Self-Publishing 101: Amazon

It’s time for another installment of self-publishing 101. Today’s topic is the big one. Amazon.

Last time we started off the series by giving you an overview of the major publishing platforms: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes.

Amazon is, of course, the primary platform that most authors choose. There’s a very good reason for that. Amazon is huge. Ask most folks in the United States where they go for books (whether ebooks or print) and chances are, they’re going to say Amazon.

To publish your book on Amazon, you use a website known as Kindle Direct Publishing. Sign in with an Amazon.com account there and you can begin the process of creating your ebook. The process is pretty simple and the website walks you through each step. Once you’ve uploaded a cover, an interior file, and set various attributes such as category, keywords, and price, you click Save and Publish and anywhere from 12-24 hours later, assuming nothing goes wrong, your book will be available for sale on Amazon.

Amazon vs. CreateSpace

CreateSpace is the paperback publishing arm of Amazon.com. If you want to hold a physical book in your hand, CreateSpace is the easiest way to do that. Oh, there are other methods: Lulu and Print on Demand being two of them, but CreateSpace is quick and easy and your paperback will be for sale on Amazon right along with the digital copy. Take a look at the detail page for Secrets in Blood.

SecretsThe paperback and Kindle file are listed together. Now, here’s a little bit of psychology for you. See where it says You Save: $11.26? That’s an ingenious little thing right there. We all like to save money, right? But if you weren’t interested in buying the paperback, you wouldn’t care, would you? Well, perhaps not if you really thought about it, but deep down in your subconscious, your brain still thinks its getting a deal. Depending on how you format your book, you might be able to get away with creating the paperback copy for sale about as cheaply as you create the electronic copy. If that’s the case, get yourself a paperback listing. More on pricing and formatting in another post.

When you create the paperback through CreateSpace, you can actually use all of that information to transfer the book to KDP directly. This will save you about ten minutes of work on the KDP site, though you’ll still need to upload a Kindle specific cover and potentially a new interior file.

KDP Select

When you create your book on the KDP platform, you have the option of signing up for KDP Select. This is a program that gives you several “perks” in exchange for exclusivity to the Amazon platform. By opting into KDP Select, you agree that you will not sell your book (or provide it for free download) on any other site, including your own website. You can make up to 10% of the book available for sample, but that’s it. You can enroll in the KDP Select program for 90 days at a time and you can configure the program to auto-renew.

In exchange for this exclusivity, here are the benefits you get.

  • Kindle Lending Library – Your book will appear in the Kindle Lending Library, an Amazon Prime benefit. Amazon Prime members can choose up to one book each month to borrow for free. As an author, you’ll get royalties on this borrow, much like you would if a customer purchased the book. There is no limit to the number of Amazon Prime customers who can borrow your book at once.
  • Kindle Unlimited – This is a new program that readers can choose. For $9.99/month, you can download and read an unlimited number of books per month. Kindle Unlimited also includes audio books.
  • KDP Free Days – For up to five days every term (90 days), you can make your book free. This…in our opinion…is the primary reason to join KDP Select. One of our authors, a relatively new author, signed up for KDP free days when she had two books out. In five days, she got 5,000 downloads of one of her books and made it to #1 in one of the specific fantasy lists on Amazon.com. Once you make it onto a bestseller list on Amazon, your book becomes easier to find…at least for a few days after your promotion ends.
  • KDP Countdown Deals – This is a relatively new promotion that allows you to set incremental price increases on your book over a 7 day period. For example: many full length novels are priced at $3.99. For a Countdown deal, you can set the price at $0.99 for 48 hours, $1.99 for another 48 hours, and $2.99 for the remaining 72 hours. After the promotion ends, the price returns to $3.99. This is another psychological trick. On your book’s listing page, Amazon will tell customers that the price “goes up” soon.

So, should you do it? We can’t answer that.

Our take after a handful of books is that KDP Select is not a bad idea. But go into it with your eyes open and know your audience. Ensure you use your free days or your Countdown Deals every term and know when your auto-renew date is. If you’re a new author, try it out. Advertise the availability of your book in the Kindle lending library and Kindle Unlimited and see how many borrows you get. This may be a viable option for you. But like all things, your mileage may vary.

Oh, and here’s a caveat with both Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library. You will get paid for every borrow or download. But, there are no guarantees how much you’ll be paid. It varies per month and per number of downloads. But it’s not zero. And not-zero is better than zero.

Next time we’ll talk about Smashwords.

Curious about other platforms? You can go back and check out Self-Publishing 101: Choose Your Platform

If you’re in the midst of editing, you may also enjoy Editing 101: I  saw, I felt, I heard, I knew

 

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