Posts Tagged KDP

Using HTML in Amazon Book Descriptions

This is a post for those of you who have self-published on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or are planning to do so.

KDP requires a Product Description for each book. This is the equivalent of the blurb on the back of a traditional book and it is very important in selling the book. These short paragraphs help readers decide whether or not to buy the book. Therefore the product description must be set out in an easy to read format. This is not as straightforward as it sounds because Amazon doesn’t provide any formatting options within the box where the the product description is keyed i.e. it’s not possible to use bold or italics or bullet points. This means the product descriptions of many self-published books appear flat and uninteresting.

But there is a way to slip formatting into the product description and thus make it more attractive. HTML can be used. HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is the standard markup language for web pages. DO NOT GLAZE OVER OR RUN AWAY! This is simpler than it sounds.

For example, to make the word ‘thriller’ appear in bold in a product description, use <b> and </b> immediately before and after ‘thriller’.

And, to make the word ‘scare’ appear in italics, use <i> and </i> immediately before and after ‘scare’.

Put ‘A <b>thriller</b> guaranteed to <i>scare</i>.’ in the product description box and it will appear as ‘A thriller guaranteed to scare.’ on the Amazon page.

It’s also possible to use HTML to underline, create lists and give other text effects. This page lists the HTML acceptable in the product description.

To complicate matters, when publishing in paperback through KDP, the product description has a tendency to lose the line breaks. Use <br> to manually indicate where the line breaks should go and use <br> <br> to create a blank line between paragraphs.

Why not experiment with HTML to liven up your book descriptions?

 

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Amazon Asked Me to Change My Book Title

Regular followers of this blog will know that I published my first Kindle e-book, One Day for Me – 8 Award-Winning Stories, two years ago. It’s a collection of short stories, all of which have either won or been placed in UK writing competitions. One Day for Me - 8 Coffee Break Stories

A few weeks back I received an email about this book from Amazon. It told me that the book’s title contained ‘extra descriptive content ‘ which was not allowed. It said that this extra content could be ‘distracting or misleading to our customers’. I was given five days to change the title of the book or have it removed from the Kindle store.

Initially I was confused about was wrong with the title and queried it. Amazon replied that I must remove the words ‘Award-Winning’. My first reaction was to argue the point because I feel justified in using these words since all the stories have done well in competitions. But I decided it would be a David and Goliath contest and David would probably end up with all his books being removed from the Amazon store.

So, I complied and changed the title to One Day for Me – 8 Coffee Break Stories. Then I realised that I didn’t know how to change the cover image to reflect this new title. The cover was all my own work (following some wonderful advice from many of you about what worked and what didn’t)  two years ago but since then I’ve forgotten how to get back in and edit it. I decided time was too precious to waste trying to sort it out so I’ve had a new cover created by Helen Measures on http://www.fiverr.com. It’s quite different from the first cover so I’m hoping that it will attract readers who dismissed the book first time around.

I post this as a warning to those of you thinking of publishing on Amazon KDP. Don’t put any spurious claims or words such as ‘free’ or ‘best’ in your title. If you do you may be asked to remove them.

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Choosing a Book Title for KDP

Most of us have a working-title whilst we’re writing, whether it be a short story, novel or a work of non-fiction. Usually it’s the first word or phrase that came to mind as we sat down to begin our masterpiece.

And that’s the way it should be. Too many writers waste time trying to find the perfect title before starting to write – and then never get anything down on paper. A scrappy working-title is fine but take some time to refine it before sending the manuscript out into the big wide world.

If you’re intending to go through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), it’s worth bearing the following points in mind:

  •  For non-fiction don’t be too clever, simply focus on the benefits the book will bring to the reader – for example, Fast Weight Loss or How to Grow Cacti.
  • The title should give an indication of what the book is about. In 1925 ‘Fleece of Gold’ by Gautier sold 6,000 copies. It was then re-titled ‘The Quest for a Blonde Mistress’ (which is a much better description of the story) and in 1926 it sold 50,000 copies. (I know this was way before KDP but it illustrates the importance of choosing the right title)
  • Try a brainstorming session with a couple of friends and note down all the ideas that come out. Review them a week later and see which still seem good.
  • If possible, try to include in the title any keywords that a reader might use on Amazon to search for books, for example if your work is similar to Fifty Shades of Grey you might want to include ‘Billionaire’ in the title

When you’ve dreamt up something plausible, put your title to the test  using a clever tool provided free by Lulu.com. Go to lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php and simply fill in the boxes. The tool will give your title a score of between 9% and 83% chance of bestseller success. Obviously there are no guarantees but it’s worth a try if you can’t decide between two or three different titles.

Anyone else have any tips on how to create a great title that will respond well in Amazon searches?

Finally, a writing prompt for you based on something I saw this week. On a visit to the supermarket, I used the ladies’ toilets. In the cubicle was an empty pregnancy test packet – someone obviously couldn’t wait until they got home to find out if she was expecting. Who was she? What was the result of the test? Was it the result she wanted? What happened next?

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KDP Select – Is it worth it?

Enrol your e-book  in Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program and you get two advantages:

  • Amazon Prime members are able to borrow the book for free and this will generate a royalty payment for the author
  • The book can be offered free for 5 days in every 90. Offering a book for free is supposed to generate large numbers of downloads which will then convert into reviews of the book on Amazon, which in turn will drive an increased number of sales.

There is also a downside to joining KDP Select – the e-book must remain exclusive to Amazon i.e. it cannot be sold on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo etc.

Many e-book authors swear by KDP Select and its advantages. They don’t see exclusivity as a disadvantage because Amazon is by far the biggest retailer of e-books.

I’m not sure. I’ve had e-books available in KDP Select for just over three months now and I’ve had only one Amazon Prime loan (it was in the US). So that doesn’t seem a massive benefit. Are any of you Amazon Prime members? I don’t know anyone who is.

I’ve run one free promotion. In the five days that One Day for Me was free, I had 135 US free downloads, 93 in the UK, 2 in Germany, 1 Japan and 1 Canada. As far as I can tell, only one review (it was in the UK) was written as a result and I noticed no increase in sales. This was despite spending an age adding my book to the many websites and Facebook pages that offer to list free e-books.

But I didn’t remove that book from KDP Select after the first 90 days, mainly because whilst I was dithering about what to do, the Amazon automatic re-enrol swung into action.

Looking on the bright side – maybe next time I’ll do better!

Which brings me nicely to my next KDP Select Promotion.

My second anthology Old Friends is free on all Kindle platforms for the next three days. Old Friends is a collection of 13 short stories. There are tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus a little romance. Perfect to enjoy with a cup of coffee and a biscuit! If you’re in the UK click here or in the US click here, otherwise search for ASIN B00BJIKIBI on any Amazon platform.

And as a special treat, One Day for Me is half price for the next three days too. One Day for Me is a collection of 8 short stories that have either won or been short-listed in UK writing competitions. If you’re in the UK click here or in the US click here, otherwise search for ASIN B00B4XCYJC on any Amazon platform.

I look forward to the reviews rolling in, followed by a tsunami of sales!

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