Posts Tagged Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

Achieve Your Writing Goals

Back in May I went on a day course in London run by the very successful Joanna Penn and Orna Ross entitled How to Make a Living (and a Life) from Writing. 
We covered lots of topics to do with writing, publishing, money, income streams etc and I came away inspired. Needless to say, these things take time and I’m not yet (!) making a living from writing. However, I wanted to tell you about one very simple but motivating exercise that we did.

At the end of the day each course participant was given a sheet of paper and asked to note down their writing goals for the next three months. We were also given a stamped envelope, asked to address it to ourselves and put our sheet of writing goals inside. Joanna and Orna collected the envelopes, stored them for three months and then posted them.

My list of goals arrived through the letterbox a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t remember exactly what targets I’d set myself (they’d been written at the end of a long day when I was full of enthusiasm for everything I’d just learned) so I was prepared to see a list of over-ambitious stuff I hadn’t done. But there was a nice surprise – all three goals had been achieved:

  • Started the publishing process for my second grip-lit novel, The Promise.  At the time I wrote this goal the novel was under consideration by The Book Guild and I’d decided that if they turned it down I would embark on the self-publishing route rather than join the masses knocking at every agent’s door. Happily, The Book Guild felt The Promise had commercial potential and I’ve now seen the cover (it will be revealed it in a later post), had a lovely endorsement by crime writer Judith Cutler and had the typeset proofs. Publication day is 28th January 2018!
  • Create a boxed set of my three short story collections in e-book and paperback format. Done and blogged about. The proof (should you need it) is on Amazon and Kobo in the form of A Coffee Break Story Collection : 36 Short Stories
  • Update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners to reflect the lessons learned as I created the paperback version of the boxed set and also to include other changes in KDP since I’d last updated the book. A tick for that one as well! The updated book is now available.

Last weekend I exchanged my next set of goals with my writing buddy, Helen Yendall (we managed to talk writing for 4 hours – can you believe that?!) and we’ll meet again in November to see how we did.

Do you make goals? How do you make yourself accountable?

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International Women’s Day 2016

Last week I took part in an event for International Women’s Day organised by Birmingham Adult Education Service . Sally Jenkins Author StandI was asked to speak about something to do with women and writing. Women are flourishing in the field of self-publishing so that’s the area I chose to focus on.

An early female ‘self-publisher’ was Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility was only taken by the London publisher Thomas Egerton on the condition that the Austen family made good any losses suffered by the book if it didn’t sell. In my mind that equates to self-publishing because the author was taking all the financial risk. This story removes much of the stigma attached to self-publishing – showing that even classic writers have done it.

Jump forward 200 years and books by indie women authors are outselling those by men. An article in the Guardian stated that in early 2015 67% of the top-ranking self-published books were by women, compare that to the Telegraph’s ‘Best Books of 2014’ list – 70% of those were by men.
This article in the Daily Mail showcases three women who’ve sold thousands of their books on Kindle. We all know that they are the exception but they provide inspiration to the rest of us and show that it is possible, with hard work and an understanding of the marketplace, to make it big.

Having (hopefully) enthused my audience with these facts, I went on to give them a whistle stop guide to self-publishing on Kindle, based on Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Afterwards a couple of ladies came and told me that they’d been inspired which was very gratifying.

Just in case I’ve inspired you too, my non-fiction e-books on writing are both only 99p/99c (UK & US only) until Sunday 20th March 2016. And men are allowed to make use of them too!

A Writer On Writing

Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

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One Writer’s Journey

Every writer’s journey is different. Author Steve Wand is my guest today and he shares his path from adversity to publication, including resources he found useful. In the last paragraph he offers sensible and motivating advice – take it and you’ll immediately appear more professional.
Over to Steve:

Robert Schuller once said ‘good things are often birthed from adversity’. Steve Wand
This was the case with me when recurrence of my old spectre epilepsy resulted in me losing my job and driving licence. The event placed me at one of life’s crossroads forcing me to re-evaluate my options. A love of writing led me to consider proofreading and, upon completion of nine-month’s professional training, I formed Steve Wand Editorial, allowing me to work from home, providing editorial services. I was also able to resurrect an unfinished fiction project and, in October last year, I set out to complete what I’d begun in 2004.

Along with self-doubt as a writer, one reason I’d consigned the completed first draft of my novel – a children’s fantasy adventure – to the drawer was my frustration with the story’s clumsy opening. I’d no idea how to remedy this and allowed myself to become disheartened. I now had opportunity to re-assess the work. My ‘eureka moment’ was when I chose to cull the first four chapters and start the tale at the point where things become interesting. But what of the missing backstory? How could I include this without relying on hefty paragraphs of narration? Using the ‘show rather than tell’ rule I selected elements crucial to the tale and worked them into dialogue. For example, two scrapped chapters illustrating the protagonist’s school bully problem were replaced by eight lines of verbal interaction.
Solving the tricky opening gave me confidence and motivated me to redraft The Door to Caellfyon with a view to self-publishing it on CreateSpace and Kindle. The Door to Caellfyon
At this point my editorial training became invaluable, I knew the role outstanding book covers play in achieving sales so I elected to proofread the final copy myself and use my limited funds to buy professional artwork. For this I had just the chap in mind.
I emailed the remit to local graphic designer Stu Smith, along with sample text from scenes I considered would make for good cover art. Given the tight budget I think Stu did a terrific job. I received his completed artwork on Christmas day, at which point I was free to upload my novel. This proved to be a greater challenge than I anticipated. Sally helped here with her book Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Rick Smith’s Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass was also helpful.
Having allowed self-doubt to deny me my ambition for so long I’d like to end here with a closing statement from my own recent blog-post Owning and Blowing Your Trumpet:
“ … as I begin 2016 with a sense of achievement and a feeling of excitement for the coming year I urge every aspiring writer who reads this to revisit your social media profiles and remove any trace of the word ‘wannabee’ or ‘aspiring’ and simply declare yourselves as writers. Make no mistake, this simple yet certain acknowledgement will serve as a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy and, in recognising yourselves as writers, writers you will be.”

Many thanks, Steve, for sharing your experience with us. It’s worth having a ‘look inside’ The Door to Caellfyon on Amazon and Steve’s website can be found at www.stevewandeditorial.co.uk

 

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Book Reviews in Magazines

There’s always something new to learn about the book promotion business.

Over the last bank holiday I went away for the weekend and picked up a lovely free glossy magazine in one of the cafes. It had lots of interesting pieces about the surrounding area, a page of readers’ poems and a book review page. On the review page was an interview with a local author who suggested that writers struggling to get traditionally published could, instead, make their work available on Kindle.

I saw this as an opportunity to contact the editor, agree with the local author’s advice, suggest that the aspiring writers in the magazine’s readership might be interested in Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners and ask if it could be included on the magazine’s book review page.

The editor replied and agreed that my book would be of interest to the readers … and that the cost of inclusion on the review page would be £100.

I was quite taken aback, not having realised that there was a charge to appear on magazine book review pages. But on reflection, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. A magazine book review is like an advert and we expect to pay for advertising. It’s common knowledge that publishers pay for display space in the major book shop chains – so they probably don’t mind paying for magazine review space.

I politely replied to the editor, confessed my ignorance and didn’t go ahead with the review because I wasn’t sure it would generate enough sales to pay for itself. The editor did explain that since it was a free publication they were reliant on generating income where they could – which I could understand.

Am I the only one that didn’t realise this was how things worked?

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Updated for 2015 – Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

In February 2014 I pulled together everything I’d learnt about publishing a Kindle e-book and produced Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. This concise e-book covers everything a writer needs to know in order to publish their first Kindle e-book and it’s written in simple language. Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

But nothing stays the same and over the last twelve months there have been some changes over at Amazon KDP. For example, UK writers who enter their National Insurance number in the Amazon on-line tax interview (not as scary as it sounds!) no longer have 30% tax withheld on their US royalties, pricing for EU Amazon sites is now inclusive of VAT (see my previous blog post for more information) and it’s now possible to allow pre-orders of a new e-book before it is published.

Therefore, I have updated Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners to reflect these changes plus a few more bits and pieces, such as the advent of Kindle Unlimited allowing e-books enrolled in KDP Select to be borrowed and earn royalties and the ability for authors to run paid-for ad campaigns on Amazon.com.

So, if you’re thinking about e-publishing a collection of short stories, a ‘how-to’ book or a novel then Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners will show you the way – and it currently costs less than a nice coffee (but I’m toying with the idea of putting it up slightly to reflect the extra work that’s gone into it).

And remember, the nice thing about e-publishing is that anything goes! There’s no rules about genres or word counts – as long as the product description and price reflect the content.

Extract from one of several 5* Amazon reviews:
“The field of e-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is full of tall grasses and hedges, but Sally’s straightforward advice offered a tidy path for my first foray into becoming an online author! Easy-to-read, this guide is clearly written by a writer who has experience with the format, and can either be read as a standalone account or dipped into as you’re on the Amazon website.”

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E-Books and New VAT Rules

Last week I (like all Amazon authors) received an email from Amazon about changes in the VAT rules for e-books. This change comes into effect on January 1st 2015.

Previously (i.e. pre-Jan 2015) VAT on e-books was calculated according to the seller’s country but under the new rules, VAT rates will depend on the buyer’s country. Previously, VAT on Kindle e-books was 3% because Amazon’s headquarters (Amazon are the sellers) are in Luxembourg. Now, for UK e-book buyers it will rise to 20%.

Amazon will automatically change all list prices of existing e-books to reflect this change. This means that Kindle e-book prices are on the rise. The British government will benefit but readers of e-books will lose out.

Previously the lowest price possible on Amazon UK for an Indie e-book, with the author choosing 35% royalties, was 77p. From the 1st Jan 2015 this will rise to 99p. The lowest possible price with the author choosing 70% royalties was £1.53, this will rise to £1.99. The Amazon information page on this is here.

The moral of the story for readers? Stock up on e-books before the end of the year, or face a steep price hike! If you were planning on shopping for a Kindle or tablet in the January sales, download the free Kindle app to your PC and buy your books now to read on your new Kindle later.

The moral of the story for Indie writers? I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see if the new, higher prices send the customers running back to print books. Let’s hope not!

Another word of warning – if you sell e-books directly from your own website, it is your responsibility (whether you are currently VAT registered in the UK or not) to implement the new rules i.e. you must charge VAT according to the buyer’s country and then pay the VAT to the relevant government. I’ve found two interesting links on this topic Rachel Andrew has written a blog post  and Juliet E. McKenna has put together another useful post.

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Three E-Books (not mine!) and a Workshop

I’ve three lots of e-reading to tell you about today (plus a novel-writing workshop) so get your Kindles, tablets, smartphones and other gadgets at the ready …

Firstly, Wendy Clarke has launched her first collection of short stories. Room in Your Heart by Wendy Clarke
Wendy is a prolific and successful women’s magazine fiction writer. She’s had around 90 stories published over the last three years – phenomenal!
Her collection, Room in Your Heart, comprises twelve romantic short stories that have previously appeared in People’s Friend. It’s worth taking a look if you’d like to write for People’s Friend or if you just love a good dose of romance!
The book is available on Amazon and I’m sure Wendy won’t mind you gate-crashing the launch party over on her blog – pop in and say hello (and see what she has to say about Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners).

 

Secondly, the e-magazine for fiction lovers, Kishboo has now formally launched. Kishboo Edition 1
It is available free online or as an Android app and very cheaply for Kindle.
The magazine is running a short story competition and is also looking for articles and readers’ letters. Have a look at the first edition online and see if you can spot any familiar names among the contributors.

 

 

 

Thirdly, you may remember me talking about Judith Cutler’s new crime novel Death in Elysium a few monthsDeath in Elysium ago.
At the time it was only available in a rather expensive hardback edition but now it’s out as a not-quite-so-expensive e-book. It’s the first in a new series of crime novels featuring city girl/vicar’s wife/sleuth, Jodie Welsh. Take a look at it on Amazon.

 

 

And now the workshop:
Romantic novelist, Alison May, is running a ‘Developing Your Novel’ workshop on Sunday 15th November at The Hive in Worcester. It costs a reasonable £40 which includes lunch and refreshments. It is aimed at people who already have a novel-in-progress (at any stage). It will include intensive sessions on plot structure and characterisation, and will also look at skills such as writing a synopsis and editing and revising your novel. Full details on Alison’s website.

Phew, I’m exhausted after telling you all that lot. Time to curl up with a good book …

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Four Lessons in E-Publishing by Emma Jordan

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 Size15Stylist119 Style Boosts

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.

 
Author Biography
Emma Jordan is a freelance writer and creator of the Size15Stylist blog.Emma Jordan

When she’s not blogging or writing, or entertaining her toddler-daughter, she can be found undertaking research in the shops.

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GeoRiot

GeoRiot is a free tool that may be useful to those of you who are marketing Amazon Kindle e-books.

I’m going to explain it simply because not everyone will be familiar with the basic concepts.

Amazon stores are country specific i.e. those of us living in Britain shop through Amazon.co.uk, those in the US buy through Amazon.com and there are also geographic specific sites for France, India, Germany and many more.

Most e-book marketing is global via the internet, using blog posts, Facebook, newsletters, paid-for adverts etc. Authors using these methods will endeavour to provide readers with a direct link to the Amazon page for the e-book being promoted.

However, unless the author provides the individual link for each geographical Amazon site, there will be users somewhere in the world who don’t reach their ‘home’ Amazon site and, if they want to buy the book, will have to navigate there by themselves. Many of them won’t bother. When the link provided doesn’t take them where they want to go, they’ll click on to something else instead.

But it looks clumsy and messy to list around a dozen Amazon links every time you mention your book on the web.

GeoRiot creates a single web address for an Amazon product. This address will always take the user directly to his ‘home’ Amazon site. If the link is clicked in the UK then it will route the user to Amazon.co.uk, if the link is clicked in the US then it will route the user to Amazon.com and so on.

Here’s an example. When advertising Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners I could list each geographical link:

For buyers in the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kindle-Direct-Publishing-Absolute-Beginners-ebook/dp/B00IJFG1W4/

For buyers in the US: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Direct-Publishing-Absolute-Beginners-ebook/dp/B00IJFG1W4/

For buyers in Australia: http://www.amazon.com.au/Kindle-Direct-Publishing-Absolute-Beginners-ebook/dp/B00IJFG1W4/

etc. etc.

Or I can use just one global link provided by GeoRiot:  http://georiot.co/40oj

I think it looks much more professional to provide a single link.

GeoRiot provide this service for free unless you are an Amazon affiliate and then they take a small percentage of your affiliate earnings. For more details on how this payment system works see the GeoRiot website and Nick Daws’ comprehensive blog post where he goes into this and the mechanics of GeoRiot in much more detail than I have.

That’s it – I hope I haven’t blinded any of you with science!

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Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

As most of you will be aware by now, I am very interested in e-publishing and have been building my own Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginnerse-publishing empire(!) for the last twelve months. I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge along the way and have also had many people say to me that they wished they were ‘technical’ enough to do the same.

A couple of months ago Helen Yendall asked if I would talk about e-books and e-publishing to the writing class that she tutors at Moreton-in-Marsh. Whilst sorting out what I might say, quaking in my boots and being glad that I made the effort to join Sutton Coldfield Speakers’ Club, I realised that I had enough material to write a short e-book for beginners who want to publish their first e-book via Amazon KDP.

And so Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners was born.

It starts with the definition of an e-book and moves on through topics such as choosing what to write (if you don’t have a manuscript ‘ready to go’), how to get your book cover, basic marketing and much much more.

Once I’d finished, I followed my own advice and found a beta reader who matched my target audience i.e. a writer who is contemplating e-publishing for the first time. Peter Hinchliffe is an ex-journalist and news editor who has also completed a novel. He gave my manuscript a big thumbs up and said in his review, “This book shares the skills needed in a detailed, easy-to-follow way. It could be the most rewarding book you ever buy.”

The launch of Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners took place yesterday, following my talk to the lovely writers of Moreton-in-Marsh. There was Bucks Fizz, chocolate cake, coffee and one of the writers celebrated her new grandchild by providing cream cakes for the class – so no one went home hungry! It was really nice to be able to involve other people in the launch instead of doing everything virtually.

So, if you’ve ever fancied seeing your work for sale on Amazon, go and take a look at Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners – it might help you on your way!

KDP for Absolute Beginners Book Launch

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