How To Make Money on Ebooks

1. Write a damn good book. This should be your main priority. It’s also one of the hardest things to do, and the hardest things to judge for yourself if you’ve done it.

The problem is, most writers believe their books are good. Even at our most insecure, we believe complete strangers will enjoy our scribblings enough to pay for the privilege.

I recommend joining a writers group and getting feedback. Seek criticism, not praise. Praise is like candy; we love it, but it isn’t good for us. If you want to bulletproof your manus

2. Price it right. I believe an ebook should be priced at $2.99, because the Kindle royalty rate is 70% for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Above or below that, it’s 35%.

Three bucks is a more than fair price for a full length digital book. (Full length is over 50,000 words.) If it’s under 50k words, go ahead and price it for less. Or put a few short pieces together to make a long piece.

Even with short pieces, make sure they are good enough. I’m selling quite a few short stories on Kindle, but they don’t sell nearly as well as my novels. Also, the short stories I’m selling have all been published before in print magazines and anthologies, so I’m pretty sure they’re good.

3. Format it correctly. If you know HTML and MS Word very well, you can probably do this yourself. But you’d get more professional results using someone who knows what they’re doing.

A poorly formatted ebook will get bad reviews, and ultimately it WILL NOT SELL.

4. People judge books by their covers. Make sure your cover is professional, not something you slapped together with an istockphoto image with some Arial text laid on top using Photoshop.

5. Write a great product description. If you want to know the format for this, read back jacket copy of books similar to yours. Your description should include:

● Genre

● Word count

● Author bio

● Reviews (if applicable)

Other ways to publicize your ebook include:

● Trading back matter excerpts with other ebook authors

● Searching online for various Kindle and ebooks groups

● Putting your ebook link in your email signature

● Developing an online presence by participating in blog comments and forums

Q: Do I need an agent?

A: You don’t need an agent to publish your own ebooks. But I recommend getting an agent. Mine is invaluable. She’s currently shopping my self-pubbed titles to foreign markets and audio publishers, and is essential for negotiating contracts for film rights and print deals.

Q: How can I get an agent if I self publish my own ebooks?

A: The old catch was “You can’t get a publishing contract without an agent, and you can’t get an agent unless you have a publishing contract.” With the rise of self-publishing as a viable alternative to regular publishing, it becomes “No agent will want to represent a self-published ebook unless the book is no longer self-published.”

Print publishers WANT erights, and I doubt any will give them up. That means agents won’t be interested in representing you unless you give them the opportunity to sell all of your rights. If you sell a ton of ebooks, you might interest an agent in repping your book, but you’d have to stop selling ebooks.

Q: Should I forsake selling ebooks in order to try and land a print deal?

A: Let’s look at the pros and cons of both sides.

Traditional Publishing Pros

● Wide distribution and more exposure

● Most offer an advance, sometimes a large one

● They do the editing, formatting, cover art

● Marketing power

Traditional Publishing Cons

● Take six to eighteen months before publication

● Price ebooks waaaaaay too high

● They have power over cover art and title

● Don’t use the marketing power they wield effectively

● Pay royalties twice a year

● Don’t involve you in many of the decisions regarding your book

● Difficult to implement changes

● Lousy royalty rates, between 6% and 25%

● Very hard to break into

Self Publishing Pros

● Paid once a month

● You control price and cover

● Publication is almost instant

● Easy to implement changes

● Every decision is yours

● Great royalty rates

● Anyone can do it

Self Publishing Cons

● No free professional editing, formatting, or cover art

● Fewer sales

● Less than 10% of current book market

● Greater potential to publish crappy books

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