Just a reminder that I’ll be signing books at the New England Book Fair in Newton, Mass. tomorrow, August 24, between 1-3pm. Hope to see you there!
Book rights revert back to authors for a variety of reasons (the terms of the contract, changes within the publishing company, etc.) and it used to be that authors didn’t have a lot of options for what to do with their books once the rights came back to them. But thanks to the flexibility of e-publishing, authors now have options.
I’ve mentioned before that my friend Alisa Libby’s book, The Blood Confession, which was previously published by Dutton, has been repackaged and re-released as an ebook. Neither Alisa nor I had a lot of experience with epubbing, so we decided to venture into it together.
I thought I’d share the process we went through just in case it helps anyone else. Here’s Alisa, by the way. Say hello!
Okay, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Step 1 – Getting the rights back.
You have to read your contract carefully and make sure the rights have completely reverted back to you, both in print and ebook format. Sometimes that means you have to write a letter to the publisher officially requesting the rights back. You also need to make sure that the publisher takes down their version of the ebook.
Step 2 — Obtaining the final manuscript.
You’ll probably have to get the final version of the manuscript from the publisher (since authors don’t usually get a copy of it) and some publishers might charge you for this. It’s best to get the manuscript with as little formatting as possible.
Alisa’s manuscript came to us as a PDF which I then converted into a Word document. The issue was that the PDF had tons of images embedded in it, so it was a bit of a chore to have to take all of those out (since images don’t work all that well in epub), plus it contained lots of funky formatting that I had to struggle to undo.
There are services that convert manuscripts for you for a fee. I haven’t had experience with these so make sure to do your research, but they could be a good option for people who aren’t able to the conversion themselves.
Step 3 — Selecting your platform.
We knew we wanted the book to be available as widely as possible. We put the book up on Amazon through their digital publishing service, and then we also decided to use Smashwords since it would then be distributed to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, etc.
Putting the book up on Amazon was relatively easy, but Smashwords was more of a struggle. Remember when I said the manuscript had a lot of images and weird formatting in it? That meant a lot of tweaking to finally get the book accepted by Smashwords. There may have been a few “I’m going to throw this laptop across the room” moments during this process.
Step 4 — Setting your price.
Pricing in ebooks is a funny thing. People don’t want to spend a lot of money but they also know that you often get what you pay for. With that in mind, Alisa and I decided on $2.99 which seemed in line with comparable books. At some point, we’ll probably experiment with putting the book on sale, etc.
Step 5 — Creating a cover.
Besides formatting the book, the cover probably took the longest amount of time. Alisa and I searched stock photo websites for weeks trying to find the perfect one. Finally, we found it! Sort of. The original image had blood trickling down the girl’s chin which seemed a little TOO bloody (even for a book that’s pretty gory).
The original image we found was also expensive. Luckily, the internet is a big place, and after some more searching, we found the exact same image on iStockphoto for a much more reasonable price.
Once we had the image, it was time for Photoshop fun. I worked on erasing the blood on the chin, and then we tried about a million fonts and title placements before we found one we liked. There were definitely some banging-head-on-desk moments because of my limited Photoshop skills, but luckily Husband Ray and my friend Sheryl were able to jump in and help.
If you don’t have people to help you, then hiring a cover designer might be a good way to go. Ultimately, you want the cover to look like something you would actually buy if you were browsing for books.
Step 6 — Putting it all together.
Once we had the manuscript formatted and the cover created, it was time to put together a description of the book, and put it out into the world! And that’s where we are right now. Alisa and I have been brainstorming ways to promote the book which can be challenging with so many other books out there, but that’s all part of the fun, right?
So that’s the process in a nutshell. There are lots of great resources out there about epubbing. If you ever have a question, just Google it. I can’t tell you how much that helped me along the way. And, of course, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.
Born under the omen of a falling star, Erzebet Bizecka is a child of prophecy. The only heir of a powerful Hungarian count, she was predicted to die young or to live forever. Determined to survive despite the grim prophecy, Erzebet becomes obsessed with preserving her youth and beauty. How far will she be willing to go to protect herself?