I'm pretty tech savvy, but this is not true of everyone. There are a multitude of services out there that will produce an e-book for a decent price. Be wary of some of them because they are a scam, and always get everything in writing even if it is an e-mail.
Remember: Amazon Kindle Direct will publish your e-book for free, but you have to format it to their guidelines and upload a .doc file that they will then convert to a .mobi file to be read on a Kindle.
Here are a couple of the more affordable legitimate ones:
- Red Staple - Their starting price is $29.99 and is for books that are less than 500 pages. They also offer a $99 "enhanced" e-book that allows you to place videos and such in your book. The prices go up from there (that is if your tome is over 500 pages). The most you will spend with them is $129 for an enhanced e-pub book of over 500 pages. They will then format it to most e-readers out there including iBook.
- Folium Book Studio - These guys are pretty cool in that for a mere $79 they will format your book to every reader out there plus give you plenty of options to add on such as video and picture content. They will also give you basic cover design tools, an ability to add your own pictures, or upload your own cover design. The $79 is an introductory price for signing up, and if you do more projects, the price goes down by $10 for each project over 5. They charge you each year for storage space, though.
- Barnes and Noble Pubit - All you have to do is upload your .doc file to them and they will convert your book for use on a Nook for free. Like Amazon, their interface is very simple to use and you can set the price as low as .99 cents in order to attract more buyers. (I haven't been able to get Amazon to go below $2.99 and still manage a profit). You set up your bank account to recieve the payments and wait for the money to roll in... or not.
- iBooks Author - This app is downloadable for Mac only and works in Mac pretty well, but is really designed for the textbook market. It makes really slick looking books for the iPad, though. You might read this article about it before downloading it for free. If you are not very tech savvy, this is not the program for you. Once you set up your iTunes account you can then upload the book to them after iBooks Author is through with it. The pros are that it allows you to put videos and cool pictures in your book, but the cons are that it is still a little buggy. It just came out in January, so give 'em a break. They'll figure it out.
- Amazon Kindle Publishing - Probably the easiest and still the industry leader (at least for now) is the Amazon Kindle. All you do is upload your book interior in pretty much any format and in almost a day they will have your book up and running on the Kindle store. You can upload your own cover art and you can't beat that 70% profit margin either.
I hope this little article helps some of you e-publishers out there decide what you will work with. If you know of any others that I missed, besides Smashwords which is also a really good one, then post a comment!