(Some of) Amazon’s e-Publishing Decoded

I preface this post by saying that the following is just my take and my interpretation of SOME aspects of Amazon’s e-publishing. I am pretty sure that my facts are correct as of early May 2013, but things changes so fast, they may not be accurate a month from now. Hope this helps some of you out as you try to learn the ropes out there. And feel free to add to this if you have additional information. Enjoy!

Basically, there are a few ways to publish on Amazon. You can be a traditionally published author and then have both a hard copy and a kindle version of your book listed on Amazon. I don’t know much about publishing hard copy books at Amazon, so…

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 9.30.11 PMRegarding e-publishing on Amazon, you can do so through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or through Kindle Singles. Kindle Singles is for works that are 5000-30000 words in length. You have to do a proposal to them or nominate a Kindle KDP-published book and the Kindle gods act like a real publisher, being pretty selective on what they publish as a “single.” This is free and is usually a path for short stories, essays, serialized novels, or novellas.

Now, with KDP…you can publish ANYTHING under the sun, other than some restrictions around porn and other verboten things. It is also FREE. You have to format your document so that it will translate to a Kindle e-book properly, and the best way to do this is to search for “how to publish e-book” actually on Amazon, and your search will show a FREE e-book about how to format for the Kindle. It is full of pretty good guidelines, like if you submit your work in MS Word, you need to take out all the page numbers since Kindle books don’t have pages per se. You will also be instructed (mostly) on how to create a live Table of Contents. Please note that this is a bit more difficult on the Mac. If anyone gets stuck, just let me know, and I will do my best to help. Also, if your manuscript has been submitted to traditional publishers in the past, things like underlined text should really be changed to italics, and double dashes should be changed to em-dashes. But other than these things, it’s not really that hard to nail the format. 

I believe Amazon requires a cover image. In my case, I am lucky because I have Photoshop and used to be a graphics designer, so I just bought some images off of Shutterstock and created my cover.

Back to KDP. You have to sign up for this program, but if you have an Amazon customer account, just log on to the KDP page (I found it by Googling it), and your publishing account is automatically set up. From the Author Central page you  have to input some financial info, like your bank account if you wish to get paid automatically. Also, at the Author Central page you should enter some information and upload a personal photograph to populate your author page so readers can check you out a little. Live large and link it to your blog and to your Twitter account as well.

Within the KDP structure you have some choices re pricing and payment. You can select the option to receive 70% of the royalties and have limited world-wide distribution with some countries only yielding a 35% royalty. If you choose this option, you have to price your book between $2.99 and $9.99. No other choices.

If you sign up to get 35% royalties, you get more worldwide distribution coverage AND you can price your book from $0.99 to $200.00, so there is more flexibility with the price. I believe you can switch whenever you wish…but double check me on this one to be 100% sure.

There is also an option that spans BOTH of the royalty options. You can opt to participate in KDP Select. This is a 90 day commitment to offer Amazon exclusive digital rights to your book. That means that that you can’t electonically distribute your book through anyplace other than amazon for those 90 days. Within this option, you can still choose the 70% or 35% royalty options. AND, if you publish through KDP select, you are given five promotional days every 90 days to use as you wish, where you can offer your book for free. I did this with Redemption, and ended up having almost 300 free downloads over the course of a weekend. Redemption went up to #15 on the Free e-Books list for Science Fiction Adventure. Pretty exciting thing it was to see my book on the first page of an Amazon Top 100 list. PLUS, with KDP Select your book is automatically entered into the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library which means it can be checked out by Prime members with an actual Kindle for FREE for as long as they wish (one book at a time). So this is kinda like offering a free book as well. 

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 11.29.14 PMWhy all the hubbub about listing the book for free?? Well, if you just put a book out there for whatever price, it’s easy for it to get lost among the millions of other books. If you list it free for a while, you can get people to read it and review it which brings it up in the ranks and makes it more appealing and more findable. Some authors cheat the system, by listing their book with Barnes and Noble or Smashwords for $0 and then waiting for Amazon to discover this and to lower the price of the book to $0 since the only way amazon lists a book as $0 is through price matching.

So, that’s about it. Like I said, this posting only covers some of the things I have learned on my brief journey. I hope some of this is of use to you. Good luck in your e-publishing adventures!


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