In a fascinating evening about e-publishing, Thure Etzold, Richard Gould, Hannah Hooton, Nick Sireau, and Josephine Warrior told a full house about their experiences. They all seemed to have enjoyed exploring the new medium, seeing their name racing up charts, though their approaches vary. Thure, Richard and Hannah did much of the work themselves. Nick paid others to do editing, covers, etc. Jo found a publisher (Carina Press) who acted much like a traditional publisher. Already there are support services available for e-publishers. If you want a job done there are places where you can ask for tenders. Whatever approach you take you still need to be professional - ask for samples and references; send off dozens of email messages until you find what you want.
* Why do it? All talked about the difficulty with getting an agent let alone a contract, especially if the work doesn't fit into a popular genre. If it won't sell in a supermarket, forget it. Self-publishing/e-publishing can be the only option. You're going to have to enjoy the process because there's won't be big financial rewards.
- How to prepare the product DIY editing/proofreading isn't recommended. Pay for it or ask friends. Hannah sent chapters to an online forum, www.fictionpress.com/, for comments. The file needs to be consistently formatted with an awareness of typesetting conventions. It helps to have a technically minded friend. The cover's important for online sales (it has to look good when shrunk). Even if you do it yourself, you may well have to pay for artwork.
- How to make it available All the speakers mentioned Kindle Direct Publishing. The site has a lot of documentation. Calibre http://calibre-ebook.com/ was also mentioned as a free conversion program but also an e-book library management application. https://www.createspace.com/ offers services too.
- Marketing Choose a price. You could make it free (for a while, at least). If you sell it above $2.99 on Kindle you get 70% royalties, though 99c is a popular price.
Use Author Central
No one sounded keen about Twitter or even Facebook - not worth the time you need to invest. Jo now has a Facebook/blog presence because her publisher encouraged it - see http://randomjossings.wordpress.com
It helps to tap into networks of like-minded people - if people know you, or have read draft chapters, they might buy your book. Places like http://www.goodreads.com/ encourage discussion between authors and readers. Thank reviewers even if they don't give you 5 stars. Get people to vote for you if there are awards.
Luck comes into it too.
Nick said that more books are the best form of marketing - books sell each other. Repackage books. Find new markets abroad (France and Germany) or produce an Audio book.