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?

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