I chose to publish my latest work, Saddling Dragons, as an eBook.

Why you should anyone consider publishing a book in an eBook format?

For me the answer came from my background in the music and publishing businesses.

I worked in the music industry for most of the 1980s. During that time I saw cassette tapes replace eight-tracks, and compact discs overtake vinyl LPs in sales. It is worth noting that the passing of long play records was much different than eight-tracks. Eight-tracks lingered for years, despite sagging sales. As a result, they filled bargain bins well into the 1990’s. Having learned from that, record companies moved more quickly when it was determined LPs would no longer be the preferred music vehicle. Companies stopped pressing the records and they disappeared almost overnight, although, a very small niche market still exists for vinyl records today. Twenty years later digital music is taking a serious chunk out of CD’s market share. For many consumers, CDs are already a thing of the past.

Book sales and book sellers are struggling to maintain margins and profitability. A bright spot in book publishing has been e-readers. Amazn.com recently declared that eBook sales for their eBook device surpassed the sales of hardback books. The Apple iPad is, among other functions, a device for reading books, magazines and newspapers that are delivered in digital form, and they have sold millions of them. Additionally, advances in smart phone technology have caused many users to make a phone their first choice for consuming all types of media.

I worked for wholesale magazine and book distributors for most of the 1990s and the 2000s. Paper books have a wonderful, if nostalgic, tactual appeal. However they are limited by the production and distribution channels to produce them and get them to the right place for the right consumer. A factor that most people don’t consider is that 50% to 70% of each title printed winds up as recyclable materials, being returned to the supplier by the seller if it is not sold. The price for shredded paper has dropped, but there was a time when my employer made more from the shredded books and magazines than they did from selling whole ones to customers. The wasted carbon and trees from traditional publishing’s production and distribution has made electronic publishing a serious environmental consideration.

There are special challenges to alternative publishing. More books are produced today than ever before. Most of the volume increase is due to POD (print on demand) and eBooks. The downside of that is that the checks and balances the publishing industry once managed are gone from the new media publications. Large publishing houses may no longer control the people that can get into print, but there also is no one doing quality control. The amount of poorly produced product has resulted in new media being considered a lower caste.

The best way to change that stereotype is for quality writers to produce, distribute and promote high standard product through the new channels. Considering your computer, phone or other electronic devices, you probably already have a gadget for reading eBooks. Is it reasonable to think your readers have similar equipment? Might they want to read what you write on one of those gadgets?

Another downside of alternative publishing is the lack of financial support for marketing and promotions. However, social media may offer the best potential for overcoming that obstacle.

Choosing to publish my latest and perhaps most important book of my life as an eBook was easy.
• I have a small base of support established.
• The costs were negligible.
• The potential market reach is near limitless.

There are hundreds of companies that publish eBooks. It is fairly simple to search them out on the internet. I chose to go with Smashwords.com. I was referred to them by a source I trust. There are no upfront costs and the response is immediate. If you choose to use them, I do recommend you read their publishing guides and materials carefully and repeatedly. Preparing the manuscript is easy, but certain unique details must be met.

If you are printing chapbooks on a printer at home, adding electronic versions might be an ideal compliment to your efforts. If you are doing larger POD books, you may want to consider capturing additional market share. It might also be a way to add life back into titles you have previously published.

Write well, often and always from your heart.

Chrystine Julian

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