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Still not sure about writing or publishing your manuscript?
Giving up is never the answer!
Independent publishing is exploding today. There are plenty of good reasons why independent authors can go directly to the marketplace with their work. The fact is, authors today don’t need to woo the gatekeepers at big publishing houses to get their work out to readers. With free digital publication available to anyone with internet access, it makes it easy, and economical to publish a book. According to a recent letter to Amazon stockholders, more than 1,000 authors regularly earn a six-figure income from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Of course, for every author that “makes it,” there are hundreds of authors that don’t can’t a single copy.
Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP is a platform through Amazon that allows authors to publish their work online with no up-front cost. KDP only takes a cut of the sales. As the author, you can keep up to 70% of the list cost (MRP) of each book you sell depending on the program you choose. The percentage that goes to the author and what stays with KDP relies on a variety of factors, most of which are under the control of the author. The platform offers tools to help create covers, set sizes, and even create illustrated children’s books, manga or graphic novels. And the best part? It’s fast. KDP will look over your book and have it in the marketplace within 24 – 48 hours after you submit it.
So how do you get in on modern publishing? Well, like anything else, you need to take time to learn how to present your hard work correctly. There are steps that you take right from the very beginning that can help you and your work stand out from the millions of books published every day. The steps you take from the moment you finish your book to it being published will show your reader whether you are a publishing amateur or a professional.
This may seem obvious, but take your time and get all your information right. Unless you have created an LLC, or small business to act as publisher, publish under your own name. You can always set a publication name for the description of your book. But your name and address are essential because Amazon will need it for tax purposes.
You will also need to add a way for Amazon to pay you. Generally, this means linking a bank account. KDP will also ask you to complete a “tax interview.” Basically, this means answering questions for tax purposes. You will also need your Social Security Number, or Tax ID number along with your address so that Amazon can send you the proper tax documents for your sales.
Finally, make sure that you keep your account name and password in a safe place so that you can log back in to add more books, make changes to pricing, and check your sales.
In order to begin your project, you have to have a name for it. While you may have had a working title for your book while writing, it may not be the best title for publication. The title the public sees is a part of your marketing and should draw readers to your work. If you aren’t sure, do a little research. Look at other books similar to your own. Consider how they are titled. While you are doing your research, be sure to note keywords and categories for similar titles. This will come in handy later.
When you have decided on your title, enter it into the appropriate box and begin your publishing journey.
You want people to find your book, right? That’s where those keywords and categories come in. You have the opportunity to add up to seven keywords. Choose words that don’t appear in your title, or in the categories. Amazon already uses these words to help readers find your book. Instead, choose synonyms and additional words to help readers narrow their search for your book.
Categories are also important. Start with the largest category first. Is your book fiction, or non-fiction? Then move on to other subcategories. For example, you might have written a children’s book about the solar system. So you might choose Juvenile Non-fiction with the subcategories of Science, Nature, and Astronomy. However, if you wrote a book about astronauts, you might choose Juvenile Non-fiction, Science, Nature, and then Technology. If you wrote a book about children building a spaceship in their backyard, you might choose Juvenile Fiction, Science and Technology, or Juvenile Fiction, Action/ Adventure, and Space. It all depends on what you want to emphasize in your work.
Finally, you want to write a description of your book. This isn’t a synopsis or flap copy. This is a 2 – 3 sentence sales pitch to get potential readers interested in your book. If you are writing non-fiction, be sure to add your credentials, so that readers know you are an expert in your field.
If you haven’t done so, go over your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. Look for any typos, formatting errors or grammar mistakes. Don’t just rely on your word processing program’s grammar and spell check. Instead, invest in a high-quality grammar program, or, even better, an external editing service. Nothing says “amateur author” like a book filled with spelling and grammar errors. Often, a second set of eyes can help you spot errors that your own eyes might miss.
Next, convert your manuscript to a .docx, .doc, or HTML. Upload your manuscript into the KDP program. This may take a few minutes, depending on your file size. You will have to acknowledge that you own the rights to the manuscript you are offering. KDP is a platform, not a publisher. That means Amazon isn’t liable for any dispute over copyright, liability or content. You are responsible for any legal issues that arise.
Your cover is your book’s calling card. So, take time and put forth your best effort creating your cover. If you aren’t sure how to start, do some research. There are different styles for different types of books. For example, even if your non-fiction book is about how to find romance, you probably don’t want to make it look like the cover of a romance novel. It will confuse readers. Young readers will perhaps not be attracted to a text-heavy cover with no pictures.
If you have an illustrator, great. Use their talent to create the perfect cover. Many people don’t have access to a professional artist, so consider yourself lucky! You can find a wide range of stock footage of anything under the sun to create a cover for your book. You can add simple effects on almost any laptop such as darkening the picture, creating a black-and-white, sepia-toned shot, or even combining pictures into a collage.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be an artist or a photo-editing wizard to design a lovely cover. KDP has a tool to help you create a custom cover. You can upload a photograph, add your title, subtitle and other information to the front cover of the book. You can even add an author biography and back flap copy.
Whether you use their program or not, make sure that you convert your finished cover into JPEG to make it compatible with KDP. In addition, the final image must be at least 1000 x 625 pixels, although it can be larger.
Once you have uploaded your cover, which may take several minutes, make sure to check the cover by using the cover preview option. This lets you see the cover of your book the way your reader will. Look carefully for any error so that you can fix it before you get ready to publish.
Your next step is to decide whether or not to enrol in KDP select. This is a program unique to Amazon that keeps your digital content exclusive. If you enrol in KDP Select, you agree to sell the digital book only in the Kindle store on Amazon. You are giving up all rights to selling at other distribution centres throughout the world.
In exchange, Amazon keeps only 30% of the list price, leaving the author a 70% royalty on each book. Also, enrolling in KDP Select automatically lists the digital title in Kindle Unlimited. This is a program that allows subscribers to download your book for free. However, you will be paid out of a subscription fee based on the number of pages the reader has enjoyed. This program changes from time to time, so be sure to read the risks and benefits when you enrol.
For some authors, this isn’t a hardship. They work through Amazon and don’t mind limiting themselves. However, others find that they want to use other platforms and outlets for marketing their books. If you are one of them, then KDP Select may not be the right program for you.
If your book is the first in a series, let your readers know by creating a series bundle. This allows Amazon to market your books together. It also helps readers know the order of the books so that they read them as you planned.
The program also creates a page unique to your series, giving you added exposure for your book.
Even if your books are not designed to be read in a specific order, you can still benefit from bundling your books. It helps readers find other books you have written and helps you sell more books.
Like bundling, these are programs that help you get and retain readers. For example, if you publish your books in both paperback and digital formats, you can offer readers a free or discounted digital version when they purchase a paperback. This is available through Kindle Match. It allows your readers to have a book they can carry to the beach or read on their smartphone.
Kindle Lending allows your digital readers to lend a book they enjoy to a friend who also uses Kindle. When they lend your book, it is available to their friend for only 14 days, and later disappears. That’s only long enough for a new reader to fall in love with your book and want to purchase it for themselves.
Depending on your topic, you may want to limit your book to only certain markets. For example, if you have written a book about Cicada transformations in Tennessee and Alabama, it probably wouldn’t interest people in England or Saudi Arabia. You can set the marketplace to offer the book only in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. On the other hand, you may want your book to go worldwide. It depends on how you want to market your book.
If you choose to go worldwide, you can see what your book will cost in a variety of countries. However, since Amazon is an international company, you can specify which type of currency they will pay you. So, if you are writing from Great Britain, you can be paid in Pounds, regardless of who buys your book and how they have pay for it.
After you preview your book and cover, check your pricing, your preferred payment, and looked over your options for market and sales. When done, it’s time to hit the publish button.
The process may take a moment or two, but you will get a message reporting your success.
Your book can take up to 72 hours to appear for sale. However, most books are available much quicker than that, usually in 24-48 hours.
This is a step that will make your marketing even easier. Go to authorcentral.amazon.com to start the process. Here you can create an author page, learn about turning your manuscript into an audiobook, and team up with other authors to promote work all over the world.