They say that everyone has a book in them, and they also say you probably wouldn’t want to read most of them. But shouldn’t we, the consumers, be the judge of what we want to read and what deserves to be passed by? For as long as publishing has been an industry, books have been the domain of three groups: writers who are in the right place at the right time, those whose talent is unsurpassed, and those with enough money to start their own publishing house. But now thanks to the internet, there is another avenue to which aspiring writers can turn when trying to get that brainchild published. eBooks, or electronic books, are the digital equivalent of normal books. They are computer files just like Word or Excel documents, and the best part is, their profit margins approach 100% due to the lack of any cost in duplicating and transmitting a file.
To get started in eBook publishing, first you have to, well, write a book. It should be something that you think people will want to read, since the whole reason you’re doing this is so that people can read, and possibly buy, your work. That sounds pretty obvious, but it’s a fact that many people don’t think about. The topic and text may be interesting to you, but will it interest a broad audience? Of course, there are some that say they are just writing for themselves and the sheer joy of the art form, and that thinking about this particular detail is akin to selling out. That’s fine, and I totally respect that point of view. If that’s the case, then there’s no point in publishing your works; just print them out and keep them on a shelf so you can read them whenever you want.
For the rest of us who want a lot of people to read our work, and maybe also make a bit of money at it, there are a few different routes you can take. One option is to start your own website to sell your wares. The cost of setting up and hosting a website has dropped dramatically in recent years, with the hosting fees costing just a few dollars a month, and the website development work costing a lot less than you might think. There are also some programs you can buy to help you with that if you decide to tackle the development work yourself. Another thing you have to think about is how you’re going to accept payment for your eBooks. You could sign up for a credit card merchant account through your bank and integrate it into your website, but I recommend just using a PayPal professional account. You can accept most forms of payment using this method, and you don’t have to worry about monthly fees or dealing with credit card software. And in the future, you may decide to become an eBook publisher yourself, selling works from other authors for a cut of the profits.
If you just want to focus on your writing (I don’t blame you) and not worry about all the technicalities of running a website, not to mention having to promote your book yourself, you can hook up with a reputable eBook publisher. This is a growing industry, and these days you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that will accept you as a writer. After all, eBook publishers don’t really have to spend a whole lot of money making your works available to a mass audience, so many of them are less inclined to be as picky as a regular book publisher that would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on your first run and marketing costs. Indeed, the traditional rules of the publishing industry don’t apply here. The eBook publisher will create a file out of your work, which will usually be a PDF, and it may or may not contain Digital Rights Management (DRM) software, depending on the publisher. This is code that attempts to restrict the file to only one user and doesn’t allow them to share it with anyone else.
With many writers making hundreds and even thousands of dollars from the sale of their eBooks, this publishing method has slowly become more mainstream. And whether you decide to go it alone and sell your books on your own website, or sign up with an online eBook publisher, this is one outlet that can be a viable alternative to the traditional publishing industry.