Starting Your Own Ebook Creation Service
When shows such as “The Dragon’s Den” or “How I Made My Millions” started gracing our TV screens, watchers got a taste of just what it takes to start up a business. They also showed us just how ordinary people can become successful entrepreneurs and business owners given the right opportunity and the right business plan.
As a potential entrepreneur looking for your next big opportunity, you might not think that book publishing would repay the dividends you are looking for. But the continuing popularity of ebooks in our techie age does mean that there are potentially large opportunities in ebook creation, conversion and publishing that can be reaped given the right idea at the right time.
Like any potential project to embark on, there are different benefits and drawbacks to putting in the effort, time and resources. There are many advantages to starting up as an ebook entrepreneur. It’s as well, however, to keep an eye on the downsides of ebook publishing, at least to keep you on the right track.
- Ebook services businesses require lower budgets and are more affordable to publish – Because you’re skipping the expensive printing process, you no longer need to think about the expenses of inks and papers. There are also plenty of low cost online resources that help you publish and distribute ebooks at minimal costs to you.
- You can create ebooks from the comfort of your own home – This has the benefit of saving you money in terms of there being no need to rent or buy office space. You also no longer need to spend time waiting for books to come off the printing press – instead, everything can be done in a matter of hours via your home computer.
- Ebook publishing is great for increasing your market worth – Although the business scene is constantly changing, your credibility remains important. If you’ve got as far as selling an ebook you’ve published sold on a big retailer, you’ll find people are more likely to ‘trust you’.
- An ebook creation service can be called “passive income” – If you employ the right searchability methods, your works will always remain searchable online for a good length of time. As a result, you can create an ebook and still make money from it even with minimal effort – particularly if it’s on a small scale.
- There are, by now, plenty of book publishers who have either turned to creating ebooks as part of their publishing business (alongside more traditional paper and ink books), or only publish ebooks. This means that the market is now a tad-bit saturated, and it’ll take more time and work to get your ebooks noticed.
- With ebooks now a popular choice for reading material and people more likely to be “ebook connoisseurs”, you’ll need to put as much focus on the content and format quality as you would for traditional books. You have to take that time to create a really good quality book that justifies people shelling out their hard earned money for.
- As many ebooks are cheaper than the paper and ink versions (and they certainly sell at lower prices than other resources and information outlets such as ecourses), you have to sell more ebooks to make money. This may seem like a major disadvantage, but you need to remember that, with lower production costs, you won’t necessarily lose lots of money.
Starting out on the nitty-gritty
This is the all important part of a business, and very often this is the first hurdle to get over. A written version of your business may not be your first priority, especially when you’d rather actually be getting your hands dirty.
But this business plan may be the difference between your getting a loan to start up and invest in your ebook creating business (especially if you’re looking to invest in products such as software, better hardware). It’s also a good basis on which to check how well you’re doing – what’s your plan on developing the business; where do you plan to be by a particular date; what are your projected earnings; do you plan to expand the service to more than just one employee (i.e. yourself).
If you’re struggling with writing it, or simply need advice or a kick-start with template, resources such as these business plan templates from Business News Daily are a good place to begin with.
This is a recommendation found of just about any business start-up – rolling up your sleeves and getting some research done. And yes it is time consuming, but at the end, if you take the time to find how the numbers of people looking for particular things online (or more commonly, what search terms/phrases are the most popular).
This will give you an idea of at least certain niche that you could at least start out on when you’re setting up the business. Put another way, if you’re start off going very niche in areas where there’s very litle interest or very slow sales), you’re not really going to gain much headway. You can use websites such as Google Trends, SimilarWeb or Alexa etc. to help you find out the latest statistics.
Once you’ve found out the most popular search areas for ebooks, you can narrow it down to about 10-20 ideas (and then still further if you need). A basic criteria to ensure that your ebook publishing business at least gets off the ground, is to ensure that there’s at least several tens of thousands of web searches on a particular subject before you take your research on niches any further. This has the obvious benefit of ensuring there will at least be significant sales.
Send out surveys/keep your eyes peeled
Once you’ve taken a look at the market landscape, get just a little bit more research done with the help of surveys. This brief method of feedback ensures that you get the lowdown from people who are interested in a topic or are involved in the business – people are sent through to a website where they can fill out answers to questions you have set.
Generally, these will act as guidelines for the conversion rates for the ebooks (or how popular things are likely to be). Another way of doing this type of research is getting involved in industry groups, as this will give you an indication of the types of discussions going on and any trends.
Survey tools like Survey Monkey and countless others are great for providing detailed analysis of your results, in a way that you can easily digest. If you’re looking for cool (and free) survey tools, check out this list.
Establish a website
This is connected with having a good SEO plan! You’ll definitely be needing a website that will be your platform to advertise and sell ebooks (or at least advertise your services).
This means you can also think about distributing your ebooks (if you prefer, you can link up with distributors such as Clickbank or Ebooks.com for ebook distribution, in exchange for a percentage of sales).
Get a grip on how to use SEO and AdWords
This is a godsend once you know how to use it. Essentially being able to use popular search terms and phrases for ebooks is one of the few ways you can really get your website noticed. Having the right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords essentially means your website will be higher up in the search engine results (it may come in at number 3 or 4, even number 1, rather than number 143) and therefore more likely to be noticed – and at least get you click-through rates and sales.
As the most popular search engine out there, you can try gearing your SEO keywords according to Google search results (using Google AdWords) which will see more click throughs to your website, and therefore more likely to see sales.
SEO and searches are a good way to find out what the market trends are, and what is most likely to be a good ebook creation. If few people want the ebook’s subject matter, you’re better off simply scrapping it altogether rather than go through with publication. It will save you the trouble of taking on ebooks that will bomb, especially after they have been written and you’ve gone to the trouble of actually creating them.
At the beginning, getting to grips with SEO has a habit of being quite daunting, especially when you’re doing all you can to improve the keywords and readability but you still get red alerts! However, there is plenty of advice out there to point you in the right direction. Resources such as Goins, Writer or Backlinko are great places to start when you need SEO advice.
Get legalized (and legal representation)
It’s a hard task keeping track of everything when you’re setting up your own business/service. In the case of getting everything legalized, it’s as well to hand this part over to someone in the know.
Not only does this mean you can free yourself up a little bit more to focus on other parts of setting up the business – but trying to learn the law while simultaneously setting up a business might be a bit too much on the same plate.
Unless you are a great multi-tasker who’s also well versed in the law, it’s as well to leave this to someone who can get all the paperwork in order AND get the taxes in order too (the latter of which is important, as it will at least protect your personal finances).
Join a book publisher’s association
This way, you’ll be able to get the support you need, as well as the latest news and essential product discounts for your business. Publisher’s associations are often the best way to ask questions from the people who know the most, and find your feet.
These forums are also a great way to find out pointers to the best legal advice, copyright changes, discussions, even warnings about potential snags you might face. It may seem like just another expense when you have so much else to pay for, but at least you can start networking!
Ebook publishing software is a must-buy
It may be unnecessary to state the obvious, but which software do you need to create your ebooks with? Although there is now a glut of online resources (some of them free) to create ebooks, there’s nothing quite like creating your own.
For one, it gives you complete freedom on the final design of the ebook, and for another, it does mean that if copyright is particularly important, there’s less risk of someone taking an unauthorized copy of the ebook. A lot of ebook creators use software such as Adobe Acrobat, InDesign and Photoshop for the actual design and creation (there’s a feature that converts the manuscript into ebook form).
Adobe products are pretty much an industry standard in publishing, as they are geared towards putting together items such as magazines, newspapers and books. However, these publishing softwares are quite expensive – if you’re looking for a lower cost set-up at the beginning before investing, take a look at this list provided by Indie Book Launcher. Other free alternatives include Kotobee Author or Blurb as a start.
Another excellent platform to explore is our own array of tools for authoring and hosting, whether in the form of online or offline apps or native mobile apps. Kotobee Author, Kotobee Library and Kotobee Reader may be all you need to start your ebook creation/conversion service.
Make sure you’re good with copyrighting
No author likes to have their work stolen, especially when they’ve spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears to create it in the first place. Make sure you’re au fait with copyrighting laws, and then actually copyright ebooks.
The simple message here is that this ensures nothing gets stolen and your reputation doesn’t suffer. If you’re based in the US, you can start with this resource to get to grips with North American copyright legislation. It would also be as well to check out this page for a more international perspective.
Do you need to hire any extra members of the team?
This really depends on how big a business you’re looking to create and how far along the business plan you are.
But look at your own strengths – are you better at people skills rather than the design and editing? It’s as well to get more people involved who have the skills you need to get your business off the ground.
This is why hiring an ebook designer and editor can be a godsend, as they will design book covers, typeset, proofread and edit the books, and then convert into final Ebook format (whether you’ve decided on a standard ebook PDF style or an interactive one).
Set the pricing for your ebooks
This is a bit of a difficult one, as, on the one hand you don’t want to miss out on potential earnings or sell yourself too cheaply, but on the other hand, you don’t want to put potential buyers off.
If you’re looking for a heads-up on how to price your ebooks, take a look at this article for advice. Of course, you’ll need to factor in items such as costs of websites, employee wages and other wages, as well as author fees and advertising expenses. If sales isn’t exactly your area of expertise, no need to worry, you can click here to learn some basics.
Interesting read: Factors to Consider When Pricing Your Ebook
Keep track of sales
Another obvious point, but one to keep on board nonetheless. This tracking, which can either be in the form of a spreadsheet or other form, will help you figure out how much you need to pay in taxes (both in terms of self-employment and in terms of your business and what your local authorities need), as well as how much you need to pay to authors and others involved.
Bonus tip: pick a niche
As with all things entrepreneurial, every startup does require a lot of blood, sweat and tears. But if you niche yourself, at least to begin with, you’ll be able to really make headway creating a respected ebook publishing service. Think of the publishing house Saqi Books, which focuses on books on the Middle East and North Africa – they have now become the go to publishers for books on the region.
Your chosen niche focus could be more mainstream, such as Young Adults books or Crime Fiction, but if you can create a trust value around your business, you’ll find that sales pick up quite quickly.
As the pointers above illustrate, writing doesn’t have to be a passion, and neither do you need to confine yourself to being the author. Instead, there are now more and more opportunities to self-publish or go with smaller scale digital publishing. It is also a well established fact that technology and the internet have significantly opened up the entrepreneurial doors to anyone willing to roll up their sleeves for a niche idea. We wrote about how to build a business around your writing, to give you a head start.
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