Jan 02 Written by 

E is for eBook

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The writer now has control. You can fix it so your book is available as both a downloadable eBook file that anyone can download into his or her computer -- and as a printed book. This latter as long as someone places an order for a printed copy.

I've explored two reputable companies that do this: Lulu.com and LightningSource.com. Lulu is simpler. You do it all yourself, and you can choose to be your own publisher or let your publisher be Lulu.com. Lightning Source has district sales reps, support via E-mail, a bunch of manuals, and you should be set up as your own publisher already, and have bought your own ISBN.

Both companies will distribute your book through the normal channels and also online bookstores such as amazon.com. Both let you keep all your rights to the material.

With that kind of control the writer now has certain responsibilities. To wit:

1) You have to have a finished manuscript and the confidence that you can do this.

2) There's an initial outlay of money to publish such a book. But not a lot. Can you scrape up $100?

3) You have to follow directions and certain rules, and there's some legal stuff, and tax stuff if you make any money.

4) You can't publish just anything. Porn, for example, or pirated material, is not allowed.

5) You must proofread the copy, lay it out in book-style pages (some cheap or free software programs can help you do this), for Lulu.com turn the file into a distilled pdf (using Adobe software). And you provide the cover, unless that's a job you want to farm out to a graphics professional.

6) If you catch a mistake in the book after it's gone into distribution, and you want to fix it and reprint, that'll cost you mucho dinaro, or, as the Serbs say, mlogo slan, which literally means "much salt."

7) Your publishers make the book available, but they don't market or promote it. You do. A lot. There's a saying I hate that's painfully truthful: "Success is an ongoing effort." (spit-spit-phewie!)

8) Your publishers and distributors take their percentages, just as in the real world, and what's left belongs to you.

9) You have the "self-published" stigma, at least for now. The only way around it is to have kick-booty material! A darned good and worthwhile book that people will want to buy! Ah! That was what those old-fashioned publishers wanted! Does your book have what it takes?

I'll jump in first, and tell you how the water is.

685 Last modified on Thursday, 06 January 2011
Catherine Rankovic

Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.