Thursday, January 28, 2016

25 things authors should know about Amazon: Self-publish via 5) KDP 6) CreateSpace

This is part three of my series explaining "25 things authors want to know about Amazon but didn’t know to ask"introduced on Romance Author Marketing Network.

Post one is here.

Post two is here.

Before I self-published, I kept hearing things like, "Just put your books up on Amazon," as if doing so were simple. Well, IMO, it's not. There are many many steps to complete. Every time I did the happy dance after getting past one, I had to stop and figure out the next. To me, the amount of clicking back and forth and finding information you need to enter was dizzying. I hope it's easier for you because you can make decisions in advance.

To self-publish ebooks for Kindle, you need Kindle Direct Publishing. You can sign in with your already existing Amazon account info.

You'll start by creating a new title on your Bookshelf. After entering details about your book, such as title, publisher and a description (aka back cover copy), you have to verify that you have the rights to your content. Next, you choose your browse categories by drilling down in the provided list. Where would readers look for your book in a store?

Is your book ready to release now? Do you want to do a preorder so you can promote your book before it goes live (read up on whether these sales count toward your Amazon ranking or not)? You'll need to answer these questions.

The cover comes next. You can upload one already designed or assay their Cover Creator, which offers some pre-designed covers you can customize and an image gallery (or your own images) to start from scratch.  My suggestion: do not do your own cover unless you're a designer. A good cover isn't enough...yours has to be competitive with top sellers in your subgenre. Layout, fonts, colors, images, text...when working with a designer you still need to make most of the choices, but you'll have guidance.

Next you decide whether or not to enable DRM, digital rights management, which impacts how readers can share your book. There are proponents for both options, so read up on which is right for you.

Now you'll upload your book's content. This isn't just the manuscript. You need front and back matter. Look at books on your e-reader or on Amazon for ideas of what to include.

The content must be properly formatted. I've seen many posts about problems with this step. I hired a formatter for two reasons. One, worrying about these things (margins, spacing, fonts for text and chapter headers, scene spacers, etc. makes my head explode. Two, if it doesn't upload correctly, they have to fix it. Even so, you'll still have to make most of the decisions and let your formatter know what you want. You'll want to review your book after it's formatted via the "Preview Your Book" option. Check carefully for spacing and other errors.

Whew. Now we're on to Rights & Pricing. How much do you want to charge for your book, and in what countries? I could do an entire post on this topic. Finally, are you "going wide," meaning selling on as many vendors as possible (meaning you'll need to repeat this uploading process with every vendor or use a distributor like Smashwords [of course there are pros and cons])? If you're only going with Amazon, as I'm doing, you can decide about KDP Select, which puts your book in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owner's Lending Library

Do you want print books, too? Some think e-only is enough. I have print because: if I give a workshop or attend an event, it's great to have examples and copies to sell (you can purchase author copies at a discount via CS), you have to have print if you want to do certain giveaways, such as on Goodreads, and I've had several readers ask for a print version. The cost to you includes a cover formatted for a print book (with a spine, etc.) and a print-formatted text file (unless you do it yourself).

Head over to CreateSpace. CS is its own platform. There is a way to covert your CS book to Kindle, but I've read too many things about formatting problems to give that a shot. You'll need to make many more interior and exterior decisions, such as book size (for some reason, there's no mass market size [though supposedly there's a workaround], so they offer assorted trade paperback sizes) bleed, paper color, and matte or glossy cover.

How are you going to price your paperback...without sending readers into sticker shock, but still allowing you to earn some royalties? I just didn't think most people would try a new author if the price was over $10.

Questions, comments?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

More 25 things authors should know about Amazon: 3) Imprints & 4) Kindle Worlds

If you prefer traditional to self-publishing, consider submitting to one of 3) Amazon Publishing’s 14 (!) imprints, listed at    

Each imprint releases different genres and types of books. For example, Thomas & Mercer is for mystery, thriller and suspense, while Grand Harbor Press is for personal growth, self-help and inspirational works and Two Lions is for kids' books. When you click on each, you're taken to that imprint's books on Amazon. There aren't any posted submission guidelines, probably because their site says Amazon Publishing doesn't accept unsolicited submissions at this time. So, as with many other traditional publishers, you'll need an agent.

4) Via Kindle Worlds, authors can self-publish fan fiction in the worlds of certain popular TV shows such as The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, best-selling authors such as Kathryn Le Veque's World of de Wolfe Pack and J.A. Konrath's Jack Daniels and Associates, and comics. There are currently 49 worlds from which to choose. I suggest checking out what's already available in your world of choice and assessing which are selling the most before writing yours.

Make sure to follow the instructions and rules as you write a novella or book in that “world.” And, as with any publishing agreement, read the KW agreement very carefully.

Then you'll need to set up a KW account to upload your manuscript. You're responsible for designing (and paying for your own cover), making sure to leave room for both the KW log and the individual world's logo. They offer some free images to help you create one, but as with any self-published book, if you're not a capable of creating a competitive cover, I'd suggest hiring a designer. Amazon sets the price and offers 35% of net revenue as a standard royalty rate paid monthly for ebook projects over 10,000 words. You can now write shorter stories, too. And there are royalties offered for hardcover, paperback and audio should you be interested in those formats.

KW has its own section in Kindle Books and its own bestseller lists. And there's a blog geared toward readers and authors.

I'm in the progress of testing the KW waters...and will keep you posted. I've heard that novellas do better than full-length novels, so that's what I'm writing.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

25 things authors want to know about Amazon but didn’t know to ask: 1) Kindle Scout & 2) Write On

I recently posted about "25 things authors want to know about Amazon but didn’t know to ask" on Romance Author Marketing Network. When I decided to self-publish, I had no idea what "putting your book on Amazon" really meant, and was surprised to uncover so many sites and things authors can do to make the most of Amazon.

Whatever you do, make sure you read all of the contracts, and usage and rights information, carefully.

I said I'd discuss each of the 25 things in more detail, so here we go with 1) and 2):

If you're not ready to publish but want to get your GAN (great American novel) into the public eye, consider 1) Kindle Scout or 2) Write On by Kindle

1) On the just over a year old kindlescout, "readers help decide" which never-before-published books get a contract from Kindle Press to publish your books on Amazon only.  (Note: Kindle Press doesn't have its own site) Basically you need to be ready to publish to participate. After authors meet submission requirements, including completing a checklist that requires you to have a great cover, book description, bio and more, you accept the KP Submission & Publishing Agreement. That says you give them a 45-day exclusive. And if you get a contract, which offers a $1,500 advance and assorted royalties, but don't earn $25,000 in 5 years, you can request your rights back. 

I'd bet not many books will earn out $25K. I checked out a few that weren't highly ranked, and a few that were. Publisher credits read, "Published by Kindle Press, Seattle" (year) and "A Kindle Scout Selection."

Once your submission is accepted, you're supposed to get the word out about your upcoming 30-day campaign. Readers view submissions, which include an excerpt of approximately 5,000 words, then nominate up to three books they like. They get a free book (and are asked to leave a review) if KP publishes one of their nominations.

Here's one post about how KS works. Several posts I read mention that KP does some editing, which should help make the book better but would delay publication.

2) I should have made this number 1, because the less than a year old writeon by kindle (what's with the lower case/one word names?) is called a story lab, and accepts works in progress and shorter pieces such as stories. Readers can like parts or all of a post, offer feedback via comments (to which the author can respond) and follow authors they like. Discussion forums offer another way to make connections. Authors can also ask for specific kinds of feedback by adding a Writer's Request. 

Covers are required, and while some are obviously placeholders, many look like professional covers. If your story does well, it might make the trending list on the home page or the landing pages of any of 18 categories from romance to memoir. At the moment, Romance offers 538 results. The first listing on Romance Trending has 612 likes, 1849 reads and 121 follows, while the last has 19 likes, 38 reads and 4 follows. 

Write On has generated very little commentary in the blogosphere.

What do you think of these sites, as an author and/or a reader? 

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Release Day! The Bride Tournament

The Bride Tournament, my standalone third novel, releases today!

RT Book Reviews says, "The third book in the Wars of the Roses Brides series is an intriguing and enjoyable story. Kaufman writes well-developed and sympathetic characters with clear motivations. The Bride Tournament is a page-turner of a historical romance that will have readers rooting for a happy ending."

And I love RT's summary: "On the day of her wedding, Lady Eleanor de la Tour gets the surprise of her life: King Edward has disallowed her from marrying her beloved Arthur, and instead she is expected to marry Richard Courtenay, the new Earl of Glasmere. Because she still loves Arthur, she decides to hold a bride tournament to find another woman who is a better match for Richard. However, the more Richard appears to accept her plan the more Eleanor starts to believe she’s made a mistake — despite Richard’s quest to practice alchemy and the affect it could have on her family. Will these two ever find peace with one another?"

How I got the idea for this book: The opening scene popped into my head. Then I thought, "What if the heroine did something to make sure the groom she was told to marry had a better bride, so she could marry her betrothed?"

Learning about medieval tournaments was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed researching alchemy, the process of turning base metals into gold or perhaps leading to the fountain of youth or other results, depending on which source you follow. 

I hope readers love this story and the Eleanor and Richard's journey....