Digital Ink, Inc.

selfpubSo, you think have the Great American Novel just bursting to get out, family recipes that would make a great cookbook or just a manifesto you’ve been mulling. What do you need to get started with e-book self-publishing?

First, you need to write the book. So write it. And do yourself and your readers a favor and have someone else proofread — and maybe even edit — the manuscript before you self-publish.  Readers notice mistakes like typos and bad punctuation, and if they get annoyed enough by excessive mistakes, they write bad reviews on Web sites — which won’t be good for sales.

Once you get that book written, proofed and edited, you need to find a place to distribute and sell it. Before you sign up with any self-publishing service, be sure to read the legal fine print concerning ownership of the work, royalty payments and other matters. It’s always good to know what you’re getting into.

As for the selling-of-the-book-and-making-money part of the adventure, you have many avenues. For example, Barnes & Noble just transformed its PUBIt service into the NOOK Press self-publishing platform. To use the service, you need to go to sign up for an account. After that, you can edit for format your existing manuscript, create new works and collaborate with others. Once you get your book done, you can sell it right on the Barnes & Noble site, where people with Nook e-readers and apps can buy it. The NOOK Press service is free to use, but once you put your book up for sale, Barnes & Noble takes a cut, which is common among e-book publishers.

Depending on the publishing site and service you use, your cut of the profits could be anywhere from 40- to 70-percent of the book’s selling price. Again, read the fine print before jumping in.

If you want to publish your book on Amazon as well (or instead), you can use the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. You need an Amazon account to get started with that service, but there your e-book is put up for sale for Kindle tablets and e-readers as well as Kindle apps. Publishing can take as little as takes five minutes and your book shows up for sale on Amazon within 24 hours. If you want to explore the option of self-publishing a print edition, Amazon also owns the CreateSpace independent publishing service as well.

If you’re doing a picture, multimedia or textbook — and want to sell it mostly to iPad owners — there’s the free iBooks Author program for Mac OS X. With this iBooks Author, you get templates for creating your own interactive books and you can sell the finished creation in the iBookstore. You need an account with Apple to sell your books there and you should check out the iBooks Author Frequently Asked Questions and support pages so you can read up before you sign up.

Beyond the Big Three here, you have smaller self-publishing sites like Smashwords and Lulu as well. So if you’ve got something to say, write it down, format it and sell it — it e-book self-publishing could be one of those great do-it-yourself projects that creative and financial fulfillment if people find and like your work. And it’s a way easier path to bestsellerdom than printing the book yourself and selling copies out of the trunk of your car.

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