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Friday, February 19, 2010

How to Publish on Kindle Part One

Soon after Lever came out, I asked a company if they might be able to convert my book into a Kindle edition since I knew there were strict requirements of HTML formatting, special features, etc. The representative told me they could do it for $35 -- not so bad -- but they'd also take 35% of the retail price for each sale. Well, since Amazon only PAYS 35% of retail as a royalty for the book, I figured, no thank you. Other (small) publishers I talked with also didn't know how to do Kindle. Life went on with busy things, and I didn't continue to pursue this.

Until now! I'm happy to say that I've just published A Lever Long Enough in a Kindle format. I did this myself, learning how through a fortuitous mention on a writer's loop and a follow-up question, followed by a little bit of research -- Amazon has worked to make Kindle formatting more accessible to small- and self-publishers, even individuals, so if you have a book you'd like to offer for sale on Kindle, and you have the rights, well, now it's pretty easy.

I'm sure there are other summaries like this out there, but figure maybe this will be useful also. I'm going to spread this topic over a few blog entries since there's enough information that I can't do it in one go.

For today, the first question you might want to ask yourself is if you really want to do Kindle. On the positive side, it costs nothing to list your book, and amazon automatically retails your sales and deposits the money directly into your account. A downside is that amazon does not pay into Paypal accounts, only checking accounts, so to create an account you need to provide your name, checking account number, and social security number or EIN. Also, remember that any manuscript on Kindle is considered PUBLISHED so if you're trying to find an agent or editor for your work to traditionally publish, you don't want to put it on Kindle.

You also have to realize that (surprise) as a self-publisher you are working at a disadvantage to traditional publishers, since you MUST charge at least $0.99 for your book to download. This may seem counterintuitive, but charging money may ultimately make your book less financially productive -- at least by the theory that having your book go viral (where it gets into the hands of as many people as possible) leads to more sales. This strategy is according to marketing guru John Kremer who has recently opened two free ebook sites for fiction HERE and nonfiction HERE. I don't know myself. The point is, though, that if you DO want to try the viral strategy here, you can't. Furthermore, since there are many free ebooks from Kindle already from traditional publishers, you can't compete.

But let's not moan about things that can't be changed. Another thing you need to know, as mentioned above, is that you get 35% of the sale price of each book. Amazon of course reserves the right to change prices and offer discounts etc., but I wouldn't count on their doing anything to your favor. For Lever, Jean and I thought hard about what price to charge, and after checking out Kindle listings etc. decided to put it at $4.95. The print book is available for a little under $13. We could have charged a dollar, but figured this was selling myself short -- after all I worked darned hard to get it finished!

Another decision I had to make was whether to enable DRM (Digital Rights Management) or not. The Amazon upload site was less than helpful; it only said:

"You may choose, on a per title basis, to have us apply DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology which is intended to inhibit unauthorized access to or copying of digital content files for titles. Once your title is published, this setting cannot be changed."

OK. I googled DRM with Kindle and think that, in the real world, this means that with DRM your book can be downloaded only a small number of times, or (if DRM is disabled) that it can be repeatedly transferred ad infinitum, for example when the purchaser adds a new device to his account, or (gasp!) he transfers the book to a friend's Kindle. I decided not to enable DRM, since I figure it's to my advantage to not frustrate people, and also to have as many people and devices read Lever as possible -- a little towards Kremer's view, in which he sees obscurity more of a danger that theft.

OK, that's enough for today. Next week I'll give specifics about how to actually get your book uploaded onto amazon. And BTW, after seeing the preview and how easy my book is to read, I've decided I want a Kindle too :-)


Kat Heckenbach said...

Amy, you rock! Cracking the eggs of publishing and sharing your knowledge :). I love reading your posts!

Thank you!

Amy Deardon said...

Kat, you're very sweet. I'm simply trying to help people out of little snafus I've been caught in myself, and hope these things are helpful. Kindle has been a thorn for me for a long time, and I can't tell you how pleased I am to have finally cracked this one! (although Lever isn't listed yet -- but it took awhile for my print book to be listed also)

Amy Deardon said...

mixed metaphors notwithstanding :-)

Karina Fabian said...

Amy! This will be so great! Once the Catholic Writers Conference ONline is over and I've written my book that's due in March, I'm going over this and working some of my DragonEye, PI novellas into Kindle. Been wanting to do this for awhile. Wooot!