If you want to publish to Kindle you can very easily. If you’re reading this, then the chances are you’ve already written a book, or more likely, you are considering writing one. If you haven’t yet started, now is the perfect time to publish to Kindle: November is National Novel Writing Month.
You don’t have to be signed up to a big publishing company to be a best-selling author nowadays. You can write your own eBook, market yourself and sell far more copies than most authors do on paper. The Kindle e-reader is particularly popular – the electronic reading device accounts for 60% of the eBook market so that’s the best one to publish on.
All you need is a computer with Microsoft Word or Open Office software to start writing. So here’s how you do it:
Step 1 – Research your Kindle
If you haven’t written your book yet, the first thing you need to do before writing it, is research. You need to ask yourself a number of questions including: Why am I writing this? Who do I expect to read this? And what do I want to say? This might seem to be stating the obvious, but when writing a book you need to know exactly what you will say – and not a word more.
Think of the expectations you have as a reader – what do you want from a book and what makes you part with your hard-earned cash?
The basic rule of course, is that people want to be either entertained or informed – if you can manage to do both, then all the better.
Many people still have the view that a novel needs to be hundreds of pages long but that need not be the case. It can be as short or as long as is necessary to convey your idea. Avoid writing filler or ‘fluff’ just to pad out the volume of the book, readers are not easily fooled.
You need to think about what kind of genre of writing you are going to write. The most popular genres for eBook sales are: Romance, Paranormal, Thriller, Mystery. The Kindle is a format for fast-paced, easy reads so literary fiction or anything more experimental does not tend to sell well.
However, there are other factors to consider. As a general rule, the more books you have for sale, the more you will sell. Another thing that helps to sell is writing a series. This heightens a reader’s expectation and anticipation, and of course will help sell other books.
One final factor to consider is length: if your eBook is short it might be worthwhile publishing it as a ‘single’ which is for publications that fall between 5,000 and 30,000 words. This is likely to be relevant to extended essays, anthologies, reports or memoirs. However, singles are selected by a publishing panel at Amazon and there is no concrete guarantee that it will be accepted. ‘How-to’ books, childrens books and travel guides are currently not being accepted. Should your idea for a ‘single’ be rejected, you can still publish it as an eBook.
Step 2 -Writing the Kindle
Write the book. This is often the hardest part, but with a clear idea and good research, the satisfaction upon finishing is immeasurable.
What is crucial at this stage is to make sure that the finished book is proofread and polished. Nothing undermines an authoritative authorial voice more than a typing error, a spelling mistake or misplaced punctuation.
If you’re not completely confident in your proofreading skills, it might be better to get a professional to do it. While this can prove costly, websites like Elance, oDesk and Freelancer will find freelance proofreaders who ‘bid’ for your job – giving you a price up-front, and no money has to be paid until the job is completed.
Step 3 – Cover Design for your Kindle
The next step, before the book can be published to think about the cover of your book. There are few points to keep in mind for a successful Kindle cover:
Colours have a huge effect on our perception of things, so make sure that you have the right colour scheme. For example, if you’re writing about making money or avoiding debt you should choose green as it’s a colour that we associate with prosperity and happiness. If you’re writing about health or food, orange is said to a colour that has associations with well-being and optimism.
Fonts too need to be considered carefully. Use no more than two fonts for your cover and consider your audience – if you are writing for a female audience, a feminine font is needed. Men will respond to more striking fonts in bold. Sans serif fonts – those with out the curly flourish on the end – tend to work better for titles, headings and subheadings; while serif fonts are better for texts.
The general rule of thumb for images is to keep it simple: your image must be striking enough to grab the attention of the reader but not complex or large so that it slows the download speed – this is important particularly if you later decide to offer it on your own website.
A good cover is essential. Remember that potential buyers will browse the Amazon store, and although few of us admit – we more often than not we do judge a book by its cover.
Making your cover involves having a level of skill on software applications like Adobe Photoshop, so unless you’re on good terms with a graphic designer there are other options. David Fisher has good step-by-step instructions on using Powerpoint to design your cover. If you’re from the ‘Publish…and be damned’ school of thought, there is always http://www.myecovermaker.com/ which promises a basic, functioning cover which takes only a matter of minutes. There is however, a subscription charge.
Step 4 – Formatting your Kindle
With the editing finished and the cover designed, the next thing to do before you can start selling your book is formatting. This process transforms MS Word files to files that operate on the Kindle.
With the help of Amazon’s own formatting guide and the free download of MobiPocket eBook Creator your book will be ready in minutes. Should you wish to check how your document will look on the Kindle, you can also download the Kindle Previewer, which will show on your computer how your eBook will appear on the reading device.
You’re almost done. The very last thing you need to do is set up an Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account. This is vital as this will dictate how and where you are paid from your book sales and also how many books you have sold. If you already have an Amazon account, you can use this – but as you will be asked to give sensitive information such as banking details – you might wish to start a new account.
Another key decision is how much you wish to charge for your eBook. Amazon offers a 70% or 35% royalty rate. While the former seems like a no-brainer, the crucial things to factor in are the size of your novel but also the price you wish to sell it. The maximum price you are able to ask for at the 70% royalty rate is £6.99, or $9.99. Amazon charge a fee to the author – albeit a small one – about 9 pence per MB on delivery, so if you have a particularly large manuscript, this will eat into your profit margin for each copy sold. Most experts recommend that books from unpublished authors are sold at 99p, as this is the best way to develop a readership – rather than a tidy profit.
Once the price has been set, your book will be on sale within 24 hours.
The last phase of your journey to being a published author is perhaps the one that involves the most work: Here is where the hard yards begin in promoting your title. You may have written the world’s greatest novel but without readers it all means nothing.
In order to get readers, people have to know about your title. Perhaps the most effective way to promote your novel is to set up a Twitter account and interact with those within the field or genre of your subject matter.
Setting up a website is also vital too – this gives readers a chance to find out about the author – and any further work you might have or about to publish. Web hosting has become quite affordable with hosting companies such as GoDaddy, iPage, JustHost offering good rates and service. Building your site too has become much easier with many web hosts offering templates, or you can use a WordPress blog and install that onto your website. By using one of the many free themes available you can have your website up and running in no time at all.
The website will be the vehicle for your book, so it is essential to co-ordinate your website with your book – and have the book on display in your main pages. If you can get your book reviewed you can also post these reviews on the website too.
Experienced authors of eBooks usually say the same thing however: the more work you have for sale, the more popular your books will be – so for the first time author, publishing to Kindle means getting exposure rather than making your first million.