I’ve been asked a lot of questions recently about various subjects related to digital publishing and figured I’d post my answers to the blog where everyone can see them.

[If you’d like to ask me a question, use the form on the contact page.]

Q. The ebook covers/images – do you buy the images from stock photo websites? Make them yourself? Order from some online freelancer?

A. I buy the images for most of my covers from iStockPhoto. Some of the photos I use are my own photos. I’ve used pics from publicdomainpictures.net (and all of those are totally free). I design and make the covers myself.

Q. Can you make an ebook of your own articles which you already published on your blogs? (So they would be almost 100% copy paste)?  Opposite to the above, can you publish chapters of your ebook into your blog (copy paste)?

A. I assume this question is targeted more at Kindle ebooks, because you can make and sell your own PDF ebooks about whatever you want. Yep, you can make a Kindle ebook that is 100% copied and pasted blog content. That’s not a problem. You can also publish chapters of your book as blog content. It’s your content, you can do what you want with it. Whether people will pay for content they can get for free on your blog, however, is another question.

Q. Do you strictly target 10,000 words and $2.99 price or you write as long/short as you wish and put the $2.99 price?

A. This question refers to my post about writing 6 Kindle books in 6 weeks, in which I mention that the ebooks I was planning on writing would be around 10,000 words in length and that I’d charge $2.99 for each one.

I think that $2.99 is a fair price for a 10,000-word nonfiction book. But having said that, my 26,000-word rock climbing ebook is still $2.99, as is my few-thousand-word Spanish cognates ebook. I think that the $2.99 price point is great for authors (who make about $2 on each sale after Amazon takes its cut) and readers (because come on, who can’t afford a $2.99 ebook?).

For most of the nonfiction books that I will write in the future, I’ll aim for at least 10,000 words per book. In my opinion, it marks the point of being both easy to write and substantial enough to charge for.

Q. I notice you use your name for all your ebooks. I spoke to some other publishers, they use a different pen name per topic. What is the benefit of using your name for everything? Are you not concerned that friends/family/internet people can google your name and find all your “businesses” – I ask this because I read a lot in the forums about always trying to minimize your “footprint”.

A. When it comes to Kindle books, if you’re a legitimate writer and not just trying to trick them into buying your ebook, I see no reason to hide your niches. The benefit is that people can look at the multiple books I’ve written and know that I’m a real person, not just random some jerk writer trying to scam someone out of $2.99. Everything I’ve written has good reviews, and this lets people know that I am an author of quality material.

Am I afraid that people will steal my ebook ideas and niches? No. It’s not as easy to write and publish an ebook as it is to, say, create a little niche blog and put AdSense ads on it. The barrier to entry is much higher, and I think that will dissuade the type of people who would normally be interested in copying others’ niches. And maybe even more importantly, I don’t choose my ebook subjects based solely on profitability, but on what I want to write about. Plus I know I do a better job of it than anyone who would try to copy me :)

Having said that, I do have one pen name that I’ve used for a couple children’s books and a book of poetry, and I’ll use it in the future for other creative endeavors. I used a pen name there because those are not professional ebooks that I created to make money. They’re just for fun, and they don’t really mesh with the other, more “businessy” things that I’m doing.


Thanks for the questions, and if you have any questions you’d like me to answer, use the contact form or leave a comment below.