Tuesday, February 26, 2013

5 things to know when self-publishing apps and eBooks

I'd like to encourage more guest posts on TNM, if only to mix things up a bit. Last week TNM featured a great post from Pedro Monteiro on "mix media" – you can find that one here. Today's guest post comes from Damir Fonovich, of children's eBook and app publisher Luca Lashes.

It has been a long year for Luca Lashes LLC. We have completed the writing and editing of 9 books in our children’s book series. Having decided to forego contacting any agents or publishers, we self-published our eBooks and apps instead, trying to focus on the coming shift to digital content. From one December to another, we have completed beta testing and have seven of the nine books as both apps and eBooks for sale across multiple platforms. Here are some things we learned while developing this series:

1. Remain in Control

If at all possible, remain in control of your work. Copyright everything you can. Establish that you own the content you are putting out into the world. One of the things we learned along the way is that if a publisher prints your book, they are in control of where your book is sold, how it is marketed and they own the copyright status of the book as soon as it is printed. The beauty of self-publishing and keeping your content digital is the true ownership of your content, even when you use a company like Smashwords to distribute your work.
2. Formatting your eBooks
There are three major eBook distribution channels in the United States: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple. In terms of making your eBooks more available to everyone, Barnes & Noble and Apple support the “ePub” format, which is the universal format for eBooks around the world. Amazon supports any in-house format, which can be a KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or Mobi file. You can also convert a PDF document into an eBook through the Amazon Kindle program. If you were looking for more international distribution, it would be wise to look into Kobo, which is beating other companies to the punch in opening eBook marketplaces in foreign countries. Those looking for a great one-stop shop for formatting on multiple platforms, look to Atavist.com.
3. Prepping your Apps
If you are developing apps, or working with a developer to make apps, there are some important things to consider. Do you want an iOS app, an Android App or both? The Barnes & Noble Nook line takes the longest to approve your apps, as they are heavily curated and do not have as large of an app store. The Apple App Store also has a long approval process where it seems that the functionality of your app is more severely tested. The Google Play App Store, which is the world’s largest app store at the moment, is very quick to approve along with the Amazon App Store.
4. Pricing your Apps and eBooks
This is the trickiest thing to figure out. eBooks typically cost more than apps, despite the fact that apps are more expensive to produce. The problem is that the market has responded so favorably to free apps that are supported by advertising, consumers now expect to pay next to nothing for apps. Pricing for eBooks is dictated by the publisher. Self-published eBook authors are lucky in this regard because they can price an eBook for maximum profitability and not incur the wrath of the almighty consumer.
 photo LucaLashes-doctor-iPad-sm_zps1d41b810.jpg5. What is Metadata?
Metadata is the word used to describe the information contained within the app or eBook. In the case of the app, this includes the title, the app code itself, the producer name, the developer name, the app description, and more. This is an app producer’s chance to make their app memorable in the eyes of the end user. In the case of the eBook, metadata also contains the author’s name and any other information about your product. Be sure to pay special attention to editing your metadata appropriately. So many people, including major publishers, do not take the time to edit metadata which can hurt the SEO of your app or eBook. It’s important to know how the search algorithm, keyword analysis and categorization work in each marketplace as you edit your metadata.
There is much more that we have learned while creating a children’s series, but learning these points in particular is so important for any aspiring eBook writer or app producer.

We made the choice to self publish eBooks and produce apps in order to maintain some semblance of control of our intellectual property and—because of our facility for languages—to find a niche for our creative content in a global marketplace. Making money and recouping any initial investment is the next logical step. You can expect (barring any sales phenomenon) to see some real sales traction in your eBooks and apps after about one year.

Together, Nicole and Damir Fonovich have 17 years of experience in education, in both teaching and administration. They are the co-creators of Luca Lashes, a line of multilingual eBooks and apps designed to help kids (0-4) turn "fear of firsts" into fun. They live in the Chicago area with their two-year-old son, Lucas. Learn more at www.lucalashes.com.