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Kindle Direct Publishing

edited February 2011 in Writing
Two years ago I wrote a novel, originally called Crystal Ball, now called, Oh Great, Now I Can Hear Dead People. I secured a deal with an agent for it and it almost got signed by Orion, but they had a similar title already coming out. Because by trade I'm a non-fiction writer, The Novel has been sitting in My Documents file ever since, so I've decided to just take the plunge and publish it with Kindle Direct Publishing. Initially I was so overwhelmed with the amount of information on KD that I thought, I am never going to be able to do this, but a lady by the name of Carol, who is in her late 60's and has published many books both with mainstream publishers and more recently with KD, took me under her wing and persuaded me to give it a go, so I thought I would share the tips and tricks that she's taught me, in case any one else is thinking of publishing with KD:

* If you want to promote your book, do so on the KD forum on a Friday - according to statistics, more people are inclined to read about new books on a Friday.
* Most people who download a new ebook won't pay over £6 for it, and the ones that attract better sales are the ones that are priced between £2 and £3.
* If you can do your own cover, do so. It's very simple - just make sure you save it as a JPEG of TIFF file.
* Use Facebook and Twitter to self-promote and become 'friends' with other authors because they will support you and let their 'friends' know about you.
* Don't worry about formatting too much. If your ms is set to industry standards (double lined etc) and written as an MS Word document, Kindle will automatically format it for you.
* Don't worry if it shows a chapter starting half way down a page when you preview your book on Kindle, this is normal - readers of ebooks don't like too much white space to have to scroll through.
* Don't panic if you upload your book and discover that there's a typo or a mistake on there - you can constantly delete, amend and reload it even when it's live.
* Don't worry too much about marketing and promoting - new books from new authors attract a lot of sales and interest, particularly from the US.

At the moment I am just waiting for my daughter to work her magic and design my cover, so I will keep you posted of how I get on and when I actually go live!


  • All the best with this Midia and thanks for the tips- which I'm sure many TB's will find useful.
  • edited February 2011
    Midia I was looking at this only last night. I sent a couple of chapters of my novel to my Kindle to read through myself. See how it felt if you will. Then it struck me how easy it would be to do the whole thing. It all looks so straightforward and simple to do. As you say it's up to you to do the promotion so you need to think of ways of doing that once the book is up on Amazon for sale.

    I follow a YA writer on Twitter who has done it, in fact I bought his book for my daughter, and he's having a good bit of success. He's even saying he now has interest from a publisher to do the paperback version of his new book and the Kindle book too. I was thinking of compiling a short story anthology of my own as a taster into how it would work for me once I write a few more and sort out if I can use the ones published elsewhere.

    Great tips and good luck with your book.
  • Thanks Tony and Carol. The way I see it, Tony is that it's a good place to test the market. According to Business Week, Amazon will sell 10 million Kindles this year! That's a huge amount of potential readers and it costs nothing but a little time to set up. The lady (Carol) who has been helping me 'see the light' with Kindle, is in fact a lady I interviewed for a women's magazine about how she published with Kindle, so if an author can put together a, look-what-I-did type of story together and sell it to a newspaper or magazine with a high readership, then that will also attract more potential sales. The royalties are set at 70%, so I figure there's an opportunity to test the market and see if anyone buys it, or leave it in My Documents to gather metaphorical dust and whilst I would like to see my book as a paperback at some point, I simply don't have the time to keep subbing it to agents and publishers. Added to this, many of the big, mainstream publishers are now going through their backlists and putting their books out as ebooks - much like the music industry with Itunes, I guess.
    Perhaps other TB'ers who are interested in this can join me and test the market with their stories and we can share notes, tips, tricks etc here? Let me know how the anthology goes, Tony.
  • [quote=midia]Oh Great, Now I Can Hear Dead People.[/quote] Fantastic title.

    Thanks for the info - interesting stuff.
  • best of luck with it, Midia!
  • Fascinating Midia.Thank you so much for sharing this.

    I really didn't want to go down the self-publishing route, but this really appeals to me - it's completely different. I've got a pile of freeform poems that don't follow the rules. People and blog followers seem to be enjoying them and this could be a great way to reach that wider audience. Hubby's an artist and is keen to illustrate some of my work.

    No doubt there will be an element of vanity-published equivalent works on Kindle but at least the reader gets the choice - and can publicly review.

    Please do let us know how you get on, Tony too. And all the best of luck.
  • There is that hint of vanity publishing Lily you're right about that. The difference is that there is no cost involved. Also any sales you make are real sales from real customers, not a few nicely bound books on relatives shelves and boxes of unsold copies gathering dust in the attic.

    For instance if you could sort it you could do your FFF as an anthology up for sale tomorrow, split the money or give to charity and have it as a publicity vehicle for your site and the writers involved.

    The other great part is that readers can download free samples first. So they get the first chapter or two of a novel or first story of an antho. You know if they buy they liked it and parted with the cash because of quality.

    Also remember with the illustrations that it's only grey scale.
  • Thanks for that Tony.

    You know, several people have suggested making FFF into an anthology so I may well consider it. However, I had a look at KPD and there are issues around whether a work is already in the Public Domain - which these are - so I would need to investigate that further.

    Re: illustrations, he works largely in pen and ink, and is a printmaker so grey scale suits, but that information could be useful to others.

    See - now I'm totally distracted from my deadline!
  • Didn't know about the public domain thing. Will investigate further. Funny though because they allow you to publish your blog and charge a monthly subscription fee of .99p to each member.

    This ebook may be of help to those wanting to look deeper into the process.

  • Daft question time ... If you don't have a kindle, can you download the books to read on a computer?
  • Yes you can, PM. My husband downloads all our books to both his and my Kindle, but also saves them to his PC in case one of us loses our Kindle. I think the issue about vanity publishing doesn't apply to ebooks, because as Tony so rightly said, you're not being charged vast amounts of money to have your book published. Of course there is going to be some rubbish on there, just as there is on utube, Lulu, itunes, or any other internet platform that is there for any member of the public to upload their works, but I think (again as Tony said) you will only generate sales if people want to read your work. No book store will stock a vanity publshed book and many won't even stock a self-published title, and that is because they often (but not always) are not commercially viable and look rubbish. With ebooks it is the general public who will decide whether a book is a worthy read, not a store manager deciding what can and can't sell in their shop and as I see it, with an ebook you are cutting out the middle-men and going direct to the public (the readers). Oooo, it's all very exciting, isn't it?
  • This sounds like a great idea. How complicated is it to upload, particularly for a technophobe who doesn't have a kindle? The idea of having your novel easily available is alluring and e-books are very popular. I'll certainly be giving it some thought. Do let us know how you get on midia. Your so right about going the traditional route. Constantly sending out submissions only to have them bounce back is so depressing as well as be being enormously time-consuming.
  • It's so, so easy, Casey. I was terrified at first, but it really is a case of clicking the upload button, browse your documents, select what document you want to upload, then click OK. Simples! I think it will be very similar to the CD's Vs Ipods saga - people still buy CDs, but the majority of people now download their music from their computers, phones, ipads etc. Books will never go out of fashion and people will always buy them, but there is a large percantage of people who will also buy ebooks. Plus when you think that a publisher needs to invest around £25,000 in a new author, it stands to reason that they are very cautious about who they take on and are taking on a huge gamble. If you can prove that readers enjoy your work by demonstrating good electronic sales, then they might just be prepared to take you on.
  • Good luck, midia! We have been investigating publishing e books with Kindle and my husband, Graham, has managed to convert the PDF file of my self-published book into a .mobi file for publishing on Kindle, but still does not know how to get the poems in the book (about eight of them), suitably done as, at the moment, there are blank lines between lines of poetry, but no different between verses, so it looks odd. If we could borrow 'your' Carol, maybe she could tell us! Does everyone get a helper with the publishing? Incidentally, we only have a couple or so books left of the 'proper printed books', so would like to get this done as soon as possible. (We had 500, but I gave quite a few as presents and sold the rest.) Unfortunately, my printers' business has folded.

    A few weeks ago Graham was given a free ebook for his Kindle, provided he placed a review on Amazon when he finished it. He did this and the author was pleased and said he'd now go ahead and have it printed with Kindle publishing and send him a printed version of his last book. That's what gave us the idea to do the same. The author was Tim Frost and the book The Abigail Affair.
  • Well done Midia - all very exciting!
  • Hi Verica,

    'my Carol' came via a magazine interview I did with her about how she e-published her books, but I will check with her that it's OK to give you her email address and hopefully she will be able to answer any queries about formatting. Maybe if you try uploading your poems as a Word document, it will work better? I don't know, as I say I'm still learning the ropes (very slowly!) but someone else might have a better suggestion.
  • I used this to convert a word doc and image into a short sample book with cover. It looked exactly like any book I have on my Kindle.

  • [quote=midia] so I will keep you posted of how I get on and when I actually go live[/quote]
    Please do because I am considering it. Be interesting to get your reaction to sales too.
  • You also have the advantage of being able to sell shorter length stuff in an e-format, say 20,000 words that wouldn't get into book form because of the short length.
  • [quote=midia]with Kindle Direct Publishing.[/quote]
    Midia, what good advice. Have you considered sending a feature proposal based on what you've learnt to Writers' News or Writing Magazine? I certainly would want to read it.
  • Good idea Jenthom. I did mention it to Jonathon some weeks ago, but haven't heard back from him. Maybe I will see if WF are interested. Thanks for that.
  • For Verica (and any other poetry people)
    I asked Carol about formatting poems and this is what she said:

    "If you go to www.smashwords.com and download the style guide it will explain about the mobi and the problems and help with formatting. For some reason or my copy and paste won't copy the link this morning. I hope I'm not going to have another day like yesterday! I'm not up on the mobi but they should find all the information in there regarding it. It's free to download I have a copy. I know it's smashwords but it includes the mobi-creator and helps explains problems. I've also emailed a friend who is at the moment working on formatting his book of poetry to Kindle. He might be able to help. If they are still stuck I will have a go myself with putting a poem through my .mobi and see what happens. Once on Kindle they should also try smashwords as I think I mentioned to you for your book. They distribute to Barnes & Noble and many other big retailers. Very useful indeed! Got the link here it is!! http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52"

    Hope that helps.
  • I did an interview with Kindle author Lexi Revellian last month. She's done rather well with her debut novel reaching the Kindle bestseller list.

  • Fascinating. Would it suit non-fiction?

    A project I'm developing might be suited to it. I don't have a Kindle, so don't know the ins and outs.
  • KJKJ
    edited February 2011
    I have just checked with the help desk at Nielsen's pubweb (where all new books in the UK are listed); the reply is that all diffrent formats of a book require their own ISBN number, including different e-book formats such as Kindle and pdf.This is something that needs to be considered if someone already has a book in print and wishes to Kindle it.
  • Another point: having just sold the rights to our books as Kindle and other formats, I found myself answering endless queries on titles and authors, because:
    you get ONE chance only with Neilsons. You have to get it right first time you file that ISBN number. Check everything before it goes.

    Having said that ... I have had notices from Neilsons asking about books I have never heard of and never would ...
  • Could Kindle be a way of getting the OWC collection published? It seemed to fade away almost two years ago now.
  • Thanks FT. Very interesting interview!
  • Anyone know if Apple intends to go into the publishing business?
  • edited February 2011
    Thank you very much, midia, for all the advice, Dorothy, kj and Silent Tony, too. I'll pass it on to Graham. We do have a Word version too, as well as PDF, which we needed for the printers and the Brit Writers. I'm very surprised to hear that a new ISBN number is needed for the same book, whether in print or on Kindle, but I'll get in touch with the people who issue the numbers and confirm it. The book only has a few poems and photographs in it, mostly text, but if this is successful, I might be inclined to do a poetry book the same way, instead of doing it on the computer. At the moment, our daughter is here with her two year old, so we're occupied with him, especially grandad, who is the favourite. I'm just sorry that I didn't get the last ISBN number myself, as I would then have had nine more spare, but the printers convinced me to get it from them. At the time, they were doing well, but a couple of years later, they disappeared in the credit crunch.
    I've just spoken to Nielsen's and they're emailing me the application form.
  • edited February 2011
    I've gathered 24 poems into a collection as a practice. Do you think that's enough? 48 pages (single-spaced for the mo. though so will prob be nearly double) without cover and inner sheets and no illustrations yet. 2,380 words.
  • As far as I'm aware, if you're just publishing with Amazon Kindle you don't require an ISBN number, but if you want Barnes & Noble, Nielsen's etc to list it, then you do. I will check this out and report back on this one.
  • Midia, you're worth your weight in gold to us!
  • Oh bless you, Verica. If truth be told, it's more like the blind leading the blind at the moment, but when I get more information I will post it up here and we can hopefully all help each other. I think it's a good idea of RIch's about publishing the OWC with Kindle.
  • edited February 2011
    Would it really be regarded as published without an ISBN, though? Have you Googled ISBN in case it says there? Dorothy might know, too.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Standard_Book_Number

    There's a bit about it here.
  • Shops probably couldn't sell a book without an ISBN.
  • Thanks, Jay. I found this on the Kindle forum about ISBN numbers:


    In short, no you don't need an ISBN to publish with Kindle, but if you wanted to say turn your book in to a paperback at some point, or if a publisher read it and wanted to publish it as a paperback to sell in bookstores, then they would add an ISBN number to that particular book, but you don't need one for electronic books.
  • edited February 2011
    May be, Jay. I think it's something to do with the books being electronic. I was just reading some information of the Kindle forum posts and one was about how much royalties people have been making and some are HUGE amounts! There was one woman on there who writes erotica and earned $7000 dollars in the first month, $10000 the next and $27000 the next! I'd be happy with $700, let alone $7000!! The key as I understand it is to have lots of books, rather than just one title on there and it seems that erotica and vampires are doing the best at the moment - none of which are in my genre, but hey ho:)

    Ah, just found the answer to the ISBN question:

    Kindle Publishing Tip: Do You Need An ISBN For eBooks?

    This question seems to come up an awful lot: do you need to have an ISBN – International Standard Book Number – for an ebook (on the Amazon Kindle or otherwise)?

    The answer, bottom line, is no.

    Currently, ISBNs are only required for printed matter books. The purpose of the ISBN, according to ISBN.org, is “to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors.”

    At this point, the main use of the ISBN in Kindle publication using Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (DTP) is to help Amazon link up the catalog entries for the Kindle and print editions of your book so that the reader reviews posted to one version will also appear in the other, and so on. The same is also true for books you publish through Mobipocket.com that are then distributed to the Kindle store: if you have a print edition of your book on Amazon, make sure to put the print edition ISBN in the ISBN field of the ebook metadata.
  • this is odd, the people who bought the rights are busy filling in the database for all 845 titles they acquired, so apply for ISBNs for them all. One rule for one???? We do the hard copy and we do not apply for ISBNs as we don't sell through or to shops.

    Will refer this to them. I would have said it is a book and needs an ISBN.
  • As far as I know you are given a normal AISN code for Kindle books. You don't need ISBN, but as mentioned if you then print it you would need one and to link it. This is a very new way of doing things. Up until recently ebooks were being sold as alternative versions of existing print books. This is reversing that process, ebook first, print later. In fact you may never even produce a print version if you didn't need it. It's skipping that stage print stage and I guess a more and more people will do this.
  • I think it's a case of if you just want to sell a book electronically then you don't require an ISBN; if you want to sell it also in print form, then you do, Dorothy. Perhaps the people who bought your rights want to sell them in print too at some point? Great news that they bought the rights to so many titles!
  • All books have to have a code, how else can Amazon resell them (which they already are ...) I was told it was ISBN so I am querying.

    It's a pleasure, actually, to send a query back. I have been bombarded with queries since sending in the list of titles, some stupid, some sensible, some down to people not looking properly and in one instance, someone presuming that two books by authors with the first name Elizabeth but the last name different was my mistake and they were one and the same person. Bit of a presumption there, after 17 years I know every title we have ever put out.
  • As I said above Dorothy when you sell through KDP you are given an ASIN code. That's your product code for your Kindle book on Amazon.
  • Noted. It is just that the person doing it referred to ISBNS instead.
  • KJKJ
    edited February 2011
    I checked with Neilsens directly... they told me you do need iSBNs for all formats, here is the reply I received today (from email):

    "Hi Karen,

    All format types require their own ISBN, even different eBook types such as pfd and kindle, so the you will require a new ISBN.

    I hope this helps, but please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries.

    Kind regards..."
  • I didn't think someone who just spent £XX,XXX on buying the rights would make that mistake, just wanted to check he hasn't!

    As I was told, a different number for each one. Don't get caught out by trying to use the same one. It all costs money, that's the trouble ... buying their blocks of ISBNs is not cheap.
  • But you don't need an ISBN if you are selling a Kindle version through Amazon only. Sure if you wanted to sell through other markets then of course you would need it.
  • if you want to make money, you need to hit all the markets. They have distributors handling the sales.
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