You know the saying: “Everyone has one book in ‘em.” But you’ve gone “everyone” one better: you’ve actually written yours. And now you can get that eBook out in front of millions of potential buyers with a few clicks of a button. How? Sell it on Amazon.
Only a few years back to publish a book and have it available to thousands (let alone millions), you’d have had a limited number of choices: to play the endless lottery of agent search, continual rejections, and unwelcome over-the-transom submissions; or simply to pay someone to slap a cover on the thing and do a smallish print run so you could hawk it out of the back of your car, waiting to be “discovered”. Publishing a book was just not one of the viable money making ideas unless you were a serious writer willing to sacrifice the best years of your life pursuing a dream.
Now, with the rise of the eReaders, it is a completely different ball game. According to this wikipedia entry
In July 2010 Amazon announced that e-book sales for its Kindle reader outnumbered sales of hardcover books for the first time ever during the second quarter of 2010
You don’t need to chase publishers to get your book out there in front of millions. Instead, you can put your eBook for sale on bookselling giant Amazon–with over 65 million customers per month to its US website alone–with very little effort. All it takes is a little know-how. Your readers are out there and here’s how to reach them.
A Great Product
This should go without saying but, unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Amazon readers, particularly those with a specialized interest, are more than willing to give a newcomer a chance in the interests of good information or a literary fix. If your book is poorly written and you don’t kindle their sparks however, they will just as quickly throw it off their Kindle. While that may not seem like a big deal because they have already paid for it, think again. Success on Amazon is hugely dependent on how many reviews your product receives, and a bunch of bad review can totally close the doors for you as a new eBook publisher.
If you want to keep writing–and making money from it–you’ll need to put people before profit. Make sure your book is the absolute best it can be before you publish. You may have written it in a mad, joy-filled three week rush, but once you’ve typed “The End,” put your work aside for a few days. When you take it up again, you’ll be amazed at the number of problems you’ll find, from misspellings and run-on sentences to dropped subplots or factual errors. Fix what you find before making your next move.
Request one or two trusted readers to play editor/critic. If you can afford it, pay for a professional editing job. Accept suggestions rationally and implement the sensible ones. You may need to rewrite your material extensively, and more than once, before it’s right. That’s normal, and no reflection on your ability. Revision is an essential part of good writing; your readers deserve no less than the best.
Once your book is finished, it’s time to go to Amazon. Before you start the publication process, be sure to read the agreements involved, in their entirety. Make sure you understand them completely before agreeing. Ask for help if you’re unclear on any aspect.
Now you’re ready to publish. Currently, the process for Kindle Direct Publishing is simple and explained in detail on the website. Detailed FAQs and forum support are available if you run into problems. Kindle can handle text and illustrations; however, the simpler your format, the better. You’ll need to create the front matter for your book, including the title and copyright pages, as well as the dedication, preface, table of contents, and any other material you need. You’ll also have a place for back matter, such as a glossary. No need to worry about making an index, however; Kindle eBooks don’t have “pages.” Then check the format of your book, making sure all images are where they should be, and take the time to proofread yet again. Amazon instructs you to insert a page break after the end of the last sentence of each chapter, to keep your chapters from running together. Once you’ve finished, you can use Mobipocket Creator to convert your work into an actual eBook. Again, Amazon provides detailed instructions.
After using Mobipocket to create a .prc file, you’ll be able to use Kindle Previewer to see how your book will appear when it is actually on Kindle. This is your chance to catch and fix any last minute problems. Although you’re no doubt eager to send your “baby” out into the world, it’s best to set your book aside for at least a few hours, then proofread with fresh eyes and mind. If you can find one or two skilled proofreading friends to look over your work, that’s even better.
Once any necessary changes are made, it’s time to upload. Just follow the instructions to upload your book to Amazon, and it will be available for its potential readers within 24-48 hours. Now the eternal business of selling begins.
You can use Amazon to market your book. First, create (or hire someone to create) a professional looking, yet eye-catching cover; browsers will notice it, and it will anchor your book’s page nicely. Amazon provides guidelines on what you should include on your detail page; follow them closely. Pay special attention to your content description. Although Amazon says this is optional, it’s an incredibly important selling tool. Pretend you’re writing inside jacket copy for your book–make your content interesting and compelling. Stuck? Do a little browsing yourself. Study the content pages of best sellers to determine what makes them successful and why, then apply those characteristics to your own writing. After your details page is finished, Amazon will ask you to affirm your rights, choose a royalty option, and set your price. Then the real work begins!
One of the best ways to market your eBook is to build up some pre-publication “buzz.” Talk up your forthcoming book on your blog , Twitter, FaceBook and any other social media format you participate in. And when you do, don’t just screech something like “Buy my book! It’s great!” Instead, focus on your readers’ interests and needs, and seduce them into wanting to buy your book.
When your prospective reader pulls up your book on Amazon, she does several things. She looks at the cover image, reads the content description, checks to see “how many stars” it’s earned, and then, if she’s still not convinced, she reads the reviews. Many people won’t even click on a book unless it has a star rating, so it’s important that you get some positive reviews up fairly quickly.
Whatever you do, however, don’t write them yourself! Readers can tell. Instead, provide a free copy of your book to a few people you can trust to provide intelligent comments and ask them to post their reviews on Amazon. They may feel inclined to give you the highest possible rating–but ask them to refrain, unless the book is really superior; again, browsers can tell when a review has been planted. What you’re looking for are honest assessments which will tell your readers that this book is worth their money. Hopefully, new readers will add their own positive reviews to join them.
Of course, not all reviews will be positive. Take a deep breath now and say with me: “I will get a negative review, and that is OK.” Repeat the mantra until you are really OK with negative reviews. No matter how important the topic, how brilliant your idea, and how clear, yet eloquent your prose, someone out there will dislike it, and dislike it enough to let you know. The best strategy would be to not read the negative reviews at all, but since you’re only human, that is probably too much to ask. Now that you have read a negative review, and you find it totally off the mark and absurd; or challenges your core principles; or defiles your work in some way, how should you respond to it? Here is what you do.
Ok. Do nothing impulsive.
After a few days, if it still bothers you, then here’s how to proceed.
Continue to do nothing.
Rinse, repeat. That’s right. Do absolutely nothing. Not everyone will enjoy your writing style. Not everyone will share your opinions. Occasionally, a reader will completely misunderstand your book, or outright lash at you. It’s par for the course. Sometimes, the reviewer will make a good point–one you can rectify in future work. Other times, there really is nothing you can do. Absorb bad reviews, deflect them, ignore them–just never, ever respond to them. To do so is eminently unprofessional and causes nothing but bad press–something to avoid at all costs if you are serious about making money selling eBooks on Amazon — or selling anything, anywhere for that matter!.
Ready to join the ranks of published authors? Amazon is a great way to get your feet wet and make some money doing it. And it is one of the money making ideas that can be intensely gratifying. And once your book is up? Don’t just stand there staring at the screen with a goofy “that’s my book” smile on your face! Get started on a successful author’s most important task: your next book!