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Surprising self-publishing delays and how ebooks are not so instant after all

Ebooks aren’t quite as instant as you might expect. They certainly aren’t as instant as I expected. A couple of months ago, my friend Rebecca Senese encouraged me not to announce a publication date for my ebooks. Rebecca was an early adopter in the ebook craze and has formatted a ton of her short stories using Smashwords. She knows whereof she speaks…so naturally I considered her advice seriously before stupidly ignoring it.

I thought I could get the formatting and conversion done and once the ebooks were delivered to the various digital platforms, bang! The books would be up and available for at least a couple of weeks before my official launch date of November 1. I wasn’t rushing to publish. Editorially, the books are ready for the big show. Still, self-publishing guru Joe Konrath’s words were probably lurking somewhere in the back of my mind: “A month’s lost sales is a month you’ll never make up.”

Only a couple of months ago, November 1 seemed so far off. It wasn’t an arbitrary date for me…at least it’s not psychologically. That’s when my career odometer turns over. Next Tuesday I am officially no longer a part-time massage therapist and stay-in-the-home-bunker dad. On that date I’m retired from twenty years of clinical practice in the treatment of sports injuries and broken backs and squeezed brains. I’ll be writing and publishing and podcasting full-time…oh my god! Next week! Jesus! Anyway, Rebecca was right, of course. It doesn’t pay to be inflexible because even though you can deliver the books — fully formatted and converted to specs — they still won’t be available for sale right away.

After delivery, Amazon can have your stuff up for sale within two to four business days. Great, right? However, Sony won’t have my ebooks available on their e-reader for weeks! I really wanted to hit the ground running and have all my books available across all digital platforms by the time I switched careers. I hadn’t considered how slow the word “instant” could really be. I’m not beating myself up about it. This is a learning curve and a huge milestone in my life does not translate to a publishing schedule. That’s an emotional attachment I’m putting on a business situation.

I soon decided I would use the delay as an advantage. I had wanted to say the books were available across all digital platforms, but Kobo still isn’t in my mix (and I’m still evaluating the worth of the Kobo platform to me.) I have The Dangerous Kind available most everywhere through Smashwords. All three ebooks are up on Amazon. Sony is the third most popular platform (behind smartphones and Amazon) so the wait is a bit frustrating. I don’t know why Sony takes so much longer than Amazon. I can only assume they don’t have the same resources for the task. However, the procedural delay will allow me to announce new platform availability over time so I can repeat my message and not feel so spammy about it. I also have some advertising plans to evaluate and pbook ARCs to publish so a little more time will allow me to hone them to a sharper edge. (And the paper books will take a long time, too. For sure!)

After all the work and coffee consumption involved in making an idea into a book, there’s nothing instant about the writing and editing process. It’s true for the production process, too, even when we think we’ve taken delays into account. It’s always later than you think!



Filed under: DIY, e-reader, ebooks, Writers, , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. It is funny how long “instant” can take, isn’t it? Don’t turn your back on Kobo! They’ve recently announced different partnerships in the UK and elsewhere. Along with the new Kobo Vox, they seem determined to stay in the ebook/media mix. Besides, I personally think it’s important to have your eggs spread over as many places as possible. And isn’t that a disgusting image?

    Congrats on your soon-to-be status of full time writer/publisher/chief ebook washer!

  2. Chazz says:

    Hm. I was leaning away from Kobo…but I know I ignore your advice at my peril! 🙂

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