Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I've been posting away on the topic of ebooks on my new blog: CHILDREN'S BOOKS - THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY (Scroll past the repeat...). There are also a few other blogs to check out on that topic as well.

Hey, I'm not one to do all this talk and no action. I feel like I can't complain about ebooks or fully talk about the ins and outs of all of this without trying it out myself. So, here's what I want to do: I want to take one of my out-of-print books and turn it into an ebook using BN's Pubit.

Here's the question:
Do I:
1) give it away for free, as in list it for 0.00 dollars? (If I CAN do that)
2) sell it for .99 cents?
3) sell it for over 9.99 and get 60% instead of the standard 35%?

I'm right now leaning toward giving it away for free. Why give anyone any money for it? I'm already giving it away on my website for free so why not continue the gesture? Then again, perhaps that will ruin the experiment. Will it? Do I need to sell it for 99 cents like everyone else to see what will really happen?

I need your votes so vote now!

Thank you!


Libby Koponen said...

Meghan, I think that's a great idea!

Have you checked your contract, though? I know many contracts prohibit authors from selling ebooks themselves.

The Author's Guild actually made a big fuss about this, but as far as I know, they lost.

So I'd look into the legality of it first.

David H. Burton said...

Here's my two cents as an author that's already been doing this.

First, regardless of price, don't just go with PubIt. Not all books sell equally well for Nook, Kindle, iPad, etc. so your experiment could fail miserably at B&N but you could do very well at the iBookstore or Amazon. If you're going to do this, do it well.

If you don't have the means to get in the iBookstore directly, consider using Smashwords - they can get you distribution into Apple/Sony/Diesel/Kobo/etc if you can't get direct access to those retailers.

Second, if you're going to do this, ensure that your formatting is top notch before uploading. There's nothing worse than a horribly formatted ebook. And believe me, in the e-reader world, they notice these things and will mention it to others. There's a little microcosm of e-reader owners that gather at various sites. They talk amongst themselves. :) If you want to come across professionally, put the effort into it.

Third, just putting a book out there is not enough to see if it will sell. You need to do some self-promotion and there are great sites out there that can help you with this without it being blatant. (Contact me if you want more information.)

Now we're on to price. Since some of these retailers (ie. Amazon) do not allow you to go with a free option, I would suggest a minimum of 99 cents so that your price is the same across the board. Often the price for indie books is around $2.99, but ymmv. Not everyone sells well at this price and adjustments can be up or down.

All this said, the children's ebook market (particularly picture books) is still in its infancy, unlike genres like paranormal romance, etc. But there is a market, and it's slowly growing.

Good luck with your experiment!!

Meghan McCarthy said...

Libby, I own the book now. I can do with it as I please. Plus... it was published before ebooks existed!

David, thanks for all the helpful suggestions. I looked at Smashwords but it looks like they require you to upload the book as a Word doc. My book is all pictures. It won't work any other way. It will only read on a Nook color or an iPad. Do you know any other places to place it? That is why I was thinking of BN-because you can upload things as jpgs (i think?). The prices are very unfair however. It was all part of my experiment though. I just wanted to see if I put it up for free or 99 cents how high up in the ranking I could get it. If you read my posts on my blog you will see that HORRIBLE self published books are ranking really high on BN and I think it's simply because they're priced low.

Meghan McCarthy said...

Oh... and my book wouldn't be to make money (obviously). It would be to get my name out there.

David H. Burton said...

I can totally see how Smashwords might not work, but PubIt requires epub format. My suggestion would be to create an html doc (clean html, not word-based html) with your jpgs in it and use a tool like Calibre (google it) to convert to epub and mobi(which you can upload to Amazon). If you need help, I'm happy to lend a hand. If you have a Mac or a friend with a Mac, you can upload your epub file to Apple directly.

The 99 cent price is a good place to probably start if you want to see it sell quickly. Again, once you're ready to go drop me a line and I can send you to a couple of places to try to get the word out.

Frank said...

Ditto what David said. Also, I would recommend thinking through the best way to optimize your follow-up sales to new readers.

For example, if your book doesn't currently have links to your other books, spend some time adding it to a page (in the front?). "Other books by Meghan..." with links to your web site for purchase information.

Good luck.

David H. Burton said...

Or even better, links to purchase it directly from Amazon/B&N/Apple, etc. :)

Meghan McCarthy said...

Well, this is the book:

The text is with the art. I suppose I could pick a different book that isn't photographed where the designer gave me the layout - so it's flat.

Greg Pincus said...

I'd echo what David's saying about quality: Getting your name out there with subpar products won't help you at all. As for distribution... I guess it depends what experiment you're trying to perform.I'd argue that simply putting a book up in one place won't give you much data about the big picture. And if you're going to spend time promoting it (and you kinda have to if you want folks to know about it), you might as well make it highly available.

Different price points will give you different data to consider. As for giving money to someone else... well, you're only doing that IF you're also making money yourself. You already do that with traditional publishing... and the ratio's not as good. Seems worth the "cost" from over in the cheap seats, anyway.

David H. Burton said...

Meghan, do you have the original artwork to this as jpgs?

It's a lovely looking book!!

Meghan McCarthy said...

No, no jpgs. And it's not possible for me to scan the art back in because I don't have a big enough scanner... plus that would take me FAR too long to do (I have a book due!). I don't want to do something that is going to be a huge undertaking because I do have a book due right now. My experiment was to see if I could get a previously published book higher in the rankings than the self published ones if it was priced the same. If you go to my blog and see the art and design of the books that are out there you will see how bad some of them are. I wanted to see what makes the shoppers "tick." I would be able to sleep a little better at night if I knew a book that was edited and designed professionally would stand out. And I hope when I say this I don't sound like a snob!!! I don't mean to. I just work really hard at my craft. My first book creation ever looked more horrible than any of the ebooks out there. If I had PubIt available perhaps I would have uploaded it. I shudder at the thought.

And thank you david for your kind words.

David H. Burton said...

You're welcome! :)

I would say that you need to treat this as a greater undertaking if you truly want to see what you can do with it. You have to be willing to put some time into formatting and getting the product just right. It's also important to put some time into thinking about distribution and marketing as well, even if it's a little bit. Otherwise, the experiment won't be particularly valid, or valuable.

I would wait until you don't have something due before giving it a shot because if you're going to do it, do it right.

If you ever need advice and decide to go ahead with it, feel free to drop me a line. :)

Will Strong said...

I honestly can't say. I have the same dilemma. I'm working on an ebook and I don't know how much to charge for it. Or even if I should charge at all. Maybe I should use it to promote myself.

Libby Koponen said...

I agree with all who said a sub-par product won't go you any good and wait until you don't have a deadline and can do it right.

But mostly I think you should DO IT. You have all the talents and skills -- and I think you could really go places with this idea.

Unknown said...

Hi Meghan, that is a fun book. Re scanning, there is an art store in Orlando that can do large-format drum scans for $10 a scan. There might be a similar service near you.

Also, iBooks can now have full-bleed artwork. I think the term is fixed-page layout.