Getting published the easy way
It has never been easier for writers with disabilities to get published. Writers can now turn their novel or short story collection into an electronic book (e-book). The e-book can then be uploaded to the internet or an online bookstore.
What is an e-book?
E-books are electronic versions of printed books. E-books can be read on devices like computers, smartphones or dedicated e-book readers. Many online stores and bookstores have developed their own e-book readers.
E-books are becoming increasingly popular. One in five Australians read an e-book last year according to research company Nielsen. In a previous DiVine article I wrote about how e-books can make reading easier for many people with a disability.
Self-publishing an e-book
Once a writer has written a book, its file must be converted into an e-book format. There are a number of different formats used by online bookstores. Amazon and Smashwords are two popular online bookstores. Their websites have style guides and forums on how to convert files to an e-book format.
A patient writer can learn how to convert files and do it themselves. Alternatively, a writer can pay a service to convert the file into various e-book formats. The online service will cost around $350 for the average novel. A writer should ensure that the service is reputable before paying.
Once a writer has an e-book ready for sale they need to publicise it.
E-books are ideal for many authors with a disability. As an e-book cannot be signed or placed on a shelf, promotional tours of bookstores are not required. Authors instead undertake virtual tours of websites and blogs that discuss e-books.
Like any book, readers need to be shown that an e-book has a good story and is well written. Price is also an important consideration. E-books tend to be cheaper than printed books.
Amanda Hocking is an American e-book sensation. She has sold millions of copies of her young adult e-books. Hocking is set to become the first e-book millionaire. She sells her e-books for 99c to $2.99. Victorian Vicki Tyley has also enjoyed success. She has sold 35,000 downloads of her crime novel Thin Blood for $2.99.
Stephen King and other top-selling print authors tend to sell their newer e-books for $8 or more. Amazon's top 100 bestsellers recently showed 20 e-books priced at 99c and nine at $2.99. At the other end of the scale, seven were $7.99 and 22 were $12.99. No other price had significant numbers.
Most online bookstores take a percentage of the selling price. Amazon usually takes 30 per cent. But if an e-book is sold to a customer in Australia or costs less than $2.99, Amazon takes 65 per cent. Smashwords takes 15 per cent to 40 per cent. On ibookstore, Apple and Lulu get a combined 44 per cent. A $2.99 e-book sold to an Australian would earn an author as little as $1.04 on Amazon or as much as $2.50 on Smashwords.
An author would need to sell thousands of copies of a $2.99 e-book to make a reasonable living. Many self-published authors are trying to do just that. But as more and more authors flood the market with cheap e-books, will enough people buy them?
Many authors end up making their e-books free. Some authors are frustrated with low sales. They just want people to read their work. Other authors hope consumers who read the free e-book might pay for a sequel.
Many other e-books are free because they are out of copyright. Online bookstores like Amazon and Google Books have millions of free e-books. With so many free e-books, an author may have a hard time convincing customers to pay even 99 cents.
An uncertain future
The vast majority of e-books may be free in the near-future. Authors may need to rely on advertising or product placement in their e-books to make money. Product placement is where an author is paid to have his characters enjoying particular real-world products or services. It is just like in television shows and films where products and brands are prominently featured.
So go out and self-publish your e-book. Enjoy the thrill of people reading your stories. Just don't expect to make much money out of selling e-books.