3 S.R. Johannes: What to consider when creating other formats?'

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What to consider when creating other formats?'

First, I all of a sudden looked up and realized it was Wednesday and I had not posted this week.


The biggest problem with ebooks (besides the slew that are low quality and printed at Kinkos) is distribution. If people can't get access to your books then why sell them at all?

Today, I wanted to quickly go through how to decide what format to choose for your indie published book. But how do you know what format to do them in?

1) Think about whether you just want digital or also want a physical copy.
Some people only want to go digital in indie publishing and they make great money and have little hassle. Indie writers don't make much off paperbacks. With Amazon's 70% royalty (if your list price is 2.99 or above - you can make about $2 on every 2.99 book sold. That's great compared to most publishers. I think we will see a time in the future where authors will try and keep their digital rights b/c the royalty rate is low and put out the ebooks themselves once the physical book is available.

2) Going Digital? Decide what ebook formats. 
If you just want your book available on Amazon - it will only go to those people with Kindles. B&N has Pub it, which only goes to Nooks. So - do you want all the other ereaders to have access? I say why not? Smashwords will sell your book in most formats for Sony, or iBooks etc. So why not. I think it will cost you extra time and probably under $50. So what do you have to lose. I will say about 80% of sales come from B&N and Amazon (mostly Amazon) so it might not be worth it to you.

3) Want physical copies? Understand your royalties first!
Okay so this is where indie published authors vary. Some only do digital, others do paperback while some do hardback (only Lightning source offers that). The problem is the royalty - I mean if you are not smart - you will end up paying for people to buy your book, which sucks. So it comes down to money.(doesn't everything?)

Theer are tons of POD companies - LuLu,  iUniverse etc - but I have heard CreateSpace and LS are the best from reliable sources so I don't have time to research all of them.


Now you can just do paperback on Createspace at Amazon (no hardback). But it is only available through Amazon online. In order to get a good royalty on Amazon, use this calculator to figure it out to be sure it is worth your while. I'll tell you now - the shorter - the better. 

For example - if Person A has a book that is 350 pages and wants to sell it for 9.99, they lose about 
-$2.50 for every book. I know - seems crazy right? At that point your only option is to upgrade for about 40$ to the Pro plan and then you would make 90 cents a copy. Not too bad. 

But if Person B writes massive books - like 500 pages - then they will lose across the board - whether they do Pro Plan or not. It doesn't make sense for B to do a physical book through CreateSpace at all. At that point they should look into Lightning Source.

Amazon offers Extended distribution which gets you bookstores and libraries online but as you can see - it doesn't seem worth your while b/c the royalty rate is hard to get above negative unless you do novellas at under 200 pages. Plus most indie bookstores and libraries don't order through Amazon (esp with everything going on.)


If you want Hardbacks? Lightning Source is your only option. CreateSpace does not do them. I am looking into that to understand pricing and haven't decided on it yet....I will let you know as I learn more. I do know you can also get dustjackets

4) Lightning Source - another option for paperbacks AND hardbacks
They offer better royalty rates but I've heard the paper is either blue or grey - so not sure how that works. They offer extended distribution but are more expensive. However, you get on Ingram which makes it able to be ordered from any bookstore, libraries etc. That means you HAVE to get an ISBN where if you do it through Createspace - you don't. So again - that is another expense of at least $150-250 dollars. So some people don't do it. To me if I'm spending $1,000 to get the book out - what is $1,250 in the scale of things if it means more access? You can do this at a later date once you see how your PB are selling too. They are more expensive and harder to navigate.

5) What am I doing?
I am doing an ebook in all formats, which will cost me about 100$ to set up b/c I am getting the pro plans at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. 

I will list price my ebook at 2.99 so I will make about 2.10 a book. 

As far as I know, my paperback will be on Amazon and is about 370 pages so at $9.99, i will get about 70 cents a book.  BTW - if you are trying to figure out how big your book is - use mine as an example. My book was about 80,000 words and about 275 pages (double spaces 12 font) and when I formatted it to standard 5x8 - it ended up 375 with 12 font garamond and 1.2 line spacing. Maybe that will help.

Now here's the clincher - I THINK I am doing Createspace and Lightning Source. Will probably focus on ebooks first, than do paperback at createspace, then move to LS. Why would I do that when LS offers everything Createspace does? 

Well, I heard Amazon will blackball all LS titles if they are not through Createspace by marking them out of stock and leaving them out of search engines. Now, I don't know if it's true, but I could see how easy it would be for them to do that. Plus I really don't want all my eggs in the Amazon basket. It scares me and I'm not sure I fully trust where they are headed. Not to mention I have heard libraries and bookstores talking about boycotting amazon - its the only power they have against them right now.

Bottom line - I want my book available to anyone and everyone. I want it to be professional and I want to minimize any notion that it is self pubbed by making it easy to get. Of course, I do not want to lose money though either. So I am still working out all the details. 

I will say I am spending a MASSIVE amount of time researching this. So make sure you do your research and don't rely on mine. I'm sifting through it all the best I can and trying to summarize but there are a lot of minor things you will need to understand (list prices, sales prices etc)

Indie publishing is NOT the easy way out. I'm realizing to do it right - it is hard work. Lets hope it all pays off.

Current Expenses
9$ for stock photo
$400 for editing with professional editor
170$ for an 3 day ad (I will talk about this next week)

Expected costs
* not totally sold yet yet 
40$ CreateSpace Pro Plan
150 Lightning Source*
250 ISBN block*

Time - priceless (someone asked me to log how many hrs I'm spending - right now about 5 hours a day to get everything set up. I don't expect to spend as much time once the book is out.)

Let me know what questions you have! :)


Unknown said...

Did you see this post, Shelli?

It's shows the pros and cons between Createspace and Lightning Source.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, listen to Stina. I just read that article, too, and it has some really great info. For more info and another perspective, see Robin Sullivan's post:http://write2publish.blogspot.com/2011/02/why-create-space-is-better-than.html

I haven't used the pro service for Amazon, B&N, or Smashwords. I don't really see what the advantage is, but if you know something I don't I'd be fascinated to learn about it. Maybe that would make another good blog post. Most of the indies I know just opt for the free ebook versions.

Unknown said...

Molly Green did an indepth comparison between Create Space and Lightning Source.

What is ISBN block?

I don't really expect to make tons of money with print (hopefully I'm proved wrong) but having it available makes you sound more legit to some people. Plus you can buy at a discount yourself and sell for less and make more profit, than if you rely on the Amazon site alone. It is also needed for certain marketing efforts.

Jemi Fraser said...

I hope you are scheduling time to breathe and to sleep! I have to admit the thought of researching it all and making all the decisions that go along with it totally overwhelms me. You must be exhausted!

Laura Pauling said...

I've read those articles too and yes, it seems that Amazon works better with you if you go through them too. Good choice to start with.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing all of this. I am just starting to research where I am going to go, with a complete ms about to go off for editing this was perfect timing for me!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting all of this. This has been so helpful. It summed up alot of what I'd been hearing but in a clear and organized fashion. Good luck!