Today I’m chatting with women’s fiction author Marilyn Brant (an NYT and USA Today bestselling author!), asking her all the questions I’ve always wanted to ask about publishing e-books.
- What program(s) do you use to format your e-books?
I no longer format my own ebooks — I hire a professional formatter. I’ve worked with three so far and have had a good experience with all of them. (One is no longer in the business, though, and one is focused specifically on intricate interior designs that are more complicated than basic formatting. So, I’ve used different services, depending on the book!) When I first started, though, I did do my own formatting, and I followed the directions in the Smashwords Style Guide to get a good clean copy. I’d suggest that new authors check out the formatting of several ebooks by writers they like and see which ones most appeal. Almost all authors will mention their formatter, if they’ve hired one, in either the acknowledgments or on the copyright page, so it’s easy to find a good professional.
- Who is involved in the e-book release process/who do you work with before releasing the e-book (e.g. editor, critique partners, designer)?
Well, I rarely release a book *only* in ebook form. For novels that I’ve published independently, they will usually come out in both ebook and in paperback simultaneously. Once I’ve finished writing a novel, I have at least 3 or 4 trusted early readers or critique partners go through it. I make revisions based on their comments and then turn the manuscript over to an editor. I make any further changes based on his/her notes before sending the book to a professional proofreader. Once I have it back, I have the book formatted for ebook release, and I also hire a professional cover designer to design both the ebook cover and the full paperback cover. (I do my own formatting for the inside of the paperback, which usually takes a few hours, but I enjoy working on it.) So, there are quite a few people involved before the novel makes its way to a vendor!
- How long is the process from start to finish: i.e. writing the e-book to release day?
Ahhh, that’s a big question! Truly, this depends on the book. I’ve written a couple of novels in as quickly as two months, and I’ve worked on others that have taken several years to finish and be ready for publication. In my opinion, whether the book comes out first in ebook form or in print — or whether it’s a self-published project or a traditionally published one — doesn’t matter as far as the time it takes to actually WRITE it. The technical process (of formatting/cover design/etc.) can be much shorter for an indie published ebook rather than a New York-published trade paperback; however, that’s only measured from the point of having a finished novel up through making it available for sale. With a self-published book, the turnaround time can be as short as a few weeks — taking into account however long the editor, cover designer, formatter, and proofreader need to do their jobs. For instance, once my romantic comedy TAKE A CHANCE ON ME was written, it took only 2 weeks for the cover, editing/proofreading, and formatting to be finished. With a traditionally published book, one year of lead time is typical, once the final manuscript is turned in, give or take a few months. My Kensington women’s fiction book, A SUMMER IN EUROPE, took 14 months to be released, from the point that I sent in the finished story to my editor. So, there’s a lot of variation.
- What do you like about e-books vs. print?
I like both! I really don’t prefer one format over another — it’s all about the actual story for me. I have hundreds and hundreds of ebooks and even more print books. I love the portability of my Kindle (which has about 700 books on it right now!) because I can go anywhere and take an entire library with me. 😉 But I’ll always love the feel of holding a paperback and flipping pages, so I still keep shelves filled with print books on hand at home.
- What advice would you give to someone in terms of marketing their e-book?
After writing the very best book you can…the key thing to keep in mind with marketing a novel (and it doesn’t matter whether it’s an ebook or a print one) is to *know who your audience is* and to do what you can to help that particular audience discover your story. There are more niche genres than ever now (i.e., humorous cozy mysteries, Jane Austen-inspired fiction, MC/motorcycle club erotica, sweet Christian small-town love stories, hot new-adult/college rock-star romances, etc., to name just a few), so tailoring your online ads or your book-blogging tours to focus on the readers who are looking specifically for novels in your genre makes sense, of course. But, in my opinion, the best thing you can do to promote a good book is simply to write ANOTHER good book…and another one after that!
Thanks for inviting me to visit, Deanna!! And all the best to you and your readers on your writing projects ;).
Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart Award for her debut novel and was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. Look for all of the contemporary romances in her new Mirabelle Harbor series, beginning July 26, 2015! And for giveaways and more information on her stories, visit her website: www.marilynbrant.com