Guest post by Vanessa Monaghan
In my corner of the Internet, I blog about the ups and downs of life with food allergies. My blog is called “Food Allergy Mum” because that’s the title that seems to define me most days of the week. I have a son with peanut allergy and my husband was recently diagnosed with coeliac disease, so food is a big problem in our family. Blogging is a sanity saver. It’s cheaper than therapy and has the added benefit of helping others who are struggling with similar issues.
A few weeks ago I decided to write a post about how to manage the early days of a food allergy diagnosis. I still remember how frightening it was and how overwhelmed I felt at the prospect of managing my son’s condition. There are a lot of resources available for parents about how to manage the medical side of food allergies, but very little about the practical and emotional issues parents face. I sat down to write with a few dot points in mind, but by the time I was finished, the post was 3,500 words. It was far too long, even for a series of posts, so I decided to add it to my site as an e-book.
Producing an e-book isn’t complicated, but it helps if you have a good grasp on the basics of design and layout. Sadly I’m a novice in both these areas so I spent quite a while tinkering around in photoshop designing a cover for my e-book. From the research I’d done, I knew that the title was the most important element of the cover, so I made that the focus, and then added in an image that complemented it. I purchased the image from istockphoto which has a large collection of royalty free images that anyone can use.
I now had the text and the cover, but I wasn’t sure how people would access the e-book. Fortunately a few blogging friends came to the rescue, tipping me off about e-junkie, an online shopping cart for selling downloads and other goods on your blog or website. Signing up to e-junkie was simple, as was the process for uploading my e-book. Within a few hours I had my e-book on my blog, ready for purchase.
The ease with which I’d created my e-book for my blog gave me the confidence to try uploading it to Amazon’s Kindlestore. Creating the e-book for my blog had been as simple as converting the word document to a PDF, but when you publish for the Kindle, you need to follow Amazon’s formatting requirements. Fortunately these are clearly spelt out on their website. I was already an Amazon member, but if you’re not, you need to sign up before you can upload titles on Amazon’s Digital Text Platform.
I’m not a technically minded person at all but I had no difficulty following the instructions for upload. Within 24 hours my e-book was available in the Kindlestore – I know this because I kept searching my name on Amazon until it came up! Even though you’ve published the book yourself, and know that anyone can do so, there’s still a reasonable amount of satisfaction in seeing it listed there.
Although the technical side of self-publishing isn’t too difficult (providing you don’t have any images), there are a few downsides to self-publishing on both Kindle and other platforms that need to be considered. These include:
Authors earn 70% of the price of the e-book except if the book is purchased in Australia – then you’ll only earn 35%.
Kindle is increasingly being targeted by spammers, making it harder for readers to determine which titles are legitimate.
Thousands of titles are uploaded to Kindle each month so in many ways your e-book is just another needle in the haystack.
Unless you have an established online platform and a reasonable number of people in your online network, sales of your e-book may be non-existent.
In order to sell your e-book, you’ll need to invest significant time and effort in marketing through social networks and book blogs.
Publishing your e-book leaves you open to having your content stolen and re-published by others who may then detract from your sales.
I decided to price my e-book at $0.99 because it’s very short, however, the Kindle store is full of much longer books for the same price. Self published non-fiction e-books are generally priced much higher than their fiction cousins. The price point for self published fiction e-books seems to range from $0.99 to $5.99. Non-fiction e-books (perhaps because they’re often produced by marketers and website owners) can cost more than $25 or as little as a dollar. The general advice seems to be, play around with price points and see how changes influence your sales. Of course, you also have the option of offering your e-book for free.