How to Publish an E-Book: Resources for Authors

E-Book Publishing 101

About the only thing that remains constant in e-book publishing is that it changes—everything from the services to marketing strategies. Here, I’ve attempted to round-up all the good resources I know of related to (1) learning to publish an e-book, (2) finding the right e-publishing services, and (3) staying on top of changes in the industry.

Excellent Book-Length Guides

Getting Started & Principles

Producing a Solid Product

Sales, Marketing, and Promotion

Getting Reviews

Tools for Creating & Formatting E-Books

  • Scrivener: this writing software is not free, but it can export EPUB files
  • Calibre: free formatting and conversion software for ebooks
  • StreetLib: free web-based tool that can also handle distribution and sales if you want
  • EasyEdit: easy-to-use software for PC users that generates ebooks for Kindle (trial version is free)
  • Jutoh: free software for creating e-books, paid version available with more functionality
  • PressBooks: free formatting tool (up until a point), WordPress-based
  • Apple Pages (can export EPUB files)
  • Vellum: easy-to-use software for Mac users only to produce EPUB files
  • Here’s a list of educational resources and tools if you want to learn about ebook formatting and development.

Tools for Creating Enhanced, Multimedia, or Full-Color E-Books

Major E-Book Retailers

Note: for reviews and insight into all of these retailers and more, read the reviews at The Independent Publishing Magazine by Mick Rooney

  • Amazon. Sells 60-80% of all e-books, more for some authors and titles.
  • Apple iBookstore. Widely considered the No. 2 ebook retailer in U.S.
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Press. Considered No. 3 e-book retailer in U.S.
  • Kobo. Gaining ground, international presence. Important for the Canadian market.

Major E-Book Distributors & Services

Note: for reviews and insight into all of these retailers and more, read the reviews at The Independent Publishing Magazine by Mick Rooney

  • Smashwords. The largest ebook distributor of self-published titles
  • Draft2Digital. Similar to Smashwords, but smaller and more customer-service focused
  • BookBaby. You pay for a publishing package upfront (which includes ebook formatting), then you receive 100% of net sales.
  • eBookPartnership. Compare with the services above and see which fits your needs best.

To Find Freelance Help

Usually a referral is best; ask successful authors in your genre who they recommend. Otherwise, here are a few options:

Authors Who Blog About E-Book Publishing

News & Trends About E-Book Publishing

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Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. From 2001–2010 she worked at Writer's Digest, where she ultimately became publisher; more recently, she was an editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she led digital strategy. Jane currently teaches writing and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. The Great Courses just released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017). Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.
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  1. Pingback: How to Publish an Ebook: Resources for Authors ...

  2. Pingback: How to Publish an E-Book: Resources for Authors...

  3. Thanks! Your resources list saves me a bunch of time. I’m teaching an online grad course called Publishing Inside Out and was looking for just such a set of current links re ebooks and related content. Fabulous!

  4. Uh! Quite resourceful. I will definitely take my time to evaluate each and see whats really suitable for me. Couldn’t have asked for more. Thanks, Jane.

  5. As always, thanks to you, the tools are at hand. I put a link to this permalink under my resources page. Thanks for everything. So wish I could join the class, but I will send out word.

  6. Jane, this is an absolutely awesome collection of resources! We will be sharing this link and posting it to our indy author bulletin board. Thank you!!

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  15. Jane, this couldn’t happen at a better time…I greatly appreciate the time and effort you spent in developing this terrific piece…

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    • that’s an understatement. I only wish I had found this at the beginning of my journey, and not in the final stretch. . .

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  23. I just found this post and love it. It was exactly what I needed. I would like to publish an ebook, and am trying to figure out if I will be selling it or giving it away for free on my blog…

    Hopefully I will be able to find some answers here!

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  25. Great to find so many resources on one page. lots of good tips. In my view, it’s probaly best to use Kindle DP or Smashwords for ebooks
    and CreateSpace for print copy. Clearly it’s very expensive to publish
    if you pay for all the professional services. The compensation is that
    your royalty will be 20% to 85%, rather than 3%-12%. But remember that
    most specialist or self-published books sell fewer than 200 copies. None the less you should aim for quality and work hard!

  26. Pingback: How to Publish an E-Book: Resources for Authors...

  27. Jane:

    Thanks so much for this awesome compendium! I have benefited greatly from other postings of yours as well. I do have one question, however. I absolutely MUST get an editor for my historical fiction novel but am also unemployed. I have heard from others about Movable Type Management/Rogue Pricing, which offers editing for a small take of the profits (which seems wholly fair to me) though I would be open to other similar entities. I don’t find much here in this list addressing editors and outfits such as MTM, unless I am overlooking something.

    My novel is around 260,000 words, literary, and also contains numerous ergodic passages as well as nearly a dozen full-color images. Putting this together by myself in a format that is adaptable to multi-channel distribution is obviously daunting, and while I definitely want to publish it as an ebook I need some of these more pseudo-publisher services. Any sources/recommendations?

    I would be most grateful for any advice you have.


    • As far as I know, even outfits like Rogue Reader have a submissions/acceptance process; you can’t offer a profit share and expect to be assisted for free without them reviewing the work and deciding it’s something they want to invest time into. (However, if you can provide a link to a page that explains otherwise, I’d definitely like to see it.)

      If you don’t want to pay anything for editing, your best bet is to get involved in online writing communities where writers serve as each others beta readers. Wattpad, Authonomy, and BookCountry are some of the most active and popular communities.

      Good luck.

      • Thank you, Jane, for such a prompt reply. And, well, if that’s true about Rogue (as it seems it might be), then, with the kind of work I’ve written, that puts me back to Square One. My reasoning was taken from an article by a Writer’s Digest article I saw from June of this year by Brian Klems entitled “How Can the Average Writer Make Money Self-publishing Ebooks.” The link is:

        He said this re: Rogue Reader/MTM:

        “• Rogue Pricing. Jason Allen Ashlock is president of Movable Type Management, a literary agency that launched the e-book assisted publishing imprint The Rogue Reader in October 2012.

        Rogue Reader authors might have the best of both worlds. They’re self-published, and yet MTM gives them the kind of editorial, promotional and managerial support an author might expect from a traditional publisher—for a cut of the profits, of course. (Rogue Reader authors receive from MTM a 70 percent cut of a retailer’s split, which Ashlock says typically works out to 50–60 percent of each book’s list price.)”

        The word “Rogue” in their name to me (along with “self-published” in the article excerpt quoted) implied a model outside traditional publishing, but I guess I did not parse all this correctly. The language in the excerpt states editorship FOR a cut of the profits, not “in addition to” an editing fee. Still, they are an agency. Under “Contact” on their website they have a link for sending “submissions” so you may be right. Also, at least for now, they seem to concentrate solely on crime/thriller fiction, so I’m out altogether. Thank you for the other suggestions and I can certainly look at those.

        • Indeed, it’s pretty confusing out there. Rogue Reader is a new model of publishing, what I generally call partnership publishing. You don’t pay to get published, nor do they pay you an advance. It’s a profit-share model, and they invest in things like editing, design, etc. But like a traditional publisher, you still have to get your work accepted, and their selectivity, from what I hear, is on the same level as trying to gain acceptance by an agent or Big Five house.

          • OK, thanks again, Jane. Maybe not what I wanted to hear, but certainly what I NEEDED to hear. I had overlooked the brief mention I saw of beta readers somewhere thinking I wouldn’t need it, but I guess I need to give that a more in-depth look.

  28. Hi Jane, I saw you a couple years ago at your e-publishing presentation in Portland, Oregon. I wonder if you could address the image issue in ebooks? I see Vook listed as a good option. I plan to publish a guide ebook to food and it requires many images, maps and icons. Will including many images be a drawback for distributing my guide on Amazon, etc? Can BookBaby handle heavy image use, or is Vook the best bet?

    Thanks so much for all your insights!


    • Hi Reg,

      If you only have 1 ebook in the works (with heavy images in full color), I would recommend iBooks Author, assuming you’re a Mac user.

      If you don’t use Mac (or if distribution to non-Apple devices is important to you), then try (As a final option: AerBook Maker.)

      Images do pose a challenge for distributing to non-Mac ebook reading devices, but you should be able to make some impact by using the platform.

  29. In the
    Creating & Formatting E-Books (Technical Stuff), please add Jutoh, a WYSIWYG design/editing program that builds your ebook. You can try it out for free or buy one of two versions. The $39 version is fine unless you need to have complete control over the HTML an CSS coding. Can be found here: The graphic user interface is a lot like OpenOffice and Word, allowing great flexibility in design of your ebook.

  30. There are many writers write eBook but they have not idea about publishing eBook. The information related publishing eBook will help all authors who need detail about eBook publishing.

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  32. I’m developing my first eBook and I’m 95% there. I intend to give this away free, never make a dime from the eBook itself but use it for lead generation. Are there legal considerations, a disclaimer, or anything else I need to include in the text before I make it available?

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  44. Thanks for including me on your resource list, Jane. I liked your podcast interview with Joanna Penn. :)

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  47. I am just in the process of getting my book editing, and now thinking about my next steps in terms of publishing! Awesome list to kick start my research :)

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  68. How and where can a prison inmate get a book of poems written by him over a forty year period looked at by a publisher to see if a profit can be made? He has no way of using a computer he can only write and receive mail. He asked me to look into this for him. Thanking you in advance for any help you can suggest.

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  72. Awesome work Jane, we love this collection. You put a lot of energy and time in it, thank you. We learned from our clients how hard it is to bring your writing project to fly.

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