Friday, 19 August 2011

E-publishing: the agony of choice

I’ve still got to redraft the last few chapters and then write some extra scenes, but my mind’s drifting towards publishing my book. (I’ve got some new title ideas, but I’ll decide that nearer publication).

I’ll almost certainly be self-publishing online, and will use the blog to respond to any reviews, praise, criticism and suggestions, as well as for publicity/advertising.

The question is, how to publish. There are three main options.


This might be the easiest. I’d put the whole book together in one document, and then sell it as a Kindle eBook on the Amazon website. I’ve only had a quick look, but commission seems to be 35% or 70%, which is nice. It would necessarily limit readership, however, and I’m not sure how the price is set, or who does it.

Chapter-by-chapter donations

This was my original plan. I’d put up a couple of chapters for free on the blog, then ask for donations. When a certain threshold is reached I’d then release a couple more, and so on. Obviously this would mean 100% ‘commission’ but if donations were either incredibly rapid (a nice thought) or very slow I’d have to decide whether to release the book entirely or eke it out, or (worse) whether to leave it half-released in a sad limbo.

Free, but ask for donations

Probably the simplest, but might result in the least money. I’d release it in its entirety on the blog and put up a donation button, then see what the generosity/appreciation or lack thereof of the People of the Internet yields.

The latter two options would involve the book being or becoming a sort of freeware book. It’d be free to download or copy or print and so forth but any rights relating to other things (TV, film etc) would remain mine and it would be illegal to sell it for financial gain.

I also need to sort out a cover. I’ve got a few ideas, but I’m no artist. No map will be included (almost all the book takes place within a single city) but an appendix or two might be created.

Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings is undoubtedly the best-formatted eBook I’ve read so far, and I think I might slightly copy his usage of little images here and there.

My goal is to get enough sales/money to either be able to use it in future submissions to agents/publishers or (should it go very well indeed) to simply be able to continue writing and publishing myself.

I’m also considering doing a spot of creative writing (just 500-1,000 words) for the blog, but that would take time away from redrafting and getting the book itself ready.


Updated 20th August:


As so often happens (I’m pretty absent-minded) I’ve forgotten the rather important matters of ISBN and copyright issues. On the plus side, I was going to leave that until after it was properly finished anyway, and at least I remembered before publishing.


  1. On Amazon pricing, according to this article from someone who's published with them what happens is that Amazon quote a permitted price range ($0.99 to $4.99 in his case) and it's up to you where in that range you set it at.

    As for the marketing strategy, have you considered a combination of your first two options? i.e. put the first one or two chapters only on a blog, with a link to Amazon or whatever for anyone who wants to buy the whole story? This is basically the approach followed by the published author Steve Stirling, and regardless of what you might think of his stuff it seems to work.

    For an additional option, have you considered publishing through an alternative route to Amazon? One I've heard talked about at is Smashwords, who will route your work to most ebook vendors apart from Amazon. (I've never used them myself, so I'd strongly recommend you google them to see what other people have to say, but their style guide for epublishing comes well recommended even if you decide to go eslewhere).

    Best of luck anyway, whatever you do :-)

  2. Thanks for the pricing info, and for the other link. I'll check that out in more detail closer to the time.

    Putting out a couple of chapters as a taster does seem like a good bait option (eBooks do have free samples, but I still think the idea has merit).

    Thanks :)

  3. One thing you may want to consider is how people are going to know the book is available - we can't buy it if we don't know it exists.

    Whichever route you choose, get on with it! Don't let "I dare not" wait upon "I would,"
    Like the poor cat i' the adage?

    P.S. Thanks for the link to Sauron's Blog you posted in the "other place" this morning. Made me hoot and brightened my morning.

  4. Indeed, that is an issue.

    Obviously, I'll announce it here, and in other places I frequent online. I'm also thinking of trying to create some hilarious YouTube adverts to try and promote it, as well as asking people who like it to rate, review and recommend it.

    Glad you liked the Sauron blog. It's very precious.