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One of the advantages of e-publishing your own book is the writer can get his/her book for sale in a matter of months–versus one to two years for a print book. At least in theory.
To epublish in 2011, now is the time to assess your DIY skills, see how long the processes will take and consider some potential costs.
Publishing an ebook is possible to do in one to three months of hard work, if you have:
- the book manuscript in a final edited and polished form
- the manuscript created using the correct Word style sheet
- the ebook digital formatter lined up (DIY or a service)
- the images and text for your blog ready to enter on your book site
- a good idea of the cover concept you want
- eBook publishing accounts set-up and ready for uploading
The e-Publishing Time Line Breakdown
Every step of the way to publishing an ebook takes at least a week to 12 weeks to complete. Let’s break them down into a realistic time line–much of which depends on whether you plan to DIY the work (and you know what to do) or use a specialized service, such as a book cover designer.
Note: This timeline is strictly for creating the ebook, a blog and getting the ebook published online for sale. It doesn’t include the marketing and social networking required before and after the book is published.
eBook Editing and Polishing
In an ideal world, you’ve already sent your book out for input and reviews and gotten an editor, or at least someone knowledgeable in your genre, to give you some constructive feedback–not just your friends and family.
Then you’ve edited and polished some more until you would feel proud to send the ebook manuscript to a top NY agent or publisher for review (even if you don’t).
This process can take a minimum of weeks, but perhaps longer for a new author or someone limited on time. I recommend Roz Morrison’s book “Nail Your Novel” as a good start to DIY edit your manuscript.
If you have the funds to hire an editor or manuscript critic, it may be well worth the money spent. You’ll not only get a good quality, well-done manuscript, but the process of working with a professional is a learning experience you can take to your next book.
Hiring an Editor
It’s not exactly inexpensive to hire an editor (I see pricing from $800-5,000 depending on the ebook). However that cost is in line with what many writers spend just on creating a paper book through self-publishing–a cost you won’t have with an e-book. An editor’s hand and advice is certainly worth more than stacks of unedited books on paper.
I see many new ebooks, especially from new authors and the number one issue (even for a GOOD story) is that the manuscript needs an editor’s help to create a book that can compete with top printed books available.
Reader reviewers are tough on books that don’t meet the quality standards they are used to seeing in print. I think they should be as we see the ebook market flooded with books in 2011.
Correct Word Formatting
Using the correct content style sheet to prepare your book’s Word doc for digital formatting is a MUST.
Digital Formatting for eBooks
The next step is to convert the prepared Word doc manuscript into HTML code to make either an ePub or Kindle-compatible ebook file. It can take a few hours or up to one to two days to complete the ebook in a digital format that includes a Table of Contents, a TOC.ncx file (code for navigating by chapter), setting images and more for a working index.
Most eBook formatting services charge about $125 to $150 for fiction ebook formatting, and require a per page fee for non-fiction books.
Publish a Blog
You can pick from many pre-designed themes, that often allow you to customize the color scheme to fit.
The most time consuming part of creating a blog is preparing any special graphics or images, writing the text for each page and getting the design the way you want.
- Plan on two to three days for the basic blog set-up (say one to two hours per day), resizing photos, finding a header graphic (the wide image at the top of many blogs), and adding the text.
- Next, refine the blog design, add pages such as About or News pages and add some blog widgets (mini-program modules that do a specific task, for example, adding links to Twitter and Facebook).
Overall, your new blog can take anywhere from a few days up to several weeks to create, depending on your skills and time available.
Book Cover Design
Digital book covers can make or break your book’s sales. Many book buyers are cover driven (I’ve been known to buy a book by its cover). Often a buyer’s first look at an ebook buyer is a smaller version of the cover as they browse online. Like a movie poster, the book cover conveys an idea or overall plot related to the theme of the book.
eBook covers need to look good in both color and grayscale. The ebook cover needs to be interesting, immediately recognizable and the text clear-cut.
I recommend doing a DIY cover only if you have a background in design and experience in creating online graphics with professional level software like Photoshop. A poorly designed ebook cover is a turnoff and can literally lose book sales (or on the flipside, you will increase sales with the right design).
A professional book cover designer will:
- provide a book cover portfolio and recommendations from previous clients
- give you a reasonable deadline with a written contract
- spend time with you by phone or email going over examples and the design concept
- provide three to five ebook cover design mockups to pick from
- provide a final color cover image in a .jpg format (it will look balck and white on Kindle)
A ebook cover design runs about $250-400 for the front cover. More cover mock-ups and extended consultation time will cost more. Depending on the designer’s schedule, plan 4-6 weeks minimum to get a final ebook cover done.
Open eBook Publishing Accounts
Most ebook publishing accounts are free. You’ll be required to create a user name and password to enter all your personal information, book information, pricing plus the cover image and ebook files in the correct format.
Some ebook publishers require an ISBN number (Amazon does not) or will provide one for you. The application and approval process varies with each ebook distributor/ebookstore, so plan two to three weeks for the accounts to go through, longer for Apple’s iBookstore.
The Final Count
A realistic timeline for publishing an ebook–especially when using outside services or if you need to brush up on some specialized skills–is a minimum 3-6 months of preparation.
Someone who has a number of books under their belt that they can self-edit or who already has a website, can design their own cover, has formatted ebooks before and has approved ebook publishing accounts can cut down on the time needed considerably…Possibly down to 2-3 months or less from manuscript to epublished online.