These are exciting times for writers—new techniques and technologies speed writing and expand your toolbox. There was a time when writers were rarely published in more than one edition, and those editions were limited to hardcover, softcover and mass-market paperback. Today, you have more ways than ever to deliver your message to readers across the world.
If you look up Dreamcatcher by Stephen King at an online bookstore, you'll find it's available in seven editions: hardcover, mass-market paperback, audio cassette, audio CD, large-print hardcover, e-book and audio download.
You can do the same. Consider producing your book in several formats to accommodate the preferences of your readers: print, electronic, audio and more.
Print vs. electronic
Most people hold authors and books in high esteem. Since a printed book provides more credibility than an e-book, you usually will want to print your book first. Then you can turn out the other editions.
Most people today still prefer the print edition, but a growing number of people choose e-books, which can be immediately downloaded, electronically searched and read on a hand-held device. Also, e-versions may have color photographs and drawings, video clips and sound files—not to mention referenced URLs that the reader can click on.
So how do you create such an e-version? Once the book is written, pour it into a page layout program such as Adobe PageMaker or inDesign or QuarkXPress. (You may want to have a designer friend assist.) Then convert it to an Adobe Acrobat PDF file and burn it to a CD. Acrobat converts the text file to an image file, the format preferred by book printers. Acrobat can convert the text file for an offset (ink) printer, a digital book printer or for download (to be read on a screen). It takes only minutes to convert your manuscript into all three.
If page layout programs aren't your forte, Acrobat 5.0 integrates with Microsoft Office (including Microsoft Word). When installed, Acrobat automatically adds a toolbar button in Word. A single click brings up the PDF Maker output plug-in. PDF has become easy to use, predictable, and it saves time and money. More information about Acrobat can be found at www.adobe.com/products/acrobat.
World of possibilities
Don't overlook the benefits of producing an audio edition. The information will be the same, and the script is already written. Some consumers want to read your book, but do not have time to read. Some commute long distances and would rather listen to your book. Your information should be available in any format your reader wants—meaning you shouldn't stop at audio alone!
Your workshop will be your w-book, your speech your s-book and your consulting your c-book. All of these activities are derived from your Work (with a capital W), your core content. The formats or editions are different, but the information is the same.
As John Kremer, author of 1,001 Ways to Market Your Book (Ad-Lib Publications), says, your $20 printed book could also be a $6 downloadable edition, a $70 audio cassette album, a $150 video package, a $600 seminar and a $300/hour consulting session.
An International Standard Book Number should be ascribed to each edition of a Work. The purpose of the ISBN is to assure that those who order get what they want and expect. A customer who orders a hardcover edition will probably be disappointed to get the audio CD. So, today, we need a lot more ISBNs than we used to. See www.isbn.org for more information.
As for distribution, 85 distributors across North America handle print books. Some handle audio books as well. For other editions, you should deal with another distributor or store. Some dealers, for example, specialize in selling downloads. To sell your e-books and a-books, investigate the opportunities at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, CyclopsMedia.com and Booklocker.com.
Focus on your print book first, and know that you will be spinning off several editions from your basic manuscript or Work. The collective result will provide a much better chance of making a living while making a difference.
There is more than one way to publish a Work. Your book will be more than a book.
This article appeared in the February issue of Writer's Digest.