March 24, 2012, 7:01 AM — Want to publish a book? You can either kill a bunch of trees, or get with the 2010s and publish it as an ebook.
If you haven't noticed already, ebooks are no longer a niche market. As of June 2011, ebook reader adoption had reportedly hit 25% in the United States, with the market growing at a phenomenal 169% year over year. Today, most new releases are being published in ebook format.
An ebook can provide your small business a real competitive advantage by giving you instant credibility and visibility in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, the ebook sales market is fragmented. Publishing an ebook means working directly with numerous companies, each with its own formats, rules, and quirky systems. While Amazon is the clear leader, both Apple and Barnes & Noble have solid user bases for their respective devices. Industry watchers generally believe that Amazon holds about a 60% share of ebook sales, while Barnes & Noble has 30% and Apple claims the remaining 10%, with a smattering of other services filling in the cracks.
As a budding publisher, you will need to prepare your book for at least those three platforms. I'll walk you through the process here.
I have a couple of ebooks on the market, but for the past few years they've been available only for Kindle. To create these tips, I went through the republication of Five Stars! (my manual for aspiring film critics) on all of the major platforms.
Prepare for E-Publishing
Before you even create your Amazon or B&N account, here's how to get ready for your career as an e-publisher.
Start with the book: First, write a book. That's hard enough, but putting your book into an ebook-friendly format is almost as complicated, because each ebook seller has its own rules on everything from illustrations to indentation to the way bullet points work. Amazon's "Formatting" Q&A forum has over 3000 threads in it.