As regular readers of this blog already know, I’ve been having some e-book issues lately.
You can read about the whole thing in detail here, but to summarize: I lowered the price of my book Mousetrapped from $2.99 to 99c in an attempt to sell more copies of it and, thus, sell more copies of its sequel, Backpacked, when it came out on the first of this month, but when I went to put it back up to $2.99 a few weeks later, I was tearing out my own hair in frustration waiting for the change to take affect on Kobo. And, until it did, Amazon couldn’t increase the price because they have to offer the lowest price available.
(By the way, since I first wrote that post, I’ve added a number of updates. If you haven’t read it since it first went up, you might want to pop back to have a read of them.)
The good news is that the whole saga is now sorted, and I’ve been able to return Mousetrapped to $2.99 across the board. This means that I’ve now also been able to release a combination title, Mousetrapped and Backpacked Too, which is both my travel memoirs in one Kindle book for $4.99 (they’re $2.99 each individually). Click here to visit its listing in the Amazon.com Kindle store.
So that’s the good news.
The great news is that late on Thursday night, Lulu sent out a mass e-mail unveiling their new MS Word-t0-Epub converter and their promise that, if you follow their instructions, they’ll list your book for sale on iBooks and Barnes and Noble’s Nook book store. And that if you publish with them now, you’ll get to keep 90% of your earnings between now and January 1st.
Why is this such great news?
Well, I’m a great believer – as Michael Scott is – in KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. I don’t ever want to complicate things. I’m against complication in principle. For instance, I don’t want to abandon CreateSpace in favor of a digital print run and a distributor, because even though my profits would be larger, it’s just not worth the effort. Same goes for bookshops. Same goes for using InDesign to make my interiors; for moving to a self-hosted blog; for purchasing my own ISBNs. It’s just not worth it and there’s no need for it. Things should only be as complicated as they need to be, and then not a smidgen more. If all your books fit into a single Billy bookcase, you don’t need the Dewy Decimal system to organize them. If you sell some homemade jams at a farmers’ market one weekend a month, you don’t need Sage to do your accounts. And if you’re an individual self-publisher with not very complicated books, you shouldn’t have to hire anyone to build your book in code. A well-formatted MS Word document will do the job fine.
After the Kindle store (which is taken care of with Amazon KDP), the two places I want my e-books for sale are on iBooks and Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. To do this, you need an .epub file. Now if I didn’t want to use Smashwords, every other option involved rocking up to an e-book site with an .epub file ready to go, which meant hiring someone to convert my file to .epub or purchasing a conversion program, which meant expense, more effort (to find these people) and – say it with me – complication. Frankly I couldn’t be arsed, especially since I know how to format a MS Word document so that it converts well.
So now that Lulu will convert your MS Word document for you, you have a simple, non-complicated, free option for iBooks and the Nook store that isn’t Smashwords. And it’s really easy to use. They have a style guide (which is almost identical to Smashwords’ style guide) and uploading it is quite simple, although I had to resize my cover images a bit.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to have two different companies distributing the same books to the same retailer, so I’ve opted out of iBooks and B&N (and, after what happened last week, Kobo) on my Smashwords’ distribution channel manager. I’ll still publish with Smashwords because I find them handy for downloading files of your own book, and it’s great to be able to send people to one spot where they can download my e-book in any format they like. I’m also still going to use them for Sony and Diesel.
So now I have three different services distributing my e-books. Is that really the simplest solution? Yes, I think so. Each of them accepts MS Word documents, each of them requires no money upfront and each of them is covering a different set of retailers for me. Would it be nice if there was one place you could go to get the job done? Yes, but if there was then there’d be less competition, and then Lulu wouldn’t have to do things like offering a 90% revenue to attract new e-book publishers.
And I quite like the fact that they do.