As someone who loves to read and write, I have always wanted to write a book and get it published. However, trying to get a literary agent and publisher to take interest in a manuscript is a problem for the novice novelist. I had almost given up when I discovered how easy it is to publish an e-book. I published my first book, "Heartless Falls," last August. Finally, I am a published author!
The e-book revolution allows us to buy, rent and read books on an e-reader, such as Barnes & Noble's Nook or Amazon's Kindle. Many of these books are free or very inexpensive. To meet the demand for these books, several companies have made it very easy and free for you to publish a manuscript as an e-book.
Smashwords.com is one such site that offers free publishing, selling books through its online site, and distributing to other sales sites such as bn.com (Barnes and Noble), kobobooks.com (Kobo), and diesel.com (Diesel Online Stores). You set the price for your e-book and receive royalties that vary from site to site. For example, on smashwords.com, you receive 60 to 80 percent of the price of the book as royalties. Amazon.com pays 30 to 70 percent royalties, depending on the sales program you choose. Both sites offer free sales reports and tax-reporting information on your royalties. Also, Amazon offers a program called KDP Select, in which you sell your e-book exclusively on amazon.com and receive a financial incentive to do so.
Style requirements for your manuscript
Every e-book sales site has its own rules, so you need to read the information on its website carefully. Your manuscript must meet the style rules of the publishing site. For example, an e-book publisher may require only single spacing, double-spacing between paragraphs with no indentions, and specific fonts.
Format requirements for your manuscript
Once you have met the style requirements, you must format the document. Each publishing site has its own format requirements for publishing. For example, some sites will accept a document typed using a word processing program such as Microsoft Works, while others sites require a document submitted in .EPUB format or .mobi format. There are free and inexpensive books and step-by-step instructions available on the publishing sites to help you with formatting.
An e-book cover
You must submit a cover, which is a graphic file, for your e-book when you submit it for publishing. Specific information on the requirements for the cover is available on each publishing site. If you do an online search, you can find free covers that can be modified and free stock photos that can be incorporated into your artwork.
If you need help
If you are computer savvy and know how to use graphics software, you should be able to format your manuscript and create a cover without much difficulty. Many people are doing just that. However, if you do not have the computer know-how, patience or time to do this work, there are vendors who will do the work for you at a reasonable rate. Smashwords.com offers "Mark's List," which is a comprehensive list of vendors who will do as little or as much work as you want for very reasonable rates. For example, for $30 to $60, you can hire someone to create a cover. I prefer to spend my free time writing, so for $250 I purchased a package from one of these companies that included formatting, creating a cover, setting up my accounts, and submitting the book for publishing on two sales sites. Within about a week, my book was published and for sale.
So no excuses! Get to work on the book you have always wanted to write and publish it yourself as an e-book. Who knows? Maybe it will be a best seller. Maybe a Hollywood director will see your e-book and offer you a fortune for the film rights. At least you will be a published author!
Donna Perez grew up in Charlotte and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. She lives in Monroe and is a member of Union Power Cooperative. Her book, "Heartless Falls: Psychics to the Rescue," takes place in a small town in the North Carolina mountains, home to numerous mediums, telepaths, empaths, and others with supernatural abilities. The residents interact in their day-to-day lives with comical results. But things get serious when a college student disappears and the town's people try to solve the case. The book is $1.99 and available on amazon.com and smashwords.com.