These are exciting times for writers. Modern techniques and new technologies speed our writing and expand our wares. There was a time when writers were rarely published in more than one edition and then those editions were limited to hardcover, softcover and mass-market paperback.
Editions. Your printed “pBook” consists of words and black/white illustrations on paper but some of the other editions will be much fancier. The electronic edition will be read on a computer screen or handheld reader. This version may have color photographs and drawings. The illustrations can move; you can insert video clips. You can add sound files: music and spoken-word audio. You can make references to Web sites so that your reader can get more information. And in the electronic edition of your book, the referenced URLs will be hot; the reader may just click on them and go straight to the website.
Now that we are differentiating between pBooks and eBooks, we might as well call your audio product an aBook. Then it follows that your workshop will be your wBook, your speech your sBook and your consulting your cBook. All of these activities are derived from your Work (with a capital “W”), your core content. The formats or “editions” are different but the information is essentially the same. For example, once you complete the printed manuscript (pBook), it may be used as a script to record the Work on cassette, CD or for audio download (aBook).
Media asset management. Your book will be produced in several formats to accommodate the preferences of your readers.
As John Kremer (1001 Ways to Market Your Book) says, your $20 printed book could also be a $6 downloadable edition, a $70 audiocassette album, a $150 video package, a $600 seminar, a $300/hour consulting session and so on. The formats are different; the core content or “Work” is the same.
Some consumers want to “read” your book but do not have time to read. On the other hand, they commute long distances and would like to listen to your book. For them, you can make a spoken-word audio edition. Your “book” should be available in any format your reader wants.
Generally, most people today still prefer the pBook but a growing number of younger people choose eBooks.
At the beginning of the term, a freshman walked into the college library for the first time. He looked around and focused on a 22- volume set of books. He asked a nearby librarian what the books were. The librarian responded “that is the encyclopedia”. The student turned incredulous and asked “You mean someone printed out the whole thing?”
If you look up Dreamcatcher by Stephen King at an online bookstore such as Amazon.com, you will find it is available in seven different editions: hardcover, mass market paperback, audio cassette (unabridged), audio CD (unabridged), hardcover (large print), eBook (Microsoft Reader) and audio download. You too, want to wring maximum value out of your work.
Credibility. Most people hold authors and books in high esteem. Since a printed book provides more credibility than an audio or electronic text edition, you will want to print the “Work” too. So, the pBook comes first; it is the foundation for your business. Then you can turn out the other editions.
Format. Plan to write your book in book-layout format. Forget Courier typeface and double-spaced text. Make your pages look like a printed page. Set your margins for a type block about 4.25 x 7. Add a header and a page number at the top. Now as you write, you will be able to visualize the finished page.
Write your words, add illustrations, insert captions, drop in quotations, and introduce stories and then sit back to view what your reader will see. Are you getting your point across or should you rearrange the elements on the page?
Conversion. Once the book is written, you may pour it into a page layout program such as PageMaker, InDesign or Quark. Then convert it to an Adobe Acrobat .PDF and burn a CD. Acrobat converts the text file to an image file; the format preferred by book printers. Acrobat will convert the text file to “Press” for an offset (ink) printer, “Print” for a digital book printer and “Screen” for CDs and download—to be read on a screen. It takes just a few minutes to convert your manuscript into all three.
ISBNs. An International Standard Book number should be ascribed to each edition of a Work. The purpose of the ISBN is to assure that those who order get what they want and expect. A customer who orders a hardcover edition will probably be disappointed to get the audio CD. So, today, we need a lot more ISBNs that we used to. See http://www.ISBN.org
Distribution. There are about 85 distributors across North America that handle pBooks. Some handle aBooks (audio) as well. For other editions, you will want to deal with another distributor or “store”. Some dealers, for example, specialize in selling downloads. To distribute your eBooks and aBooks, see Amazon.com, B&N.com, CyclopsMedia.com and Booklocker.com.
Think of the future. Focus on your pBook and know that you will be spinning off several editions from your basic manuscript or Work. The collective result will provide a much better chance of making a living while making a difference.
There is more than one way to publish a Work; your book will be more than a book.
Dan Poynter, the Voice of Self-Publishing, has written more than 100 books since 1969 including Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual. Dan is a past vice-president of the Publishers Marketing Association. For more help on book publishing and promoting, see http://ParaPub.com.