Posting My First Book on Amazon via Kindle Direct PublishingJuly 25, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
My first book is available on Amazon.com! Here it is: Iceland by Bus and Backpack.
I’m still emotional about finishing my first novel and putting it out for the world to see. I thought I would break the ice by posting a project I could feel “done with” and learning about the self-publishing process. This was a great way to satisfy my curiosity and build my confidence. Also, I had a great deal to say about backpacking and camping in Iceland and I felt my book would help other travelers.
Some unexpected issues surfaced in the uploading process. First, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is promoting a book lending program, KDP Select. I hadn’t heard of it and had to evaluate it in the middle of trying to publish my book. Second, my book wouldn’t load, and due to my lack of familiarity with the process it took me two days to resolve the issue. I will discuss those topics in greater detail after a cursory explanation of the process.
Amazon offers a free guide to the self-publishing process on KDP. I found it helpful and easy to understand. It recommends some formatting conventions, many of which I use routinely, and I was glad to find out that the formatting and conversion process was less complicated than I thought. Don’t use tabs or indent paragraphs; use page breaks between chapters; center images. Avoid page numbering.
Designing a book cover deserves real attention. In retrospect it would have been nice if I had thought about a book cover while I was still in the act of taking photographs. It would have been very simple to frame a few shots with the cover in mind, and then choose the best one. In reality I must have spent two hours poring over thousands of images. The KDP guide gave helpful advice on image dimensions.
Uploading a book involves two pages of forms. The first page includes finding the files for the text and the book cover, and it can take a minute. It’s possible to continue to the second page and complete it while waiting for the book to load, although it shouldn’t take that long.
Where I ran into trouble was that the book wouldn’t load, and I had no expectation of how long I needed to wait. Two days later it still hadn’t loaded. An error message that suggests trying to attach the file again would have been very helpful. I contacted tech support and they didn’t suggest that simple approach either. Finally my husband came in and did what was obvious to him – browse for the file and click Save again – and it was done in seconds. I share this story because an extensive Google search failed to turn up any similar issues, but I doubt I’ll be the only poor sap in this situation.
The other issue I promised to mention was the KDP Select program that Amazon is promoting. My book hasn’t been on the market long enough for me to compare whether I would make more money through KDP Select than I will by selling it. So far I have sold a whopping TWO COPIES. The way the KDP Select program works is that you make your book available exclusively through the program for at least 90 days. Any time a Kindle reader chooses your book, you get a portion of the pool of money that subscribers pay. The amount varies depending on how many authors/books are in the pool and how many subscribers are paying. I got a newsletter that said the current payment per read was about $2.04. That’s very close to what I think I will net per sale, so for me the question is whether KDP Select could garner more readers for my work. I may write other travel guides in the future, but most of my planned works are not of this type, so name recognition may not be of much use to me at this stage.
What I really need is a reviewer! I’ll be reviewing my own book tomorrow in the hope of attracting a traveler who can speak to my book’s accuracy, usefulness, and amusement value. In the meantime, the fact that my book costs less than a magazine is not enough to appease wary purchasers of travel guidebooks.