Jul 20

Question: Can an amateur author make their book available online for download to the Kindle and the Nook?

BookQuestionQuestion: Can an amateur author make their book available online for download to the Kindle and the Nook?
Basically is there any way to digitally self publish?


Well, of COURSE there is. But why would you limit yourself to Amazon and B&N?

The Holy Trinity of Self-Publishing is:

  • Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Smashwords
  • Createspace

Once your work is done, create an ePub file. You’ll upload this file to Kindle Direct Publishing (which gets your work up on Amazon), and Smashwords Direct (DO NOT use the Meatgrinder) which gets your work up on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and other eRetailers.

The third piece of the puzzle is Createspace. Createspace allows you to get a dead-tree version of your book. Many indies overlook this because it’s not an ebook. And that is EXACTLY why you want to create a physical book. The legacy publishing industry has tried for years to create a stigma regarding ebooks and self-publishing; calling writers who choose to go around the dinosaur model of legacy publishing and connect direct to the readers “vanity” writers who use “vanity press” instead of the Right and Proper channels of going through them and getting 14.7% royalties.

To an extent, readers do fall for this; if you only release an ebook, customers don’t see your book as “real,” and not worth as much as a traditional book. By creating a “real book,” and giving it a “real book” price you do two things: you remove the imaginary stigma of the self-publisher, and you create additional value for your book.

Chances are good that nobody outside your immediate family will EVER buy your “real book.”

You use it as a loss leader. For example: you’ve got a non-fiction ebook that is a damned fine read in it’s own right – but to get people to buy it, you’re having to price it at the minimum 70% royalty price of $2.99. If you take that same ebook, and build out a “real book” and price it at $16.99, you can raise the price of your ebook to $6.99 or $7.99 and nobody will bat an eye about buying the ebook for that bargain price. It’s all about perception and perceived value.

There are some misconceptions in the indie publishing world that need to be addressed:

  • Epub isn’t “the industry standard.” It’s “a” standard. To be an industry standard, it’d have to be the format most ebooks are formatted in and sold in. Amazon sells more ebook than pretty much every other venue combined, that makes THEIR format the “industry standard.”
  • DO NOT use Calibre to convert anything you’re packaging for sale, or upload Calibre-converted files to Amazon; Amazon rejects Calibre-converted files.  I don’t know why, they just do.  Calibre is a fantastic tool, and – if you don’t have it – I strongly suggest you get a copy; it is invaluable for organizing your personal ebook files.
  • DO NOT use Word to create an ePub; Word fills epub files with what we indie-publishers call “Word bloat” which is tons and tons of unnecessary formatting. Word can take a simple 1.2MB ebook file and fill it so full of formatting goo that the file ends up being 24MB. YOU lose royalty revenue, because YOU get charged per MB of file every time it’s transferred to a buyer.
  • Don’t sell from your own website. That’s a sucker play. Unless you want to be tech support for the rest of your natural life, you sell through Amazon. Redirect anyone who wants to buy your book to them or your eRetailer of choice (the one that pays you the most in royalties).
  • Don’t use DRM. Okay, people will disagree with me about this, but the bottom line is this: DRM doesn’t stop pirates. All DRM does is tell your readers that you don’t trust them. Probably not the best strategy, if you want them to buy from you.
  • DO NOT create – or bother with – PDF. PDF is a print format, and it’s a dead end when it comes to ebooks; ebooks are epub or Amazon format. That’s where the sales are, that’s where your book should go!
  • You DO NOT need your own ISBN number to publish on Amazon. If you’re uploading to Smashwords you can get an ISBN from them, use the ASIN number from Amazon, and use a free ISBN from Createspace and you’re done.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to drop me a line.  I help get authors published every day!