Have you been thinking about publishing a Kindle book but just haven’t gotten around to sifting through the forums, the FAQs and all the rules about formatting!?

Easy Guide to Publishing Your First Kindle Book

photo by Anna Demianenko

When I first looked into Kindle publishing about four years ago I found it all confusing — the pricing structure, the ISBN numbers. Hey, I didn’t even own a Kindle!

Well, when I went back to it this year, I realized how wrong I was. Amazon has made the whole process quite user friendly and now I realize I should have been publishing on Kindle years ago.

Why should you publish?

Authority

Whether it’s a book, a Kindle short, a downloadable PDF, a magazine article, or any other information product,  publishing will give you “authority.”

You might not think you’re an authority on anything right now, but if you start thinking about your interests, the things you like to talk about, the things people ask you about…these are the topics you should write about. Of course you can publish fiction, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll be talking about non-fiction.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve been growing roses for years. As soon as the weather is warm you’re outside with your pruning shears. At night you’re outside with your watering can. You know every type of rose. You’re the go-to person for beautiful flower arrangements. Your Instagram feed is full of photos of your rose garden. Most likely you blog about roses and gardening.

Guess what? You know more about roses than I do. And more than most of the people you meet. You certainly know enough to teach us a thing or two. Do a little bit more research and add that to what you already know and you wind up with “authority.”

Build Your Platform

Your Kindle book and Amazon Author page will bring people to your blog, your social media accounts and your mailing list.

The more books you write on your topic — i.e. History of the Rose; Rose Gardening without a Green Thumb; Feeding Your Roses; Roses for Beginner Gardeners — the more you exposure you get and then the more followers on your blog, your social media and your mailing list.

Royalties

With Kindle Publishing you can earn up to 70% royalty on sales to customers in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, India, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and more. If you enroll in the KDP Select program you can earn more money through Kindle Unlimited (paid subscription) and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL, a benefit to Amazon Prime members).  Royalties are deposited monthly directly to your bank account.

No fees to publish

You don’t need to own a Kindle to publish a Kindle e-book, just as you don’t need an actual Kindle to read one. Readers can download the free Kindle App to read their books on their phone, tablet or computer. Writers (publishers) can download the Free Kindle Previewer to see what their book will look like on any device before they press the publish button.  There is no fee to publish on Kindle unless you decide to hire an editor or a book cover designer.

Write Your Kindle Book

How do you get started?

Topic

The first thing you need to do is choose a topic. The more specific you are with your topic, the more chance you’ll have of being found under the Amazon Category system.

Let’s use your Rose book as an example.  Go to Amazon.com and click on Kindle e-books.  Look at the category hierarchy on the left side of the page. You can find books about Roses via several different routes. As a Kindle Publisher, you will have the opportunity to categorize your book under two main headings. For example you might choose to go with these:

Kindle Store>Kindle e-books>Crafts Hobbies Home>Flowers>Roses

Kindle Store>Kindle e-books>Gardening & Landscape Design> Flowers>Roses

You would not want to leave your final category at Flowers. By drilling down through all of the subcategories to Roses you’re giving your book a greater chance of being found. Your Rose book will be found under Books, Crafts Hobbies Home, Flowers and Roses. This way you’re multiplying your potential visibility rather than restricting it since it will be found in all four categories.

Another advantage of choosing a very specific category is that you will have fewer competitors than if you had left your book in the broad category. The person who simply writes a general book about flowers will get lost while your Rose book has a much better chance of becoming a best seller since it only has about 500 competitors.

Length & format

Your Kindle book should be as long as it takes to do justice to your topic. Some Kindle books are very short — 24-40 pages. Others are longer. Personally, I’d rather read a short book that gives me the information I’m looking for rather than a long book that is repetitive and full of fluff.

I suggest that you write your book using Microsoft Word or Open Office. You’ll want to use the default settings in your document. Do not use tabs or the space bar for indenting paragraphs. Do not double space between paragraphs. Set these formatting rules up before you start by using Page Layout.  Remember to insert page breaks after each chapter (or section).

In the end you will be uploading an HTML file to Amazon. If you keep your document clean, you will have clean code when you save your document to HTML. You can check and see how it looks with the free Free Kindle Previewer.

UPLOADING

Set up your account here.

Be sure to read the long but very informative FAQ.

You’ll see that you’ll have a choice of whether or not to join KDP Select. If you choose to publish through the KDP Select program you are giving Amazon exclusive use of a piece of digital content for 90 days and in return you receive five days (any five you choose) to make your e-book available for free, and you also get paid for any of your e-books that are lent through the Amazon Prime library. You can read more about KDP Select here. Elsewhere on line many indie authors have written about the pros and cons of the program.

The rest of the form is self-explanatory. You’ll be asked for the title and subtitle of your book. It’s important to add a subtitle to help with keywords for searching.

You’ll be allowed to enter up to seven keywords or keyword phrases of 25 characters or less.  Test these words at Amazon by typing them into the search bar one letter at a time and watch as prompts appear with words Amazon thinks you might be looking for in the search field.  This will show you what most people are using to search for your topic.

A great way to look for keywords is to use https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool. Find phrases that are searched 500 – 10,000 a month. But make sure your keywords are applicable to those searching for books. You can always change your keywords and experiment with what works best.

Pricing & Promoting

There are two basic royalty structures in Kindle Publishing.  Books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 receive a 70% royalty while any other price will give you only 35% of the list price.

It’s easy to see why the $2.99 price is the best place to be. The buyer will be attracted by the low price, but you’ll still receive 70% of the purchase.

Ideally you’ve started promoting before your publication date. You’ve already announced your release date to your blog followers. You’ve tweeted, FB, IG’d and G+’d.

Once you publish you can build your Author Page on Amazon. There you’ll have a chance to link to your books as well as a brief bio, photo, and links to your website or blog.

Need more help?

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