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Can You Find Success with a Self-Published eBook?

By Melissa Brewer
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2005


As a full-time freelance writer, I spend a lot of time trying new publishing ideas and learning how to market my services. Most of my work is web-centered, so I love the challenge of innovation in content creation. I also love the fact that when you're a writer on the web, you are more in control of your marketing efforts than you will ever be offline.

When I made the decision to write an eBook, it really didn't occur to me to NOT self-publish. I already had a
website and a newsletter, I've taught classes online, and I am completely comfortable with the online environment. I also was naive enough to look at a self-published eBook as a less-than-daunting task.

I self-published for the reason most people do; I can retain full control over the production, marketing, and distribution of my eBook. I can make updates and changes without a publisher's permission. I can also keep control of the costs of promotion and marketing.

What I've Learned as a Self-Published eBook Author

1. Networking is essential. There are a lot of people, in the same boat, willing to help you in your journey.

2. Self-promotion can take a lot of time and effort -- but the satisfaction of a polished, professional product and the prospect of profit (rather than a percentage of royalties) can be worth it.

3. You're never done! The web is an infinite space -- if you sell your own book, you will never be "finished", there is always work to do! New eBook websites and distribution centers launch every day. New websites accept eBook submissions for review every day.

4. Ebooks are still a relatively new medium -- which, of course, leaves many people skeptical. They have a lot
of unrecognized potential, and, for the most part, have been quite underrated. I believe that this is partially attributed to the fact that there are literally thousands of people out there that buy "resale packages" of "reports" that have been converted to Adobe Acrobat format. These "reports" are usually short, poorly written, and out-of-date -- the exact opposite of what an eBook should aspire to. These "eBooks" are not written by the people who market them (A few I have seen don't even carry a byline) and tend to be promoted heavily by MLM and "Get Rich Quick" people.

5. That being said - ebooks are more difficult to sell -- it's difficult to establish credibility as a self-published eBook writer. You'll have to have tremendous faith -- and gusto -- in your writing and your finished product. I've had several people discuss my eBook on writing lists with the primary question: "Is it worth the money?" (And this is at a promotional price of four dollars and after several 'gloat-worthy" reviews! I've never seen anybody walk into Starbucks and ask the coffee makers if their Grande Mocha Latte was worth the money -- oh, well!) Be prepared for skepticism and craft your responses carefully.

6. There's hope in the future! Ebooks are just getting started. Ebook writers have the ability to adapt their content to their audience and create an interactive element. Hyperlinks help with quick navigation to important resources on the web. I believe, in the future, eBooks will gravitate to become the truly interactive medium they are -- content that allows audience to explore the topic as superficially or as deep as they want. Imagine if you publish a fantasy novel and have hyperlinks to the maps of the world you created just a click away? Or, like thousands of DVD's, what if you create links to a website that has a "behind the scenes" look into the writing process? Or what about scenes you loved but didn't fit into the eBook's plot? Why not show the reader what you edited out?

7. Success is possible, with time, MJ Rose's eBook, Lip Service, garnered many great reviews, sales, and future print publishing contracts. In MJ's latest eBook, Buzz Your Book, she mentions that Angela Hoy, makes several thousand dollars with her eBooks on a monthly basis. These success stories took time (months and years) to create -- but now these women have become "eBook legends." It turns out that self-published eBooks can pay off! (You can find out more about MJ Rose at ( )and Angela Hoy at (

If You're Considering Jumping On the Bandwagon

The internet has changes the way self-publishers market. There are websites, email discussion lists, and communities dedicated to help the independent writer get into print. Where once self-publishers missed out on the support of an editor or publishing house, they now have the opportunity to participate in a quickly growing community.

Is self-publishing an eBook right for you? Here are a few questions to help you decide:

1. Do you have an idea -- or manuscript -- for a good book?
2. Do you ENJOY networking with writers and publishers on the web? 3. Are you INTERESTED in learning new ways to promote yourself?
4. Do you have the time and resources to DIY? (do it yourself?)
5. Are you prepared to learn a lot of information and apply it on a daily basis?

If the answers to these questions are "yes" or "maybe", there are also resources online you'll want to check out before you begin your project. Here are a few to get you started:

Self-Publishing Discussion List (sponsored by SPAN)

AnEBookChat -- Discussion List for eBook Writers
(Experienced and Newbies) (

Series of Articles with Many eBook-related Links "Become an E-Book Author -- .......Selling Your Knowledge" by Edward Toupin (

eBook Web -- Resources, articles, and tips (

About the Author
Melissa Brewer is a full-time freelance writer and author of The Writer's Online Survival Guide, available at ( She hosts a website for professional freelance writers and she publishes a free weekly newsletter, The Web Writing Buzz, featuring articles on freelancing, writing jobs and publishing news from around the web.


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