November 6, 2015

Why Digital First?

By Leeann Betts

There is much discussion in the publishing world about whether e-Publishing is “real publishing” or not. And it seems that the answer to that question depends on which side of the publishing desk one is sitting.

With the marked growth in Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, and other e-publishers, “digital first” has become a way for independent authors to publish their books, get their names in front of readers, and create a selling history in the hopes of attracting a traditional publisher.

Here are the steps I took to e-publish my first two books.
1.     Polish the book—regardless whether the book is available in print or digitally, put your best foot forward. Readers know bad writing, and they won’t buy another book with your name on it, even if they only have to pay 99 cents for it. And they’ll tell all their friends not to buy.
2.     Do the legal stuff—if you don’t have a business name, set one up. I set up a separate entity with a name that looked like a publishing company, because e-publishing is still publishing.
3.     Copyright is the right thing to do—register your book. Wait until you have the final version, because once you upload the manuscript, any change made to the title, author, or body of the book will require you to register—and pay for—another copyright. You can do this at
4.     Buy the ISBN—this is the unique identifier for your book. Even an e-Book needs an ISBN. The good news is that you can use the same ISBN for each digital version of the book. You buy these at . I bought the (gulp) package of 100 ISBN’s. I dream big.
5.     Decide where you want to release the book— is the largest e-Book retailer, but there are others. Nook and Smashwords are two I chose in addition to Amazon. If you work on a Mac, you can also publish to the Apple store. Each venue has advantages and disadvantages. Smashwords lets you put out a coupon. All of these venues will allow you to upload the manuscript in advance of the actual launch date. Try different options for different books and see what works best for you.
6.     Design a cover—I made the decision early to design my own cover. I took high quality photographs, about 20 of them, from different angles, positioning the elements in the photos in different positions, then chose the one I liked best, using Photoshop to design the cover. I plan to use the same cover on the print version when that time comes.
7.     Tell everybody—create a group in your email program of everybody who might be remotely interested in your book or will tell others about your book. Then send an exciting call-to-action email to them.

Hopefully, all this hard work will result in a best seller and the phone will start ringing from publishers. But even if it doesn’t, you will have the satisfaction of answering in the affirmative when someone asks, “A writer? Are you published?”
Leeann Betts is the alter ego of Donna Schlachter. Both live and write in Denver, Colorado. Leeann writes contemporary suspense, while Donna pens historical suspense. When they aren’t coming up with another story that involves a body in a closet or an ax murderer on the loose, they can be found at,,, or You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. WRITING AS LEEANN BETTS: Counting the Days: a 31-day devotional for accountants,bookkeepers, and financial folk and No Accounting for Murder, Book 1 of By the Numbers series, recently released as an eBook at,, and RECENTLY RELEASED BY DONNA SCHLACHTER: Second Cups and Second Chances – sweet stories of second chances from a God of second chances. Available at and Kindle KDP Select.

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