Publishing your work to Kindle’s store is easier than you think. If you’re reading this, then the chances are you’ve already completed a book or short story and are looking to self publish on a reliable platform. Or you may be considering writing your first novel and are just doing some research. If you have, then now may be perfect time to get your work recognised by publishing it on Kindle’s very own store. That’s because this 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 in 2019. You can write your own eBook, market yourself and still sell enough copies to be successful. Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is particularly popular and is considered the market leader in the electronic reading device market. It represents 60% of the eBook market share and is backed up by the might of Amazon’s website, particularly Kindle.
All you need is a computer with Microsoft Word, Mac OS Pages or other office software to start writing. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1 – Research and plan your idea
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 who your target audience is.
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? Essentially, what is it you enjoy reading? Chances are this is what you’ll be most adept to writing about.
People read because they want to be either entertained or informed. If you can manage to do both, then that’s great, but it’s not essential. Some people read just for pleasure, learning something is an added bonus.
Many people still have the view that a piece of writing needs to be hundreds of pages long but that need not be the case. In fact, Kindle store is full of short stories too. These can still be sold on Kindle store just for a lower price. Writing short stories is also great practice for a writer. They learn storytelling structure and how to develop characters with a smaller canvas to convey their ideas. It is also possible to publish a compilation of short stories and see which ones are the most successful. Who knows, perhaps one of them could evolve into a novel in the future.
This leads to their skills becoming sharper by the time they do come to write a longer story. If your short stories are successful then you know you’re doing something right. Nobody wants to write an entire novel for it to not be bought or receive poor reviews. Find out more about making money writing short stories here.
You need to also consider what genre you writing is going to be. The most popular genres for eBook sales are: Romance, Paranormal, Thriller, Mystery. The Kindle is a format for fast-paced, easy reads, which is why short stories tend to sell well.
Generally the more books you have for sale, it stands to reason that you will have more opportunity to sell. Providing the work is of a high quality and captures enough readers to gain traction. Another thing that helps e-books to sell is writing a series, especially a series of short stories that you can sell individually and later as a complete set. This means the work exists twice in two different forms. Maximising the sales potential. Cliff-hanger endings and the anticipation of the next chapter heightens a reader’s expectation. Naturally this lends itself well to selling units, as well as any other work you may have on the store as you’re reader goes in search of something similar.
Famed ‘Game of Thrones’ author George RR Martin reported that upon writing the fifth instalment of his ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series, which took him several years, he sold more books from other sagas he had written than ever before. Making his audience wait led them to sample his other works, making him even more successful and bringing his less popular novels to the public’s attention in ways they hadn’t enjoyed before.
If your eBook is a short story 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 – this is why the work needs to be of a high standard. ‘How-to’ books, children’s books and travel guides are currently not being accepted, the simplistic writing style they adopt can be used as an excuse for poor quality.
Step 2 -Writing your eBook
Sitting down and writing is often the hardest part, but with a clear idea of what you’re writing and a healthy dose of research behind you, the satisfaction upon finishing the book will be immeasurable.
What is crucial at this stage is to make sure that the finished book is proofread and polished. Consider running it through online grammar checkers and letting a trusted confidante read it first. Remember to take their feedback on the style, spelling and grammar, not the content itself. Writing is art and therefore is subjective, just because your friend or family member criticises your work does not mean it’s bad. They may just not understand it. Nothing undermines a piece of work more than a typing error, a spelling mistake or misplaced punctuation – it looks amateur and a reader will only forgive so many.
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 proof-readers who ‘bid’ for your job, giving you a price up-front and no money has to be paid until the job is completed. This is no guarantee of quality, however.
Step 3 – Cover Design for your eBook
The next step to think about, before the book can be published, is the cover of your book. There are few points to keep in mind for a successful Kindle e-book 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 be a colour that has associations with well-being and optimism.
Fonts also need to be considered carefully. Use no more than two fonts for your cover. If you’re writing for a female audience, a feminine font may be required. 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.
A general rule of thumb for images is to keep it simple and engaging. 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, although in 2019 if someone is struggling to download a book cover it may be more their problem than yours.
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. Amazon Kindle store does feature stock images that can be purchased for your cover. This can also be done through other third parties too.
Also ensure your theme is relevant. If you’ve written a horror story then this will need to be conveyed on the cover in some form. Potential customers will be looking for creepy covers when they browse for scary stories. On the other hand, if your story is a romance novel then consider something more suitable.
A good cover is essential. Remember that potential buyers will browse the Amazon store and although few of us admit, we do frequently judge a book by its cover. There is no excuse for a dull front cover.
Step 4 – Formatting your ebook
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. Take advantage of this before hitting publish.
You’re almost finished at this point. 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 when you are paid from your book sales. Its metrics also display how many books you have sold and the reviews you’ve received. If you already have an Amazon account as many of us do, you can simply use this 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 also charges 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 should be sold at 99p, as this is the best way to develop a readership. The pursuit of profit can come later once you have an established and loyal audience.
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; the marketing strategy. You may have written the world’s greatest novel, but without readers it all means nothing. People need to know it exists.
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. Sponsored posts are also an effective way to promote it using social media, just be aware it can get expensive. You can contact other more established authors and gush about how you were inspired by them and if they would consider Tweeting about you’re book. It only takes one to agree and you’ve been broadcast to an already captive audience. The worst that can happen is they say no or ignore you. You can also do this to multiple authors or influencers, especially those who enjoy your genre. In time they may take credit for discovering you.
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 are 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. Also remember to link it to your social media profile and Amazon Kindle storefront. Don’t expect a new reader to go looking. Bring it to them.
The website will be a central sales hub for your book so use it. 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, providing they are good quality, so for a first time author, publishing to Kindle store means getting exposure rather than making your first million. That comes next.