The zero cost zero profit model of epub

A lot of epublishers sell their books. Some are in the ‘high cost and high quality’ segment, others in the ‘low cost and high quality’ one. The segment that mainly interested me at the start was zero cost but medium quality. This was ZERO profit too.

So why do zero profit ebooks?

My answer is often ‘why not’? If it doesn’t exist, make it. If it isn’t done like that, try it. I’m VERY against the ‘this is what we’ve always so why change it’ idea. Some people want profits and have the time and effort to make quality work but if it doesn’t sell, they lose out. If they didn’t do initial market research, identify a need, satisfy it and advertise, then they’ll struggle. The problem with that is that you just write for demand and not for what you want.

So, if you want to write what you like and enjoy writing then you run a BIG risk of not selling. If you are OK with that and don’t want all the financial and legal hassles and promotional ones associated with selling ebooks, then great. Many writers work for publishers and are tied to rules and limitations but in self-pub, you can do what you want and so push boundaries.

Some write for free to get known. some write for free to show samples. Me, and quite a few others, do it because we like it. This may be hard for ‘for profit’ mindsets to grasp, perhaps. Especially as teachers don’t work for free. Well, not all of them.

Does everyone like zero cost?

Well, it stands to reason that competitors may not and that some readers may not value free books as much as paid. amazon for instance, doesn’t seem to like free ebooks but Smashwords does which is why I much prefer the latter and is also why several ‘for profit’ epubers don’t use it.

How do you do zero cost ebooks?

Traditional book writers pay for editors, they pay for covers, proofers, maybe typesetters, promotional ads etc etc. That is a BIG cost. Why? Get a friend to edit, another to proof and try making a cover. It’s all fun. If you can manage all that, you literally run your own publishing company.

Is the quality ‘publisher’ standard?

Well, no. If it’s free though, I don’t see how people can complain. I’ve lost count of the amount of below average apps I’ve downloaded but if you get decent proofing, it should be at least readable. Also, not everyone likes every publishers books and some have got tired of the same formats and styles. In comparison, a $3 ‘cool’ ebook with a trendy cover and short content cover ideas, can be very refreshing and make a standard coursebook with stock pics and lots of exercise instructions, look dated.

Publishers have huge teams of people and experts in every corner. If you are trying to compete with that, well, you can’t so why bother?

How can you minimise time but maximise output?

Fast publishing. You know fast fashion? Apply it to publishing. Get an idea, plan it own and then just write as quick as you can and send a copy to friends for feedback. Then, redraft. The old model is based on mots of planning and writing in parts. It takes a long time. Time is money. I wrote my first ebooks in a few hours. They mainly had lists of ideas but they were good ideas and very readable. I aimed at people like me who had short commutes and wanted to get ideas for teaching. From a Marketing angle, this was clearly a niche publishers and even published authors now doing epub were not meeting. I wanted to give them what I wanted to read and what I believed they did. As my proposals were turned down by every organisation, I realised that the idea was not wrong, it was just different. Either I accepted they didn’t want them or I did them on my own. I figured that my ideas were valuable and that I would enjoy writing so I did. It didn’t take long and as I wrote, my method evolved and became more streamlined.

How is the epub writing style different?

For me, it is about style and users. People consume blog content differently to printed and so writers have evolved their style to a more laid back form. Epub is in between blogs and magazines, imo. If anyone has done content writing for FB, blogs, Twitter etc, they’ll understand. Each medium has its own style. In my opinion, you cannot just take a book and publish it as an ebook. You also can’t write the same. Exactly as book writers have to adapt to elearning writing. It’s about diversity and style. An app needs a different style to a book, for instance.

Last words

Epub has opened the gates so that anyone can publish very quickly and they should. We need more diversity and ideas. In the old days, we had to wait for annual catalogues to see the new books. Now, you can find new ebooks online every week on very specific areas and at very cheap prices. Now, we have more choice, which is good. Free epub is interesting to do and you aren’t losing anything and you will make friends and gain many skills.

If you’re interested, this article compare ZERO cost with standard cost and another model where you almost do nothing:

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2009/03/21/self-publishing-costs-nothing/

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