People ask me all the time how they can make extra money, and there are plenty of ways to do it. However, writing a book is one that many overlook.
Now, I know what you're thinking. You can barely write an email to a friend, let alone a novel. You're no J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.
Well, I believe everyone has a book in them. Fortunately, no one said it had to be a novel.
It could be something as simple as 20 dynamite recipes. Maybe you have insights on managing a coffee shop. Perhaps you know a bunch of fun things to do in your hometown.
Whatever your subject, no matter how big or small, there's most likely an audience somewhere. The trick is getting your work in front of them.
That's why you need to know how to publish your own eBooks and make money.
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You might be surprised to find out how many eBook success stories there are from people in all walks of life. For example, Lindsay Buroker started writing a book years ago before giving up from not knowing what to do with it. The book sat dormant on her computer for a year until she got inspired to finish writing it after hearing success stories from other authors.
She ended up buying a Kindle, which opened her eyes to the world of self-published eBooks. In just one year, Buroker published four eBooks and was able to quit her day job and become a full-time writer.
Another success story is Orna Ross. She had been publishing books with publishers for years but was not happy with how much money she was making. Ross said she was only receiving 10 percent from the publishers in royalties.
She decided to go it alone and publish her own eBooks. Ross is now writing novels, guidebooks and poetry.
Creating your eBook
Before you can market an eBook, of course, you need to write one. Any word processor will work for banging out a manuscript. LibreOffice is a good choice if you don't have Microsoft Word.
Once you have your manuscript, you'll want to have it edited. You can enlist a friend or family member for this, but for longer or more complex works, hire a professional.
There are plenty of independent editing groups out there and they're willing to edit your manuscript for a fee. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of options. There are also online communities, like Writer's Digest, where you can connect with other authors and editors.
Try to find groups that offer consultations. They'll often edit a small portion of your manuscript for free so you can find out if you click with their style. Find out what other projects they've worked on. You can do some research to see how those books sold.
You can also find editors on freelance sites like Upwork or Guru. But editing isn't the only polish your book needs.
Cover art is the first thing people see in an online store. The art can make the book look professional and interesting, or it can make it look like you don't know what you're doing.
I have plenty of great image creation and editing tools on my site. These can help you create some killer art. You can also edit photos you already have with cool effects.
Once your book is ready to go, it's time to make it an eBook. You can convert it directly from the word processing document or get fancy with a layout program like Scribus.
Choosing a format
Choosing an eBook format is tricky. Not every e-reader or gadget supports every file type. Fortunately, you can cover most of them with a few file types.
ePub is a standard format that works on most e-readers, including the Nook and iPad. Almost all readers support PDF files as well. You can turn a document into both of these using Calibre. It is a powerful eBook manager and converter.
Note that Calibre won't import Microsoft Word files. You'll need to save the book as a TXT, PDF or LibreOffice's ODT file first. Just use your word processor's save options to specify the file type.
You can also try a dedicated eBook editing program like Sigil. It helps you format your eBook pages for the ePub format. There are also tools like an easy table of contents creator.
If you're only interested in publishing for the iPad, look at Apple's iBooks Author app. This helps you build gorgeous interactive eBooks Apple calls Multi-Touch books.
There are online services as well. Lulu helps you create, convert and sell eBooks.
All of these are free, so give them a test and see which one you like.
Amazon's Kindle is the odd reader out when it comes to formats. It doesn't read ePub, and its PDF support is finicky.
To format your eBook correctly, you'll need to sign up for Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. You can upload the eBook in numerous formats.
Amazon will convert it for you and post it in the Kindle store. This gives you access to the Kindle e-readers and tablets. It also gives you options like lending, text-to-speech and multiplatform reading.
Of course, you can sell in multiple formats to hit every market. Just remember that if you need to make changes to your eBook you'll have to re-do all of them, and each one has its own little quirks.
Selling your eBook
Once the eBook is ready, it's time to sell it. I already mentioned Lulu. It has an online store for eBooks. You will get more exposure to readers with less effort.
You can sell ePub and Multi-Touch books in the iTunes store. The application to join can be found here.
You get to keep 70 percent of the profit from sales, which is good. However, you do have to become an iTunes Content Provider first. It's free, but it takes some effort.
I mentioned Amazon's Kindle store. This venue will give you the most exposure.
If you price your book between $3 and $10, you can get 70 percent of the sales. For higher or lower prices, you only get 35 percent, which is a steep drop.
Speaking of pricing, in general, you should keep your price low. The people you hear about making millions from eBooks sell their eBooks for a few dollars at the most. People are more willing to take a risk on a $3 eBook than a $10 one. You end up selling more copies and making more money.
Having your book up for sale is one thing. Getting people to buy it is another. You'll need to do some serious marketing.
Marketing your eBook
Social media is a good place to start with marketing. That's where word-of-mouth marketing comes into play, and it's free.
Marketing an eBook is unique to every writer. Your methods will depend on book topic and your amount of free time. You'll have to start trying things until you find something that works.
For example, you could start a blog and release free chapters or talk about your writing process.
Join online forums that deal with your book's topic and become an active member. That gives you name exposure, so you don't have to hard sell the book. Just mention that you wrote one and reputation will do the rest.
You should also be working on more books. Don't expect to make much money from the first one; you'll likely have to build your business and reputation gradually. But it's worth the effort.
Speaking of eBooks, here's how to get your hands on some free ones
One of the greatest things about eReaders is that you can collect a large personal library. And you don't have to spend much money - or any money, for that matter.