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How to Publish Your Own E-Book

(Guest Post by Allison Abel)

Like the Dude, my spouse and I found ourselves buried under debt and we, too, decided to blog about it.  We opted for what we called Commando Financial Warfare (CFW) – zero spending on anything not essential for our survival.  It has not been easy, but it has not been without its fair share of triumphs either. I am thrilled to say you can read all about it in my e-book called Get Out of Debt Now and How (!): One Debtor’s Very True Story ($2.99)!

Boy that sounds fancy shmancy, encouraging you to buy my book! Let me tell you how it happened. Over a year after starting my blog, I read an article in the Washington Post that referred to e-publishing as the next big gold rush (May 8, 2011,E-01). Add to that Amazon’s news that Kindle sales surpassed the sale of all print books combined and — you guessed it — I was seduced, lured, enticed, drawn, enraptured and captured (imagine hypnotic eyes swirling with dollar signs for pupils).

I’m gonna be rich!  “Well the first thing you know ol Jed’s a millionaire…”

In this article, I will provide all the information you need to publish you own e-book. In the Post story, author Neely Tucker highlights the story of Nyree Belleville, a romance novelist.  Before taking the e-book route, Belleville (whose pen name is Bella Andre) made a grand total of $21,000 on her twelve published novels. The ambitious young author decided to publish just one of her romance tales on Kindle. She found the process to be tedious and arduous. Knowing nothing about graphic art, she was intimidated by the task of having to design her own book cover. She also had to take on many of the other tasks normally left to editors and publishers such as writing the jacket copy, setting her own price point, and doing her own marketing.

Within a few weeks of selling on Amazon’s Kindle store, her book had sold over 161 copies, earning her $281. Encouraged, Belleville promptly set about getting all of her books on Kindle. She then branched out to include other e-readers such as the Nook, the Sony Reader, the iPad and Kobo.

Wanna know what her first quarter earnings were?  $116,264. That’s SIX figures for anyone who failed to notice, and in three months!

Show me the money!

The lure of e-publishing is that authors receive far greater royalties.  On Kindle, for instance, they receive 70% of all royalties as opposed to the 10 – 15% typical of traditional publishing.  As Tucker highlighted in the WP article, “It is possible for writers marketing a $4.99 self-published e-book to make more per copy than authors with a $24.95 hardcover.”

Thus, within moments of completing the article, I pulled up my 170+ pages of Word text and began to whittle, prune, spruce up and slim down my writing, turning it into a more concise and cohesive guide to not just getting out of debt, but learning how to live well while in debt. Visions of Pulitzer’s danced in my head.

I spent weeks editing, rewriting, rearranging and generally seeing less gold in the rush.  Dang it if this wasn’t hard work!  Every time I read what I had already “proofed,” I found more mistakes.  It was maddening. When I reached the point that I felt my text was passable, I decided to tackle the book cover.  I had read that, from a marketing perspective, one’s cover should be bright and eye-catching as so many of the readers allow color.  I designed a neon bright cover on PowerPoint:

book cover design v1
I spent hours on it, and it…well… it looked awful.  A second-grader could have made a better cover.  Apparently, a PowerPoint slide does not a book cover make.

I reached for the big guns, my tech savvy better half.  He told me that I would need to use Adobe InDesign and Photoshop to make a more professional cover.   Do Bees Inde-what?, and whosey-whatsy shop?  These were foreign names to me.  My exceptionally patient husband spent hours of his free time giving me the 101’s of each. We scrutinized the covers of the books stashed in our linen closet (you’ll have to read my book to learn why our books ended up there!). We realized that an eye-catching book cover needed an image, so I took a few pictures.  The cover still felt flat.  I had read that covers with white backgrounds are the worst as they fade into the background, so I actually dumped my jar of coins directly onto my scanner to make a backdrop of coins.  This is the final product:

book cover design v2
I rushed to press with this cover, even though it should have read: Get Out of Debt Now, and How!  My patience was exhausted, and I was already well past my self-imposed deadline.  I thought that after all this hard work, the rest of the process would be much easier.

I was wrong.

The next job was to write ‘jacket’ text – you know, the writing you’d find on the inside jacket of a ‘real’ book. Kindle allots authors a generous 4,000 characters. This is what I came up with:

This is the very true story of how one not-so-brave woman finally stood face-to-face with the fierce and steaming, snorting and slobbering Beast of Debt.  Over one year ago, author Allison Abel and her husband launched an all out offensive—Commando Financial Warfare (CFW)—on the soul-sucking reality of earning too little and owing too, too much.

In one hundred simple pages, Abel guides readers to:

  • Start dramatically cutting all unnecessary expenditures
  • Get out of credit card debt in three to five years
  • Modify or refinance your mortgage to make monthly payments affordable
  • Change the way you shop to get the very most out of each dollar
  • To expect setbacks, and even some unforeseen achievements
  • Learn that you will want to cry some but…
  • To laugh more and find the ridiculous along the way

The author priced this book low, low, low so that anyone in a similar situation can gain control over their spending and develop sound stratagems for eliminating debt. Get Out of Debt Now, and How! chronicles the Abels first year of CFW as recorded in Allison’s get out of debt blog. Better yet, this book will not only help you save thousands of dollars a year (no exaggeration!), but it will also keep you laughing out loud, even through the toughest of times. Abel’s background in education is innately woven through her own personal tales in that she continues to teach, even when the lessons are the ones she learned the hard way.

I thought it was middling to fair.  Maybe even good, and certainly good enough as this whole gold rush thing was beginning to dance on my last impatient nerve.  When my book was finally on sale through Amazon.com, I found my jacket had lost its formatting. No italics conveyed and, embarrassingly enough, the bullet points had all turned into question marks!  As in: ? does this author even have a clue?

It was through many (!)  failed attempts that I finally found the proper sites to publish directly on Kindle and Nook. I am more than happy to spare any of you who might be interested in self-publishing similar migraine-inducing internet wild goose chases!  Here are the how-to’s for each:

How To Get Your Book on Kindle:

  1. First, visit the following site to learn exactly how to format your book: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2RYO17TIRUIVI
  2. Once you have your text painstakingly formatted and ready for press, visit https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin to register with Kindle.
  3. There, you will be asked to upload your book cover and text.  You will also be asked to set your own price.  After this is all done, it takes 24 – 72 hours before your book is available for purchase.

How To Get Your Book on the Nook:

  1. First, visit the following site to learn exactly how to format your book: https://simg1.imagesbn.com/pimages/pubit/support/pubit_epub_formatting_guide.pdf
  2. Next, upload your book cover and text, and set your price at : http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=pi_reg_home
  3. Wait.  I still am.  I must have done something wrong as my Kindle book went to market exactly in the time frame promised.  My Nook book is, apparently, still “processing”.  It’s been processing for about a week now.  I’m sure I’m to blame, but I have no idea what has caused the hold up.

In sum, I learned a tremendous amount on my race to the gold rush.  I now know what it takes to self-publish.  I also know that, if you can afford it, if pays to hire a copy editor as well as a graphic artist for your cover. I know tons more about graphic art then I used to, and I have learned that self-publishing is readily doable for those positively determined to get there.

——————
Guest Post by Allison Abel – a teacher who, when it came to personal debt, had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. She is able to survive because she’s got a knack for celebrating the ridiculous in life.  Plus, she has a husband who cooks and cleans, and an amazing eight year old daughter who both keep her laughing (even while clipping coupons).  Her e-book can be found on Amazon for $2.99, or at Barnes & Noble for the Nook. She can also be reached at slogalongblog (at) gmail (dot) com.  

About the author

Clever Dude

6 Comments

  • This is a very interesting post. There might be some potential publishing your own ebooks but I’m sure it requires a lot of time and effort so it probably isn’t for anyone. I’m glad to hear that you were able to publish your own ebook. The cover looks great, much better than the powerpoint version. 🙂

  • Hey Ultimate Smart Money, thanks so much for the kind comment. All joking aside, e-publishing was a fun challenge, and some people are making a killing doing so. Now if only I could write romance novels!

  • This is very inspiring! I love starting my day with my coffee and some great inspiration. I will be showing this article to a friend of mine, who recently mentioned that he would like to create an ebook, and has no idea how.

    That would be a nice ebook topic, laced with a but of irony, though I am sure that path has been covered extensively.

    I always wonder what it is in someone, such as the article in the Post about ebooks being the next goldrush…what makes someone actually resonate enough with something like that to go ahead and take action?

    Also, so many of these stories have so many of those tough moments of struggle and trials, such as yours here. I am really moved by that sort of thing.

    Congrats on your success through high effort and perseverance.

    I bet even the tough times feel worth it by now.

    I really love how you randomly said, “I’m gonna be rich”, without particularly explaining it away, asidde a wise little Jedi Knight reference!

    Awesome stuff! I think you could get even $5.99, or more 🙂

  • Thanks for the resources. It sounds like you had what I consider to be the hard part (the actual content) in hand when you started! Someday…….

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