The process to publish through Amazon is much easier. Once you have the manuscript ready to publish after a few rounds with Smashwords, it’s easy. I would recommend reading Make a Killing on Kindle 2018 Edition: Without Blogging, Facebook or Building a Platform, by Michael Alvear. It gives good tips on categories and keywords to enter while publishing so your book will be “seen” by more people searching for it. To publish, you start by going to Kindle Direct. If you have an Amazon account, then you can use your Amazon login to enter. From here, they pretty much walk you through the process. They say it could take up to 72 hours for your book to publish, but my experience has been that it’s up for sale on Amazon within 24 hours.
The best news is that publishing this way is free.
Here’s what you need before you start to publish:
- A book description. Smashwords requires a long and short description, so have both ready. (I usually combine the short and long descriptions in my Amazon publication).
- A list of 7 keywords ready to enter. I recommend checking Google to research common keyword searches used to for the type of book that you use. For example, “science fiction” is fairly broad and will probably put you on page 1,000,000,000 or lower. However, “alien invasion colonization” will narrow that down and put you higher on a search list – and yes, people do search that way. You’d be amazed at the keywords they use.
- A book cover. If you’re really savvy then you can design your own using software, but I’ve found that few writers are gifted in both writing and graphic arts. You can buy images from iStock or Shutterstock insert your title and name. MorgueFile has free images available, but I would recommend asking the photographer’s permission to use their photo for a book cover, as a courtesy (I’ve done this a couple of times, and they’re usually flattered to allow it, if you send them a free copy of the book). If you’re like me and your skill is limited and you really want a good cover, then you can hire it out. Check Smashwords to get a list of reasonably priced graphic artists who can help. (The Smashwords Style Guide should have an email you request this list from.)
Here are a few more notes on self publishing to make the process smoother:
- I do suggest having your manuscript professionally proofread by somebody who doesn’t know you personally. Of course, if you know somebody who you feel is willing to give it an objective read-through then go for it. If not, you can check Goodreads for beta and proofreader groups that might be able to point you in the right direction of a proofreader for your genre. Be forewarned, this process can be a bit expensive, but once you get in with someone then they’ll usually lock you into a lower rate.
- A price point between $0.99-$2.99 is pretty standard for ebooks, and usually generates the most sales. $2.99 allows you 70% royalties, however, I found that my book sales increased when I dropped the price to $1.99 for my full length novels. I usually price long stories or novellas at $0.99.
- You can’t enter your book in KDP Select if you also publish through Smashwords. The KDP Select program is only for books that are published through Amazon and nowhere else. It’s up to you if you choose to only publish through Amazon. While most of my sales are there, I also get a fair amount of sales through the Apple iBooks store and occasionally through Barnes & Noble, so I don’t want to alienate those crowds.
- If you publish on Amazon, you’ll also need to set up an Amazon Author Page. Again, you can use your regular Amazon login, and they pretty much guide you through the process. You’ll need to go to this site to claim your book once it publishes – that isn’t automatic.
- If you’re on Goodreads, you’ll also need to claim your book there. I recommend claiming it on your Amazon Author Page and Goodreads at the same time, so you’ll have all the ASIN number from Amazon to enter on Goodreads so they can link it.
- If you don’t have a PayPal account for book royalties, set one up before you publish. Both Amazon and Smashwords can transmit your royalty payments quick and easy through PayPal. Be sure to get the app for your phone so you can process those payments quick and easy (I use a personal account).
- I also recommend converting your manuscript to a PDF so you can download it for your copyright and to send as a review copy to reviewers. Do a search online for “Free PDF Converters.” Most of them will allow you to convert a few documents a day for free.
- If you want to formally apply for a copyright for your book, you can do so by going to https://eco.copyright.gov . It costs $35, and you have to publish the book first. Be sure to have a credit card handy, and to be ready to download a PDF of your manuscript for them. Don’t be surprised if it takes 6 months or more to get it – they’re slow.
On a final note, I have no experience with self-publishing a paperback book. I haven’t sold a paperback book since 2012, and frankly I’m realistic enough to know that the handful of people who asked me about it wouldn’t really buy and read the book anyway if it were available in paperback, because they’re the types looking for a handy excuse. But I’m also a bit of a tree hugger, so I love ebooks and am happy publishing solely in that format.
So that’s your quick primer on self publishing! I hope this is helpful to those of you who decided to quit bashing your heads against the brass doors of traditional publishing and are ready to be a bit rebellious. Next time, I’ll give you a list of books that I’ve found inspiring and helpful in my journey as an independent author.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.