to produce, publish and distribute your book as an ebook. We'll teach you how to do it quickly, easily and at minimal cost. In our last episode, episode one, you learned the seven biggest trends impacting your future as an author. You learned how the advent of eBooks made it economical for retailers to stock an unlimited inventory of eBooks in their online stores, including the eBooks from self-published authors. You learned how once self-published authors gained access to this precious online shelf space, their books started selling. You learned how the former stigma of self-publishing is melting away as indie authors scale all the best seller lists.
Today, thanks to the rise of the indie author movement, more and more writers are choosing self-publishing as their publishing option of first choice. If you're one of these new authors, welcome. Maybe you're already a traditionally published author, and you're ready to explore self-publishing. I welcome you as well. Let's jump in. Let's learn how to publish an eBook.
The first step in your checklist is to prepare your manuscript. eBook publishing platforms like Smashwords make eBook publishing fast, free and easy, but we don't make it easy to write a great book. That's your job. When you publish your eBook, it will compete against over five million other eBooks that are already on the market today. Your competition is extreme. In this market, good books aren't good enough anymore. To stand out, you need to write a super awesome wow book. It must take the reader to an emotionally satisfying extreme. It needs to touch their soul. That's how you earn five-star reviews. That's how you generate enthusiastic word-of-mouth from your readers. As a self-published author, you are the publisher. Your opportunity and your path to success is to implement the best practices of professional publishers.
For example, the first draft of your book is not ready for publication. It needs to be edited. More often than not, the books that are uploaded without editing, the books that are published without editing fail in the marketplace. Even if you're a great writer, you still need editing. Your first draft needs to be edited and revised, and then edited and revised again, and then again, and again. With every edit and every revision, you'll be amazed at how much better your book becomes. Let's review the different types of editing your book will need. Then, I'll review the different options to achieve this editing.
There are three primary types of editing. Each is important for different reasons.
The first type is developmental editing. Developmental editing looks at the big picture of your book. It looks at the flow, the organization, the plot, the pacing and the story arc. Developmental editing will have the largest impact on reader satisfaction. It's the most important type of editing.
The next common form of editing is called copy editing. Sometimes, copy editing is referred to as line editing. Copy editing focuses on improving your words, sentences, paragraphs, grammar and punctuation, so your writing becomes effortless to read. Without good copy editing, easily fixed errors will impede reading pleasure. Copy editing does not focus on the big picture and story arc like developmental editing. Copy editing won't turn a three-star book into a five-star book, but poor copy editing will drag a five-star book down or make the book unreadable. Copy editing is very important.
The final form of editing is generally called proofreading. Proofreading is usually the final stage of editing prior to publication. This is where you're checking for typographical errors, missing words and punctuation, or missing elements such as chapter headings.
If you're considering hiring a professional editor, great, but I want to give you some caveats. Professional editing can be really expensive. It can run up to several thousand dollars. Even if your chosen editor has edited dozens of New York Time's best sellers, there's no guarantee that your book will become a best seller too since most books, whether they're traditionally published or self-published, sell poorly. There's no guarantee that you'll even recoup your editing investment. That said, I'm a huge believer in professional editing.
If you can afford professional editing, definitely consider it, but let's talk about what affordability means.
By afford, I mean you're able to pay the editing fee out-of-pocket. You're not going to go into debt to pay for editing. You're not going to use money that you otherwise need to put food on your family's table or pay your mortgage. Only hire a professional editor if you've got the money to invest, and you're capable of losing that money. I realize that your book is your baby, and you believe in it. I know you want to do everything possible to make your book successful, but unless you already have an established sales record and readership, go easy on your expenses. Don't spend money you don't have.
If you decide to hire a professional editor, make sure they have direct and notable experience in your specific genre or category. Be clear about the type of editing you expect and speak with the references. Once you identify an editor you want to work with, hire them for a test project first. Pay them to edit the first couple chapters of your book or maybe the first 20 pages. This is how you and the editor determine if you're a good fit for one another.
You want an editor who helps take your writing and your authorship to the next level. A good editor won't pull any punches. You're paying them for critical feedback and guidance, not for flattery. You want them to be brutally honest with you.
Many authors can't afford professional editing. If you fall into this camp, that's okay. Don't despair. Let's review some of the other options you have to accomplish some of your editing requirements.
The first option and the most common option is what people refer to as self-editing. This is you as the editor. If you go to Google, and you do a search on 'how to self-edit,' you'll find numerous checklists to help you clean up your manuscript. This will help you quite a bit on the copy editing front, such as helping you eliminate poor word choices. It will help you identify your bad habits. It will improve your dialogue. It will help you develop more active language. You should do self-editing no matter what, even if you plan to hire a professional editor later, but understand that self-editing is not a complete substitute for another set of eyes. You're so close to your book that you'll have blind spots - some of your biggest opportunities for improvement will be completely invisible to you.
The second option is to exchange editing services with another author. Find a fellow author that you respect and swap editing services. You'll edit their book. They'll edit yours. If you don't know any fellow writers, join a local writer's club or a critique group because all of your fellow authors are in the same camp. They need editing as well. Your third option is to work with beta readers. Beta readers are volunteer test readers. Now, you can't count on beta readers to perform all your editing, but you will find that the feedback that you get from beta readers have a lot of crossover with developmental editing, so definitely work with beta readers. Beta readers can also assist you with proofing if they're willing to report typos back to you. In episode five of the Smart Author Podcast, I'll teach you how to work with beta readers, so stay tuned for that. That will be a lot of fun.
Once your manuscript is edited and ready for publication, the next step on your path to publication is formatting. eBook formatting is the layout and design process to prepare your finished manuscript for publication as an eBook. At Smashwords, the formatting bible that we use is called the Smashwords Style Guide. I wrote it. It will teach you how to professionally design and format your eBook so it looks great. All you need is a word processor, and it's available for the ridiculous price of free, so you can go download it today at any major retailer, or get it at Smashwords.
eBooks are formatted differently than print books. A print book is a fixed format, which means that every word appears on the page where the print book designer wanted it. The print book designer determines the font, the font size, the kerning, the line spacing. Everything is determined by the book designer.
eBooks are designed differently. You don't want to try to make your eBook look exactly like a print book because whereas print books are fixed and nothing changes, eBooks are designed for what's called reflowability. Reflowability is what allows the reader to click a button and increase the font size. Changing the font size causes the eBook to automatically repaginate. The book might go from 200 digital pages to 250 pages. Reflowability is what allows the reader to customize the reading experience. It allows the reader to change the font, to change the font size, the font color, to change the line spacing. If the reader wants a background color or wants reverse type, they can do that with an eBook. All of this is enabled by reflowability.
As you're designing your eBook, recognize that by designing your book for reflowability, you're giving up some of the control that a print designer would have. By letting the reader customize the book - by giving up this control - you're actually creating the book that's more accessible and more valuable to the reader because they can customize the reading experience. You can format your own book using Microsoft Word, and you can format it for free just by following the step-by-step instructions in the Smashwords Style Guide. If you don't have the time, the patience or the desire to learn how to format your own books, another option is to hire a freelancer. At Smashwords, I maintain a list that's called Mark's List. It's a list of low-cost eBook formatters. They're all freelancers. They don't work for me. I don't earn a commission if you hire them. Because I don't charge them to be on the list, there are no markups. Many of the service providers on my list are fellow Smashwords authors.
If you're planning on publishing multiple books, I would really encourage you to learn how to format your book on your own because it's easy once you know how, and it can also be kind of fun. It will give you a lot of control over the design and the over look and feel of your books. It'll allow you to make quick and easy updates in the future at no cost, and without the hassle of scheduling a project with a service provider.
The next step once your book is formatted, is to prepare your cover image. Print books have a front cover image, a back cover and a spine image. That's three different images for a print book. Your eBook only has one image, and that's the front cover image. Readers do judge books by their cover. It's really important that you have a cover that looks as good or better than what the big New York publishers are putting out. Do not try to design your own cover. It will look amateur. Hire a professional. Your cover is probably the lowest cost, highest impact investment you can make in your book. Professional cover design isn't expensive. You can find great cover designers for less than $200.
At Smashwords, I already mentioned Mark's List. Mark's List include's a list of cover designers on there as well. Most of them cost less than $100. All of them have online portfolios, so you can check out their work before you hire them. If you like what you see, if their style matches the style you envision for your cover, then you can hire them. If you don't like their work, that's fine. You can look at another designer. Or talk to your fellow authors who has great covers and ask who they used. There are thousands of professional cover designers out there that will take your idea for a book cover and realize your vision better and more amazing than you could even imagine, so definitely hire a professional cover designer.
In the episode that follows, the episode on Best Seller Secrets, I'll delve deeper into the elements of great cover design. Even though I don't want you to design your own cover, I want you to understand what goes into smart cover designs so that you can work with the cover designer to get the best possible cover.
Pricing: As an indie author, as a self-published author, you set the price. Smart pricing strategy is essential if you want to maximize your readership and your earnings. In the next episode, I'll do a deep dive on pricing strategy, but for now, to wet your whistle and give you some high level guidance, here are some quick tips on pricing. The price that maximizes downloads and readership is not a price at all. It's free, but if you're like most authors, you're looking to earn some income. What prices work best? If you write full-length fiction, the pricing sweet spots for full-length fiction are typically $2.99, $3.99 and $4.99. These are the prices that will help you maximize both earnings and unit sales.
Unit sales are important because unit sales are a measure of how many readers you're reaching, how many units you're selling.
Don't price non-fiction the same way you'd price fiction. If you write non-fiction, you should be looking at a higher price, typically between $7.99 to $9.99. Non-fiction can support higher prices because readers typically purchase non-fiction for different reasons than they purchase fiction. With non-fiction, the reader is usually looking to gain knowledge or solve a problem. That knowledge or that problem-solving has a lot of value to them. They expect to pay more for the book.
If you write series, price the series starter at free. We'll talk more about that in the next episode. I've got a lot more information to share on pricing and pricing strategy in the next episode on Bestseller Secrets.
The next step on your checklist is the ISBN. Let's talk about what an ISBN is, and let's talk about what it isn't. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. An ISBN is a unique digital identifier. It's a 13-digit number. This numbers gets attached to your book and to no other book in the world, so it is completely unique to your book.
The ISBN helps the supply chain, so I'm talking about eBook distributors like Smashwords and retailers like Apple iBooks and Barnes & Noble. It helps those of us in the supply chain keep track of your book. When you self-publish an eBook, this book is a dynamic living creature. Over time, you're going to change the book description. You might change the contents of the book. You might even change your author name and the title of the book, but one thing that will never change is the ISBN number that is attached to the book. The ISBN makes it possible for you to make all these different changes to your books, and we always know what book we're talking about when we're sending the updates to the retailers.
If you've written a book, Jane's Memoir, and you're changing the price of your book, we'll tell the retailer, "Change the price of the book that's attached to this unique ISBN number." That's basically how ISBNs work. The ISBN that you attach to your eBook must be different than the ISBN you give to your print book if you're doing a print book. At Smashwords, we require an ISBN if you want to maximize your distribution. If you want to distribute to Apple iBooks, Overdrive, Kobo and many of our other distribution channels, you need to have an ISBN. An ISBN is a no-brainer.
Let's talk about what an ISBN is not. An ISBN has nothing to do with copyright or ownership. If your book has an ISBN, it doesn't mean that your book is any more professional or real than some other book. An ISBN is not a common discovery method. You don't want your readers going to Google or going to a bookstore and searching by your ISBN number. If that's what your readers are doing, you've got a bigger problem. Most likely, your readers are going to discover your book either by going to Google and typing in your book title or your subject category or whatever problem they're trying to solve. Then, they'll stumble across your book.
Most of your readers will stumble across your book by accident. They're looking for a book similar to yours. Maybe they're looking for a good historical fiction novel to read or a good mystery, or they're looking for some diet tips or whatever your book subject is, they're going to go to an eBook retailer. They're going to search through the different categories, and then look for books in those categories. That's usually how they're going to find you. They're not going to find you through the ISBN.
Where do you get an ISBN? You've got some options here. If you're a Smashwords author, we offer free ISBNs. We offer them as a free perk for using our distribution services. We buy ISBNs in blocks of 50,000 and 100,000 at at time, so we get them for super cheap, which allows us to give them away for free. The other option is you can purchase your ISBN. If you want to own your ISBN, if you want it completely attached to your name, you can purchase an ISBN. If you live in the United States, you'll go to bowker.com. You can purchase them in blocks of 10 for about a little less than $300. That will list you as the publisher of the book.
If you live in the UK, Nielsen is the authorized ISBN registrar. It runs about £149 pounds for an ISBN. If you're in Australia, Bowker-Thorpe is the ISBN registrar. It's about $99 Australian dollars. If you live in Canada, ISBNs are free. At Smashwords, we're agnostic. It doesn't matter to us if you take our free ISBN or you bring us your own that you purchased yourself. The only thing that we care about is that the ISBN that you give us is unique to your eBook.
The next step on your checklist, copyright. By publishing something that you created, you have copyright. Copyright entitles you to an exclusive bundle of rights for that book. We've all seen that little circle C copyright symbol. It's optional if you put that in your book. It doesn't give you any extra protection to put that in your book. It's not necessary. If you want the best legal protection in the United States, if you want the ability to sue someone if they violate your copyright, you can go to copyright.gov. You can register for a copyright from the US government. It typically runs between 35 and $55 to do this. Realistically, you're never going to sue somebody because they violated your copyright. It will cost you more money to sue someone than the money you'll earn from suing them. If you are concerned that your work might be stolen, and if you want to be able to speak softly and carry a big stick, you need to have that legal copyright registration if you want to pursue legal action against someone who's violated your copyright.
All right. Next step on the checklist. Let's talk about piracy. Piracy is when someone illegally shares copies or sells your book. I know a lot of writers lose quite a bit of sleep worrying about piracy. It seems like almost every month, I'll get an e-mail from on of our authors. They're frantic. They think they've discovered their book on some pirate site and feel like their book has been stolen. Now, if you consider piracy as morally and ethically offensive, I'm with you. I do not like piracy at all. I think you deserve to earn as much income as you can from your book. I think piracy is nothing short of stealing from the author. You deserve to be paid for your work, but here's my advice to you. If you're lucky enough to become a popular author, you will experience some level of piracy. It's inevitable. The only way to prevent piracy with 100% assurance is to never publish at all, and that's to an option. Don't let fear of piracy paralyze your publishing. Don't let it zap your stamina. Don't lose sleep over it.
The truth of the matter is that piracy is usually more unnerving than it actually is harmful. The most common form of piracy is when an enthusiastic reader shares your book with another reader. Back in the old world of print publishing, if you read a book that you loved, and you shared it with a friend, no one would think of that as piracy even though in a sense, it was piracy because the author is not making any money when that book is passed on to another reader, but this will happen with eBooks. I want you to view this as your lowest cost, most effective form of marketing because you've got one enthusiastic reader introducing another reader to your writing. That reader will go on to purchase your other books. I know some best-selling authors who actually upload their own books to pirate sites. They do this under the belief that these people who only steal books don't really represent a lost sale because they don't buy books. At least, they're a reader with the power to spread word-of-mouth. That's the thinking for those authors who actually encourage placement of their books on these different underground pirate sites.
Minimizing Piracy: My belief is that most readers are honest. Most readers are ethical. Here's what you can do to minimize piracy.
First, price your book at a fair price so that it's affordable to readers.
Second, make your book available at all the major retailers around the world, so it's easier for readers to purchase your book than to steal it. A lot of the piracy that occurs is as a result of publishers creating international demand for their books, but not fulfilling that demand by making their books purchasable in every country.
The third tip I would share on reducing piracy is to add what's called the Smashwords License Statement to the title page of your book.
The Smashwords License Statement encourages well-intentioned readers to support you. I'll read it to you. Although it's called the Smashwords License Statement, you're welcome to use it, even if you don't work with Smashwords. You're also welcome to modify it. This is something that I invented about 10 years ago. Thousands of authors use it, and I would love for you to use it as well. You'd place it on your book's title page.
Here's what your title page with the license statement might look like:
by Jane Atwood
Copyright Jane Atwood 2017
Smashwords License Statement
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please visit your favorite eBook retailer to purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Let me tell you the reasoning behind the Smashwords license statement. I'm sure you've all seen those fire and brimstone warnings at the top of some books. "Warning: $500,000 fine if you illegally copy this book." I don't think that is the proper approach because I believe most readers are honest, and most readers are ethical and morally responsible and want to support the hard work of the author.
The Smashwords License Statement offers a kinder, gentler approach that appeals to your readers and reminds them that the author who brought them this book deserves compensation for their hard work. I view the Smashwords License Statement as a benevolent Trojan horse. It's sitting there in the book. If your book gets passed along accidentally to someone who has not paid for it, it's a gentle reminder to the reader they have an obligation to support you, and they should go buy their own copy. That's enough on piracy prevention and mitigation.
Now to the next step in the publishing process, Distribution.
You've got your book. Your manuscript's formatted. You've got your cover image. Now, how do you get your book out to retailers and to public libraries. Let's talk about distribution to the various sales channels. At Smashwords, we are a distributor, so we distribute our books to Apple iBooks, which is the world's second largest global seller of books. We distribute to Kobo, which is a mid-sized global retailer. We distribute to Barnes & Noble, a large US retailer, and to Scribd, which is a subscription service. We distribute to Gardners in the UK, which operates hundreds of smaller retailers and also operates a library platform. We distribute to Overdrive, which is the world's largest library supplier of eBooks and a whole bunch of other channels. We distribute to several other outlets as well. Our distribution to Amazon is limited to books and authors with a proven track record. Visit the Smashwords Distribution Information page for details on how to apply.
You have two options for getting your book onto the virtual shelves or retailers and libraries. The first option is to use a distributor. Because Smashwords is a distributor, I'm obviously partial to this option. I believe in distribution. If you talk to authors who use a distributor like Smashwords, what they'll tell you is that they love the time savings, the ease of use and the convenience. If you work with a distributor, you'll spend more time writing and less time managing multiple upload platforms. With a distributor, you will upload your book file, your cover image, and information about your book once to the distributor. Then, the distributor will transmit your book to all of the different sales channels. If you need to update your book, like, let's say you want to give your book a new eBook cover, or you want to change the book description or run a price promotion, change the price or you find a typo in the book, you'll make that update or correction once to the distributor. Then, the distributor will manage the propagation of that update out to all the different sales channels. That's a huge time savings.
Other time-saving benefits of using a distributor include consolidated payments, consolidated sales reporting and consolidated end-of-year tax reporting. Distributors will also help you reach retailers and library channels that you can't reach without a distributor. No matter what you do, you're going to want to work with a distributor if for no other reason to expand your distribution reach. With a distributor like Smashwords, we earn our income by taking a small commission on sales, which in our case is 10% of the list price for sales through our distribution network.
The other option to reach some retailers is to work directly with the retailer. Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo all offer direct upload platforms. It's not difficult to do, but it is time-consuming, especially if you plan to publish more than one book. If you're managing five different upload platforms, just think about it. Imagine if you're publishing multiple books, and you want to run price promotions across multiple retailers, it can become really time-consuming to manage so many different platforms, but you have that option if you want.
The question of whether you should work with a distributor or work directly with certain retailers is also not an either/or question. You can do both. Since Smashwords offers limited distribution to Amazon (this is by Amazon's choice, not Smashwords'), most Smashwords authors will upload direct to Amazon and then use Smashwords to reach all other retailers and library platforms. If you work with Smashwords, you'll find a an option in your Smashwords Dashboard called "Channel Manager" where you can opt in and out of different sales channels.
That's enough about distribution.
The next item on your checklist is the upload, so upload means how you take your finished manuscript, your cover image and the data about your book, how you load it onto your chosen eBook publishing platform. I'll describe how the upload process works at Smashwords because our process is very similar to every other retailer and every other publishing platform. The first step, if you're not already signed up at Smashwords is to sign up for a free account. Everything at Smashwords is free. You sign up for a free account. We send you a confirmation e-mail. That e-mail tells you all the next steps to follow for your publishing process. Let's say you're signed up for Smashwords. To publish your book, all you do is you click the link that says publish. A one-page form pops up. On this form, we'll just simply ask you what is the title of your book? You type in the title. We ask you when you want to release the book. You can release your book immediately and have it go for sale immediately in our store and available for distribution, or you can list your book as a preorder.
I would suggest that you list your book as a preorder. In Episode Four, I'm going to dedicate the entire episode to preorders and preorder strategy. I think preorders are one of the most exciting, most important and most under-utilized marketing tools. I'm going to teach you how to use preorders. Authors who use preorders sells more books than authors who don't, so pre-orders are a no-brainer.
Back to the publishing page.
After you choose whether you want to release your book as a pre-order or release it immediately, we'll ask you other questions about your book. What do you want to price your book at? What's your book's description? You'll enter in a book description. This data that we're collecting from you is called metadata. You've probably heard the term metadata but may not realize what it is. Metadata is simply data about your book. It's data like price, your author name, your book description, tags, the publication date, the book category, your book title, the language of your book. Metadata is what makes your book discoverable in the store. Retailers use metadata so that readers who are looking for a book just like yours can find your book. Metadata is really exciting, and we'll capture all that data directly from you during the upload process. Once you finish filling out all the data on that form, you'll attach your book file, usually as a Microsoft Word file. You'll attach your cover image as an image file. Then, you'll click the publish button at the bottom of the page, and your book is uploaded to Smashwords.
The next step in that process is called eBook conversion. Conversion is the process of turning your formatted manuscript and your cover image and all that metadata that you gave us into an eBook file. An eBook file that is readable on multiple different eBook reading devices. Now, the most common forms of eBook files are ePub, that's E-P-U-B. ePub is an open industry standard that every single retailer, except for Amazon, uses. Amazon uses a file format called MOBI. Another eBook file type that you're probably familiar with is PDF. When you upload to Smashwords, we're going to take your Microsoft Word document, and we are going to automatically convert it into multiple file formats, so about seven different formats. We'll convert it into EPUB, MOBI, PDF, some HTML formats, text, so that your book is readable on any different e-reading device. You can also upload your book as an ePub file.
Let's say you already hired a professional eBook designer, and they created an ePub file for you. You can upload that eBook file directly to Smashwords as well.
Now that your book is uploaded, here's what happens next. Literally, within five minutes of the upload, your book will complete its conversion. Your book will appear for sale on the Smashwords homepage. Congratulations. You are now a published author! Your book is available for purchase from a worldwide audience.
If you're using Smashwords, our team here in California will open up your book and inspect it. We'll look to confirm the formatting of your book meets the listing requirements of our retailers. If you followed the Smashword Style Guide, your book is going to look great. We will approve your book for what's called Premium Catalog distribution. After we approve your book for Premium Catalog distribution, your book will immediately begin shipping out to the different eBook retailers.
iBooks and Kobo are probably the two quickest retailers to list our books. Often, both of these retailers will have your books available to their global audiences within an hour or two of us delivering the book to them. That's really pretty amazing, if you think about it. Back in the old world of publishing, you would deliver your book to a publisher. It could take 12 or 18 months before your book made it into stores. Here, we're talking about literally a matter of hours from upload to worldwide availability. Cool beans.
Now that your book is published and distributed, let's talk about how do you reach readers?
Let's talk about marketing. First, what is marketing? Marketing is a broad term that encompasses everything you do to make your book and your author brand more accessible, more discoverable, more desirable and more enjoyable to readers.
Think of marketing as the magnetic force that connects the gap between the reader's aspirations and your book's ability to satisfy those aspirations.
There are many examples of marketing that you're probably already familiar with such as paid advertising, public relations, social media, blogging, even branded pencils. There are other important forms of marketing that you may not even consider marketing, but they directly or indirectly serve the same goal of drawing readers to your book. For example, you may not realize it but we've already discussed several important marketing tools just during this episode.
Earlier we talked about distribution. Distribution makes your book accessible and discoverable at retailers. Distribution is a big piece of marketing. We've talked about metadata. Metadata aids in discoverability by helping perspective readers find your book. We talked about the eBook cover image. Your eBook cover image is one of your most powerful forms of marketing, but the most important piece of your marketing is your book. Why is that? Readers are going to determine your success as an author. If your book wows the reader, if it touches the reader's soul, if it delivers extreme satisfaction, then, your readers will become your most enthusiastic, most effective evangelists for your books. Great books become best sellers when they spread from reader to reader, on the wings of reader word-of-mouth and five-star reviews from readers.
In the episodes that follow, we'll explore other marketing opportunities, other marketing ideas. If you want a crash course on book marketing right now, then, check out the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. I wrote it. You'll find over 60 free book marketing ideas in the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. You'll learn how to put your book's marketing on autopilot so you can spend more time writing, and less time on marketing. Check that out. The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide is available at every major eBook retailer, and like my other eBooks about eBook publishing, it's available for the ridiculous price of free. It will always be free, so go download it. I hope you enjoy it.
Let's go back to your book. All of the marketing that you do for your book will be that much more successful if you prioritize making your book the best it can be. If you're preparing to release your book, and you have a couple of thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket that you're considering investing in marketing, I would encourage you to invest that money in editing instead, if you haven't done so already, because a great book will market itself.
That concludes the eBook publishing checklist portion of this episode. You now know the steps to produce, publish and distribute an eBook. Let's talk about your plan going forward. You are your own gate-keeper. You decide when your manuscript is ready to graduate to become a published book. You decide when you got from being an unpublished writer to a published author. To achieve success as an author. You need to honor your readers. Give them a super fabulous wow book, backed by great distribution, a great cover image and a great price. Publishing an eBook is the easy part. Reaching readers is more difficult. Despite the challenging journey ahead of you, your opportunity to reach readers has never been greater than it is today. Millions of readers around the world are searching for their next great read this very moment. Thanks to the indie eBook revolution, you now have free access to the tools and knowledge to reach these readers.
In this episode, you learned the foundational building blocks that will help take your learning to the next level. I'm pleased to tell you that we're just getting started here on the Smart Author Podcast. I've got a lot more to share with you in the episodes to come. Coming up in episode three, we'll explore 16 best practices of the best-selling indie authors. As always, you'll find show notes and supplemental information for this and all the other episodes at smashwords.com/podcast. Also, be sure to check out the official Smart Author podcast Facebook page at Facebook.com/smartauthorpodcast where you can ask questions and communicate with fellow listeners. Give the page a like and a share, and help us spread the word. Thanks again for taking the time to join me on this journey. Until next time, keep writing. I'm Mark Coker.