Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Indie Ebooks: The Future of Publishing?

There’s been a lot in the news lately about how self-published (indie) ebooks are changing the publishing world. I have to admit that, like most writers, I used to look down on self-publishing, but after doing a lot of research on the subject I’ve changed my mind, mostly because of the great opportunities presented by ebooks.

Although publishing an indie print book can be a dicey financial adventure—there’s a good chance you won’t make back your investment, which can easily run into the thousands of dollars—publishing an indie ebook is much cheaper. In fact, if you don’t hire a cover artist (a good one can cost $200-300) or someone to format your book ($150-250 for average-length fiction), it costs next to nothing.

(Note: From what I’ve read, it’s best to hire a cover artist. Covers may be even more important with ebooks since you’re trying to persuade the buyer to purchase a product she can’t touch or see. If you have a good eye for design, though, you can try your hand at making your own covers, and you can even buy software that helps you do just that. You’re also probably better off hiring a formatter, at least for your first ebook, as well as an editor or copy editor.)

There’s another major difference between indie print books and ebooks. With print books, you haven’t got the widespread, easy distribution of ebooks (just try to get a bookstore to carry an indie print book). When you upload your ebook to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords, you have instant distribution—and no worries about paying for bookstores to return your unsold books.

There are four benefits to publishing your own ebook that are particularly appealing:

  • You can bypass the traditional gatekeepers. I’ve never liked the idea of jumping through hoops, especially when those hoops seem arbitrary and consist mostly of waiting . . . then waiting some more.
  • Author royalties are substantially larger with ebooks than with traditionally published books.
  • Sales of ebook readers, such as the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader, are skyrocketing as the price for the devices decreases and the number of ebooks sold increases. Ebooks are no longer a tiny part of the market.
  • You get to put your work out there. Don’t we write to be read?

If you’re interested in indie ebooks, the first place you should go is author J.A. Konrath’s blog. It’s a goldmine of ebook information. Check out Konrath’s links and his post archives.
Also check out's Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble's PubIt, where you can both buy and create ebooks.


Cynthia said...

I think you're on to something here. BTW, I just purchased a new phone and it has a free Kindle application on, I'll purchase my first ebook to have on my phone. Weird stuff for a hardcover devotee.

Karin Kaufman said...

Cynthia, I used to be a hardcover fan too. I'd buy used hardcovers rather than new paperbacks. Then I "caved" and started buying paperbacks. Now it's my Kindle and ebooks, and I don't mind--like I thought I would--not having some kind of hard copy of the books I read. I'll bet my BlackBerry has a Kindle app. I know the most recent BB models do, as do the iPad, iPhone, etc. It's an interesting time for publishing!

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