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Anyone Self Publish any Ebooks here?

 
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Long time reader, occasional poster. Just curious, has anyone ever self published ebooks on this forum? I see it as one of the things you do to start residual income on a majority of passive income posts. If you have, can you share some tips and tricks for me?

I have a lot of homestead related passions I love to talk about and would like to start writing about them. I’m not looking for a get rich quick but I would like to be able to be make money writing about topics I enjoy. I’m thinking I would like to focus on beginner guides to specific topics like rotational grazing and stocker cattle.

Any feedback would be great!
 
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Hi Anthony. Quite a few of us are self-published here on Permies. eBooks are a pretty easy way to break into publishing, with a variety of resources to get you started. There is a learning curve, of course, especially along the lines of formatting, with a number of file choices: mobi, epub, and PDF are the most common, although there are others.

I publish eBooks through Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, so I can tell you a bit about those two. I upload my book files in .doc format and the cover file as a .jpeg, and they convert the files for me. Each has their own file requirements, which you can find on their websites. It's also possible to create your own epub files.

I use KDP to distribute on Amazon, and Smashwords for all other venues except Permies Digital Market. For Permies, I convert my book files to PDFs and upload them here myself. KDP's software is a little more forgiving of formatting issues, and you can preview your files before you publish (a nice plus), but they only convert to mobi for Kindle. Smashwords converts your files to a variety of formats and has a broad distribution network (Barnes & Noble, Apple, iTunes, Scribd., etc., even Amazon). But they also have more stringent rules for creating an acceptable file, i.e., one that can be converted to a variety of formats. For Amazon, I use KDP, which also has a broad distribution network, but it all boils down to getting the best royalties. Plus, I'm not a fan of monopolies, so I like publishing through different companies.

One reason I chose these companies is that I can publish with no cost to myself, unless I choose to hire out services (which I don't). Ingram Spark is another popular choice for authors, and they do publish epub, but it costs about $25 per file to upload each time (meaning if you have to make corrections and upload a new file, you have to pay the file fee each time.) They do have the broadest distribution network, and if you sign up for their newsletter, you'll find specials for new book uploads.

Besides self-learning, the other challenge will be self-promoting. When you do your own publishing, it falls on you to promote your books and build your audience. If you do your own eBook file creation, it will fall on you to contact wherever you want to sell your books and upload them yourself. The other option, is to sell through your own website.

You're right in that you won't make a lot of money, but self-publishing can be a very rewarding way to share your knowledge and experience. Plus it's a great outlet if you have a creative writing streak.

 
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No publishing experience here, but I do have this thread over here bookmarked for when I finally have good things worth sharing - and selling - to the world.

My notes on the cBook system:
  • Seems very quick and easy to set up.
  • The cBook would greatly reduce chances of piracy of your digital content.
  • It'd be for permies.com audience's online reading of PDFs only.
  • Might be really good for inexpensive, short, detailed, pamphlet-like material.

  • The overall affiliate and premium content tagging system on permies.com seems very useful for sharing other digital content, too.  Seems like a nice ecosystem they've made here, at least from this casual outside observer's perspective.
     
    Anthony Copeland
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    Leigh Tate wrote:Hi Anthony. Quite a few of us are self-published here on Permies. eBooks are a pretty easy way to break into publishing, with a variety of resources to get you started. There is a learning curve, of course, especially along the lines of formatting, with a number of file choices: mobi, epub, and PDF are the most common, although there are others.

    I publish eBooks through Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, so I can tell you a bit about those two. I upload my book files in .doc format and the cover file as a .jpeg, and they convert the files for me. Each has their own file requirements, which you can find on their websites. It's also possible to create your own epub files.

    I use KDP to distribute on Amazon, and Smashwords for all other venues except Permies Digital Market. For Permies, I convert my book files to PDFs and upload them here myself. KDP's software is a little more forgiving of formatting issues, and you can preview your files before you publish (a nice plus), but they only convert to mobi for Kindle. Smashwords converts your files to a variety of formats and has a broad distribution network (Barnes & Noble, Apple, iTunes, Scribd., etc., even Amazon). But they also have more stringent rules for creating an acceptable file, i.e., one that can be converted to a variety of formats. For Amazon, I use KDP, which also has a broad distribution network, but it all boils down to getting the best royalties. Plus, I'm not a fan of monopolies, so I like publishing through different companies.

    One reason I chose these companies is that I can publish with no cost to myself, unless I choose to hire out services (which I don't). Ingram Spark is another popular choice for authors, and they do publish epub, but it costs about $25 per file to upload each time (meaning if you have to make corrections and upload a new file, you have to pay the file fee each time.) They do have the broadest distribution network, and if you sign up for their newsletter, you'll find specials for new book uploads.

    Besides self-learning, the other challenge will be self-promoting. When you do your own publishing, it falls on you to promote your books and build your audience. If you do your own eBook file creation, it will fall on you to contact wherever you want to sell your books and upload them yourself. The other option, is to sell through your own website.

    You're right in that you won't make a lot of money, but self-publishing can be a very rewarding way to share your knowledge and experience. Plus it's a great outlet if you have a creative writing streak.



    That was a very detailed response thank you. Have you been able to grow this income over time? I know this isn’t a get rich quick thing but what are your thoughts about slowly growing this over time into a pseudo passive income stream? I would be curious since you have written so many. Do some books fall off or are all relatively consistent.
     
    pollinator
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    Smashwords has a very detailed tutorial on their site that I use.  That format can be directly uploaded to Amazon.  If you choose to let Amazon do print on demand paperback, you will need to slightly reformat it.  Most of my sales so far have been direct - the buyer clicks a paypal button on my blog and I email a .pdf to them.  The pdf.  can be much more personalized to look how you want it to appear.  
     
    Leigh Tate
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    Anthony Copeland wrote:That was a very detailed response thank you. Have you been able to grow this income over time? I know this isn’t a get rich quick thing but what are your thoughts about slowly growing this over time into a pseudo passive income stream? I would be curious since you have written so many. Do some books fall off or are all relatively consistent.


    I'm not sure it ever becomes truly passive income, except for a very few people. I think every author hopes to write a great book that skyrockets in popularity and stays there, but even good books tend to fall off, unless one writes a true classic.

    For the Indie author, it takes a lot of work. People can't buy what they don't know about, so for every book you write, time and energy (money, too, if you want) need to be put into promotion. People need to know that your books are out there, and that they are worth paying for. Thanks to self-publishing, anyone can produce a book. So there's a lot of competition, often on the same subjects. Do a book search on the topics you're thinking of writing about, to get an idea of the kinds of choices buyers have. The general advice for reaching a relatively steady income is to write a lot of books. You may write a one-book wonder, but it's more realistic to expect to sell a few each of several titles, rather than a lot of one title.

    That being said, I get a relatively small income stream from my eBooks; probably less than $500 a year. I make more money from my paperbacks, but it still isn't enough to "make a living." Nor is it consistent from month to month, so it isn't money we can count on as a regular part of our budget. Rather, it's extra money that we invest back into our homestead. I could probably make more if I was more active (and more consistent) in promoting my books, however, being an author is just one of the many hats I wear around our homestead, and there's only so much time in a day.
     
    pollinator
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    I would agree with what Leigh said. I self-publish, primarily via Amazon and have quite a few books, mostly fiction, all in ebook and most also in paperback. It's a way to earn extra income, but the work doesn't stop when you hit publish on the book. There are a lot of books already published, and thousands more being published, so it's hard to get visibility for your book.  Glad you said you know it's not a get-rich-quick scheme. It's not, for 99.999% of us who publish. "If you build it they will come" only works for attracting ghost baseball stars, not passive income! Publishing is doable and can definitely be a nice side income. But passive, no.

    I'm not convinced there's really any such thing as truly passive income, though there may be some things get close. Books aren't likely to be one of them. With ebooks or paperbacks, sales are almost certainly going to be low unless you work to bring people to your books. That might be blogging, teaching and public speaking, YouTube videos, building a social media following, lots of really good helpful forum posts, or some other form of promotion  and audience building that gives you a way to tell people about your books.

    Even with all that, getting eyes on your book won't help unless it appeals to the sort of readers your book is written for, so you need to make sure your book is presented in a way those people will relate to and want. That's a good cover, well-written blurb, correct book categories, and a price that is appropriate for what you are offering.

    Ideally, look for niche areas you have expertise in that have very few books already there. Searching on Amazon for the topics you mentioned and narrowing your search to Kindle store will show you how many ebooks are already available. Reading the book blurbs and using "Look Inside" to check their table of contents and  first chapters will show what the book covers and the approach they take. Check what book categories they're in (where to find that is shown in the screenshot). Then you can click though to those categories bestseller lists and see what books are there, too, which will give you a good idea what's popular, and also what's not there might clue you in to areas being neglected.

    If the topic generally already has a load of books, look for what you can add to make your book unique. Maybe that's giving a permaculture angle when most of the books are conventionally focused. Maybe by doing more locally focused books that you may also be able to sell via local events and organisations.  An hour of researching what's already out there can show you what's there and what is needed.

    I hope it works for you. Self-publishing certainly hasn't made me rich, but it's fun, it's taught me a lot of new skills and it brings in a small but steady income stream
    Screenshot-2021-10-14-03.51.51.png
    [Thumbnail for Screenshot-2021-10-14-03.51.51.png]
     
    Anthony Copeland
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    Jane you make so many great points and insights thank you for the response. I’m convinced nothing is truly passive either. Everything takes work and preparation.

    I went to school for agriculture where often times we had to summarize large amounts of information into presentable platforms for either beginners to a subject or those who may not even have heard of it period. Basically I was hoping to create ebooks about subjects I know and enjoy at a beginner level for prospective readers. While almost anything can eventually be found on the internet, it’s often spread over multiple articles, videos and posts. These things often get lost and deleted over time. Websites shut down, authors removed, etc. I often feel a fairly priced ebook is worth it when information is compiled in one place, organized and is accessible to the buyer in a ready form. Think this really would fit in with the cloud book cheaper option. I’m not trying to create massive textbooks but rather beginner guides to niche topics. I enjoy learning and researching new things as well as talking about the things I enjoy and sharing with people.

    Jane and Leigh, you have really painted a detailed picture of the overall here. My goal is to make so many of these a year and reinvest the money into other things. As you both have said, the money isn’t necessarily consistent or tremendous, but it is there if you’re willing to put the time in.

    Thank you all for the resources listed and responses.
     
    Leigh Tate
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    Anthony, I'm sure questions will arise as you begin the writing and publishing process. I hope you'll start new threads in Permies writing forum as they come up.
     
    Jane Mulberry
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    What you're intending sounds good! Go for it!

    Having the experience you do will be a real help. Also, that's a great selling point - you have insight about the practical aspects of your topics and real-life experience. A LOT of the cheaper non-fiction ebooks are junk books thrown together by someone whose sole experience is an hour Googling the topic then copy-pasting. So you already have something that lifts your book above the herd. (Yeah, deliberate bad pun, there!) That's something you can emphasise in your bio (which appears on your author page and on the book product page) and in each book's description.

    Doing a series is also a great idea. Amazon loves prolific authors and rewards them with more visibility.
     
    Anthony Copeland
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    Leigh Tate wrote:Anthony, I'm sure questions will arise as you begin the writing and publishing process. I hope you'll start new threads in Permies writing forum as they come up.



    Absolutely Leigh thank you
     
    Anthony Copeland
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    Jane Mulberry wrote:What you're intending sounds good! Go for it!

    Having the experience you do will be a real help. Also, that's a great selling point - you have insight about the practical aspects of your topics and real-life experience. A LOT of the cheaper non-fiction ebooks are junk books thrown together by someone whose sole experience is an hour Googling the topic then copy-pasting. So you already have something that lifts your book above the herd. (Yeah, deliberate bad pun, there!) That's something you can emphasise in your bio (which appears on your author page and on the book product page) and in each book's description.

    Doing a series is also a great idea. Amazon loves prolific authors and rewards them with more visibility.



    I would definitely add I am formally educated in the subject manner while also reaffirming the fact that the material is beginner centered. I plan to hit several niche topics around livestock and grazing along with some other homestead interest. But In the works I also plan on giving credit where it’s do while providing further resources if the reader wants to go beyond the beginner level. I got one idea for a book where I focus on how stocker cattle can fit well into homestead life.
     
    And inside of my fortune cookie was this tiny ad:
    paul's patreon stuff got his videos and podcasts running again!
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