Some say that a book is waiting to be written in all of us. In the past such inclinations might have been given up on due to the difficulties, not only those related to creativity or capability, but also those rising from the outside – in reference to publishing, making a name of oneself and reaching out to readers.
However, in the past few years, with the growing popularity of accessible independent publishing platforms such as the Amazon Kindle, anyone can show imagination, knowledge and authority in matters of his/her interest and actually make a living out of it.
Amazon Kindle is an ebook reader enterprise launched in 2007 by Amazon.com. It was given the name Kindle as a representation of lighting a fire of reading and the pursuit for knowledge. The hardware platform has come to comprise of multiple devices intended for enabling consumers to shop, download and read ebooks, newspapers and magazines at reasonable prices. From E-Ink electronic paper displays to Kindle applications for smartphones, bookworms now have a variety of choices for approaching and using more than 3.2 million of ebooks available in the database.
Moreover, Amazon Kindle offers numerous opportunities for independent authors to directly publish their ebooks on the platform for agreed percentages of royalties. As Amazon Kindle’s market share in ebook reader shipping reaches more than 73% and has an ebook sales revenue of more than 647 million dollars in the United States (statistical reports from 2010), it becomes the most accessible and (potentially) profitable way of publishing and reaching a wide circle of readers. In addition, ebooks have become a feature of content marketing and can thus participate in overall revenues of any business owner.
PUBLISHING AN EBOOK ON AMAZON KINDLE
Entrepreneurship of any sort depends on customers. Technology and internet have come to comprise a large part of managing a business in diverse ways. Presenting and defending authority and expertise in your niche is what will make the difference among countless competitive and similar businesses. Ebooks are tools which proved to be increasingly significant in such efforts (along with other aspects of inbound content marketing).
In addition to the fact that you can avoid time-consuming search for publishers and the difficulties of actually getting your hard-copy books to the bookstores, ebooks are less costly to produce (no printing or storage costs) and as such can be offered for purchase for smaller amounts of money. Consequently, people will be more willing to buy your product – even if you are not an established author. Your ebooks are going to be accessible and visible to extremely high numbers of people. On the other hand, it can be difficult to differentiate and form circles of readers with the multitude of authors who are doing the same. In this section, we will disintegrate a functional process of writing and publishing ebooks on Amazon Kindle and offer some advices on how to form your marketing strategies so as to enhance your chances for success.
Target Audience & Topic
Target audience is one of the key elements in entrepreneurship. Defining interests, needs and desires of your potential customers and constructing your offer according to these notions is essential for productivity – in the meaning of placing a useful product on the market. It is the same with ebooks: you have to write something knowledgeable, interesting and utile.
As an entrepreneur, you should define your audience and your topic according to you niche. It has been shown in various studies that comprehensive and specified niche-oriented ebooks have a substantially higher percentage of success (in opposition to fiction, for example).
Once you have made a decision on your audience and content which you intend to present, you should choose a compelling yet clear title for the ebook. The title will determine frequency and ranking of your ebook in search results. It should, therefore, be unique so as not to get buried. Use Search Engine Optimization tools to ensure optimal representation of your ebook.
Most online publishing sites have formatting tools which correspond well with files written in Word, so this might be your best choice, especially if you will be taking care of formatting and editing by yourself.
Your material should be prefaced with a Table of Contents. Make sure you insert ‘Page Break’ after each of the chapters and in between sections (you can locate the tool in the ‘Insert’ menu). These will allow readers to undisturbed scroll through the pages and eliminate redundant white space.
With regard to a simplified formatting process later on, use
- Standard Fonts
- Extravagant fonts
The written draft must be revised in matters of focus and organization of specific sections, chapters, and paragraphs as well as a whole.
Further on, you should attend to proofreading – finding and correcting mistakes in grammar, style and spelling, as well as typographic errors.
Editing is an important and complex part of preparing your ebook for the audience and should be done conscientiously. There are countless copy editors and book consultants who can help you with constructive suggestions and advice in this process (for example, Independent Editors Group).
Illustration & Formatting Your Ebook
- Hiring someone to do it
There are many ebook conversion services available with different price ranges among themselves as well as according to the amount of words in your file.
- Doing it yourself
You will need to use some HTML skills, and it might be confusing for the first time – but it can be done! Use Kindle’s Simplified Guide to Formatting Your Ebook and follow the steps.
You will need to download KindleGen and Kindle Previewer tools so you could check if you are satisfied with your formatted file.
You can insert images in your file in the JPG format.
Cover of your ebook is essential for its successful placement. As most people are going to come across your ebook in the thumbnail format, it is important you design it accordingly. Make sure that it sends a clear message because if readers cannot deduct what the book is about in the first ten seconds there is a good chance they will simply scroll over it. Additionally, do not place a picture of yourself on the title page. Unknown personas smiling from the covers are not going to attract readers (on the other hand, it is a great strategy for celebrities).
Create a Professional Ebook
It is easy to publish a book independently, but all the above-stated procedures (i.e. editing, formatting, illustrations) are extremely hard to do right, especially for someone who has no prior experience in such endeavors. Of course you can do it on a satisfactory level if you put enough time and effort in it, but if you cannot leverage these conditions, it would be better to invest some money and at least consult with professionals. Bear in mind that with large amounts of motivated, independent publishers comes the greater necessity of differentiation and that quality stands out more than everything else (in most cases).
Uploading Your Ebook
International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique 9 digit reference number which serves as a book identifier. Amazon Kindle does not require ISBN because it provides your ebook with the 10 digit Amazon Standard Identification Number (AISN). Many other publisher platforms also provide their ISBN’s for independently published ebooks.
On the other hand, you can purchase your own ISBN for around 100$ and become your publishing company. That way you can insert the number during the publishing process in Amazon Kindle and be enlisted as the publisher of your work.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Now that you have finished all the work behind the scenes, it is time to upload your ebook.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the basic program Amazon Kindle offers to independent publishers. It is the most populous publisher today and hence an unmissable point in the journey of your ebook.
The account creation is free of charge while the pricing of the ebook ranges from 0.99$ to 200$. Royalties are from 35% to 70% depending on the price you set for the ebook – it must be priced at least 2.99$ in order for you to maximize your royalties (70%).
- Create an Amazon account and sign in.
- Register your tax information for royalties.
- Insert the title.
- Fill out the form – including book title, description, and keywords you want people to search to find your book.
- Upload the cover file (JPG format).
- Upload the book file.
- Click “Save and Continue” and proceed to the “Rights and Pricing” page.
- Choose ‘Worldwide Rights’ and opt for a royalty rate and pricing according to your inclinations.
- Click ‘Save and Publish’.
- Amazon will email you when the book is ready to be published (from 24 to 48 hours).
KDP Select or Not?
Kindle Direct Publishing Select program is a 90 day period during which Amazon has exclusive rights to your ebook (meaning you cannot present your ebook anywhere else for 90 days). However, it gives you the opportunity to offer your ebook at no cost for five days of your choice which can be useful for acquiring large numbers of readers, as well as word-of-mouth marketing and beneficial reviews.
Moreover, your ebook is placed in Kindle Owner’s Library, which is accessible only to Amazon Prime Members. They are allowed to borrow any book in the Library for a whole month at no cost. Each time your book is borrowed, you get paid around 2$. After the period has expired, you can opt for it again, under the same conditions, or continue to be published on Amazon without the special features.
While it was a popular strategy in 2011, the KDP Select has been criticized in relation to exclusivity. You cannot advertize your ebook on any of your platforms, and it is more of a one-channel strategy. Bearing in mind the importance of juggling various channels nowadays it might be a not-so-productive option for your ebook management. Of course, the choice is up to you!
Alternatives to Amazon Kindle
As the ebook market widens and becomes more and more popular for readers as well as publishers, the web of independent publishing platforms grows in numbers. Aside from Amazon Kindle, you can choose from a myriad of others which can be used for placing your ebook on the online purchase skyline.
Here we present a list of some alternatives to Amazon Kindle along with the percentage of royalties each of them offers:
- Apple – 70% (regardless of the price of the ebook)
- Lulu – 90% (regardless of the price of the ebook)
- Smashwords – from 60% to 85% (depending on the price of the ebook)
- Scribd – 80% (regardless of the price of the ebook)
- Kobo Writing Life – between 80% and 90% (depending on the price of your ebook)
Setting the Price of Your Ebook
The price you set for your ebook must be done according to three things:
- The (more or less) objective value of the ebook
- Price accessibility to readers
Of course, you can set the price at the minimum because that way it will be extremely accessible to potential buyers. However, if you have written your book with a dedication and invested time and money in its realization, it is somewhat discouraging to put such a low-cost rate. Even more so if you bear in mind that increasing its price does not have to mean setting the bar inappropriately high. Most ebooks on Amazon Kindle are within the 2.99$ and 9.99$ price range.
Royalties differ between platforms (as we have stated above) but are reasonable.
The objective is hence to balance out the value of the book, the price you will sell it for and the amount of money you will receive for it.
Marketing Your Ebook – How to Make Your Ebook Successful?
In addition to marketing-oriented features you can apply to your ebook before and upon publishing – format, design and choice of publisher; the process of ‘getting the word out’ for your ebook does not end with mere postulation of the product on a platform. The publishing platform is not going to actively promote your ebook. Hence, you have to prepare a great marketing strategy.
Leverage your platforms
- Amazon Product Pages
It is surprising how many people neglect their product pages on Amazon. Put the tools which are offered such as ‘Tags’, Listmania, reader reviews and other in motion so as to create a comprehensive overview of your product at the site of purchase. Amazon’s Author Central is a helpful base which you can consult in order to fully use the features.
As ebooks are a product, you should employ the omnipresent content marketing strategies in order to promote it. Blogs are an excellent platform for such endeavors: they contain your work, your information and provide credibility to your ebook. Moreover, they serve as a communication channel for your readers – they can give opinionated constructive feedback, ask questions and monitor your further undertakings.
- Social Networks and Google Keywords
Social networks are also a great channel for communication and promotion of your work. On Twitter, you can grow a circle of followers with similar interests and passions which will become a marketing device in itself. Furthermore, the readers will be easily updated and ready for more!
Facebook ads and Google keywords can drive a substantial amount of traffic to your other platforms and thus bring in new prospects and leads.
EBOOKS AS A PART OF CONTENT MARKETING
Content marketing is all about cross-promotion in a subtle and qualitative way. Wherever you read about it, same channels and means are stated. In order to develop a functional (online) marketing strategy, you have to establish platforms such as websites and social networks in order to have a place for promotion of your products or services. The process is nowadays achieved by introducing knowledge and information in the niche of your business which corresponds to interests of your targeted customers. Presenting reading materials in the form of ebooks and blogs can broaden, brand and firmly connect your enterprise to customers.
Ebooks which you have published on Amazon Kindle can be offered for sale on your other pages as well (after the 90 day exclusive period and if you have not opted for KDP Select program) and serve as one of the pillars of the marketing temple for you products or services.
After you have integrated yourself as an author for the first time, you should continue to write and publish. Statistics show that multiple books, especially series tend to have a higher success and profitability rates. With the help of the marketing apparatus you have constructed, readers of your first ebook will be ready for more in no time!