Publishing after 50 : 10 Things to Know Before You Publish on Kindle
A relatively short time after I published my first book on Kindle, people seemed to come out of the woodwork who were really curious about the process. These “authors in waiting” had either written something they wanted to publish, or knew that for their next chapter in life (sorry about that!) they wanted to become an author and therefore wanted to learn how to publish an eBook, specifically one on the Kindle platform.
At the same time, an overwhelming number were intimidated by the process- and as a fifty-something male, I get it. Although I am not afraid of technology per se, my patience for learning curves has worn thin.
So for Boomer authors-to-be, and technophobes in particular, here are 14 things you need to know before I published an ebook on Kindle:
This list for Publishing after 50 is in no particular order, that would require far too much thought!
- Ebook Publishing on Kindle is Easy and Fast. Remarkably so. Even if you fear technology. You can say what you want about Amazon, but they are as big as they are for a reason- they service the customer (and anyone else that can make them $ !) – with fast automated online forms and services. Depending on the book you are interested in publishing, Getting up and running can be done in minutes.
- It’s Free. There are no fees associated with any of it – other than Amazon’s “cut” once a book sells. This will be discussed below, but depending on the price of your book, you will make from 30%-70% royalties. (Quite simply, this is huge compared to the traditional publishing model.)
- It is entirely editable. This point alone seems to make technophobes feel better. “What if I screw something up?!?” many ask. Well, if you do- and it’s really not that likely, you can edit your book- any time. Edit your manuscript. Change your manuscript in case you uploaded the wrong version. Change your cover. Change your price. Change your royalty percentage. Change where you sell your book. Anything. And back to the fast part? All changes will be recorded in about 8 hours if not sooner. You’ll be noticed via email when the changes are done.
- Amazon has a built-in ebook editor. This is kind-of a large-scale spell check and grammar check. This is NOT a substitute for a real editor. I cannot stress this enough. You must, if you are serious, hire an editor to edit your work Many Kindle readers will give your work 1-star if it has typos or if they think it was poorly edited. This is very, very important when you consider the next point.
- Reviews are part of the sales and ranking algorithm. What else is part of the algorithm? A whole batch of things- among them downloads and sales. You might be thinking, “aren’t sales and downloads the same thing?” Good question. No. Since Kindle gives you the opportunity to give your book away for free, you might not have as many sales as downloads. Which leads us to #7.
- You should join KDP Select and use it to give your book away for FREE! (Yes, free. I’ll explain.) KDP select is a service that, among other benefits, gives authors a couple of tools for marketing their books. One of these is a countdown discount timer, and the other is the opportunity to give your book away for free for up to 5 days total. This is really important and the use of KDP select is one of the main reasons I credit for having my book rank #1 in its category on Amazon. Many authors shy away from this thinking that selling your book is part of the plan! Of course it is, but remember the algorithm: downloads and reviews are a huge part of your ranking. The higher your ranking the more sales, but also the more people who will see your book. And the more books you give away obviously leads to more downloads, but also the more people who are available to review it! The catch? You must commit to having your book’s digital copy only be offered for sale on Amazon for 90 days. Then you are free to use other ebook sites to sell your book.
- Covers Sell. Descriptions Sell. The fact that covers sell is not groundbreaking if you’ve ever browsed a bookstore! But it’s amazing how many authors settle for covers with stock photos, or bad pictures of themselves (when nobody knows who they are!) Also, it’s important to keep in mind that depending on the page on Amazon, your book’s cover will appear as only a small thumbnail image next to dozens of others so make sure it stands out.
- Pricing and Royalties. You set the price of your book- and to a certain extent the royalties: royalties for books $.99 – $2.99 are limited to 35%. For books above $2.99, you can choose between a 35% royalty and a 70% royalty. The conundrum for many authors, however, comes in the question of how much to charge for their work. Many authors aim low- especial first timers- thinking their work isn’t worth enough. Then there is the thought that a lower price will lead to more sales, ad, yes, more reviews. (The good news here is that due to the Kindle business model, and author of a $3.99 ebook stands to make as much as one that is traditionally published and costs $20!)
- Amazon pays like clockwork. They are a machine. You literally have no worries whatsoever about getting your money.
- The hard part wasn’t writing the book, it’s everything else that comes after- namely selling it. Gird yourself: as my editor warned me: it’s going to be a slog! But, this is where people starting their next chapter have an advantage. They’ve been around the block. They are patient and resilient, which will lead to success!