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Indy E-publishing Part 2 with NYT Bestseller CJ Lyons
Posted By Carrie Spencer On December 21, 2011 @ 12:08 am In Self-Publishing | 27 Comments
Monday we learned some of the pitfalls to Indy e-pubbing. Today we’re going to learn some of the practicalities and how-tos! Welcome back CJ Lyons! 
Advice on why and how to self e-publish your books from New York Times and USA Today bestseller CJ Lyons. CJ has had two indy e-published books appear on the USA Today list and one debut on the combined print/e-book New York Times list at #2. This book alone sold 230,000 copies in only two months and has sold in almost a dozen countries. In addition to her six traditionally published novels, CJ now has nine books self e-published with sales of almost half a million books in 2011 alone.
Part one explores the pitfalls of indy e-publishing. Part two explores the practical how-tos.
Part 2: The Nuts and Bolts
Being a cyber-klutz, I thought this would be the most difficult part of self e-publishing, but it actually was quite easy (if a bit tedious and time-consuming).
All the major e-pub sites have guidelines available. All you need to do is to follow them.
Don’t want to do anything on your own? There are many “all in one” services springing up, including some from traditional publishers. I would caution you to do your due diligence before you use one. Know what’s a reasonable charge for formatting, conversion, and distribution. Never sign an agreement giving them any of your rights or future earnings.
One of the oldest and most reputable of these sites is BookBaby.com.  They provide some free guides to indy e-publishing that will help you decide which direction to go—even if it’s deciding not to use their services.
Before you choose any service, carefully read their terms of agreement and definitely shop around.
If you’re doing your own distribution, the major sites are Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes and Noble’s PubIt!, and Smashwords. All provide free distribution.
There are also programs available that will allow you to do your own formatting. See the resource section for a list of a few.
How do I do it?
Step one is to create an account at the sites you’ll be using. Through this account you’ll upload your books, track sales, make any revisions to your final product, and, at some sites, interact with customers.
Step two: read each site’s guide to formatting and follow it closely. For the sites I worked with, this basically came down to stripping all formatting from a Word doc of your manuscript and exporting it in the format the e-publishing site requires.
I found the Smashwords guide to be very thorough and in-depth with a lot of trouble-shooting tips, so I start there, transforming my Word doc to a document suitable for Smashwords and then simply export it as a html file for uploading to Amazon.
This step is the most time-consuming because you need to go through every line of the manuscript ensuring that no errant formatting remains behind and that the resulting manuscript is readable. I found several easy shortcuts and created a video about the Five Easy Steps to Formatting that you can view here: http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/resources/indy-resources/ .
Step three is almost as tiresome as step two. You need to upload the re-formatted manuscript to each site and proofread it (yes, again!) to ensure that nothing is lost in translation.
Step four: add cover art, a description, tags, and set a price. This is where using more than one platform comes in handy.
I start by publishing my books on Smashwords because if they are qualified for their Premium Catalogue, then they’ll be distributed to a variety of channels including the Sony, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo stores. You can inexpensively purchase an ISBN for each book or use one of the free ones provided. Smashwords also has an easy to use coupon generator, which is perfect if you’re trying to target certain groups and want to measure your success.
I prefer to distribute to all of the channels through Smashwords except Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s PubIt!—those I do myself. I like being able to control the Kindle and PubIt! channels since for me, they’re the ones with the most sales.
Step five: Hit publish and you’re done!
What about the money?
Some authors may choose to give their work away for free in order to gain new readers or as a promotion tied to other books. But most of us will be hoping to earn some income from our e-published books.
Joe Konrath initially recommended pricing books between $0.99 and $1.99. I disagreed, thinking that a full-length (100,000 word) ebook was worth the same as paperback. I also wanted slightly higher price points than Konrath advised because I thought it would be nice to have special “sales” tied to my traditionally published releases in the future.
Since my paperbacks sell for $4.99 at Walmart, that’s where I priced my full-length novels. My shorter novels (75-85,000 words) I price at $2.99.
My results? My bestsellers, without ever lowering the price, have been my $4.99 books. And, when I’ve used limited time promotional sales or free giveaways, I’ve been able to increase sales of ALL my books three-fold.
What’s very exciting is even a month after a sale ends, my overall numbers remain significantly higher than before the sale. So I now try to have some kind of promotion every other month, usually tying it to a holiday or new book release.
The Bottom Line
My first year of indy e-pubbing I made more than I would have if I took any of the offers from NYC publishers that I’d received for these particular manuscripts. All with no expenses incurred other than my time and a few dollars for the copyright, ISBNs, and the stock art I used in the cover design.
And my second year? I’m making significant income from my indy e-publishing. Enough so that I’ve turned down several traditional publishing contracts because I can make more per book in a year than during their entire contract period without tying up my rights. Not to mention the very nice extra income from sub-rights my agent sells for me.
So why did I sign with Minotaur?
Because I firmly believe that traditional publishing has a place in my business plan. No one else can turn a book into an event, something to be treasured and placed on a reader’s keeper shelf, better than NYC publishing.
I also feel that I’m ready to take my writing craft to the next level and working with a skilled editor like I am at Minotaur will help me to do that.
In all honesty, I could earn more money without the traditional contract, but the reason I signed with Minotaur isn’t about the money. It’s about what will make my readers happy.
My readers love real books as much as they do their e-books. They want more stories—and better stories.
For me, pursuing a “hybrid” career is the best way to achieve this.
Indy e-publishing definitely has its place in an author’s career path, whether to keep a backlist alive, to try new genres and markets, to use as a promotional tool in conjunction with traditionally published books, or to generate income on the side.
But, remember, it’s only a tool. You are in charge of your publishing career. Decide which tool to use and when to use it because you have a clear goal, not because everyone is “doing it.”
JA Konrath’s blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing
US Government Copyright Office
Amazon’s Kindle Digital Text Platform
No Rules, Just WRITE!
E-book Creation Tools:
Legend Maker (paid software, Mac only, but wow, so easy to use!)
Sigil (free opensource software)
Press Books (free service on a wordpress platform)
So now you know the good, the bad and the how-to’s of e-publishing. Ready to give it a shot?
Join us on Friday for The Form of Romance, or, A Roll in the Hay with Theresa Stevens
Bio: As a pediatric ER doctor, New York Times Bestseller CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.
CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).
Article printed from Romance University: http://romanceuniversity.org
URL to article: http://romanceuniversity.org/2011/12/21/indie-pubbing-and-the-nyt-list-part-2-with-cj-lyons/
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 CJ Lyons! : http://www.cjlyons.net/
 BookBaby.com.: http://www.bookbaby.com
 http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/resources/indy-resources/: http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/resources/indy-resources/
 http://jakonrath.blogspot.com: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com
 http://www.copyright.gov/register/: http://www.copyright.gov/register/
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 http://www.smashwords.com: http://www.smashwords.com
 http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com: http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com
 http://www.norulesjustwrite.com: http://www.norulesjustwrite.com
 http://calibre-ebook.com/: http://calibre-ebook.com/
 http://www.zapptek.com/legendmaker/: http://www.zapptek.com/legendmaker/
 http://code.google.com/p/sigil/: http://code.google.com/p/sigil/
 http://pressbooks.com/wp-signup.php: http://pressbooks.com/wp-signup.php
 www.NoRulesJustWRITE.com: http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/
 Indy E-publishing with NYT Bestseller CJ Lyons: http://romanceuniversity.org/2011/12/19/indie-pubbing-and-the-nyt-list-with-cj-lyons/
 How to publish your book through PubIt!—and market it, too!: http://romanceuniversity.org/2011/05/13/how-to-get-your-book-on-the-nook-and-market-it-too-2/
 Weekly Lecture Schedule for December 19-23: CJ Lyons on Indy E-Pubbing & Theresa Stevens: http://romanceuniversity.org/2011/12/18/weekly-lecture-schedule-for-december-19-23-cj-lyons-on-indy-e-pubbing-theresa-stevens/
 Author Monica Burns: The Greater the Risk — The Greater the Profit: http://romanceuniversity.org/2013/02/22/author-monica-burns-the-greater-the-risk-the-greater-the-profit/
 Here’s to hoping . . . Self Publishing by Hank Edwards: http://romanceuniversity.org/2011/10/14/heres-to-hoping-with-hank-edwards/
 : http://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAoww845/no_rules_just_write
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