Publishing, What to Do, What to Do…ORAcon2013

The second topic covered at the ORAcon2013 conference was called the Self-Publishing Revolution, although they talked about traditional publishing, digital only publishing and hybrid publishing. Here are the bullet point notes I took:


  • Traditional Publishing. This is when an author goes through a publishing house, often through a literary agent.
  • Digital Publishing Only. This is self-publishing in e-formats only.
  • Self-Publishing. This is when the writer does everything themselves, and publishes in both print and e-formats
  • Hybrid Publishing. This is when an author publishes through two or more methods mentioned above.

Reasons to choose Digital 1st/Digital Only Publishing House

  • Higher royalty percentages
  • 35%-50% of net as opposed to 25% traditional
  • No up front costs to you
  • Free editorial input
  • Wider distribution (than doing it on your own)
  • Most pay monthly or quarterly (traditional pays 2x/year)

Reasons to choose self-publishing

  • Complete control (from cover art to editorial to pricing, etc)
  • Can distribute through most retailers
  • Potential to earn more money

Examples of what a self-published author gets in percentages from these retailers:

  • Amazon: 70% at $2.99
  • Barns & Noble: 65% at $2.99
  • Smashwords: 85% for direct/55% for 3rd party sales (the speaker mentioned that they had a lot of problems, and suggested using Draft 2 Digital instead, which had comparable percentages)
  • CreateSpace (I didn’t get their percentage)

When Self-Publishing: Cover Art

  • Check for typos
  • Study other cover art in your genre
  • Remember it has to look good on a thumbnail on a website

When Self-Publishing: Content Editing

  • Often done by “book doctors”
  • Content editors fix plot/characterization/arc issues
  • Can be very expensive
  • Many authors skip hiring a content editor and/or rely on beta readers/critique partners
  • Cost. Figure approximately 1cent/word. You should get 3-5 pages for free to test the editor before hiring. Be wary of cheap editors. Be careful. That’s a lot of money. Make sure you are getting quality editing!

When Self-Publishing: Formatting

  • 3 main formats: .epub; .mobi; .pdf
  • Barns & Noble & Amazon will let you upload a .doc or .rtf file and convert, but the formatting tends to be sloppy and inconsistent and difficult to correct. Not recommended.
  • You can pay for eformatting.
  • Print formatting is different. You can use CreateSpace or LightingSource. Your size options will be 6 x 9 or 5 x8. Remember, higher page count = higher cost. If you have a 100,000 word count, go with a bigger size to save a lot of money.
  • Through Lightning Source, all  bookstores would be able to order your book, but it costs $40 for even the slightest mistake in formatting. They mentioned even they (professionals who do it all the time) get “tricked” and have to pay $40 for uploading a non perfectly formatted book. CreateSpace is free to re-upload and fix mistakes.
  • Interior formatting is done in Word or Indesign
  • Standard font is 10 to 12 point
  • You can choose cream or white paper; cream is thicker and costs more.

Self-Publishing Process

  • ISBNs.
  • Kindle assigns an ASIN to your ebook when you upload it.
  • If you distribute through smashwords or ARE, you can use their free ISBNs.
  • To publish direct with Apple or Kobo, you must have an ISBN.
  • Can purchase an ISBN through
  • $125 for 1 or $250 for a block of ISBNs (keep in mind that you need a different ISBN for every version of your book: print, amazon, etc.)
  • KDP Select (Amazon’s Program) options. Your book must be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days & you get 5 days where your book can be free in that period

Marketing a Self-Published Book

  • Best marketing plan is a good book.
  • Eye-catching cover, great hook, solid editing is a must.
  • Promote the same as a traditionally published book. (Traditional publishers will little to no marketing for you, so you are doing the wokr either way.)
  • Don’t doubt the power of FREE. It’s the best promotional tool. Give away a book/novella for free while launching the release of a novel or series. Free novellas/short stories/serials will promote you as a writer.

What a Publisher can do that you can’t…well…maybe you can nowadays.

  • List books for pre-order and specify a drop date
  • Get your book into additional retail outlets and/or libraries (However, Amazon has some options here)
  • Foreign Sales (Well…Self-Pubs now have options here too)

For Foreign Sales

  • Market Prices for professional literary translators range from $30-35/page ($6,000-$9,000 for a translation)

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