As some people might already know, a few years ago I left the exciting world of corporate culture to get back into writing. I dabbled in fiction (while in management, my skills at twisting a story were near legendary!), and then went to get a degree in Professional Communications, where I fell a little bit in love with marketing and copywriting.
When I was first looking at getting back to writing, something I had put to the side for two decades, one of the websites I was actively using was www.writing.com (an excellent and very supportive community for anyone interested in writing). It was a great spot to find out if the words you were putting on the page were worth reading, and fellow writers would provide a gentle critique, oftentimes with excellent feedback. It was very nice to get this kind of support outside of immediate friends and family, so I wrote a few more entries, bounced some ideas around, and gave gentle feedback to many of the other writers.
I had submitted some of the stories that I liked to various publications around the web, hoping that maybe one would get picked up. For the most part, the automated rejections were more welcome than the lack of any response at all, and the personal rejection letters (they didn’t personally reject me, just the submission…) I received from a few editors were worth almost as much as getting published – almost.
Recently, I was cleaning up some space on my hard drive, and came across a few fictional projects I created on writing.com. I took a look at the stats, and found that a few of them actually had some impressive (well, impressive to me) stats. The stories that had the most views weren’t the stories that I had submitted, so the opportunist in me decided that since people were reading them, maybe they’d want to buy them…So far, with little to no promotion (maybe 2-3 tweets), my book (short story) has bounced around in the rankings, from #249,999 to #42,000. It’s not going to make me rich, but it’s a good creative outlet.
Enter – Kindle Direct Publishing
Since I already had a story that ranked #1 in Google for the title (largely due to being in the writing.com database) I figured it would be worth looking into self-publishing. I quickly found the Kindle Direct Publishing page (among many others, but this is my post on how the process worked). Here are the steps involved in publishing your own story or book.
1) Write your book/story/poems/how to guide. Edit. Edit. Edit. (repeat as necessary)
2) Go to https://kdp.amazon.com (create an account)
3) Read/accept Kindle Direct ToS
4) Update your account info (name/address/etc)
5) Click on the “bookshelf” link at the top of the page
6) Click on the “Add a new title” button
7) Enter your book details
a) Title – Create a compelling title
b) Description – This is the copy that’s on the dustcover – it needs to be perfect and interesting if you want to compel anyone to buy your ebook
8) Verify publishing rights/choose categories
9) Create your book cover – This is what people will see while they are browsing through the kindle selections – so make sure it stands out. If you can DIY – great. If not, hire someone to create it for you – it’s that important.
10) Upload your book file (this is the part I had a bit of trouble with – the first couple of tries had some odd formatting. Luckily, you can go back and edit, even after publishing)
a) Choose whether you want DRM or not
b) Here’s the info from Kindle on how to format – you will find that there are just about as many opinions on the proper format as there are individual titles. You get to preview before you publish – it’s probably a good idea to have someone else have a quick read before you submit it.
12) Verify all of your rights/pricing. Give some thought to your price – if you price it between $.99 and $2.98, the most you can get in royalties is 35%. From $2.99 – $9.99, you can get 70%, but you’re going to have to work pretty hard to get people to buy it
13) Save and Publish – You’re pretty much done! (Once published, if it doesn’t look right, you can revise it easily. it looks like it takes it off the shelf for this process (not available for sale) – but I’m not 100% sure.
14) Repeat as necessary (once you’ve made a few sales, it becomes habit forming!)
The good news – the process probably couldn’t be easier. The bad news – publishing is the easy part!
Your book will sit in a pending status for 2-3 days and then magically it will go live. After it’s been published, it’s your job to promote the hell out of it. This post by Seth Godin has some great tools for you to use to promote your new ebook, as well as a handy checklist.
So if you’ve got something that should be read by people other than your mom, KDP is a great option. If you’ve tried something else, I’d love to know your experience with it in the comments.
If/when I get time, I think I will do a collection of short stories and bundle them together. Writing for free is great – but it’s pretty cool to see someone fork over cold, hard cash for something you created. Especially when they leave feedback (hint, hint!)
Remember – Writers Write – keep on doing what you love.