The question about how to self-publish an eBook and how to distribute it came up in a professional network meeting yesterday. A couple of great suggestions came forward pretty quickly. Given the diversity of experience sets in the room, it wasn't really all that surprising to us that ideas would be so fluid.
Both suggestions involved outsourced services that can help you with production, formatting, distribution and sale. One is the Lulu.com Method; the other: the PDF-and-e-junkie Method. I'll share both in more detail below. But, it's also entirely likely that you might have some suggestions of your own that you might be willing to pay forward. I hope you'll share by posting your thoughts about them in the comments below.
One suggestion was to use an online service like Lulu.com. It could be a little pricey as compared to a DIY approach to the whole publishing, hosting, distributing, selling and delivering your book. But, part of that is the price of convenience. To paraphrase a friend who described the process this way:
"(Assuming a physical soft- or hard-cover book.) ...The easiest way is to use a website like lulu.com. And what you do is upload your file in, say MS Word or Adobe PDF. And then there are a whole menu of options you could choose. But, one of those options is for you to pay a one time fee that will put the burden on them (Lulu) to get your book listed on Amazon.com.
And then, when somebody buys your book, Lulu.com will drop-ship it to the buyer. There are also options that help you produce a Kindle version of your book so they can make that available on Amazon for you, as well.... That's probably the easiest way... They'll even get you an ISBN number...."
Of course, one of the biggest advantages here, in addition to simplifying the process for you, is that you won't have to pay out a whole load of cash up front to publish a bunch of books and carry them as inventory in your guest room while you wring your hands about whether or not you can sell them all.
So, that's one approach...
... Another approach is to take a stab at the DIY method. (I am, by the way, presenting this as an "And consideration" to the Lulu approach above. That is, don't consider this as exclusive of the other; you have to decide how much of this effort you're willing to pay for in exchange for convenience. It might even be advantageous for you to mix-and-match some features and services.)
Below is an audio recording of me describing the PDF-and-e-Junkie method.
(Note: Our professional meeting has a "safe environment" objective as the backdrop for our meetings. One of the associated ground rules is that we each agree not to publish video or audio of other attendees at our meeting. While it's okay for each of us to publish media of ourselves, the rule is in place to remove the pressure on all attendees about feeling like everything we say has to be perfect for the sake of any cameras in the room. It makes sense, right? It tends to stifle discussion if everyone's playing to the camera in the room. So, it's in that spirit that you mainly hear only my side of it in the recording above. And, while I'm at it, I know some of you will ask what audio player is it I'm using. Here you go... it'll handle both video and audio files.)
So, in a nutshell, the steps I described in the audio above is for you to consider (also) publishing and distributing your content by:
1. Saving your manuscript to a PDF format and/or format it for the Kindle. (I think it's a good idea to give your buyers/visitors choices.)
2. Creating an account on e-junkie.com.
3. Uploading your PDF and/or Kindle-formatted ebook files to e-junke.com.
4. Obtaining the "pay now" button from e-junkie and then placing it on the appropriate sales page(s) on your website.
As for formatting your manuscript for the Kindle, there are outsourced services and virtual assistants that can get that done for you.
Consider Enabling a Few Selling Partners
The other tactic I like about this approach is the feature offering of allowing you to create and manage affiliate programs through your e-junkie account. That means you can recruit strategic partners to help you sell your ebook in exchange for a commission. (Tip: If you speak at workshops or provide live training, you might consider recruiting some of those in attendance to become affiliates.)
Finally, as a great example of giving your visitors choices of different formats, check out here how Ron Ploof chose to offer his newest eBook in various formats. The tip here is: give your readers a choice.
The Big Takeaway
No matter which method you choose, what I hope you'll walk away with from this article is: no matter which method you choose (and there are probably a slew of other suggestions out there that I'd love to hear about in the comments below), publishing, distributing, selling and delivering your eBooks is very do-able for even the least technical of us.
And, with manuscript in hand, you can do it today.
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