One of the original forms of content marketing is publishing a good old-fashioned book. It’s not the book sales that make most business authors wealthy, but what they can do because they’ve written a book — consulting, speaking engagements, and more.
But here’s the twist. A recent report out a few weeks ago that electronic books are outselling paperback books, and Apple expects to sell more than 28 million iPads by the end of 2011. So it’s no surprise that a lot of writers want to know how they can get a new-fangled electronic book into the iBookstore.
Getting your book into the iBookstore can be a low-cost and profitable route that exposes your work to entirely new markets. But getting a book approved by Apple isn’t a simple process.
You need to follow specific guidelines for preparing and publishing in order to avoid time-consuming headaches and a rejection email.
This post offers you a step-by-step guide to preparing and publishing your book for submission to the Apple iBookstore.
Preparing your book for electronic publication
It is important to make sure that once readers download your digital book, they have a really good experience with it. That’s what gets them to mention it to others, talk it up on social media sites, and rate it well.
Part of ensuring a good digital experience is in the editing process. This post on BubbleCow discusses some really important elements of self-editing.
You also need good design. Great covers sell books. And with digital books, it’s doubly important to capture reader attention, since the icons are small and there is so much to see at one time.
A couple of places to look for quality cover designers are 2H Designs (UK) and The Book Designer (US). Whether you use those services or not, they’ll give you a good idea of the types of design services out there.
Self publishing for the iBookstore
Apple’s distribution system for the iPad is a free app called iBooks. This app allows you to buy and download books from the iBookstore.
Apple doesn’t have too many restrictions on the books that can be uploaded to the iBookstore, but individual writers are not able to directly upload titles.
In that case, you must be wondering why I am writing this guide. Well, as it turns out, Apple has appointed a number of iBookstore aggregators that are approved to submit books to the iBookstore for you.
Here are some things to take into consideration before you get started with an aggregator:
Cover Image. You will need a quality book cover image (JPEG) and it must be a vertical rectangle shape at least 600 pixels tall. The cover should include both the title and the author name. It cannot be a greyscale image and it cannot contain hyperlinks or web site addresses. Also, keep the image PG-13 (no nudity).
Content Restrictions. You must be the original author, or exclusive digital publisher or distributor. Apple strictly forbids content that encourages illegal activities, promotes intolerance or discrimination, invades the privacy of any person, or that slanders or libels a person or organization. Erotica that depicts underage people engaged in or witnessing sexual acts is totally off-limits, in addition to being just plain wrong.
Pricing. Apple prices ebooks in 99-cent increments, so you are encouraged to do the same.
ISBN. You need to get an ISBN for your ebook. Most aggregators have services that will automatically assign you one.
Get your books into the iBookstore
Now that you have your book edited, a cover created, your pricing set, and have had it checked for content, you are ready to use an aggregator and get your digital book into the iBookstore. (One important thing to know before you move forward: you retain all copyrights and intellectual property rights to your books.)
I’ll take Lulu as an example of the steps you’ll go through to get your digital book into the iBookstore. The steps are very similar for all aggregators.
- ePub format. ePub is the format Apple accepts for ebooks. Lulu has a service that will run a special ePub checker and then convert your book into the proper format that is guaranteed to pass Apple’s strict guidelines. You can also submit the ePub file yourself using any number of ePub services as well as Apple’s own Pages program. If you want a speedy process, I would suggest using the aggregator’s services to avoid any technical holdups.
- Cover image. You will need your cover image to upload along with your ebook in ePub format.
- ISBN. Lulu will assign your book an ISBN as part of their regular service.
- Upload. You can now upload all your files and supply all of the necessary information about your book.
- Get Paid. Apple retains 30% of all revenue from sales on the iBookstore. The publisher (that’s you) receives 80% of the remaining revenue and Lulu receives 20%. Or you can pay Lulu a one-time fee and you won’t pay them any additional commissions.
That’s it. You now have your very own book in the Apple iBookstore for sale.
Now, of course, it’s time to market it. But that’s another post …