Taking the leap from writer to publisher was not a hard one for me. I am an avid reader, and prefer old old books from the 1800s. So, I turned that passion into a business thanks to the ability to publish on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Google Books, and Kobo, who became partners with my company over the last ten months.
During our first ten months, it has been a learning curve for us. We had to learn about pricing, not bothering to republish books if too many others had published them, and expanding our reach. There was learning about ISBNs and the significance of who owns what if they are listed as the publisher.
And thanks to Amazon I have learned what I can and cannot publish in the public domain. They have decided that Indy publishers cannot publish books which are in public domain unless significantly changed. So, we have had to adjust our publishing model, but it has worked out better for us because now we own the rights to our version of the books. Plus the copyright laws are confusing to say the least. A book in PD in one Country might not be in another Country. Trust me it can get complicated.
I mentioned partnerships earlier. This is a big deal if you want to sell books. You cannot just distribute in one place and expect to make any real headway. I know some would like to have you believe they did, but the truth is everyone distributes widely unless they have an exclusive contract.
During the last ten months we also learned about translation and are in the process of having some of the books translated. Let me tell you my reasoning. I think one book can be produced in many ways. You have your print, ebook, and audiobook just for starters. So, if you have 200 books translated into the various languages, you have expanded your reach.
Then there is choosing what to publish. Initially we published anything and everything, but as we went along rules were put in place such as not to publish books if overly saturated (more than 3 ebook publishers) or it’s being given away for free on distributor site. Thanks to Google, that almost took us out of business, but by revamping our line with different photos, compilations, or translations, we were able to take a stand. Amazon wanted “unique’ material and the only way to do that was by moving away from publishing “as is” with them. Sure, it’s faster and more convenient, but if you are not going to be able to sell it, it is time to change the game.
One of the other things we have had to deal with is not really knowing the ebook market. Sure, we had the numbers but not the real demographics from each site, so a lot of guess work, and trial and error came into it, and that works. Another thing to consider is pricing. Sadly, Indy self publishers are being forced to almost give their stuff away due to the erroneous view that ebooks should be cheap or free. There are some who even teach people to sell their books at $0.99 and just write a lot of them in order to cash in. That may be true, but considering the amount of work that goes into a book, it seems like a cheap way to a quick buck at the the expense of the writer’s value.
For someone wanting to start out in publishing, my main piece of advice would be is to offer the readers something they can’t get from somewhere else.