How To Self-Publish #2 - Kindle Direct Publishing

Now that you've gotten your ISBN all squared away and have a properly formatted .mobi file of your book (there will be a post later about formatting in Scrivener), it's time to look into publishing. There are numerous resources out there, but I'm going to focus on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which is an affiliate of Amazon. If you already have an Amazon account you can use your existing login for KDP which is very convenient. With a KDP account, a digital version of your book will be available on Amazon.com and able to be read on Kindles, Kindle Apps (for iPhone, iPad, etc), and even straight from the computer. Eventually, you may also want to publish with Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Smashwords, or other channels, but the biggest seller of books in the world is Amazon so I recommend you start there. https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin

USING KDP

1. Enter Your Book Details - Once you've signed into your KDP account, click "Add New Title." This is where you input all the information about your book: the title, description, contributors (authors, editors, illustrators), publisher (you can make your own publisher name if you have an ISBN), publication date, and ISBN number.

2. Verify Your Publishing Rights - You need to verify your Publishing Rights. If you're looking to sell your book, mark it as "Not Public Domain" which says you own all the rights. If you just want it to be a Public Domain book you can choose that as well.

3. Target Your Book To Customers - This is a very important section because this is how people find your book. People can just search for your title or name, but a lot of readers look into specific categories that they like to read and see what is selling well (ie: Vampire Romance). You are allowed to enter two categories (fiction, romance, fantasy, etc) and also seven keywords. Try to think of unique identifiers for the keywords and use your two categories wisely. Make them as specific as possible. For example, "Fiction" is a HUGE category of books (probably the biggest), but Fiction -> Fantasy -> Paranormal is MUCH SMALLER and therefore your book, instead of being 1 out of 1,000,000 books is more like 1 out of 1,000. You want your book to be in as selective a genre as possible which makes your climb to the top 100 easier. Be specific. People also recommend going to the highest selling books in your categories and "borrowing" their keywords.

4. Upload Your Book Cover - A catchy cover is incredibly important. Unlike a bookstore where someone can pick up your book, flip through, look at the back, etc, most people just see the Title and Cover on Amazon so make it stand out. Amazon recommends a JPG/TIFF file, RGB, 2500 pixel tall with a 1.6 aspect ratio. Mine was 2400x1500 and looks just fine.

5. Upload Your Book File - This is the simplest step: just navigate to your .mobi file on your desktop and upload your book. If there aren't any issues you'll get a green check mark.

6. Preview Your Book - Using Kindle Previewer or the Kindle app on your desktop, you likely will have already previewed your book, but Amazon gives you the opportunity to do a last look here. If you ever happen to catch an error, you can always re-upload a newer version later.

7. Verify Your Publishing Territories - As you're a self-publisher, you have Worldwide Rights. There shouldn't be any reason why not.

8. Choose Your Royalty - You have two options: 35% or 70%. If you list your book at $2.99 or up, you can choose the 70% royalty option, but if it's less than $2.99, you will only get 35%. For novels, the $2.99 price tag is just fine, but some people may be doing short stories so it's best to do $.99 even though you only get 35%. I was advised to put my book at $4.99 because that's still a deal considering how much paperback and other ebooks cost, plus Amazon ranks higher priced books higher on their selling lists. You need to strike a balance of making it cheap enough for the cost-conscious consumer, but expensive enough that your book looks/feels legitimate (which it is) compared to something out there by a Big Six Publisher.

9. Kindle Book Lending - Select this. I highly recommend allowing your book for lending. After someone purchases your book, they can lend it to a friend for 14 days before it expires. Think of all the books that were lent to you before you purchased them. You want more readers so make it available to as many people as possible.

GET IT OUT THERE

Once all of those steps are complete, you can publish your book to Amazon. Once you submit it, there is a 24-48 hour window where the book is reviewed, processed and distributed to all of Amazon's stores (US, UK, France, Germany, India, Italy). If you're like me, you may have messed up a few things, or want to change your cover, and KDP is great about this. At any time you can go in and change just about every single option and resubmit it to the bookstore. It works flawlessly.

KDP SELECT

This is a neat option to gain readership; for 90 days your book is free for Amazon Prime members. It's free to them, however, Amazon has set up a monthly KDP Select fund of $600,000 which is split by anyone enrolled in the program if their book is downloaded. Personally, I would enroll your book in KDP Select when you're starting out because you need more eyes on your work, more readers, and this is just another way to get people to click "Purchase."

REPORTS

Amazon tracks all of your purchases and updates reports about sales every single day. You can also link your KDP account to your bank account so Amazon can directly deposit your earnings. Bravo.

PHEW.

Congratulations. Enjoy a few minutes of rest, then start working on your next book.

Using KDP is a great first step to self-publishing because it gets you to think through all of the important details about your book you weren't concerned with before: book description, publishing rights, price, etc. Also, since everything is digital, give your friends and family a copy of the mobi file to hunt for spelling/grammar errors. You can then quickly make those changes, export a new mobi file, and re-upload it to Amazon instantly. Dynamic proof-reading FTW.

Now that everything is up and running, it's time to start sending your book out as getting reviews is one of the most important steps to generating sales. Next week, I'll get into using CreateSpace, an Amazon Print On Demand company, to create physical copies of your books.