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Publetariat Dispatch: Self-Publishing: How You Can Reduce Costs

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Piotr Kowalczyk offers cost-saving tips for self-publishers.

The price of a book is what really matters to readers. It’s where self-published authors can compete with traditional publishers, as the examples of Amanda Hocking or J.A. Konrath show.

Many Kindle Store writers choose $0.99 price tag. They can afford it, as the cost of publishing an e-book is close to zero. E-bookstores equip the authors with the online tool – the dashboard – where they can publish a book in a few steps, and it usually takes a couple of minutes.

I’ve been testing many e-book platforms and their publishing dashboards. My favorite ones are Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing), Smashwords, Feedbooks and Narcissus.

At a basic level the only thing you’ll need to prepare is a perfectly edited and formatted text of a book, in a proper file format (mostly required are doc, rtf, txt, html and epub). You don’t even need a cover of the book. Some platforms, like Feedbooks, display a default book cover with a title and author, if the cover file was not uploaded by the author.

Most authors do want book covers, though – and they are perfectly right. But if you can’t afford to hire a professional cover artist, you can always check what technology has to offer. One thing to remember: if you are not planning to print a book, the size of a cover doesn’t have to be high and it will have a screen resolution anyway. It’s where possibilities are.

First, you can download and use Gimp, a free and simple to use image editing program. But what if you’re not very much into design? There are still some solutions. You can, for example, use one of data visualization tools – they can do a design work for you. Some time ago I described how to use Wordle, a tag cloud generator, to prepare a book cover. A good thing about such a cover is that it’s at the same time a tag description of your book (see example, below right).

Another idea for a cover design – use photo applications on your smartphone. You can make a picture and apply one of cool filters, which will bring a tonality and feel you want. Applications I recommend for iPhone and iPod Touch are PictureShow, Camera+, PhotoStudio and Hipstamatic. PictureShow has also an option to insert a text, so you can in fact design a cover completely on your cellphone. 

And here comes the technology again. Formats like epub or mobi allow text to be adjusted by the user of a specific device or application. That means that if you read in a Kindle application on your Android tablet, every book will look the same – according to preferences you selected.

In other words: you don’t need a specific page layout design, unless you really want it.

Next thing, most important one – editing. The most popular way is to ask for help a fellow writer, but there are also very interesting tools, which can help you go through this process for free.

The most known and successful one is Bite-Size Edits. It’s a crowdsourcing platform where other writers can edit the text you submit, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. This service is both fun and useful and what’s even more important – it’s a smart way to connect writers and readers.

Bite-Size Edits

Edit box at Bite-Size Edits


This is a reprint from Piotr Kowalczyk‘s Password Incorrect.

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