Friday, May 4, 2012

ASK PZM: May 2012 ebooks

Q: If authors want to self-publish, how do they choose between the overwhelming array of self-publishing options for books and ebooks?
Excellent question – and one for which there is no answer.  But there are some signposts to consider on this particular path.

Here are my notes by category on some of the options now available (and remember that this information is subject to change at a moment’s notice):

Amazon’s Kindle and CreateSpace:

Let’s say you want to try out Amazon’s Kindle Select option, which requires an exclusive 90-day period on Kindle with the ebook not available for sale anywhere else.  You could use Amazon’s POD publisher CreateSpace to convert your book to the Kindle format.  (You can read about Kindle Select at )

But this conversion service (starting at $69 and going up depending on the complexity of the conversion) is only for a physical book self-published through CreateSpace. (Yes, Kindle Direct Publishing has instructions to do the conversion yourself.  Although I may end up doing this, I would prefer someone else whose specialty this is to do it for my ebooks.)

(Note: For CreateSpace you can upload a manuscript in pdf, doc, docx or rtf.)

BookBaby and Smashwords:

I used ebook publishing company BookBaby to convert HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE for ebook formatting because I wanted to try BookBaby’s distribution channels.

For BookBaby a manuscript can be uploaded in pdf, which is good as you do not have to worry about making sure all the formatting codes in the manuscript are correct.

Now let’s say you want to add your published ebook to a Smashwords ebook account.  Smashwords does not take a pdf or rtf; it requires a correctly formatted Word doc.  You must decide if you really want to spend the time to go through your entire manuscript and check all formatting codes before uploading to Smashwords.

(Note: I am assuming here that, before you self-publish, you hire a copyeditor/proofreader to go over your manuscript unless you are very good at spelling, grammar, etc.  Computers usually do not know the difference, for example, between their and there and they’re.)

Book marketing services:

In a comment on a discussion thread in the LinkedIn Book Marketing group I founded and manage ( someone recommend an online book marketing service because his friend had used this service to supposed good results (whatever that means).

Someone rightly asked what kind of book the friend had and the book’s title in order to better evaluate this comment of “good results.”

Then I added that, even if we knew what kind of book and the book’s title, we would not be able to evaluate the friend’s success for purposes of considering this particular book marketing service for ourselves. 

Why?  Because there are so many additional variables for a book’s success online and offline, including whether the author was active on social media before the book launch, how active was the author during the book launch, etc.

When I work with authors on book marketing, I make it very clear that there are no guarantees that online marketing will sell even one book.  What online marketing can do – and do well with the investment of time and effort – is get your books in front of the target audiences you have identified.
Then all those other variables come into play, including how well-written a novel is, how relevant the information of a nonfiction book is, the price of an ebook, etc.

Ebook pricing:
Speaking of the price of ebooks, as someone said the other day about the publishing world, it’s the wild frontier.

Just following the news about U.S. ebook price collusion and what this means for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. is enough to drive authors crazy.

My personal opinion at this time – and I have only my own observations and research on which to base this observation – is that $9.99 should be the highest ebook price, and this should only be for nonfiction titles. 

My ebook HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE is currently priced at $9.99.  But I would not recommend pricing a novel this high unless you are a famous author.

Physical book vs. ebook:

I had recently decided that ebooks are all that is needed for new books, especially as Smashwords allows each title to have many purchase options, including a downloadable pdf.

Then I read something that made me reconsider this opinion.  Someone wrote that he believes there are readers that, after reading an ebook, would want the physical book.

Because it is very inexpensive to publish a POD book through CreateSpace, I have now decided to make my ebooks also available in a physical version.  This, of course, becomes another “to do” item on a very long list. 

One thing the undertaking of this task requires is the decision of what size to make the physical book, and I am studying this question now.  I realize that the optimal (whatever this means) size may vary with each individual book. 

In conclusion, there are not necessarily any right answers – and even right answers can change overnight thanks to the speed of change on the Internet. 

What does remain as true is that we each have to evaluate these options based on our own goals, time frame, and openness to new opportunities.  We are also privileged to have Joylene Butler’s wonderful blog on which to share what we learn.

© 2012 Miller Mosaic, LLC       
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and Pinterest) is the co-founder of the online marketing company, which is WBENC certified and also builds WordPress websites for clients. Information on her books and ebooks can be found at

* * * * 
Thanks, Phyllis, for another informative post.  

For those who entered my ice breakup contest, here's an update on what's happening on Cluculz Lake.

Those little white spots on the ice are gulls.


  1. Lots of great imformation here, Phyllis. Thanks for sharing.

    Joylene, I can't believe you still have ice in that lake..

    1. I've told her she's going to have to cut a hole in it to go swimming in July! I know of at least one lake more south than Cluculz that is still completely iced!

    2. I know, it's bizarre. In 20 years, I don't ever remember it taking this long for the ice to leave. And it wasn't the coldest winter we've had either. Very strange.

      Hearing there's another lake makes me feel better. LOL.

      Thanks Laura and Carol.

  2. Thank you so much for all the information. It there are so many option for indie authors - it's hard to find the "right" one. I suppose that differs for each writer and each book, as you mentioned.

    Great post,

    1. Hi Michelle. For some reason, Phyllis hasn't been able to leave comments on my blog in several months now. But she did tell me to tell you, "Michelle -- There probably isn't a "right" option even for each writer, but there are better options. Although the way the publishing industry is moving, those "better" options change each day."

      Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day.

  3. Great information! Thanks, Phyllis and Joylene. I'm seriously considering helping a friend self-publish so am glad to get your take on the topic.

    That looks like an eagle hiding in the tree, Joylene. He must be looking forward to the ice disappearing soon. It's beginning to look hopeful. :)

    1. There must be half a dozen eagles fishing every day. That fellow didn't leave for almost 2 hours. That's dedication, eh?

  4. This is a very informative post. Lots of things for a self-publishing author to consider.

    Joylene, thanks for sharing all the great pictures of the lake. : )

    1. You're very welcome, Susanne. Thank you for all those wonderful interviews and reviews of books I might never hear about otherwise.

  5. This was such very timely information.
    I just self-published a novella and have had a blast with it.
    But I've not been aware of all the options, and this was good information!
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Carol. I'm so glad you enjoy Phyllis's posts. Best of luck with your new ebook. I see many more in your future.

  6. Thanks for this really great info. Learned a lot! (Every bit helps as it's a real jungle.) I'm pulling out of the Kindle Select program. It's claustrophobic! (Got some job links on next post.)

    1. Hi Kittie. I'm looking forward to your next post. I'm a little behind this month, but I'll catch up soon. Hope you're having a great day.

    2. Thank you, Kittie, for following along. I'm so glad you're enjoying. Have a great day.

  7. Thank you for sharing this information! I've bookmarked it for later. :)

    P.S. How's that lake coming along, Joylene? ;)

    1. Hi Carrie. Yes, Suzanne won the contest. She picked May 5th. We're right in the middle of heavy construction, but as soon as my dining room's back, I'll post an update on the contest. Ttyl.

  8. Thanks so much for these great tips! This post is bookmark worthy. I'm going to share the link with a friend who is debating about some of this as we speak.

    Happy Mother's Day weekend! :)

    1. That's wonderful to hear, Karen. Happy Mother's Day to you too!

  9. Hi Joylene,

    I'm Karen's friend. :)

    I particularly like the last option of having both an Ebook and a print book. While Ebooks have gained popularity, many people prefer holding a "real" book in their hands.

    Happy Mother's Day!


    1. Happy Mother's Day to you too, Susan. I especially love the smell of a good book. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Hi Joylene and hi Phyllis,
    Loads of info for those who are into this. The jargon confuses the heck out of me and I never really advanced past using an "Etch A Sketch"
    Judging by those photos it's becoming bikini weather. No, not for me. I wear a one piece costume :)
    Happy Mother's Day, eh.
    Your starstruck fan, Gary...

    1. Gary, I'm relieved that you don't wear a bikini. Not that I'm say anything if you did. I believe in freedom of dress, along with freedom of speech.

      Thanks for stopping by, my dear friend. Hope you're having a great day.

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