Are you interested in publishing a book? Does it
seem too expensive to do that? I felt so as well, until I opted for
learning about eBook electronic book publishing. For my tastes, I had
been thinking of publishing one book since 2002 and now have that book
published and being sold plus two more, plus one more in copyright
process. Why did I not publish in 2002? Well, if one goes to a
publishing house it would seem then the writer gives up control of their
own work. If you self publish paper books then you might pay thousands
of dollars just to get into the business. But nowadays, there is a new
option - eBooks. As an eBook user who prefers to read books
electronically on my pad, I believe it is a large and growing market. I
should quickly say that eBooks I do not find to be zero cost. There is a
cost for a copyright and ISBN numbers, and other costs depending on if
you can do the work yourself.
Here are the steps I found to get into the eBook
publishing business. The highlights first and then more detail and
PRELIMS and HAZARD AVOIDANCE
* Protect your work until you have a copyright -
that means likely - zero distribution till protected
* Of course - use no one's work in either your
text or in your images unless you have full permission. Some
people think whatever is on the net is protection free. Nope.
I know of cases where people have sought out the person "lifting"
another's work - written text or images.
EBOOK PUBLISHING - Main items to be done in
order - (details of each item below)
0. Step 0 - SAFETY - Suggest No Distribution
of your work Till Done
1. Write the book.
2. Do the artwork including cover to be
included with the book
3. Copyright it in the US Library of
4. Wait till you receive copyright since
there may be questions
5. Assemble the book within eBooks
publishing software that you have
6. Modify the book type into formats you
7. Get ISBN numbers from Bowker - suggest 10
at a time
8. Begin to Market to main places while
General - the names below often also become the
suffixes for the file, such as MyBook.epub, or MyBook.pdf, or
EPUB - This is perhaps the most common of
the electronic book formats. It is used for books that people just
transmit freely, but also seems to be controlled at least "in the cloud"
as one of the formats used by Google Play. The Epub format is so
common that at least the last that I checked, one can download free epub
readers for their Windows computer or their Android tablets, and of
course likely other computers and pads. It has been the type I
have used almost exclusively till the present time.
PDF - Yes, this is the Adobe electronic
format for books and operating instructions and far more that has been
with us for some time. At first I admit that I ignored this
format. Now I am beginning to like it more and more. Adobe
of course makes their PDF reader (but not writer) free. However,
some later versions of Windows Office MsWord even do translations to PDF
type files making it now accessible. But I am finding even more to
like. PDF files seem far smaller than the rtf files I used to
create my books in, such as MyBook.rtf. Not only that, the pdf
files are also smaller than the epub formats that I use - depending on
the number of images the book has. And at
the same time, the quality of the pdf output including images is just
not bad. Also pdf along with epub is what GooglePLay and perhaps
others may ask for, and also pdf seems the desired format for uploading to
the US Copyright Office and also the ISBN service we will speak of
later. It pays, therefore, to make friends with PDF
regardless of your initial opinion.
MOBI - An electronic book format used by
some, and in fact is still used by Amazon (Kindle). Note that it
seems that Amazon likes to do its own translation to mobi format, likely
from an epub format - which is what I give them.
0. No Distribution till Done.
While perhaps no one may cheat you, I found with software even if your
work predates others, not everyone is reasonable. Once you get in
line to the US Library of Congress, most silly discussion is closed and
you win - since now you have both a work and a date and ownership
1. Write the Book. Now if you already
know your publishing software you will need in item 5, you can begin
either writing in that program or in something compatible. (Note
Hazards item above about protection and also ensuring all work you have
the rights to.)
2. Artwork. You will need at least a
cover, and perhaps if you desire also internal artwork of images,
charts, maps or the like for internal pages for your book. Or
perhaps your own photo image. For the cover artwork, some on the
internet suggest that 2100 pixels high and 1400 wide will work most
places. I think I agree, so far. Also that gives a decent
image. They also suggest keeping the image below 2 megabytes to
save cost later since some market places charge for size. If you
are handy with a photo package such as Adobe or Corel or the like, you
can do your own cover. You might then save using a small amount of
jpg compression to get the image say less than 2 megabytes. Amazon
for one, may charge for large size books for memory usage. Moving
on, for other images I suggest avoiding lawsuits. For Christmas
cards I might download seasonal images from the web, since no one cares.
However, I know of at least one case where a person used a photo of a
lady on a book cover and the lady demanded money after it was taken.
Much on the web, even if you can just take it, does not mean you have
the rights to the image. In my case, for things like books, ALL of
the images were photos that I personally took or made or at least
grossly modified. I also ensure I am the only human image - unless
permission. Ensure all work is yours. Why do this step 2
BEFORE copyright? You can also check boxes on the copyright to
copyright the cover and inside images if you wish. Why not?
No more cost. And that protects people from taking your hard
Continued (2): Having just completed edit
after edit on an ebook with internal charts and images, it pays to learn
what level of quality you need for your internal book images - if you
have any internal images at all. Are you just showing a picture? -
in which case super quality may not be needed, or do you have a chart
like I had several of with many numbers that need to be viewed? If
you have internal artwork you should check inside an ebook reader to see
how your images look on the inside. Are they good enough? Do
you need more quality and more detail - more "dpi" (dots per inch)?
Perhaps your book is already too large in file size and you wish to cut
down the image quality to save money in distribution? In all
events, it pays as I have learned to closely look at what the final
result of your book looks like - in each format that you might
3. Copyright. Why copyright in the US
Library of Congress and not just claim a date? It stops arguments
I believe before they start - since a date is clearly set, and it only
costs $35 or so if you use the electronic submission. I once had
someone write my software site and say that I had to change the name of
one of my products since his product was the same name. Looking at
things, I realized my date preceded his. But where was my proof?
Since I was not selling that program for money I changed its name rather
than get into a big battle. But from that day forward, all went
through Library of Congress - to get a date - and to stop the morons.
Also...for the Library of Congress online site, please be careful what
format for electronic submission they are asking for. I once
submitted one in rtf. But the next time it seemed they only wanted
pdf but then another page disagreed and said rtf fine. So, be
careful. I just went with pdf last time since it was safer.
You should be able to find the US Copyright office online via Google or
other. There is generally a short form that is fast and only
mildly annoying. Annoying? Well if you wrote the book, and
are also the person for questions, and also the person to get the
copyright, and also .. whatever... get ready to enter your name and
address and phone number 4 times or so. Well, it only hurts for a
4. Wait till your Copyright comes back
approved. Yes, you want to be certain you are fine. At least
one early time I submitted work I was sent a question from the examiner.
My fault. I had listed my companies name on the software as
copyright owner but then asked for a copyright solely in my name.
They caught it. My fault. A person and a company are
not the same. If nothing else, I can attest that copyright
examiners check for consistency. However, in some other ways, the
government does help lately now that they have gone electronic.
The date submitted is usually really the date submitted, or at least the
date they open your request and see it. So you establish a place
in line right away if all was received - and in fact it is that date -
the day they recognized you submitted - that becomes the final copyright
date. yay! And also, nowadays you can review progress of
your request online at the US Copyright place, even though it often says
"in review" or some nonsense like that for months. And yes, I have
seen some software submissions of mine that only took a month or two,
but a book that I think took over 6 months. Well, write another
book while waiting.
5. Assemble the book to epub. You will
need software. On windows, I use Atlantis (Atlantis Word
Processor). This product is easy to use, often gives free updates, uses simple rtf files,
and helps with setup for where the book cover goes and the electronic
index. When I wrote to Atlantis, it also said I could have
multiple copies - meaning one on my desktop and one on my laptop
for travel. So I can also write when I travel. Okay, if using Atlantis, I suggest that you begin
at least the first time with
their sample format (if one is provided) and modify it since that is
simply easier. After you get used to it, you will find it is easy
to just start totally new. You next will have at least three
work items. (1) Just load your rtf book in back. (2) Then
add your book cover image (likely 1400 pixels wide, 2100 high) as the
very first item. (3) Then fix the electronic indexing. How
does electronic indexing work? Getting used to indexing may take
some getting used to. You set each chapter head or
epilogue or the like to a Heading format such as "Heading 1" - and
ensure that other words (lines) are not set to a heading format, but to
find you should also leave a blank "normal" line on the new page
before the chapter name done in "Heading 1". Then you can right
click the electronic table of contents, tell it to update automatically,
and it finds the headings for you (chapter starts) and their location.
But it takes practice. Of course if you add any pages - even if
you did not think you did - you will need to right click the table of
contents again to ensure that it is up to date. What do I do?
It is the last step before saying I am done. I update the table of
contents whether I think I changed anything at all. Start with
their form till you get used to it. When done, you can save the
file as "rtf" or use "save special" to save to ePUB. One other caution
and this is regarding blank lines. If you have extra blank lines at the
end of your chapter or before the next chapter that you do not need for
the composer you are using, when translating to other formats those
blank lines can become blank pages that you did not wish and can be
annoying. So only use blank lines between a chapter ending and a new
chapter that your composer software demands and no more.
Note: What does "epub" mean? Epub is
the extension ending of a common electronic book such as "Tom
Sawyer.epub" for example. epub is the most common electronic
format and can be used by pc's androids, Google Play, and others.
There are other electronics formats in usage such as mobi, pdf, azw I
believe and still others.
NOTE: EPUB may look different than your
draft copy - IMPORTANT
While I use GooglePlay as an example below, it is
not the only issue and not even the worst example I have seen.
I have seen some large format changes when you
upload to sales places that use your epub files. How so? I
have seen some that ignore single blank lines. I have seen some
that ignore hyphens. I have seen some that ignore bold and
italics. To make this even more difficult, some sales places
change what they throw away perhaps based on complaints. In my
case I have some bad surprises. I tend to prefer books with block
paragraphs, as you see here. Then I tend to separate paragraphs by
a single blank line. Well, you can see the problem if an epub
sales location ignores blank lines. In my case at the start of my
sales, GooglePlay seemed to ignore blank lines. And so, it ran
everything together. The paragraphs were run together and even
after chapter titles there was no space before the chapter text began.
I then looked for ways to force this format, but then oddly, it now
seems that if I reload my Googleplay books from their copies, it now
shows my blank lines. But perhaps the real issue is not to count
on things. Here are some suggestions I have seen that might help
you. Of course you should look at the final sales product of what
is being sold to be certain. But there are some suggestions that
might help to avoid issues. Note that they might not work in all
If your composer for your book allows you to
indent each paragraph, that is safer. I did look at one novel
by a famous writer where GooglePlay ran the paragraphs together
also, as they did for mine. But with indented paragraph
starts, I found it really just fine. And so indenting
paragraphs, if you composer can do it, may save you from some
extreme cases. In my case I just highlighted my whole book and
then changed it to indented paragraph style. I may need to
correct some places after this, but that did most of the work for
I found that sometimes putting a blank space on
a line forces it to be a blank line that stays in usage
I of course go to a new page for new Chapters
Best if you can avoid italics or bold or
different print style being needed. Okay if it "adds", but
needed may disappoint you if you find an epub reader that ignores
bold and italics
Avoid using hyphens and some other odd
characters. Best to stick to commas, periods, semi colons,
colons, exclamation marks, question marks and other more common
usage items. Avoid using dots in a row for a pause. I
have found some epub readers that seem to ignore that also.
Best to stick to normal punctuation.
When all done with "your best guess," be sure
to look at the final result from your sales location.
6. Other Formats. There is some
software here or there for sale to convert eBook software formats.
However, I found that downloading "Calibre" book reader for my pc also
converts epub say into mobi and other popular formats ... for free.
So once you are done with your work and the copyright and the epub
format, you are ready to go with a translator to other sales items.
Note: Why ISBN numbers? They are used
to track books - in that great book registry somewhere in the clouds.
(or wherever). Without one, a person may not know that your book
exists. As you market your book, some distribution places such as
Amazon Kindle may ask for your ISBN number. If you do not have
one, they might get it, and you might not like someone owning the ISBN
number for your work. I would not. I just bought 10 numbers.
Of course I may have three books, but even for one book if I were to
sell it in both epub and pdf formats, that would be $250 for two, or
$250 for 10. I think 10 is the better deal. You might also
want to sell in mobi or AZW or another format. And a separate ISBN
number is used for each format, including one needed if God forbid - go
the paper book direction.
THE ISBN QUANDARY
ISBN says every format of your book should have a
different ISBN number - and they call "different" such items as a paper
book, an epub electronic version, a pdf version, a mobi version and
others. But the problem is, even if you try to be a good person,
what says distributors are not further changing the type of electronic
format? I have decided to meet the ISBN people at least half way
and right now take out an epub number and a pdf number. Those are
the only two formats I really control. If Amazon takes my epub
format and makes it into an odd personalized Amazon form of mobi, well,
not sure what to do about that. That is not the way it left me.
So I take out two and try to at least hit the letter of the law as it
leaves from myself, the publisher. Publishers seem to be defined
as the people controlling their block of ISBN numbers.
WORK NEEDED BEFORE ITEM 7 - when out of
copyright and getting serious about sales
* Put together a book description of less than 350
words for ISBN usage and try and ensure it would also work as a sales
* Put together an authors biography of less than
350 words for ISBN usage and also see if at least a portion of it could
be used later. This is up to you, but in my case I began with a
general biography and then went to what specifics help the writing of
* Decide on a price. Do not ask me why the
ISBN people want a price, but you cannot get the ISBN info completed
without stating a price. I do believe it can be changed later.
What is your BISAC? Your Book Subject by
Huh? Someone may ask. Someone did ask
me what mine is. Well, BISAC stands for Book Industry Standards
and Communications. But it also lists codes for book nerds such
that they will know the subject using number codes. My guess is
that there is some formula similar to Einstein's equation for relativity
that then just converts that code into the Dewey Decimal System.
But of course I could be wrong, since I am merely here to comply as I
suggest the best approach for others as well. For example our book
that I and my son Ken did we could say is in the subject of Games, card
games, Blackjack, but its BISAC number is GAM002030. How to find
these numbers? As of right now the list is at:
Get Your BISAC Number here, maybe
7. Get ISBN numbers from Bowker. I suggest
just getting 10 for $250 right away since 1 for $125 is a lousy deal and
also you will need one for every format you sell under. I would
imagine that most humans nowadays even if they wanted their book
physically printed may want some day to also sell an electronic version.
Well, that would be two ISBNs - or $250 for two. Why not $250 for
Note: Why Bowker? They seem to be the
only final source for US and its member territories for ISBN numbers.
If some other place is selling them, they are getting them from Bowker -
says Bowker. Bowker also sells other services but being cheap, I
only got the ISBN numbers and also will use their site to register.
To avoid the junk, the ISBN number link is on page top - at least right
now. Of course, maybe you might like the junk below? You
will need to register your name with the site and get a password before
they will sell to you. They do that since the next step, will be
filling in at least one ISBN numbers and all of the data and you will
need a name and password for that.
WORK BEFORE SALES
My Advice is that many places may simply decide to
not do your book unless your book and the rest of your story looks
professional. I read stories on the blogs that say places like
Amazon or Google Play ignore them. Therefore I would be certain
that you have a real copyright with the Library of Congress and also
ISBN numbers as those are first steps towards looking professional.
Of course a well done cover, decent writing and good description can
also help looking professional. I find some bloggers complaining
they get ignored. For me the trip getting on Amazon was ... the
same day... or at least overnight. I was accepted by GooglePlay
the very next Monday after the weekend when they could check EFT
(electronic funds transfer) to the bank routing I specified for payment.
I think the high speed of that was because I had a copyright, ISBN
number, and nothing looked silly, and the price $3.99 seemed fine. I
now have 3 eBooks selling in three places each.
DRM = What?
DRM = Digital Rights Management. Some big
players which I think include Google Play and Amazon may use DRM if you
agree. What does this do? It means that they the distributor
try to do things to your book to try and make it harder for someone to
simply copy it and then distribute it for free to a million friends.
The agreement you must sign says you understand that they will try but
cannot guarantee a hacker cannot get into things, but that at least is a
start. I am guessing that if you deal with big players, big name
distributors, they may help with this. But if you go to small
distributors, well maybe not.
Up to you, really. As we all know sometimes
low price does not mean more sales. But I also think one must walk
before they can run. It seems to me that some well known authors
are getting $10 or $11 an eBook or more. However, you might not be
well known as yet. And I have seen some paperbacks selling for $5
and up. Now, there is no paper here so the buyer might expect a
tiny bargain. The reputable places suggest about 2.99 to 9.99 USD
depending on the type of book and your opinion. I believe I myself
will likely stick right now to the 3.99 to 5.99 range - until I am well
known of course.
Decide who you want to sell to. Some internet
information can help you, such as:
AMAZON (Kindle) - translates epub into
Note: There is something called Kindle
Select that might offer you 70% commission rather than 35%. But in
return you might need to be exclusive to Amazon only and also allow your
book to be borrowed money free from their library. Also if you are
"select" they may charge you a "delivery charge" based on the size of
your book in Megabytes. My advice? Do what works for you.
But I would certainly use their forms to see if you really make that
much more money before going exclusive to them - since now delivery
costs may subtract. I did not take it for my first book since the
book was large due to many images and color charts inside making for a
high delivery cost. But for some people, going "select" might be a
GOOGLE PLAY - allows both epub and pdf
BARNES and NOBLE (Nook) - epub
info and signup? :
info and signup and status
comment: They seem a good
group, easy to work with, and the highest commissions. I really
like these guys. They do not seem, however, to sell as many of my
books as GooglePlay and Amazon Kindle.
THE APPLE ISSUE
I was approved as a publisher for
Apple to sell my books. But after spending far more time reading
their information than the other three above sellers combined, I gave up
when I could not figure out how to upload books to them. A person
on the net said that Apple requires an Apple made product in order to
upload to them and also to read about sales. That could easily be
the issue. I have a PC, and really cannot afford to buy an Apple
computer for what likely might not be high book sales. But if you
have an Apple product computer, then you likely could be fine. I
most likely will not sell through Apple.
APPLE iPADs READING YOUR BOOK
My sister in law wanted to read one
of my books. She had an iPAD. At first I thought it would be
impossible. But then I learned that at least a number of months
ago, Apple iPAD's were able to download a GooglePlay reader application.
That worked. I set up her iPAD, bot her a GooglePlay account, and
downloaded my book to her iPAD. So those people on PC's at least
have or had a way for their books to get to Apple iPADs for reading.
I would at least suggest thinking
about Apple iBooks. But some of these in the links below
claim to do that for you. The main question might be ... if you go
to these distribution services, is your book now just simply open to be
copied and distributed by any customer? No DRM? Not even an
attempt to guard your interests? And of course if you use a middle
person in the chain, then you will likely pay the equivalent of two
20 Sites to Sell
PAYHIP - what?
Of the players above in the 20 sites
I think Barnes and Noble as of course do
Amazon and Google Play. But there is another interesting player -
Payhip. Payhip is really an extension of PayPal and uses the same
mentality. PayPal thinks more like a merchant service rather than
an Amazon. How so? Well, if you were to own a real store you
would find some merchant services are needed and seem to be quite
disturbing. If you have a store, you would need someone who can
take credit cards, debit cards and the like. There are those
services of course. Some of us see them as evil places that want a
percent or two of everything sold in America ... maybe the world.
They like to get a tiny skim of some of the money from the top.
PayPal credit card services are not so different, but often more of a
good deal for the small business - perhaps someone selling occasionally
online. I sell CDs on my web site using PayPal. Why not?
The big credit card services want a large monthly fee and then a cost
per transaction. PayPal may cost just a bit more per transaction,
but no monthly fee. And so for a small user, PayPal is a good
deal. What if you have no sales? With PayPal credit card
services they charge nothing. And when something is sold, they
send me a nice note saying it was sold and who paid so I know to ship
I honestly do not know how payhip
works, but my guess would be that it is a similar sort of thinking as
PayPal credit cards. They are just looking for a percentage of the
take. They say 5% and just upload your eBook to payhip they say.
I have not verified it. But it is an alternative for people who do
not wish to pay large royalties to the other places. What are the
downsides? I am not certain since I have not taken advantage of
them yet. But let me guess that the below MIGHT be their deal:
They give you most of the money
but only keep 5% or so
They likely do not advertise
like Amazon or Google Play does ... they likely after all might
think like PayPal that they hang in the background and take money
for goods and just provide service, not marketing
Likely you might need to
advertise a link to them on a website owned by you for someone to
even find them. This is what I do for selling CDs through
PayPal credit services
I believe that payhip differs
from PayPal in that they will take your book and deliver it and take
people's money and ensure the customer is legitimate - so that is an
expanded "service" at an expanded price of now about 5% per
Anyway, payhip might be a good
alternative for some folks who just might decide to do their own
advertising and send customers to them to collect the cash. I
might do that as well from my own website.
Nowadays, I see this as the real
issue. The sellers such as Google, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and
others will tell you that they advertise your books. But honestly?
If someone is advertising 10,000 or 100,000 or whatever their numbers of
books are, they really are advertising no one. It is sort of like
being a grain of sand on Pismo Beach. And so advertising should
take some thought. I need to get better at this myself. I do
have a website that advertises the books, but likely that is limited in
HAVE FUN! Hope this helps at
least a bit!
Ronald J. Plachno
January 12, 2014 / Some updates July 20,2014
Back To Articles
Back to Main Index for Ron