Ebooks – faster to the finish line

I gave a bit of a talk down at the Springwood Fellowship of Australian Writers last Sunday afternoon. They were kind enough to invite me to have a chat about ebooks and ebook publishing. Silly people – one of my favourite topics!

Mostly I talked about ebook readers and the benefits of same so that as writers they could get a handle on what their readers were doing, but then I talked about ebooks from their point of view, why they might find it convenient to e-publish rather than print publish.

Free image courtesy of Jon Whiles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

One of the comparisons I drew was that of the time it takes to develop and release a print book compared with an ebook, and it’s true. As I explained, if you come to me on Monday morning with your final, edited manuscript in ‘Word’, I can potentially source a cover image, create a cover, format the guts of your book and have it online, ready for sale, by 10am. Yep, that’s right, an hour from go to whoa!

Compare that with a print book which needs to be laid out according to the printer’s specs, obtain your ISBN and barcode, layout your cover (front, back AND spine), send it off to the printer’s, wait for a proof copy to check (because you just don’t know how things will look for sure until it’s laid out), place the order to print, wait for the printed copies to be delivered … if the book is truly ready to go at 9am Monday, you could feasibly have your printed copies in your hand within a month. Maybe.

But the reality of it is that it actually takes something like six to 18 months to get the average book into print form, and while an hour from go to whoa to get an ebook out there would involve fast formatting, virtually no technical hiccups and quick, mutual agreement as to cover design, it is still a much quicker and easier proposition to publish an ebook.

And now, I’ve noticed today that Smashwords is ‘shipping’ more frequently to their supply chain, so publishers who use Smashwords are verging ever closer to that real time updating, right across the e-publishing marketplace. Read more about the Smashwords delivery updates here.

Ah, such exciting times we live in!

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