After hundreds of years with a single business model, the book publishing business is experiencing huge upheavals and transformations. Publishers are facing a possible future where the only people that matter are the authors and their readers! Traditional publishing does have the expertise and resources for book production, distribution and marketing no individual can hope to match. But with a great graphic designer and maybe a freelance editor, you can break into the publishing field. Let’s talk with Bret Edge, http://www.bretedge.com, http://www.efotoguide.com
Piscopo: How did you get started self-publishing books?
Bret Edge: I co-developed a series of iPhone apps and when sales of the apps plummeted, I decided to re-purpose the content into an eBook. I thought that the eBook would be more successful since it wasn’t device dependent.
Piscopo: What are the biggest changes you have seen in the photography book market in the last few years?
Bret Edge: The most noticeable change I’ve observed is a transition from books that cover a topic in very general terms to eBooks with a much narrower focus. Just a few years ago there were dozens of books that covered the fundamentals of nature/landscape photography, but now there are many excellent eBooks covering topics like using a tilt/shift lens and implementing flash for outdoor adventure photography. These are very specific niches that simply weren’t covered not long ago.
Piscopo: What have been the biggest problems or obstacles you have run into when shopping for your eBook or print book production services?
Bret Edge: Cost. It is not an inexpensive venture to create a well-designed eBook. There’s no shortage of companies and individual designers capable of producing very high quality eBooks but the associated cost is huge. I would start by finding a talented designer but it is tough. There are a handful of large companies who specialize in eBook design and they’re generally a good place to start, although their prices are often higher. I prefer to give work to people I know and trust. Ask friends and fellow photographers who they use for design/production and then contact them. Take a look at their portfolio and compare rates. I like to do this because friends aren’t going to recommend someone with whom they’ve had a negative experience so I think you’re more likely to find a good match.
Piscopo: What seems to work best to sell the books given the different marketing tools available?
Bret Edge: I’ve found limited success with social media marketing, specifically Facebook and Twitter. What seems to work the best is getting the eBook in the hands of other bloggers and influencers for review. Also, there’s very real value in honest to goodness, objective user reviews.
Piscopo: What recommendations can you add to help our readers be successful in this particular market?
Bret Edge: Focus your energy on really good content and design with a logical, easy to use layout. Make it very simple for people to download and use your eBook. Develop a marketing plan BEFORE you invest in design and production. Start by doing some research to determine if there is a big enough market for the topic you want to cover.