Emma Jordan got in touch with me recently after using Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners to publish her first e-book, 119 Style Boosts from the Size15Stylist.
Emma runs the fashion/shopping blog Size15Stylist and I asked her to share with us the lessons she learnt during her e-publishing experience.
This is what she told me:
Lesson One – Format
Keep it clean; don’t worry about tables and images, unless they are really necessary. There are books to help if you want to incorporate images and tables (Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide; Steve Scott’s Kindle Publishing Package) but when you are converting your Word document to HTML (web page) to upload to Amazon, a lot of your formatting will be lost. To emphasise your points, use different font headings and use spacing well. Amazon Author Natalie Penna uses spaces beautifully in her YA novels, encouraging readers to read on.
Or, put simply:
An e-book screen is smaller than a paperback.
You don’t want to read too many chunks of texts.
It halts your story.
Spaces keep the reader reading.
Lesson Two – Front cover
I spent precious writing and editing time searching for a cover (and trying to get my head around rights’ issues) and even tried to create a front cover on Publisher software; silly me. Sally rightly points out that Amazon’s Cover Creator offers thousands of options and I created my front cover, for free, in less than a few minutes.
Lesson Three – Triangul-edit
I detest editing, although I realise this is how you shape your words to reach your readers. I am always more motivated to write during the planning stages; coffee, computer, no deadlines. I learned how to reduce the editing process so that it’s manageable and now triangul-edit:
1 – Content (do I have enough words, and are my words explained?)
2 – Grammar (can I say my words better in another way?)
3 – Typos and Format (has spell check picked up a wrong word? Are there problems with spacing?)
My ebooks so far have been around 10,000 words (a novel is around 80k, depending on author) so when I have accumulated around 30 pages of single space text then I start to edit. I head for the nearest coffee shop with my print out and trusty pencil-case.
Lesson Four – Technically, you’ll be okay
I put off self-publishing for years, because I just didn’t know if I was technical enough. But I bumped into Sally’s book, Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners and after I read the book a few times, I realised the technical details were within my capabilities. On publishing day (pyjamas and no distractions), Sally’s book sat by my laptop, so I could refer to common sense during the uploading process.
When it comes to converting your Word doc to a web (html) doc, as per Amazon’s requirements, you cannot check formatting enough – after 10 saved web documents on my hard drive, I still discovered a wayward additional space in the final Amazon published version. Note: delete each copy of the web document as you amend, and save under a new name if necessary – you don’t want 10 copies of a web doc lurking near the upload button.
The paramount wisdom I unearthed – You are Your words. Do not rush your self-publishing journey in a hurry to see your name listed as an Amazon author. And, pressing the (self)Publish button is only the start of your journey. You are also your own Marketing department.
Emma Jordan is a freelance writer and creator of the Size15Stylist blog.
When she’s not blogging or writing, or entertaining her toddler-daughter, she can be found undertaking research in the shops.
#1 by susanjanejones on September 22, 2014 - 12:01 pm
Great post Sally and Emma. Also, from reading your blog and following your advice, Sally, I’ve published some children’s stories in e-form, also a historical factual e-book, The Angel and the Poet, which earned me some money last month, and a poetry collection as well.
#2 by Sally Jenkins on September 22, 2014 - 3:21 pm
Susan – glad to hear you’re getting some money from the e-books. It makes it all worthwhile when you see it on your bank statement doesn’t it?
#3 by angeliqueminiatures on September 22, 2014 - 1:36 pm
Thank you so much for sharing this. I bought your self publishing book with a view to learning this mystical process. I am relieved to hear that another lady was worried about not being technical enough…….so I am not alone then! This has given me renewed confidence that when the time comes, I too can self publish my own book.
#4 by Sally Jenkins on September 22, 2014 - 3:22 pm
I’m sure you can do it, Angelique and if you learn anything interesting along the way, do come back and tell us!
#5 by Size15Stylist on September 22, 2014 - 3:45 pm
Hi Susan and Angelique – and Sally! Glad you found the post useful….Kindle Publishing wasn’t half as terrifying as I thought it would be, once I found the write support from those writers who’d done it before 🙂 Good luck in your own self-publishing adventures….it’s a great career!