Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Monday, March 7, 2011

ePubbing: Tips from Trade Authors & other Bold Explorers

Gone are the days where publishing one’s own stories as eBooks was a questionable career move, akin to being published with a vanity press. With the advent of kindle, iPads and apps, and with less people buying traditional hardcovers (who has the cash to shell out $24 for a book?), bookstores and the publishing world have been in an uproar. Authors and readers are quite open now to new publishing delivery systems.

It seems almost every week, I hear word of another indie or ePublisher opening up for business. Dragonfly for fantasy and sci-fi comes to mind, as does Muse it Up in Canada. I hear more and more authors' incredible success stories about self-ePubbing with createspace, often selling so many copies that a traditional publisher comes calling after the fact.

A couple of weeks ago, on an online chat, a well-regarded children’s writer, Arthur Slade, revealed that he had formed his own publishing company to reissue his out-of-print books, such as Draugr, depicted above. He even named it after his grandmom! Mind you, this author sells via the traditional system quite well.

His admission prompted a blizzard of comments from other successful writers who loved the idea of publishing their own out of print books, or self-publishing manuscripts that their editors had turned down. And this produced a flurry of questions about the actual process: did anyone know of a great book cover artist, who worked freelance? What was the best program to format one’s manuscript for uploading to smashwords or create space? And what were the best sites to publicize eBooks? The kindle boards were highly recommended as a place that really helped get this part of the job done, while joining a vibrant online community.

This is truly an exciting time! Authors can pick and choose. They can have some of their books published with traditional publishers, and others, including more experimental work, or their out of print titles, can sell as eBooks. The author can take control over his or her book cover formatting, interior illustrations, even pricing. As Arthur Slade puts it: “One basic reason is that Amazon pays 70% of the cover price and that I can also publish my books in other countries without much effort. I'm a bit of a techie, so the process of turning books into eBooks wasn't too painful. I can get a book ready for Amazon in about two hours now. You can go through smashwords. That means you only have to do the book once and they send it to Amazon, B&N and iBooks. They take a small percentage. And, most importantly to me, I maintain control of my book over the long term!”

There are others joining in the conversation. Take a look at Joe Konrath’s blog post Ebooks Ain’t a Bubble and eisforbook, where a bunch of authors are posting about getting their books ready as eBooks, or Rob Sider’s site, 52 novels, where he helps convert your Word files to a kindle-friendly eBook text!

The stigma is gone, and the fearless tread on open, untrammeled ground. Please let us know about any really cool ePublishers, book cover artists, and blogs that cover this. Also, fill us in on any tips for DIY newbies. Check out Arthur Slade’s great blog on this topic while you’re at it! and his website, where you can buy one of his newly released eBooks Draugr and Dust:


  1. I truly do not understand the "stigma" with e-books. Good writing is good writing whichever way it is presented. In the end, it's about giving authors and readers options and finding the right personal fit. :)

  2. The industry is changing so fast for writers. Many more options now for getting your work out there. I think its great, but I also think as writers we have to hold to the highest standards as possible, so that when we go the non-traditional route it doesn't become a sloppy one.

  3. Great post! I've found some really great authors who only publish ebooks. I think you are correct in saying the stigma is going away. However, I have read some self-pubbed books that I think were published too soon. Not enough editing and proofreading. I'd hate to see people rush into this method of publishing and get sloppy as C.Lee said.

  4. C Lee and Kelly, how true. It should never be done sloppily or in a rush, and your mss should be fine tuned in a writing group, and perhaps by a freelance editor as well!

  5. For anyone epubbing i recommend getting a copy of "smart self publishing become an inidie author" buy zoe winters. when using vanity publishing or places like createspace you are giving up part of your profits to a middle man. going totally indie gets you out of doing that. of course it means you are doing ALL the work but I personally like it that way.

    also, i kind of wonder. with so many people now starting to epubb. does this mean readers are going to be more weary of what they buy? will it be harder to get your book out there to the public since soon EVERYONE and there grandmother are going to be on the boards offering up their own books.

    I really hope writers take epubbing seriously and get their books edited. It should be understand that some of us take this business to heart because we have such a passion for it and it isn't something we will give up doing a year from now.

    Just my 2 cents...

    <3's and fangs,
    Liz ^_^

  6. Thanks for the mention Catherine!
    It has been an odd journey so far, but I am enjoying it. I used to publish comic books years ago and I find I'm experiencing the same "rush."

    I agree with the others about the rush to publication. There is a bit of a gold rush mentality going on. And, frankly, some self-published writers aren't as concerned about the perfection of their craft, just about getting their story out there. Others are professional to the t. Hmmm, just like most other businesses. Always read a sample before you buy, is my motto.

    Oh and these links will take readers directly to my eBook discussion (just so people don't have to wade through all my other blog stuff):

  7. Thanks, Arthur, for these extra links!

  8. Awesome links. I love the alternative eBooks provides us. If you're a go-getter, you can DIY without fear of the stigma anymore... let's face it, the traditional route takes a long time.
    I'm planning to self-pub one of my stories I've had no luck with, because I believe in it and want readers to have it, even if agents don't "love" it. But I plan to use a pen name. These links will help me figure out what I want to do.
    I know from following all Konrath's posts that a catchy blurb and fetching cover are of utmost importance!

    Thanks, Catherine!

  9. I agree with what most of the others have said. I think it's so great that writers can take control over their careers, and for the self-starters among us, keep most of the profits for themselves. I don't see why that should carry stigma in and of itself.

    The stigma comes from those who do the "gold rush" as Arthur says. It's the self-pubbed works that didn't use a good editor that bring the quality of the whole kit and kaboodle down. That said, the same could be said of the quality of lots of high-profile trade or mass-market books as well.

    I think readers are smart enough to try books that sound genuinely appealing and give them a fair shot, regardless of how it was published.

    Great post Catherine!

  10. Yes, I've read more than a few horribly written and edited traditionally published books. But for sure, ebookers (hey, did I just make up a term?!) need to go the extra mile to be taken seriously. That means impeccable editing and professional-level cover art.
    I do believe that the dreck will shake down to the bottom, and the exciting stories that are artfully written will shine, no matter what the delivery system.

  11. Hi Catherine,
    Thanks for the shoutout to E is for Book. We've been enjoying exploring the possibilities of digital books...some amazing creative possibilities are opening up. Biggest problem (aside from technology of it all) is the same as with print books:

    Authors and artists hate marketing, generally speaking, but it's either tackle it or get a “real” job (ack!)

  12. I do know a great freelance cover artist--she did my cover for a short story available from an epublisher, also she's done my publicity materials.
    is where you can find the cover. The design is a bit lurid on purpose, but she does low key very well. Her name is Jane Wilson and her website is

    And no matter the technology, marketing will always be the gas that fuels the vehicle.

  13. Thanks for all of the great tips!
    Okay, I just downloaded Amanda Hocking's 99 cent eBook to see what all of the fuss is about...

  14. Wonderful post. Things are changing so fast, its hard to keep up and know what paths to take. So thank you for your ideas and advice :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  15. Please visit my blog :) You won something!

  16. Pssst. I emailed you for your mailing address.

  17. My small press publisher Penumbra Publishing has great inhouse artists that will contract out to anyone.

    They did a great job on my Sci/Fi series "America's Galactic Foreign Legion."