E-book Publishing Success: How anyone can write, compile and sell e-books on the internet
by Kingsley Oghojafor (Chandos Publishing, 2005): 180pp, £42.50 (pbk), ISBN 978 1843340997.
Reviewed by David Penfold
This book is obviously intended for the self-publisher (or perhaps the small publisher). However, I suspect that it needs to be about half its current price to appeal to that market unless the buyer is very serious about the topic (when maybe this book will not provide enough – or the most appropriate – information).
There is also a clue in the titles of the author's own e-books, most beginning with 'How to': How to make money designing websites; How to make money working from home; How to browse websites without internet connection. The last one intrigues me somewhat, but maybe it is targeted at the author's home (Nigerian) market.
Writing and compiling
Nevertheless, let's look at what the book offers. Part 1 is about 'Writing and compiling your e-book'. This is a slightly strange mixture in that it has not only technical advice on producing an e-book, including preparing the cover and protecting copyright, but also advice on choosing a subject, researching and writing the book. The technical information is clearly presented and easy to understand, although now rather out of date (which the author aims to remedy by referring readers to the book's website – see below).
In addition, quite a lot of what is provided simply consists of links to programs that can be used for specific purposes and a description of these programs. The other sections, which can perhaps be described as inspirational, somehow seem rather out of place and repeat what can be found in other books (and on websites) about self-publishing.
Publishing and marketing
Part 2 is about publishing and marketing the e-book (to 'millions of people'). It starts by explaining how to upload the e-book to the web, although, presumably because this book was published in 2005, it assumes that you will use your own website. With the changes that have taken place since then, it is now more likely, I believe, that self-publishers will use other sites, including, of course, Amazon. These are not referred to here, although there is a list of them in a later chapter.
The second chapter of Part 2 is about designing a website, but is very basic and also covers writing the sales letter, which is aimed at the reader. This seems a slightly strange concept for a website; maybe the term 'sales letter' needs changing. The chapter almost ends with discussion of domain names and hosting, again OK but providing information that is fairly widely available. Then, the last section is on sales literature (by which the author really means advertisements). This is a strange juxtaposition and, if it is to be included, a single page hardly seems to do the topic justice.
Then we come on to selling the e-book. There is some useful information about credit cards, but nothing about PayPal, and then a list of what the author calls 'e-book publishers and vendors' (but not Amazon), plus a few paragraphs about them. This section really needs expanding and updating.
It is followed by a chapter on free ways of promoting and marketing the e-book. This includes a little on search engine optimisation, although the term is not used, but nothing about the use of social networks, blogs and viral marketing, another sign of the age of the book. There is then discussion of using free articles, which also seems rather dated, although here viral distribution is mentioned.
The remaining chapters are on using demo versions (free excerpts), which is now a common approach, and e-zines, forums and discussion groups (the forerunners of Facebook), sending to reviewers (although again blogs are not mentioned), using affiliate programs, which is a useful chapter, and using autoresponders (which send emails to those who visit the web page and about which I have serious reservations as the results can be regarded as spam), but nothing about analysing the statistics that you can gain about users of your website (if you have one).
The final two chapters are on offline promotion of the e-book, essentially about press releases (I suspect a rather forlorn hope) and day-to-day marketing. The latter reminds me of an excellent dissertation written by Zoë Foster, a recent student on the MA Publishing course at the London College of Communication. In this, she demonstrates that, while it is relatively easy to produce a book (or, indeed, an e-book), marketing it and selling it are much more difficult and take a great deal of time. If the self-publisher is willing to give this time, that's fine, but if what they really want to do is write, then self-publishing is not such a good idea!
Out of date
So, I come back to where I started. Who is this book aimed at? It doesn't really seem to fit with the other books in this series, some of which are very significant. It is overtly popular in tone and, as I have indicated, is a rather strange mixture of technical information and what might be called inspirational advice.
It is really addressing the wrong market; the Chandos books are aimed at academics and professionals and the price reflects that. This book might well sell at £10 to £15, but it needs to have been published by a more populist publisher. However, it is now significantly out of date, with no reference to e-readers or iPads (or even iPhones) nor to social networks and blogs, so it no longer provides current advice to the reader (unless the website does this).