Ready to self-publish on Kindle? This guest post from Richard McMunn walks you through the steps you need for success.
Step 1- Write A Book Worth Reading
With the growth of the e-reader market, the barriers to getting your material published have essentially vanished. The actual process of submitting your work for publication via Kindle is relatively straightforward. The trick is to provide material that will be noticed amidst the sea of other self-published writing and inspire someone to read it.
Put some thought into how you can make what you want to write stand out in a crowd. Continue improving your writing skills; no writer ever stopped learning their craft. Get critique, other eyes on the words you string together is always a good thing. Most importantly, write. You can’t submit a blank page, so get those words out of your head and down on the page.
Step 2 – Image Matters
Humans have not yet developed the trick of absorbing the entirety of a book’s content in a glance. Nor will your potential readers know about the witty turn of phrase on page 57, the perfect pacing of your murder mystery, or the fascinating detail that your background as a Mississippi steamboat operator provided to your saga by a quick glance at your Kindle overview.
The ease of publication is a curse as much as it is a boon. To stand out, you need to be visually appealing. As Rich Motoko put it in his NY Times article on the subject, even in electronic mediums ‘book jackets… still matter.’ It is your opportunity to make a potential reader slow down and consider your work a little more closely. Make careful use of color. Kindle Fires and the desktop and mobile apps all offer an exceptional range for color. They allow images of up to 1333×2000 in height and width.
Step 3 – The Title
Remember that you want your title to stand out as well, so plan ‘white’ space for your words. This space should be free of distracting design or detailed imagery and preferably as close to a solid color as possible. Make sure your font, in size, color, and typeface, is clear and readable. Whatever you do, avoid using the base image that Kindle applies to published material without a cover. That is a surefire way to get your writing ignored.
Step 4 – Get Your Descriptions Right
Of equal importance are the keywords and brief descriptions you write to introduce your material to potential readers. Be concise, but entice them. If it works with your topic, provide a good quote or short passage from your material. For descriptions, Amazon allows between 30-4000 characters. Tags should reflect the content you are presenting, precision is king. Look at other popular works in your genre and get a feel for what works. Amazon allows between 5-7 words for this.
Step 5 – The Formatting
A title page should be at the top, and should include the title of your work, your name, copyright information, and possibly ‘Kindle Edition’ if you are published elsewhere. At the very end of your book, include a centered ### followed by ‘About the Author’ and a short biography. This can be followed by hyperlinks to a few other titles you have written and hosted with Amazon Kindle.
Creating a table of contents for a Kindle requires that you utilize heading styles and tagging within your word processor to create bookmarked hyperlinks from section headers to the primary table of contents. Be extra careful to avoid spaces within your tagging. Once you complete this process for the entire table of contents, save it as a ‘filtered’ HTML document.
This document can then be opened in Calibre, an open source e-book manager. Here you can edit the metadata, adjust title and author displays, add cover art, and adjust font styles. When you have finished editing, convert books, change your output format to ‘EPUB’, convert and save. From here, you can open the EPUB file in Kindle Previewer and it will be automatically converted to a MOBI file. Now you can upload your shiny new MOBI file to Amazon.
Whew, you made it this far. The formatting can take a bit of adjustment at first, but once you have done it a few times it will come easily. After the formatting, it is as simple as filling in the forms, checking the right boxes, and uploading your content.
Step 6 – Customer Reviews
Amazon’s customers like reviews. They want to read them. So give them what they want! An excellent way to get a few solid reviews on your work is to give out a few copies of your books to people who like to read the topic you have written about. Simple enough, but a few good words can make the difference between an ignored book and a purchased one.
Not only do customer reviews help with social proof to other potential customers but by increasing the number of reviews you will actually increase how high that book ranks in your category. The higher you rank, the more visitors you attract and the more sales you make, and the cycle continues. However, it goes back to the first step if you don’t produce a something that people want to read then the opposite can happen and a few bad reviews can kill a book.
Don’t underestimate the power of reviews for your Kindle publication!
Richard McMunn is the director and founder of How2become; a career and recruitment specialist. Over the last 7 years Richard has written a number of books and helped applicants prepare for and pass recruitment processes in order to secure their dream job. (Image – alienratt/Flickr)