Summary of Getting Started: Lists and Sequences

Tying it all together in a neat package means giving you a shopping list of stuff to do in what order.

I. What distributors?

  1. Leanpub
  2. Lulu
  3. Google Play/Books
  4. iTunes
  5. Nook
  6. Amazon
  7. Kobo
  8. (OverDrive)

This sequence is to get all possible meta-data figured out, then storing this in Calibre locally so you can add it as you can. This is a posting sequence, not based on income levels.

I suggest porting to Lulu in order to get their free ISBN - which is handy for creating links and for search engines to find your books. None of these distributors require ISBN's to publish ebooks - they are necessary for print versions.

II. What to distribute?

Format: .epub

Everyone except Leanpub (for now) will take an epubchecked file. Leanpub will create an epubchecked file out of any HTML file, or directly entered Markdown. (You can export your LibreOffice or Word .doc into an HTML file and then import it into Leanpub.) Leanpub will also import your blog, just export it into a Blogger or Wordpress export XML file.

Most of the distributors will also take a .doc file - but whether that will process depends on many factors. An epubchecked .epub should pass everywhere.

The suggestion is to double-check everything in the most current version of Sigil. You can edit out Leanpub's branding with this, as well, in order to port it to other distributors.

III. How to create them?

Follow the guidelines and sequences laid out in "Just Publish! Ebook Creation for Indie Authors."

IV. Where to find original public domain works?

  • any public domain work repository.

Any version of a public domain book is still copyright-free, except for any editorial changes made, which are the copyright of the editor. Extracting the original material gives you a version you can edit into your own derivative work. I've covered this earlier, but it's worth going over again - derivative works are not legally defensible if they are simply following the "two-step" of only adding a new introduction or preface. See Wikipedia entry on this.

There are also public domain images, video/movies, and audio files. 

V. Where to find PLR works?

Any site which sells or gives away these packages.

Note: the reason PLR is shunned on many sites is that they are pretty widely distributed and show up on many websites as content. But this material can usually be edited under most license agreements. PLR is different from MRR (Master Resale Rights.) In those cases, you aren't able to change the content, only resell the package. Be aware for packages which have simply been converted to MRR with no real changes to it except the license (perfectly legal.)  Doesn't mean you can't still get it as PLR somewhere else.

VI. What skills do you need?

  • A command of spelling and grammar for editing.
  • A review of good-quality ebooks to find what is considered standard and above-grade.
  • Graphics Art talent and training for covers.
  • A grasp of copywriting for writing descriptions.
Any and all of these can be out-sourced.

VII. What equipment is needed?

  • If you are using Lulu to do all your distribution (original and PLR works only) then you can use any machine that will connect to the Internet and create an .epub file.
  • If you are intent on re-publishing public domain books, then get a MAC and do everything from there.
The "old school" of a few years back said you were going to need a scanner and OCR program to convert old books to digital format. Mostly, this isn't needed these days. Some books still come only as images. And you can get free programs to OCR. On Windows (run in a virtual machine on Linux) I use a free program called TopOCR, which does a very good job.

I don't recommend going this route to begin with. It can take a week or more of editing to get a scanned book into shape. That same week could give you a dozen PLR or PD books published to all distributors and earning you income by the end of that month.

However, some of the best classic books in some genre's have never been converted and so there is no competition as an ebook. It it fits your niche exactly, then it may be a good investment. (I've also OCR'd and edited a book as a form of study, as well.)

VIII. What is the most efficient production workflow?

0) Determine the niche. Do complete market research on it.
1) Accumulate related books and convert to ebooks.
2) Build rudimentary websites.
3) Publish ebooks in batches along with landing pages as you go, updating links as publishing is complete. Build binders on Leanpub from these batches if appropriate.
4) Continue step 3 until you have a deep backbench.
5) Taking your bestsellers first, equip their websites with opt-in forms, free and paid membership areas, forum if applicable/possible.
6) Create video trailers and/or ecourse videos for each bestseller and post to several video sites with descriptions containing backlinks.
6a) You should also publish the hardcopy version(s) through Lulu to Amazon and the rest. (Also, take the bestsellers on Amazon and get audiobooks created for these - see the second workflow.)
7) Convert ecourse text lessons to PDF and post to doc-sharing sites with backlinks in the PDF and description
8) Post covers to image sites (Pinterest, Flickr) with backlinking descriptions.
9) Using a social syndication service, promote your landing pages on social media.
10) Build binders and packages for bestsellers and promote to relevant mailing lists.
11) Continue step 5 in order of individual booksales.
12) When you get to low-producing books, review their title, cover, description, and price. Tweak and resubmit as new book (don't take the old one down unless the title has remained exactly the same.) Note: Get new ISBN for new edition.
13) Create new binders and packages for bestsellers and do bonafide launches and re-launches on a periodic basis.

Note: Your income will boost based on launches and building your email list (which launches help.) Figure 6 launches a year once your backbench is built. One month to get everything in place, one week to run the launch, one week to recover personally, 1-2 weeks to analyze what you just did and see what could be improved for the next one. Plan your launches around major event timelines - December, Halloween, and other shopping events (these major marketing dates have long been established and can be researched online.)  Or you may find by statistics that hitting in between these will work best - or that utilizing major affiliates (and their mailing lists) will set your launch date for you.

Again: the concept is that your ebook publishing will make you financially free - while your paid memberships will get you as rich as you want.

VIX. What is the most profitable production workflow? (Untested.)

0) Determine your niche. Do complete market research on it.
1) Build your book in Leanpub and attract audience input from that niche.
2) Set up your website for the book series or batch.
3) Revise your book until your readers are ecstatic about it.
3a) Meanwhile, publish the paperback version via Lulu.
4) Post to the distributors with a pre-launch date, Amazon first. Update all links. Ensure Amazon links your paperback and ebook together.

5) Work out getting it posted to Goodreads, so reviews can accumulate.
6) Get your Leanpub audience to post reviews on Goodreads.
7) Create a launch with videos which coincides with release date on Amazon.
8) Set up opt-in forms, free and paid membership areas on your site.
9) Execute your launch.
10) Run analysis on performance metrics.
11) Take next book in your batch and run it through above.
12) Once your first batch/series is complete, do a launch for it's binder (create a single "boxed set" as an ebook for Amazon and others.)
12a) You can also do a launch for an Aubible audiobook version - which will boost sales of all three versions (four is you go ahead and publish the hardback, too.)
13) Expand your backbench with a new batch of books and run each book through the above.

Note: This builds with your launch as you build your audience and email list. Getting your list to buy your Amazon book and give it glowing reviews is the heart of the "bestsellers" there. Since Amazon can leverage income, this is the core of most "get rich quick with publishing" books out there, because it works if you already have the email list. The above assumes you have no real list to begin with.

Note 2: The rough formula is Leanpub + Goodreads + Amazon + Launches. The real money is made with paid memberships, which Amazon sends you traffic for. Any review on Goodreads shows up just about everywhere (Amazon owns it.) Reviews are what will kick in the algorithms on Amazon to get your book discovered. Only Amazon.

Note 3: This is untested by myself, not by others. Buy their ebooks on Amazon and you'll see they are telling about the same system. I went the harder route of building a deep backbench and getting sales across the board long before I had any bestseller on Amazon. Mainly because I consider their review system is false. It's long been gamed, and is constantly being revised by Amazon itself. (The first reviews on Amazon were created by paid staffers.) Meanwhile studies of reviews show people are using them less and less to make buying decisions. But they do get your book visible on Amazon, which will spike (not create) sales.

The above model mixes financial freedom with getting rich. If your books continue to sell well on Amazon, you're set. But as Warren Buffett quoted someone else, "You can keep all your eggs in one basket - just watch that basket very carefully."  So the emphasis is still on publishing to all possible distributors in addition to publishing to Amazon. No book will sell the same on any two distributors - they each have different audiences.

Note 4: iTunes and others have additional incentive tools to sell books on their individual platforms. These could be worth researching and incorporating into your launch - or running a separate launch, particularly if you sell more on iTunes for a given book than Amazon.

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