So you’ve written your ebook but how do you get it out to the world and even start making money from it?

Option 1: PDF

Well the simplest way is as it has always been – to create a PDF file. This not only preserves the formatting of you source document but ensures it can’t [easily] be tampered with.

Most word processors have “Save as PDF …” as standard nowadays. If you don’t have one, there are loads of free or cheap plugins and online conversions tools. I won’t list any as they change all the time, just do a Google search.

Armed with a PDF, you can upload it to your site and make it the landing page for a Buy Now button or an email sign up form.

Option 2: Syndicate your PDF
There are many sites where you can now post your PDF to give it a wider readership. Here’s a few with some tips on what they are best used for.

www.bookbuzzr.com – upload PDF (with selective page control) and generate a page turning version of your book you can embed in any site

Here’s one I did earlier – Goal Setting that Works

www.issuu.com – this site allows you to embed selective pages from you book in external websites like Bookbuzzr but more geared to magazine-style formats

Here’s an article I wrote for WeCollaborate

www.myebook.com – this site doesn’t do embedding but has the amazing ability to include audio and video. This is a great way to storyboard a book before you convert it to be an Enhanced Edition book for iPad. Myebook also allows you to sell access to your book and make a controlled number of pages free as a sample.

Here’s an example of a free one I did to market test an idea I had for a book on writer’s block called Wordlube

Option 3: ePublish your eBook
The third, and most exciting and profitable method however, is to create an ebook you can sell via one of the online stores like the Amazon Kindle and Apple iBookstore.
As I mentioned in the earlier articles in this series, some years ago a PDF was synonymous with ebook but now an ebook refers to a book you can read on an ereader or iPad. Just to confuse matters, you can read PDF’s on all ereaders and tablets. There is nothing to stop people copying and forwarding ‘PDF ebooks’. If however you convert upload your book to the Amazon Kindle Platform or the Apple iBookstore, they add copy protection in the form of Digital Rights Management.
This means the reader can read it on any of their devices but can’t share it with others. For this service, and others, Amazon and Apple retain 30% of the revenue.
Note that anyone can easily get an account with Amazon Kindle but only publishers of many titles can get Apple iBookstore accounts. The best route for the latter is to use an assisted or traditional publisher or an aggregator like www.smashwords.com or www.lulu.com. Of course, they will take additional margin from sales for providing this service.

Get your free Amazon account here

There are a few hoops to jump through to professionally format books for ereaders and tablets which anyone with reasonable IT or HTML skills can master.

Alternatively, you may also like to look at a wonderful new UK-based company called CompletelyNovel who have a fab and inexpensive service for both print and ebook publishing.

Finally, if you want your ‘book’ to have real go-faster stripes, you can create a dedicated app for iPhone, iPad or Android. Here you can embed rich functionality by giving the user the ability to interact with the book. For example, you can include user input into the book in the form of journalling or even interaction with the author. Content can also be dynamic where external ‘live’ content such as news feeds or geo-coded information. The limits are ones of imagination and budget.

Also see Do iApp or do iBook? for more information and watch this video which is almost vintage being a year old but still shows some of the possibilities available very well …

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If I was writing this article just five years ago, when asked what an ebook is, I would probably have said a PDF. Where PDF is an acronym for Portable Document Format which, unlike say an Word document, is read-only and retains all the source formatting and layout.

Nowadays, with the increasing ubiquity of ereaders, it might be tempting to define an ebook as something you downloaded to be read on an Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad. To make matters slightly more confusing, the humble PDF can be read on both devices.

Where a PDF essentially differs from a book formatted for an ereader is that the latter, be it in ePub, HTML5 or the techie format, tends to be copy protected and tied to the purchaser’s account – not even their device. This means they can read it on their Kindle, iPhone and computer if they own all three.

Neither of these descriptions however fully defines what an ebook is or can be.

Before I explain, although I am a technophile and even writing this article on an iPad, as a reader, I am a big fan of the printed book. Specifically, I much prefer reading fiction in print but now favour the ‘ebook’ for non-fiction.

As an author though, I am both agnostic and catholic about how readers of my books engage with them. An ebook in my eyes (and ears) is simply any of my content which isn’t print and that is delivered by electronic means. I want the reader to choose how they engage with my work.

The publishing industry is going through the same transition as did the music industry 10 or so years ago. In some ways and in some areas, it is even overlapping and merging with it. One of the reasons being that the ebook is just about to come of age.

Now an obvious format for an ebook is audio. This allows those with visual impairments to enjoy a ‘good book’. Many people like commuters and those with dyslexic different-abilities might prefer auditory input.

The exciting developments in the ebook arena are the Enhanced Edition book and the mobile app. In addition to the rich functionality offered by these two developments, the ebook and app also come with the potential of royalties of up to 70% for the enterprising author. All of this is of course in a context where the number of target devices is in the millions and growing daily.

If I now have your attention, let me explain what they both are. Enhanced Edition books allow you to embed multimedia elements like audio and video inside a book. Good use of this format are books like Knitting for Dummies and Yoga in Bed.

For ‘ebooks’ which are apps, even richer functionality is possible. For example, user input such as completing exercises or a journal or even engaging in dialogue with the author. Content can also vary depending on date, location or user type. The latter could be dependent on parameters such as age or subscription level.

With all this choice, it would be easy to get carried away. Baby steps are advisable and market testing is essential. The future is very bright for both authors and publishers who embrace the possibilities that are opening up. The caveat being that the reader, listener and viewer is the ultimate judge of what is good use of the technology.

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Some example links

Example of an ebook with embedded audio and video – Wordlube

Enhanced Edition : Yoga in Bed

A discussable book – 140 Characters the Short Form

A multimedia app : Elements a Visual Exploration

Originally written for and posted in www.iaccw.com