Formatting for Self-Publishing:
Ebooks and Print-on-Demand
When clients ask about self-publishing, they want to know what is required, compared to the full array of add-on features and charges listed by commercial “self-publishing” services. You pay a lot more for those full packages, and you still have to be involved in decisions along the way.
Hyperedits aims to simplify by offering the basic formatting necessary to get your book in print with a professional appearance. When you choose to publish in ebook format for Amazon’s Kindle or Smashwords, or in print-on-demand format at Amazon’s CreateSpace, most of the extra publishing features are available at Amazon and Smashwords at no cost and through straightforward, self-service menus.
Formatting for Amazon’s CreateSpace (CS) or other print-on-demand distribution requires a simple conversion from your book’s PDF file. The task is then reduced to producing the appearance you want in the original Word document. The first thing you need to do is decide on the size of your finished book. Then there are many fine points of style to consider; if you like the overall appearance after PDF conversion, “what you see is what you get.” Kindle ebook formatting has a different set of style points to apply, to optimize the appearance for reading on devices.
The first step is to clean up your manuscript in Word, simplifying the text styles in preparation for ebook conversion.
Cover design is another matter, trickier to tweak for specific book size (your choice), and critical to have a professional look in graphic terms, along with a compelling text “hook” to attract reader interest. An ISBN number is also necessary, either using one assigned by Amazon or Smashwords, or securing your own.
HyperEdits Pricing for Formatting
If you want to use my service for formatting I have a standard price of $75–125 for Kindle, $150–200 for CS, or $200–300 for both. This formatting step, while necessary, doesn’t include cover design or any of the other peripheral tasks of publishing, such as book description, ISBN, bar code, or metadata such as categories, keywords, etc. You can do these easily through the Amazon or Smashwords self-service process.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents (TOC) in a CS document is not an issue since it will print as it appears in Word/PDF. For Kindle, page numbers are not relevant, and some writers advise not to delay the start of the ebook with a long TOC. On the other hand, you can choose to insert bookmarks that will show up in the Kindle “Go To” menu. Or you could use an existing TOC without page numbers. One feature the ebook format offers is a hyperlinked TOC—but it means setting up each entry manually (first establishing bookmarks at selected headings throughout the document), and it’s debatable how many readers would need that function. (Here’s a tutorial on how to do it.) Some choose to build the TOC through bookmark-links but place it at the end. If you chose this route, it could be do-it-yourself, or an add-on service for me to do.
Here’s an overview I provided a previous client comparing commercial “self-publishing” options with services and pricing I offer.
|Basic formatting services(not incl. editing)||Typical commercial “self-publishing” company: $3000–4000+||HyperEdits formatting for Amazon Kindle, CS:
$175–275 package deal
|eBook creation and distribution||$800||$75–125 depending on layout|
|Custom interior POD formatting||incl.||$150–$200 depending on layout|
|Additional publishing services||(incl. by Amazon, do it yourself or hire out)|
|Custom book cover||incl.||free / $100 / $400CS / Template / Professional|
|ISBN, LCCN, Bar Code||incl.||ISBN: free, $10 or $99 choicesLCCN: $49; Bar Code free|
|Author Royalties||“100%”? Not really: see fine print, hidden fees!||30-70% depending on price you set, format and sales channel|
|Amazon, B & N, retail outlets||incl.||incl.|
|Bowker Books in Print||incl.||incl.|
|Physical copy to proof||incl.||under 10 with shipping|
|Author copies||5 copies free||5 copies, ~$25 plus shipping|
|Custom website, 1 yr. hosting||$400||free Amazon listing, CS eStore pg|
|Copyright registration||incl.||not necessary|
|Online sales reporting||incl.||free through CS or Amazon|
|Submission to search engines||$100||one-click submission to Google|
|Back Cover sales copy||$200||Draft and edit (0–$50)|
|Yearly book ordering fee||$100 + annual fees||n/a|
|Returns program||$200 + annual fees||n/a|
|Expanded distribution||not incl.||incl. with Amazon|
|Website order fulfillment||$500 + annual fees||free through CS or Amazon|
Sales and Distribution
The other issue to consider is the whole matter of retail sales. Here there are three basic choices to consider:
1. If your primary sales channel is Amazon (online ordering), that’s the simplest because from Amazon/CreateSpace, everything is taken care of for you. Orders are filled by print on demand (POD), and sales and royalties are tracked and paid automatically.
2. If you want to sell physical books directly yourself, you can still do this with bulk discount orders from CreateSpace, or separate local print runs (technically requires having your own ISBN number, not a CS-assigned one).
3. If you’re seeking the route of standard industry distribution to bookstores, in my opinion the do-it-yourself publishing model is not the way to go, for a few reasons—chiefly the retailer’s need for wholesale pricing and returns. Better to go the route of a traditional third-party publisher who will handle wholesale discounts and ordering, warehousing and returns (all taking a majority bite out of that “100%” royalty, plus additional red tape and extra fees along the way). Plus, bookstores are still going to need some arm-twisting to pick your book, especially with a generic publisher, and they won’t display it on par with the more reputable publishers. If bookstore sales are your target, shoot for a Big-5 blockbuster or quality literary press; or, settle for option 2 and take books around to offer on consignment at your friendly local bookstores.