Saturday, February 18, 2012

ePublishing - Ten Things I Learned the Hard Way

Ten things I learned the hard way about ePublishing
About a year ago, a member of my writer’s group ePublished her novel on Amazon and Smashwords. The rest of us, encouraged by her boldness, immediately decided to follow suit. I put my suspense novel, She’s Not There, on Amazon and Smashwords last August. My print copy wasn’t published until recently, following a change in cover art, an author photo shoot, and a professional formatting. I made a lot of mistakes in the process and decided to share a few.
1.     Have a polished product BEFORE you upload your manuscript. Readers do notice problems like typos, spelling, grammar, etc. Keep in mind that Amazon and other sites that sell eBooks, let readers inspect a generous sample. A product that screams “amateur” won’t sell books. Don’t be in such a rush to get your book up that you forget to make it your best effort.
2.     Hire a professional to format  your manuscript. Doing it yourself is not only for those having excellent skills at following directions, but also only for those with supreme patience. Not having either, I’ll never self-format again.
3.     If you have questions for Amazon KDP, keep in mind that it takes two or three days to get an answer. So if something gets screwed up in your process, and it will, it won’t get worked out for a day or more.
4.     Your book, after uploading, will not be ready for sale instantly on Amazon. It also takes a day or two before it’s ready for sale.
5.     eBooks do not sell themselves. Check out the wealth of information available on blogs and writer’s sites that give advice on marketing your book, paying particular attention to writer’s who have had success.
6.     Become a social media presence before you publish. Some people make themselves known on every site. I’ve found that to be impractical for me and prefer using only a few and spending more time on them.
7.     Buyer beware. Before paying for any service, check out its reputability. There are plenty of scams out there ready to pounce on eager writers.
8.     Advertising  I have not had good luck with paid advertising. There are many sites out there asking for a “donation” in exchange for promoting your book. While not scams, I have not found them to be good sources for book sales. If they want money, I’d advise avoiding those that don’t have a proven track record.
9.     Everyone will get different results from the same marketing method.
I paid for an ad on Goodreads after reading an article by an author thrilled with the results she’d gotten by placing an ad on their site. When I ran one, it did not bring in any sales. It’s possible she paid for a much splashier ad (I bought the cheapest), but the point is that whatever the promo method, results will vary.
10. Keep your expectations low!  It takes time and effort to sell eBooks. It won’t happen for you if you put your book up for sale and sit back to wait for results. There is always an element of luck involved, but remember in order to be available for that luck, you have to be there when it strikes. (It’s like that great door prize you can’t win if you aren’t present.) So keep busy with your social presence online, your networking, author interviews and reviews and joining groups where other authors gather. Be ready for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when it appears!

Dear readers,
Thank you for following my blog. I'd like to make a disclaimer: I'm neither a professional in the publishing industry or the health care field. My advice to you on writing or dieting is based on my many years of experience agonizing over both! 
Till next time,


  1. Thanks Marla for listing these 10 points on epub to watch.
    As you know, I am close to putting my book on Amazon Kindle.
    So, I will keep all of this in mind.
    Writer Dave

  2. Sitting here nodding my head with each of your points. I happened upon your blog from a eventual link off Amazon's "If you liked this then you'll like this" from my own book. My social media marketing goes mainly through my comments on my personal FB profile, although I agree it's most useful to create a professional page. As for 8 and 9, I shrugged my shoulders. It's a big commitment to purchase those ads, and they're probably not cheap, eh? A lot of it is simply good ol' word-of-mouth.

    The Amazon feature to click to look inside is also great. It's more of a "reader beware" that I've seen mentioned many times regarding reviews. It's a shame to see so many people pan books based on nothing much, when they could have simply gotten a "taste" of the book by clicking to look inside! Other than that, I think Kindle Direct Publishing is wonderful.

    I wish you continued success with your book!

  3. Thanks for finding me, Katy! I found myself timid about doling out any advice (not being an expert!)but I have learned many things the hard way and hoped maybe my experience could give others an easier ride!
    Nice to meet you,

  4. Great post Marla because it's candid and honest - and that's what I love about you! Before ePublishing, nobody shared anything about the industry so it's great we can all share our experiences now and support one another.


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