Authors, Books, Business Models, Experimentation, Marketing, Reading, Research, Technology, Tools, World of Tomorrow

The Meatgrinder and eBooks founder an...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

My little self-publishing saga continues. The novel I’ve published is now listed on (in print and for the Kindle), and at Barnes & Noble (print only). It’s available on the iPhone through Smashwords. It’s out for review with some online review sites. Advertising is placed in AdWords, Yahoo! Sponsored Search, and Facebook. My first signing is scheduled, and another is in the works. And the printed editions have arrived, and they look great.

Whew! This is a lot of work!

This post is about making the ebook (Kindle and iPhone) versions, and just how easy it was. I can’t imagine publishing being any more frictionless, but it takes a lot of basic infrastructure (PDF, broadband, .zip, .jpg) to make it so.

For an author, however, epublishing is a simple option with a small audience.

  • The Kindle version. Publishing to the Kindle was pretty effortless. I just had to upload cover art and the Word doc of the finished book, set my price, and wait for Amazon to process the files. File processing took a lot longer than I think it should have, given how clean the Word file was. Amazon promises 12-72 hours, but it took 96+ hours, far longer than expected.
  • The iPhone version. I’ve installed Stanza on my iPhone as its ebook reader, and found a catalog entry for Smashwords there. It’s a company that lets self-published authors get their works on the iPhone, set their pricing, and free preview percentage (10% free, for example). Their file processing engine they’ve affectionately dubbed “the Meatgrinder.” It works very well, and quickly. You just load your cover and Word doc, fill out a couple of online forms, upload the files, and it’s published. They even have a nice, multiformat style guide. As you set your price, a handy pie chart shows you your share, their share, and a small fee slice (still their share, but a different flavor of pie, I suppose). I initially uploaded the wrong Word file (I was in a hurry), discovered the mistake, and re-uploaded the right one. The correction was seamless and immediate.

From a business perspective, I can set the price of ebook versions much lower and actually make more per sale than I will for print. Printed books eat their prices with manufacturing and shipping. These necessities of print squeeze costs toward the market’s price point for content. However, the market’s price point for digital content is lower than for print, and may be closer to free than I’d like to think. I’m charging for my iPhone version, but activity has been slight. I don’t think there’s a market there yet.

From an author’s perspective, there’s a lot to be said for digital sales. I can fix files on my own, see sales immediately, review site traffic, and tune the administrative aspects quickly. It’s almost addictive, and it beats a quarterly or semi-annual royalty statement for information and timeliness.

Publishing in digital formats is simple and frictionless. As the world continues to move toward print-on-demand and purchase-on-demand, this digital infrastructure will keep evolving, bringing more variety to the consumer.

But is the consumer going to be there?

(Next week — the value of aesthetics, control, craft, and print.)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

About Kent Anderson

I am the Founder of Caldera Publishing Solutions, a consultancy specializing in informed growth and smart strategy for academic, scientific, and scholarly publishers. I have worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of the STRIATUS/JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are my own.


5 thoughts on “The Meatgrinder and eBooks

  1. Excellent article.

    Posted by readitonline | Feb 18, 2009, 8:27 am
  2. thank you for writing about this.

    Posted by thorn | Feb 18, 2009, 4:12 pm


  1. Pingback: Craft, Control, and Aesthetics = Print « The Scholarly Kitchen - Feb 24, 2009

  2. Pingback: Learning from Books — Lessons for STM Publishers « The Scholarly Kitchen - Sep 2, 2009

  3. Pingback: Smashwords – The Essential Piece of the Puzzle : Becoming A Writer – Seriously - Feb 5, 2010

The Scholarly Kitchen on Twitter

Find Posts by Category

Find Posts by Date

February 2009
« Jan   Mar »
The mission of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) is "[t]o advance scholarly publishing and communication, and the professional development of its members through education, collaboration, and networking." SSP established The Scholarly Kitchen blog in February 2008 to keep SSP members and interested parties aware of new developments in publishing.
The Scholarly Kitchen is a moderated and independent blog. Opinions on The Scholarly Kitchen are those of the authors. They are not necessarily those held by the Society for Scholarly Publishing nor by their respective employers.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 20,334 other followers

%d bloggers like this: