Many tools for self-publishers have gotten so good that they’re maturing to serve groups, co-ops and small press with cloud-based and collaborative features. Here’s a range of tools and services you might consider if you’re growing, or growing out of, your current suite of tools. Remember, you’re not the only one who’s growing — many of these companies are expanding and implementing new features constantly, so please be patient if you experiences a few glitches here and there. Here are the tools I cover in this piece:
- Leanpub for iterative publishing
- Pubslush for crowdfunding
- Pressbooks for book production, with INscribe for distribution
- O’Reilly Atlas for collaboration and book production
- BitLit for offering your print book readers the e-book version
- Slicebooks for slicing and remixing your books
Produce and publish books using Leanpub in PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats and also link to your publisher home page. Set a publisher verso page, copyright message, company logo, and other common elements to be applied to each book. Take advantage of pay-what-you-want pricing by setting minimum and suggested prices such as $4.99 – $10.99. Publish beta books, books in progress, serials, subscriptions, and series with Leanpub, updating your readers automatically when the book is updated. You can also pay your author automatically through Leanpub, or set up a donation to a cause. Here’s a video by co-founder Peter Armstrong that walks you through the process of setting up a publishing company on Leanpub. I’ve used Leanpub, and I like it. Books are made using simple markup language and sent to Dropbox, along with images and other assets, to build a simple book very quickly. It also allows for group access, so trusted editors and collaborates can replace files.
Pubslush is a crowdfunding platform just for books. Their publisher program gives you access to their crowdfunding technology so you can test out the viability of books before you sign the author, not to mention raising funds in advance of publication. Crowdfunding gives you direct access to readers and the platform provides analytics, too.
Pressbooks is a robust, fully featured publishing tool based on the open-source WordPress blog and content management platform. The tool outputs your books to PDF and EPUB, and they have a beautiful set of CSS-driven book design templates. Sell books with your favorite distributor or partner with INscribe Digital to distribute books to Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Kobo. The tool lives in the cloud, so contributors and collaborators can also work on your books. Like WordPress, you can browse and revert to previous versions. PBS MediaShift has created several books with PressBooks, and we like it.
BitLit’s got an interesting proposition for you. Imagine all those readers who bought your print books. You’ve considered them lost forever, right? Well, how about this … You offer the owners of your print books a bargain on the e-book version, or even a free e-book. They write their name on the title page of the print book, log in to the BitLit app and take a photo, and sign in to their Google+ account (the only social media platform with a real name policy, and they get the book. You get their email address.
Upload your books into Slicebooks. It slices them into chapters and sections. Remix your catalog into completely new titles with new covers. Or offer the slices for sale separately, so readers can remix your book slices with any other slice sold in the Slicebooks store. Travel books? Anthologies? Cookbooks? Imagine the possibilities.
The great thing about these tools is that they’re all nonexclusive and easy to try (with the exception of O’Reilly Atlas, at this writing). So there’s no reason you shouldn’t be experimenting with all of them to see which ones you, your editorial and design team, and your authors like.
Carla King is an author, a publishing consultant, and founder of the Self-Publishing Boot Camp program providing books, lectures and workshops for prospective self-publishers. She has self-published her adventure travel stories since 1994 on the internet and in print. She authored PBS MediaShift’s How to Self-Publish Your Book: A Practical Guide to Creating and Distributing Your Ebook or Print Book, which describes today’s self-publishing landscape. A great companion book is her step-by-step Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, found on SelfPubBootCamp.com.