In this recent post I looked at the pros and cons of writing a book, perhaps in fulfilment of a long-cherished ambition.
I said then that while writing a book has many attractions, it can be a major project, and there is no guarantee you will find a traditional print publisher. Even if you do, unless you are very lucky and/or talented, you are highly unlikely to make a fortune.
An intriguing alternative, though, is to publish an e-book. Perhaps surprisingly, this can be a lot more straightforward. The huge popularity of Amazon’s Kindle device (and rival ebook readers such as the Kobo and the Nook) means that more e-books are sold nowadays than traditional ones. And Amazon has made it easy for anyone to publish and sell their own e-book by means of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP for short).
Publishing a Kindle e-book is a simple process. Essentially, all you have to do is create your book in Microsoft Word or a similar application, save it in HTML (web) format, and upload it to Amazon via the KDP website.
Unlike traditional books, Kindle e-books can as short as a few thousand words, so there’s no need to create an epic. You can write fiction or nonfiction as you choose. A little time spent browsing the Kindle Store should give you plenty of ideas!
Once your Kindle e-book is published, anyone will be able to order it from Amazon. You can set your own price, and you will then receive a royalty of up to 70 percent on sales. That compares well with the 10 percent typically paid to traditionally published authors.
Some Top Tips
A few quick tips for new Kindle authors include:
- Keep the formatting as simple as possible. Complex layouts are unlikely to survive conversion to ebook format.
- Create an eye-catching description of your book for the Kindle Store. You’re allowed to use up to 4,000 characters, so make the most of it. Check out the sales pages of some Kindle bestsellers for inspiration.
- Price your title between £1.99 and £9.99 – this will ensure you qualify to receive Amazon’s highest (70 percent) royalty rate. Books priced outside this range receive only the standard 35 percent royalty.
- Make sure the first few pages of your e-book hook the reader. People can see the first 10 percent of your book free in the store. If the opening pages don’t grab them, they will soon move on to something else.
- Create an attractive cover image for your ebook. This can make a big difference in converting visitors to your sales page to buyers. You can use the KDP free cover-maker tool, or try Fiverr.com, where there are people offering to create ebook covers for just $5 (about £3.80).
- Spread the word about your e-book on any social networks you belong to, including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and so on. It can also help to create a blog, website or dedicated Facebook page for your e-book, and mention it on any forums you belong to (though do this sensitively, to avoid accusations of spamming).
- Aim to get a few reviews of your e-book up as soon as possible. Consider giving away free or discounted copies via social networks, forums, your blog (if you have one), and so forth. Not everyone will end up leaving a review even if you ask them to, but hopefully some will.
Amazon has plenty more advice for would-be Kindle e-book authors on the KDP website. And for anyone wanting an in-depth introduction to Kindle publishing, I highly recommend Geoff Shaw‘s comprehensive Kindling course (that’s a link to my review of Kindling on my Entrepreneur Writer blog).
Or, if you would like a lower-cost alternative, I also recommend Self Publishing on Amazon 2017, a Kindle e-book by Dr Andy Williams that I have been reading recently. This covers both Kindle e-book publishing and DIY print publishing using Amazon’s Createspace platform. It costs only a few pounds and provides in-depth advice from someone who is a highly successful Kindle author himself (mainly of non-fiction e-books).
And yes – thank you for asking – I do have a few Kindle e-books of my own published. In particular, you may like to check out my guide to plotting for fiction writers and my humorous, illustrated science-fiction novella The Festival on Lyris Five. If you buy and enjoy either of these, a review is always much appreciated 🙂
If you are very lucky (and/or talented) your Kindle e-book could become an Amazon bestseller and maybe even propel you into the growing ranks of Kindle millionaires.
But even if not, you will have the satisfaction of being a published author in the world’s favourite online bookstore. And you will have royalties from sales coming into your bank account every month, potentially for many years to come.
If you have any comments or questions about Kindle publishing, as ever, please do post them below.