If you’re a fan of Amazon’s bestselling Kindle, you’ve probably considered exploring the lucrative world of self-publishing. After all, it’s not often that you can find a truly comprehensive guide to publishing on the net. That is, unless you’re a very special individual – like a journalist, blogger, or an aspiring author – in which case you may need to scrounge around for a bit longer.
The good news is, you don’t need to be a celebrity to earn a decent chunk of change with an ebook published by Amazon. As long as you can string a few sentences together, you can write an ebook titled How to ___(insert your favorite topic here)__ and make a ton of money.
Here’s how you can do it. We’ll discuss everything from the mechanics of writing a Kindle book to the design of the finished product, giving you a comprehensive look at the ins and outs of what is – in fact – possible with Amazon’s e-reader platform. By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly what steps to take to publish your first ebook – or the next one.
Step one: Set your price
When it comes to pricing models for ebooks, the first thing you need to do is set a price. Amazon’s recommended price for a new author is $2.99 – a far cry from the $0.01 cents or less that many print-on-demand books charge just to list them in the store. That being said, experimenting with pricing is a good idea; you don’t know what will work best for your book. If you have a relatively expensive book (more than $10,000 in research and development for example), you may want to consider setting a much higher price. However, you need to remember that Amazon’s algorithm takes into account a variety of factors, including how many times your book has been downloaded. The ideal price for your book will depend on several variables, including how popular it is and how much effort you’ve put into writing it. Setting a high price for your book may also help you get Amazon’s attention – the algorithm will see it as a “safe bet” rather than a “risky purchase.”
Step two: Decide on the platform
Your next step is to decide which platform you’ll use to publish your book. The three main contenders here are Kindle, Nook, and Apple iBooks. Each has their perks, but also some significant drawbacks. We can’t cover them all, so let’s take a look at each one.
If you write and publish using Kindle, your book will be available for download on any device that can access the Amazon Kindle Store. That being said, Amazon currently has a substantial lead in the ereader market, and with the introduction of the Kindle Paperwhite in 2016, Amazon has finally made a reading device that competitors cannot easily ignore. Aside from the convenience of being able to read your book on nearly any device, the flexibility of the Kindle format allows for some truly unique experiences. For example, if you upload your own background images and text to your Kindle book, you can make it a completely unique and personalized product. In addition, you can set the price of your book as you see fit – Amazon doesn’t impose any specific pricing guidelines on their authors.
If you write and publish using the Barnes & Noble Nook, your book will be available for download on the Nook Tablet or any other device that can access the Barnes & Noble website. Aside from the convenience of having your book available for download on nearly any device, the flexibility of the Nook format allows for some unique experiences. For example, if you choose to color-match the cover of your book with the interior (blue for example for the cover and inside, or green for the other way around), you can make it a personalized product. You can also set the price of your book as you see fit – Barnes & Noble doesn’t impose any specific pricing guidelines on their authors.
If you write and publish using the Apple iBookstore, your book will be available for download on the iPad or any other device that can access the Apple website. Aside from the convenience of being able to read your book on nearly any device, the flexibility of the iBook format allows for some unique experiences. For example, if you choose to use the iBook Creator to design the cover of your book, you can make it a fully personalized product. You can also set the price of your book as you see fit – Apple doesn’t impose any specific pricing guidelines on their authors.
Step three: Design your book
The next step is to design the inside of your book. This entails choosing a cover image, which we covered earlier, as well as formatting text (number of words, line breaks, etc.). If you use a word processor, you can simply paste your text into the document and hit the publish button – the computer will take care of the rest. However, if you don’t have access to a computer, you’ll have to put together your book by hand. Luckily, that’s not too difficult either.
The cover of your book is, in a word, spectacular. It is the first thing a potential reader will see, so it is of paramount importance that it grabs their attention and inspires them to pick up your book. If you go for a typical photograph of an author (with a serious, sober face – no winking, no smiling), you may cause potential readers to put your book down – what’s the point reading a book if the author doesn’t look like they’re having fun? Think of something that’s striking and memorable. It can be a scene from your book, or something unique to the story itself. For example, if your story is set in the Arctic Circle, you may want to feature an image of an icy landscape or of a polar bear – both will help illustrate the theme and draw in potential readers.
Aside from the cover, the most important part of your book is the text inside. This is where you’ll actually put your story – what you’ll read out loud to the world. In terms of how to write the perfect text for your book, you need to consider several things. First, the font. Did you choose a serif or a sans-serif font? What is the size of your typeface? Second, the color. Are you using color at all? If so, what colors? Third, the structure. Do you want to use chapters? Why or why not? What is the nature of your story? Finally, all of this needs to be supported by solid evidence. You don’t want to rely on your own opinion or feelings alone – readers expect objective, factual information. To cite but a few examples, if you are writing about fashion, you may want to highlight style vs. affordable luxury or value. Readers also expect solid data and analysis when it comes to news and current affairs, so you may want to consult reliable sources for that kind of information.
Step four: Format your book for Kindle
If you wrote your book using a word processor, the last step is to convert it into a Kindle-ready format. This entails making a few minor adjustments to the text, which can be quite tedious (and a bit frustrating), but doesn’t pose any real challenges. Simply go through and replace all of the instances of “Times New Roman” with “Kindle Text.” If you’re feeling extra creative, you can replace said instances with your very own custom font. In addition, make sure to remove all of the extra spaces between words and sentences. This will help improve the flow of the text and keep your readers interested. Remember, this is the first impression and last impression – so every little thing matters.
Step five: Package your book
Now that you have a completed manuscript, the last step is to package it. This entails simply moving your book from the computer to a physical storage medium such as a hard drive or an Amazon S3 bucket. You can also transfer it to an e-reader such as the Kindle using the USB cable that came with your device – though Amazon has made it easy for you to upload your book directly from your e-reader to the Amazon Kindle Store, so you may not need to use a separate device.
As you can see, self-publishing isn’t as complicated as you may think it is. All in all, the process isn’t overly strenuous, and the results are quite impressive. If you adhere to the right steps, you’ll have a professional-looking, Kindle-ready book in no time at all – at least, if you want to.