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  • Writer's pictureIndie Publishing 101

Should I Self-Publish?

According to selfpublishing.com the chances of getting a book publishing deal are between 1% and 2%.  If you become one of the 1% or 2% you also hand over a lot of control to the publisher?  Please read my blog Traditional Publishing to get a better idea of some of the choices you might have to make before handing over the reins of your book to a publisher.



I have talked with many aspiring authors and they all want to work through a publisher.  Many authors still believe that if they sign with a publisher, they have reached the top. My wife remembers attending a writer’s conference where the Keynote speaker, who is now a well known author, showed a stack of over 50 rejection letters from publishers. 


With such low odds of getting your book published through the traditional approach there has to be a better way?  Fortunately there is.  It is called Indie Publishing or self-publishing.  Self-publishing opens up new windows for you to pursue your dreams of being an author and you will have more control over the process and earn more money along the way. Self-publishing also allows you to pursue both approaches (Traditional and Indie) without locking you in.


Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has revolutionized the strong chokehold publishers had on aspiring authors.  KDP, is Amazon's self-publishing platform that allows authors to sell their books to Amazon's massive audience without the hassle of going through a traditional publishing company. With KDP, authors can create eBooks, paperback, and hardcover books, all without any upfront costs or inventory orders and start making money right away.  Doesn’t this sound like a much better option than waiting months or even years to find an agent, hopefully land a book deal, and then lose control of your book through traditional publishing?   

  

Some Indie authors think the Create, Manage, Publish process on kdp.amazon.com is difficult to follow to self-publish but it is actually quite intuitive.  Once you create an account on KDP there are three tabs of information you need to fill out to get your book published on-line and have it ready to sell.



The first step is filling out the Book Details tab. Here you will need to answer the following questions:


  • Choose your book’s primary language (the language in which the book was written).

  • Enter your title as it appears on the book cover.

  • Is this title part of a series?

  • You can provide an edition number if this title is a new edition of an existing book.

  • Author’s name?

  • If others contributed to your book, you can add them and they’ll be listed on the Amazon product detail page.

  • Summarize your book. This will be your book description on Amazon, so customers can learn more about your book.

  • Answer the Publishing Rights questions: 

    • I own the copyright and I hold the necessary publishing rights?

    • This is a public domain work?

  • Primary Audience

    • Sexually Explicit Images or Title?

    • Does the book’s cover or interior contain sexually explicit images, or does the book's title contain sexually explicit language?

    • Reading age (Optional) - Choose the youngest and oldest ages at which a person could enjoy this book.

  • Primary marketplace - Choose the location where you expect the majority of your book sales to take place such as Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, etc.

  • Categories - You can now choose up to three categories that match Amazon store categories. Categories help people in searching for books and provide Best Seller rankings for your book once listed in that category.

  • Keywords - Enter up to 7 keywords that describe your book and will help people in searching for your book with key "tag" words.

  • Release Date? You can release it immediately once you step through all the other tabs or you can put it up for pre-sale and have it released at a future date.


For the Book Content tab you need to:







  • Upload your manuscript.  You should read KDP’s Content Guidelines and upload a KPF, EPUB, or docx file containing interior content for your book.

  • Upload your book cover.  KDP recommends a book cover for a good reader experience. You can create a cover using their Cover Creator tool or upload your own already created book cover. There are guidelines here too with which you should familiarize yourself.  I recommend you know your book's genre and compare your book cover to other authors in the same genre to make sure your cover is similar to others in that genre and category. This can be done by going to the Amazon Best Seller Page for one of your categories and see what other covers look like in that category from the top sellers to make sure yours will not stand out in a bad way. For example, you would not want to have your cover for a romance novel resemble that of a Sci-fi novel. It sends the wrong signal to the perspective reader.


 

"I want my cover to be completely different and stand out from everyone else's" - Eye catching book covers are important but can also confuse your audience, send the wrong signals and hurt your sales.

 

  • Does your book have AI-Generated Content?  Amazon is collecting information about the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools in creating content so you will need to answer if you used AI tools in creating texts, images, and/or translations in your book? 

  • Once your manuscript and book cover are uploaded you need to use the Online Preview and Quality Check capability to review your book online and check for quality issues. This preview capability allows you to see how it will appear on a Kindle simulator or in a paperback.  This is where you will notice potential formatting errors, blank pages and other issues that should be fixed before releasing your Kindle or paperback book.  Be prepared to do this upload process multiple times to get all the “kinks” worked out. This is a vital step in producing a high quality eBook or paperback book in order to minimize any mistakes. KDP will also let you purchase a Proof copy for a paperback book if you want to have an added measure in seeing how the finish result (paperback book) will look. You should be aware that no matter how much time you spend proofreading there will always be mistakes.  Sometimes readers will bring an error to your attention via email, social media post or a in a review of your book. Once you find out about it, you can easily edit your manuscript and re-upload the updated version thus removing those mistakes in future copies that are purchased. This is another benefit of self-publishing.

  • ISBN and Publisher Detail

    • Kindle eBooks are not required to have an ISBN but paperback books are. 

    • Who is the Publisher, if you used one, is optional.


The last tab, Pricing, is where you decide how much to charge per book, per country which determines your commission.







  • Determine if you want to enroll in KDP Select?  With KDP Select, you can reach more readers, earn more money, and maximize your sales potential.  KDP Select does require exclusivity to Amazon for 90 days though before you can opt-out. This means now selling your book on your own website or through other book sellers. My blog Why are Authors Selling Direct goes into more detail about this.

  • Territories - Select the territories for which you hold distribution rights to your book.

  • Primary marketplace - Pricing is based on the primary marketplace you selected on the Details tab.

  • Pricing, royalty, and distribution.  This is where you select a royalty plan payout for your Kindle eBook or paperback book.  Depending on what you price your eBook you will receive either a 35% or 70% commission.  For a paperback book there is a minimum price that KDP will list based on the number of pages of your book and other costs.  This is also where you price out your book by country in different currencies. The price of your book is a key strategy to increase sales see Tip #9 of my blog "So You've Written a Book, Now What" for more insight.

  • The very last step is accepting the terms and conditions.  “By clicking Publish below, I confirm that I agree to and am in compliance with the KDP Terms and Conditions and that I have all rights necessary to make the content I am uploading available for marketing, distribution and sale in each territory I have indicated above.”


The hardest part of this entire KDP book publishing process is having your book completed, a book cover created and knowing what you plan to charge for your book.  There are other vital pre-steps in writing a great book such as getting your book professionally edited, proofread, knowing if this is a one-off book or the start of a series, how you plan to advertise your book (if you don’t advertise you will not have any "real" sales. Friends and family can only take you so far), etc.


Until next time happy selling!   

 

 

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