Kindle Direct Publishing is a dream come true for writers around the world.
Although 'Indie' authors are not a new concept, earlier they were mostly confined to stacking books in their garage and usually only recognized town-wide!
Enter Amazon - the big daddy of e-commerce and things change forever.
Amazon allows authors to publish their books on their Kindle platform and gives full control over the content, design, pricing and distribution of the book to the author.
All you need to do, is publish your book and wait for the moolah to roll in.. (I wish!)
While Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) gives you total control of the manuscript, it leaves all the marketing and promotion to you, the author.
So although you technically have worldwide distribution and millions of readers who could instantly access your book, you have to do find a way to stand out among the millions of books already available on the platform.
However, once your book gathers momentum on Amazon, it can get you hundreds or thousands of sales every month, with very little or no promotion.
Remember I told you about making money from non-fiction books, in my previous post?
Yes, you do not have to be a creative writer or novelist to make money from Kindle Publishing. Hundreds of thousands of non-fiction books are sold on Amazon everyday.
What you need to do is figure out a pain point or a value addition in any specific niche.
Once you figure that out, you do not even have to be an expert in the field to write a book. You can simply hire a freelancer or an expert in the field to write it for you.
We'll get into the details of finding a profitable niche in a later post in the series. Right now, let's understand how the publishing process works, in detail.
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Kindle publishing is free. Amazon does not charge any fees for publishing your book. They charge delivery fees and a commission on every sale you make. We'll get to the exact royalties you receive, in a little while.
It is worth noting here that while the publishing itself is free, it does not mean that it will not cost you a dime to get your first book out there.
The Kindle platform is a marketplace and like every other marketplace in the world, in order to get sales and traction, you need to have a good product.
The Kindle platform is a marketplace and like every marketplace in the world, in order to get sales, you need a great product.
It is not just good writing that makes a good book. It needs a great cover, professional editing, proofreading etc to ensure that readers appreciate it.
Typos and incorrect grammar will invite poor reviews and a cookie-cutter cover will banish your book to ignominy. Any author worth his/her salt will tell you that it is always a good idea to invest in a great cover and professional editing.
Hence, you should definitely plan a budget, no mater how small, for your book, so that you can put out a professional piece of work.
Once your book is ready, the place to go to sign up is http://kdp.amazon.com.
The sign up process is easy and you can create your account by filling up you name, address and a few other details. Once that is done, you also need to provide you bank details where you want to receive your royalties.
Amazon requires you to complete a 'tax-interview', which is a set of questions that you need to answer to help Amazon determine the taxes applicable on your royalties.
You can complete this from account in about 15 minutes and the instructions included makes it pretty self-explanatory. If you still have trouble, you could look at the 'Help' section or the 'Community' sections for help.
Amazon withholds 30% of the royalties earned by you as tax if you do not have a US TIN.
For some countries the deduction is lower if you enter your country's tax identification number. For example, for India, Amazon withholds only 15% of the royalties if you enter your 'PAN' number.
However, it is advisable to get your US TIN once you start generating sales and royalties as this brings your deductions down to zero in most cases.
Pricing & Royalties
Amazon offers two different slabs of royalties based on the price of your Kindle book. Also, you cannot price a book lower than 99 cents.
For books priced between $0.99 and less than $2.99, Amazon offers you 35% royalties.
For books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon offers an amazing 70% royalties.
The key to pricing your book right lies in researching the competition. The pricing of similar books in the marketplace will give you a good starting point to help price your own book.
The other important method for pricing includes testing your prices and meeting your goals.
For instance, with your book, you may want as many readers as possible and go for the $0.99 price point to gain traction and gather reviews and readers. Once the books has reviews in triple digits and has stable sales, you may want to experiment with higher prices to maximize your earnings.
Most short reads and small non-fiction books are priced at the minimum $0.99. For full-length books, the prices most authors choose lie in the range of $2.99 to $3.99.
This range maximizes your earnings as it gives you 70% royalties while keeping your book affordable and competitively priced.
Kindle books can be returned for a refund by buyers for up to 60 days after the date of purchase. Due to this, the payment of your royalties is made by Amazon 60 days after the sales occur.
For instance, the royalties earned by you in the month of January (up to 31st Jan) are paid out to you at the end of March.
Kindle books are sold in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, India, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and Australia in their own marketplaces.
If you live outside the US, the payment for marketplaces apart from the US and your local marketplace, is made by cheque if you do not have a bank account that supports each of the local currencies.
The cheques are sent out only after you hit a minimum threshold which varies at around 100 GBP, 100 Canadian Dollars etc.
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Amazon, being the big daddy of e-commerce that it is, also offers an exclusivity program. Under the 'KDP Select' program, you have to make your book exclusive to Amazon and in return Amazon gives you certain benefits.
This program is open to all authors and you can opt-in each book in to the program for 90 days at a time.
Your book is made available to readers under Amazon's 'Kindle Unlimited' membership for which readers pay $9.99 per month.
Also, readers can borrow your book under the 'Kindle Owner's Lending Library' program.
You, as the author, get paid for every page of your book read by Kindle Unlimited members. The total fund for KDP Select, is decided by Amazon for each month and this amount is used to determine the rate per page.
The payout per page varies slightly every month and is usually in the range of $0.005 per page.
Apart from this, KDP Select, also rewards the top 100 authors with maximum page reads every month, with cash bonuses ranging from $1000, right up to $25,000.
The Real Benefit of the KDP select program lies in the two promotion tools that Amazon offers exclusively to KDP Select Authors.
The first one is the 'Countdown Deal' where you can offer your book at a lower price point for a limited amount of time. You can use this tool for up to 7 days in every 90 days.
The other tool is the 'Free Promotion' which allows you to make your book free for up to 5 days in every 90 day period.
Both of these are incredibly effective promotion tools for authors especially if you are starting out and we'll talk about them in greater detail in a later post.
Publishing Your First Book
Title and Subtitle:
The title is the 'hook', the primary selling point for any non-fiction or even fiction book. The cover has to draw a buyer's attention but the whole point of having an attractive cover is to get the person to read the title of the book.
The reader decides whether or not to look further (thus moving closer towards making the buying decision) as soon as he reads the title. It can make or break your book, especially when you are starting out and books don't sell out with just your name on it.
Your main aim while creating a title is to make it as memorable as possible. Avoid overused words and feel free to create a brand new word or a quirky or even shocking or contradictory phrase.
Your title must not only be unique but it must evoke curiosity or manifest a strong emotion like fear, love, shock etc.
Think of the titles of some of the most popular books you know. Here are some that I know:
Pride & Prejudice: Brings together two powerful words that evoke a barrage of wild imagination: Whose pride is it? What kind of prejudice are we talking about here? The reader gets a sense of the strong emotional turmoil that the story might entail.
To Kill A Mocking Bird: This title uses an element of shock - Why would anyone want to kill a bird? It invokes a sense of innocence being being lost, a tinge of revenge and even sorrow.
The $100 Startup: This one makes use of contradiction which immediately highlights the revolutionary idea that the book embodies. In a world where startups are only associated with millions and billions, the ridiculously small amount of '$100' immediately draws attention when used with 'startup'.
Think And Grow Rich: The title proclaims a unique mantra that breaks away from the age old "Hard Work Leads to Riches" formula. It instantly switches the user from perceiving it as 'too good to be true' (How can one just 'think' and 'grow' rich!) to becoming increasingly curious about it (Could this be possible? Is it about a change in mindset?)
A subtitle is often used as a on-line description and is highly recommended for non-fiction book.
However, I do not believe in making it a condensed description but instead I prefer to use the subtitle to advertise the single biggest benefit your book offers.
I can explain the difference with an example:
1. Subtitle When Used As A Short Description: "The Ketogenic Diet: An Unbiased & Comprehensive Analysis"
2. Subtitle When Used To Advertise The Primary Benefit: "The Ketogenic Diet: Should You Go Keto or Not?
While both subtitles make it clear that the book is unbiased on its dealing with the diet, the first subtitle informs the reader that the book is a thorough analysis. The reader is unable to clearly gauge the benefit that he or she is to gain from reading an analysis of the diet.
On the other hand, the second subtitle clearly tells the reader that the book will help him or her make the decision whether or not to take up the diet.
This is a clear benefit to a person who is unsure whether or not the diet is good for him/her or who has been toying with the idea.
Book Description: Just like every print book has a book description on the back cover, every e-book needs a description too. A book's description gives interested potential buyers a look into what the book holds.
For non-fiction books, if the author has good credentials, or has had bestsellers in the past, the description is a good place to mention it. The description for non-fiction books should get directly to the most meaty portions of the benefits one can expect from reading the book.
For fiction books, it should be short and sweet and must leave a lingering taste of what lies inside. Evoking curiosity is the key. Using the right words to create suspense and strong emotional attachment to the characters in the book, even with the few words that a description allows, will help you create the perfect description.
Book Cover: Creating the perfect cover for your book can be a tough job. With all the talk that we hear about people judging a book by its cover, it is hard to not focus on the cover and there is no reason why you should not!
Think of a cover as an Ad. Like any advertisement, be it a banner, a billboard, a flyer or even a bumper sticker, a book cover needs to draw attention.
A book cover is basically an Ad. Just like any billboard or hoarding or a flyer, it needs to instantly catch people's attention.
The purpose of the cover is to draw people closer and get them to read the title. For Kindle books, it means that it has to make people interested enough to click through to the book's page.
A great cover separates the professional book from the amateur one. When was the last time you bought a book with a shoddy cover? You've probably never bought one. So why would people buy yours?
In a later post specifically dedicated to creating a great cover for your e-book, I will cover the cheapest and also, free ways to get a professional cover for your book.
There are the basic things you will need apart from of course, your book file, before you can go ahead and publish you first book.
If you have found this post helpful, I want you to help me get the word out about this series, and the blog.
In fact, if you share this post on Facebook in of the groups that has Kindle authors in it or in fact anywhere on Facebook, I have a valuable surprise (worth over $50) coming for you at the end of the series. (This is exclusively for people who share this and other posts in the series)
All you've got to do is share this post on Facebook using the button below and leave a comment below or send me an email with a screenshot or a link to the post (neerav.ankit [at] gmail [dot] com). Trust me, you'll thank yourself in a week's time! 😉