Sunday, January 25, 2015

Adventures in Self Publishing - Amazon KDP

Submitting a book over Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing website is amazingly easy.  If you've got all your material prepared, it takes a couple minutes at most.

Use your real name, and if you already have an Amazon customer account, just use that to start.  They will need your real name and SS#, as you're getting paid and doing taxes and such.  You can use a pen name for the actual books, and shy of a subpoena or such, your real name won't get attached to your Vampire SEAL Team Menage series.

Have your text in a .doc file and your cover in a jpg.  The title and subtitle should actually be on the cover.  If it's in a series, let them know.  There seems to be a cyclical thing in book marketing whether a series (or number) is a good or bad thing.

You can try to be a fancy ass like me and make up a publisher name, but I don't think it does any good.  I think most people don't care, and they few that do probably appreciate authors doing it for themselves.

Now your description.  This is incredibly important!  You have free billboard space in the largest book market in human history!  Use it!  Seriously, I've run into tons of books that have this blank or near blank.  When book shopping, I end up clicking over to Goodreads just to find out what the book is about.  Often the customer comments do a better job than the publisher.  Let the customer know what your story is about.  Don't just throw out advertising buzzwords - what's it about?  "A single mother cop hunts down a killer", "Four high school friends search for treasure and find love", "A kid goes to magic school".  Readers can be weirdly specific in what they like, so let them know.  And not only do you want to hook a potential customer, but the wordage in the description gets mixed in with the metadata when doing a search.

Like everything else, you can change it whenever you want, either through the KDP submission page or Author Central, which I find easier.  You're a writer, kind of, so you should challenge yourself to write the best ad copy for your work as possible.  Make it a habit to revisit your descriptions on a regular basis to punch them up.  And for heaven's sake, check your spelling and grammar!  Let the reader have to pay before finding out you're incompetent.

Next up, contributors, which will most likely just be the author.  You can put literally anything here you want.  In theory, you'll get caught if you put James Patterson or Stephen King, but there's no verification process up front.  Later, you can synch up the titles in Author Central so Amazon knows who wrote what.

Next is categories and keywords.  I'll go into those in more detail next time.

Check the layout in the previewer.  If it looks funky, you'll need to reformat.  There may or may not be a bug with the iPhone option - the centering always looks wonky, but I've heard that on an actual iPhone it's okay.

Next, set your price.  $2.99.  There's a lot of debate and... no, $2.99.  Unless you want to do an introductory deal or some such, in which case you might as well do that one free (I'll cover that later).  The way Amazon's pricing structure works, anything less than $2.99 gets only 35% royalties.  You may sell more books at $0.99, but not seven times more.  Authors have experimented with lowering the price, and most find they don't sell any more at $0.99 than $2.99.

"But I worked really hard on it, poured out my heart and soul, and it's worth more to me!"  Well, you're not the one buying it.  It might hurt your pride to sell your baby for so cheap, but it will hurt worse when nobody buys it.  And let's be honest, it's probably not even worth $2.99.  If a reader wants to waste time slogging through some garbage indie book, there are plenty of free ones to choose from.  If it turns out you don't suck and end up selling a million copies, up the price, or make the next one ten bucks.

We'll talk later about whether it's worth it to go KDP select or not.

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