A Short Guide to Digital Publishing
Despite the opportunities offered by digital publishing, it still doesn’t resonate with business owners in the way that print publishing does. And that’s a shame.
What is digital publishing?
Very simply, digital publishing is all about producing electronic books – books you read via an app or a device such as a tablet or e-reader. The most well-known digital publishing format is Amazon’s Kindle, which makes books available via its app and e-reader. The alternatives to Kindle include as Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s NOOK and Ratuken’s Kobo, though they don’t get anywhere near Kindle in terms of reach, volume and ease of use.
NOOK only publishes content in the US, so is even more limited than the others while Apple’s iBooks is the most widely available in the form of an app that’s included on all Apple’s iPhones, iPads and laptops. For android users, there’s a range of apps that can be used to read non-Kindle digital books. Check out this article for more information: https://blog.en.uptodown.com/top-apps-ebooks-android/ But the truth is that the king of digital publishing is Kindle. Amazon’s Kindle revolutionised digital publishing and dominates many (but not all) international markets.
What are the benefits of digital publishing?
1: Digital books work even if they’re short
Digital books can be very short (you don’t have to fill pages in the same way as a printed book), which makes them fast, inexpensive and easy to publish. All you need to do is take your book content and upload it in an acceptable format for whichever publishing platform you’re using (Kindle, Draft2Digital etc).
2: Digital books are inexpensive to produce and publish
You don’t need to pay a designer to create the interior pages – so, no text design, no page layouts and no proofs – which is why a digital book is also so much cheaper to produce. You also only need a front cover (no spine or back cover) for a digital book. Amazon allows you to create a cover as part of their KDP system, so you don’t even need to pay a cover designer if you don’t want to. You could also create a cover for free using Canva (https://canva.com). Or, if you want something a bit more professional and know you’re going to produce more than one book, it may be worth investing in BookBrush (https://www.bookbrush.com).
3: Digital books are fast to write and publish
It almost goes without saying that a short book that doesn’t require text design or page layout is going to be much faster to produce. But there, I said it anyway! The speed with which you can publish a digital book makes it enormously attractive. If you’ve got some relevant and appropriate content, you could literally get a book out in a few hours if you put your mind to it. Even starting from scratch you could do it in a few weeks.
4: Digital books are accessible to all
A book that’s short, inexpensive and fast to produce makes becoming an author far more accessible to most. The alternative to digital publishing is print and audio, but both of these formats require a far greater investment of time and money than a digital book. They’re both also far more technically complex and demanding, which means you’ll probably need to hire more help to get you to the point of publication.
5: Digital books are a great way to start publishing
Digital publishing is an easy way to learn how publishing works. You can get from an idea to a published book using a simple, inexpensive, fast and technically easy method. When it comes to publishing in print, having had the experience of producing a digital book first will stand you in good stead.
6: Going digital means you can write more books
If you want to publish more than one book or a linked series of books, digital is a fantastic option. You could easily create a series of short digital books in just a few months if you put your mind to it. Having several books to your name helps enormously with marketing as Amazon’s algorithm is boosted when an author has multiple titles to their name.
7: With digital books, updates are easy
When a book is digital, you can update it easily and as often as you wish. That means you can add new offers, content and links whenever anything significant changes in your business or industry. This gives you an advantage over authors of printed books because you can respond more quickly to the needs and desires of your audience.
Formatting for digital publishing
Formatting your content for digital publishing is easy and free. Amazon accepts the widest range of document formats, including Word and EPUB.
But if you want to publish in Nook, iBooks and Kobo formats, you need to publish via Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/ or Draft2Digital https://draft2digital.com/ .
- Check out Smashwords’ acceptable formats here
- Check out how to publish with Draft2Digital here
All this proves that tech doesn’t need to stand in the way of you becoming an author. It really is remarkably fast and simple to publish a digital book.
Is it Kindle all the way?
As well as the benefits offered by the KDP Select programme, Kindle offers access to a vast, book-buying market. The dedicated Kindle shop gives you access to a huge volume of traffic and automated promotional opportunities. With its easy-to-use software and billing capabilities, the advantages of publishing in Kindle format are difficult to ignore.
Kindle makes it easy for readers to access their content. Its Kindle e-reader is the market leader and its free app is accessible on all devices. So, in terms of its catalogue of books and accessibility, Kindle is the king of the digital publishing formats and can’t be ignored. But that doesn’t mean you have to publish exclusively in Kindle.
In fact, there’s no reason at all why you can’t publish on all platforms if you wish. And it’s worth experimenting to find the best option for you. But you can’t have it all. If you decide to publish to other formats (iBooks, Kobo) you can’t sign up to Amazon’s KDP Select programme too.
If you opt to join KDP Select, you’ll be bound to it for a minimum of 90 days. If you do nothing after that initial period, you’ll simply stay in the KDP Select programme. However, you can opt out of KDP Select after the 90 days is up (for more details go to https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200798990 ).
While you’ll lose the benefits that come with being part of the KDP Select programme, you may find your sales positively impacted by making your book available via Smashwords or Draft2Digital.
What are the downsides of digital publishing?
The most obvious downside of digital publishing is that your book isn’t a physical, printed product. Of course, you can produce your book in a printed format if you wish (and assuming it’s long enough), and that may be something you want to do after you’ve published the digital version.
Printed books can give you options that a digital book can’t. For example, you can send a physical book to potential clients, journalists, podcast owners and speaking groups, making it a key part of your marketing activities. Having a printed book definitely gives you more kudos than a digital book, simply because it’s an object you can hold in your hands and show to others.
Let’s get digital
No matter how much you might want to produce a printed book, please don’t ignore or downplay the advantages offered by digital publishing. Many very successful business owners have built significant followings by publishing digital books. While digital publishing might not make your heart sing, it still enables you to reach new audiences, raise your profile, build a responsive email list and, above all, grow your business.
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