Worth It? $150 E-book Publishing Class

How much does a single class cost at your local college or university?

Have you tried an online course?

For many, the cost of tuition and fees is a serious road block, especially when pursuing a degree that requires many courses.  You can practically feel your wallet growing wings and flying away.

Now, however, many colleges and universities offer single courses through their continuing education or professional development departments.  And the cost of these courses do not have the high fees for dorm residency, transportation, or facility upkeep because these single courses are often offered online rather than on campus.

I have had varying experiences with online classes, as I am sure that many others have.  Many people have expressed frustration at the lack of learning that happens from online courses because there is little to no interaction with peers or the instructor. 

The discussion forums are often perfunctory and barely count as a conversation, much less a discussion.  Peer responses often are limited to “Wow, nice analysis.  I hadn’t thought of it like that” Or “I especially liked your criticism of __ when you said __.”

While I have had mixed to mediocre results from online courses previously, a friend of mine brought a course on publishing e-books to my attention.

The course was $150, which, to be fair, is a pretty nice chunk of change for me and could be cost prohibitive for many others.

Before deciding to take an online course, you should always do a few things.

  1. See what courses are available in your area through colleges, universities, or libraries.
  2. Check the syllabus to see if the course covers the material you want to learn.
  3. Find out who the instructor is and see if you can find reviews and/or credentials
  4. Find out if the price is within your budget.
  5. Make sure that you have the time to dedicate to finishing the course.

I decided to take a gamble.  And if you ask me if it was worth it, my answer is yes.

The course was designed for authors who have manuscripts ready to publish. While I’m not at that point yet, it has given me a great checklist of some of the administrative tasks that I will need to do in the future (the near future hopefully).

The course covers everything from the different formats an e-book can take (fixed, reflowable, and responsive) and which type of books are best suited to each format down to the nitty gritty details of how to format your book for publishing on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Mobi, etc., the difference between copyright, ISBN, and CIP (Cataloging in Publication), and why you need them.  The course also covered how to add metadata so that online book retailers know how to properly catalogue and recommend your book, choosing a distributor versus selling your books on your own storefront, calculating royalties and profit margins, and even marketing decisions like choosing loss leader prices, sales, and paying for promotion.

One of the most valuable resources that the instructor clued me in to was a website called k-lytics, where they provide a free monthly analysis of how 28 genres of e-books do on Amazon. You can analyze the top genres, how many books they sell per week and month, what is the average and most competitive pricing for these genres, etc.  This data can help you track trends for your preferred genres over time, as well.

In addition to providing information about each step of the process, each lesson the instructor assigned a task to do market research on your chosen genre, target reader age range, competitive titles, etc.  After doing our own independent market research, we were to report back to the discussion forums with an interesting tidbit of information or a question that we couldn’t find the answer to.

Since most of the students were working with different genres or target demographics, there was a wide variety of information that was provided on the discussion forums. 

In addition to the market research, the instructor provided links to interviews with successful self-published authors every lesson.  The interviews discussed not only what the authors considered keys to success on their publishing journeys., but advice they wish they had followed when they were just starting out. 

I bookmarked every single one of these interviews because they gave such a varied perspective on success in different genres over the last 10 years. 

I also saved all of the links the instructor provided for comparing free and paid services for book covers, editing, formatting, distributing, and promoting your e-book.  (And the links for things like registering your copyright and where to send your book in to your country’s mandatory repository of books). 

Honestly, there was so much great information, and there were so many questions that I hadn’t yet considered.

Do I want to publish under my own name or a pseudonym for my first book?

Do I want to have the publisher listed as my own legal name or do I want to set up a small business publishing house?

Do I want to pay for a batch of ISBNs or choose a distributor that provides a vanity ISBN in return for listing their name as the publishing house?

Does that have tax implications?

What price range do I want to set my book at?

Which price range gives the most profit versus which price range allows for the distributor to place a sale price on your book?

But now that I’ve taken the course, I have a much better idea of what goes on the checklist of tasks to do before I publish my book.

So, was I ready for this course? Not Quite. 

Am I glad that I took it? Yes.

Is it worth the $150 price tag for this course? For me, absolutely, yes.

Is it worth it for you to find an online course on publishing?  Maybe. 

I definitely had a lot more fun than I expected, and I gained a lot more resources that I thought an online course would ever provide.  So, would I recommend taking a course on publishing e-books to others? Yes.