Fridays are now my eBook Education Days

I did my normal daily routine of reading the daily blogs I follow with a passion, sucking up the information to increase my knowledge on all things to do with ebook publishing.

First, I visited Dean Wesley Smith’s blog.

I studied the layout of his cover for his latest short story. Then I headed over to to search for the graphic he used. I found it and studied why he picked this graphic instead of many others in the same search results.

While I was there, I thought about the story I just finished, so did a search to see what was available for me to use. I found a few that I could use, and more that I could purchase and alter in Photoshop or Gimp, to make them more suitable for my story.

I bookmarked the page and reluctantly left the site when my ten minute timer sounded.

I headed over to Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog  for her Thursday (my Friday) Business blog and read it. I read the links she added and all the comments, totally ignoring the timer telling me I have to stop and get on with my own writing.

Then I got excited.

Four years ago, ebooks were 3% of total book sales and they have doubled each year since.

So, if my maths is correct, 3%, 6%, 12%, ebooks are now 24% of total book sales. If ebooks continue to grow as fast as in the previous 4 years, next year ebooks will be 48% of total book sales. The year after ebooks could quite possibly be 96% of total book sales.

There are a lot of arguments for this not happening, just as there is a lot of arguments for this happening, such as the population of the world is growing, and more eReaders are selling each year as the price of eReaders drops.

What I realised is that publishers have a reason to be worried. Publishers have a reason to drop their advances for authors, because they will earn less on each book print run, because their breakeven sales won’t be reached with the number of readers of print books falling so fast. Remember, if ebooks are 24% now, then print sales are 76% of all book sales. If ebooks are doubling then print books are halving.

So, ebooks could be 48% of all sales next year. If so, print books will be 52% of all book sales next year.

What happens the year after? I personally do not believe ebooks will double again the next year, but they will continue to grow, and print books will continue to shrink.

Publishers will only have print runs on bestseller authors, to guarantee sales and income. Yes, I have heard this before, but didn’t have proof, like the figures above.

Every other author will move to ebooks or leave the business for better paying jobs.

There is always natural attrition, but as more authors leave the business because they can not exist on the low income, it leaves a vacancy for new authors to be discovered by readers. Remember, it is readers driving the sale of ebooks.

That is exciting for all us Indie authors.

I already read Joe Konrath’s blog last night on how his predictions from 2009 are coming true. I loved the link to Amazon Kindle Fire tablet device soon to be released in USA, and no doubt, a few years later around the rest of the world, including Australia.

We all know that ebooks are here to stay. We all know there is much debate on the quality of the ebooks by writers and publishers and agents. But, ebooks are selling because they are finding their readers. It is the best of times for readers. And it is the best of times for authors, whether long term authors, or beginners.

We have control over what we write and how to get stories in front of readers.

What also excited me was a link to a Free software program called Sigil  that allows easy layout of text to create ePub format.

Yes, I downloaded it. I already understand HTML (previously I was a software programmer and produced help manuals for each program I wrote) but this program opens up all sorts of possibilities, such as the ease of adding dropped capitals and the ease of adding graphics in each chapter. This free program will take all the worry out of placement of graphics with text.

This free program opens the door to picture books, comic books, non fiction books and many other approaches to selling ebooks while ePub is the main format for eBooks.

So, I write the text in any program I want, including MS Word. Then I copy and paste the plain text into Sigil, and add all the graphics I want, linking them in the text. I create the TOC and the program has an ePub copy of the story, laid out correctly. Yes, I can already do this with HTML, but this program makes it easier.

I upload the ePub copy to Amazon, knowing the graphics are included, and do not have to check the layout again. A big time saver on getting the layout of the book into a HTML file, adding the cover graphic and any other graphics and zipping it up to send to Amazon.

I still have to format the graphics in the Word doc, upload the MS Word copy, and all the graphics to Smashwords, compile and then spend time checking the graphics are in the correct spot and fix all messes. But, I think this will only last until Smashwords allows me to upload ePub files for their meat grinder to process to other formats.

So, I am off to read the last of the blogs I follow daily, then I can play around with Sigil, to see if it is as good as it says it is on the site.

Hopefully, by the end of the weekend I should have my novels formatted for Amazon. Maybe!

4 comments so far

  1. Angela/Curiocat on

    It is an exciting time for authors and readers. Where it all ends up I don’t know but I think this is the best time to enter the market as a new writer. As long as you have an understanding the market is in flux at the moment and be ready to roll in whatever direction it heads.

    Thanks for the excellent information as usual.

    • D J Mills on

      What is exciting is the figures are publisher total book sales figures, not total figures. Therefore the ebook percent of total book sales is more than the amount published in the blogs. If I wrote clean first drafts like DWS. I could use my editing time to write more. 🙂

  2. imotherofpearl on

    I will be interested to hear how you find working with Sigil – it sounds like a neat piece of software.

    When I bought my iPad, I finally began buying ebooks – but I still buy more paper books than ebooks, and prefer to have a print book for say a longer novel. But that’s probably because the iPad is a bit heavy to hold comfortably for longer periods – perhaps if I had a dedicated e-reader I’d feel differently.

    • D J Mills on

      I read on my laptop using Kindle for PC or Nook for PC or PDF files, because my palm pilot is too small. Not enough words display each page, so I am forever scrolling down. However, I still love reading print books and have no intention of throwing out my collection of books but think I will only purchase ebooks from now on.

      I have three novels ready to format for Kindle, so will let you know how it goes. If it doesn’t work, I can go back to HTML in Notepad. 🙂

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