IN an article called ‘Kindle: How you can make a million writing your own e-book’, Andrew Wilson shares his ideas about e-publishing. I’m guessing there’s more to the amount of work he did than he’s letting on. While it’s wise to read the whole article, what I’ve done is to condense his words to get a gist of the whole thing:
Step 1 – How to Start
Think about the type of book you want to write. Genre novels – particularly crime thrillers, fantasy, paranormal romance and chick-lit – seem particularly suited to the Kindle format. Experts say it is best to steer clear of literary fiction.
Read other people’s books. Look at the list of the top 20 titles and download those that look similar to your novel.
Consider the length of your novel. Many of the top sellers tend to be short, quick reads.
Proofread your novel for mistakes – pay a professional to vet your manuscript.
Step 2 – Judging a Book
A good cover is one of the most important secrets of e-book success.
DIY cover – in my novel The Gift Of Death, each of the key players in an old murder case receive macabre gifts.
Using my MacBook Pro (application called Photo Booth), I clicked on Effects and selected the X-Ray feature, which provides a kind of negative image. I enlisted the help of a couple of designer friends. I found an old gift box, wrapped a ribbon round it and then gave it to one of my friends to hold as they stood in front of a set of glass panelled doors.
When I was happy with the image, I sent the picture to my friend’s computer, and we played about with typefaces, fonts and colours until we were happy with the result. (Remember to follow Amazon’s technical guidelines regarding the cover image.)
I decided to add the ‘twisted gem’ quote from Kate Miciak at Bantam Delacorte, to give the book an extra boost. I then saved this image and uploaded it back on to my computer. The whole process – concept, photography and design – took something like two hours.
Chapter 3 – Uploading a Book
Before you upload your book, you need to write a description, which Amazon says can be anything between 30 and 4,000 characters (not words). This is your chance to really sell your work, so make the blurb pithy and compelling.
Amazon has provided a useful video and step-by-step guide (kdp.amazon.com), and the whole process of uploading it to the site was surprisingly straightforward.
If you are serious about self-publishing, it’s a good idea to also check out Smashwords (smashwords.com).
Chapter 4: Pricing
There are two royalty rates offered by Amazon – 70 per cent of the cover price if the book sells for between £1.49 and £6.99 and 35 per cent for titles priced at 75p. The overwhelming advice offered by the experts is to keep your price as low as possible.
Chapter 5: Creating a Brand
Once you’ve completed the uploading process by clicking the Save And Publish button, you’ll have to wait around 24 hours before your book is available for sale.
Build a backlist – in an ideal world, you would have a series of novels already written that you could offer your readers.
Promote the book on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, together with specialist ones such as Goodreads.com and Kindleboards.com.
Create your own website and blog creatively. Post a series of short and infrequent blogs to your target audience. The idea is to attract readers to your website, where you can then engage them on an individual level until finally they begin to correspond by Twitter, Facebook and email. Locke calls this concept ‘loyalty transfer’, a technique that is the opposite of the hard sell.
‘One day I wrote the blog, the next day I was successful,’ he boasts. He ran a Twitter search for Penn State and found hundreds of people tweeting about a forthcoming game. He picked the first 100 and sent each one a direct message with the title of his blog and a link to it.
They in turn forwarded it to friends all over the world, many of whom clicked on Locke’s website and found his novels shared many similarities with his blog.
Traditional media are also good for spreading the word about your book – ask your local newspaper if they would be interested in running an interview with you. Word-of-mouth recommendation is the key to success.
Chapter 6 – In the Money
What are the chances of striking it rich?
Kindle owners are reading more – they now buy 3.3 times the number of books they purchased before owning the device. And, as volumes of Kindle owners increase, and assuming prices go up, someone over here will do it eventually.
Aneeta Sundararaj can be contacted at editor @ howtotellgreatstory.com