Kindle publishing

13 March 2011

It’s been an interesting week really. I decided on a whim to publish my first novel, The Secret Diary of a Princess on Kindle and am now, just a few days later, completely HOOKED on the whole Kindle thing – so much so that I’m thinking about writing some books JUST for self publication on Kindle.

I’d considered doing this before but had put it off as I thought the whole process would be painful and difficult, but actually it was okay. I’d already had my book properly typeset and formatted by my fabulous friend Delilah des Anges so putting it on to Kindle was a simple case of uploading the file, giving it a quick check over and away we go.

If you don’t have a typesetting chum to hand, then there’s plenty of tutorials online about how to format a book for Kindle or you can pay someone to do it professionally. Either way, once this bit is done (and it probably is the most tricky part of the whole process) then it’s as easy as sticking the book on Amazon.

Before you start to put your book on Kindle, there’s a couple of things you need to think about. As already mentioned, I did it as a whim so hadn’t really thought things through and have had to tweak things around a bit since I put it online, but you’ll be better prepared won’t you? The things you need to think about are what categories you want the book to be under, how you want the description to look and how much you want it to be.

The categories are very important as these are the ones that your book will initially be listed under. I started off by listing my book as ‘historical fiction’ but then had a change of heart and listed it as ‘juvenile fiction – historical’ and ‘juvenile fiction – royalty’. My reason for doing this is that while my book is historical fiction, this category has thousands upon thousands of books all competing for the top spots in the bestseller list, whereas juvenile fiction has rather less. It’s a bit vain, I know, to want to be in a bestseller list, however niche but it will apparently improve my visibility on Amazon.

I’ve wanted to list this book as ‘young adult’ fiction for a while actually – the main character is an adolescent girl and there’s nothing in the book that could cause offense to young readers or their parents. In fact I’ve had a lot of feed back from parents about their daughters absolutely loving the book and telling me that they’ve read it together so it seemed like the sensible thing to do really.

I also chose seven key words that my book could be searched under – also very important! Now people who look for ‘Marie Antoinette’, ‘Paris’, ‘Versailles’ and ‘princess’ may well see my book listed amongst the various Kindle offerings.

The description is also highly important. I found it a bit difficult as I’m naturally rather diffident and found it really grim to be blowing my own writerly trumpet in public, but it HAS to be done! In the end I opted for a description of the book, a paragraph that explains why it appeals to younger readers and then a few reviews from past readers. You can put whatever you like but I’d recommend having a look at books that you have bought from Amazon on a whim and seeing what it was about their description that made you want to read more.

Once you’ve chosen a price (I went as low as I could go while still getting a 70% cut) and ticked a few boxes about permissions and copyright, you’re ready to publish. At this point, the book will enter a stage where it is checked over by Amazon and then after this it will be listed as ‘publishing’. This stage lasts about 24 hours before it goes ‘live’ and the control panel is greyed out so you can’t make any changes – don’t panic! I did, a little bit, but it was all normal and turned out okay. The book beccomes available on Amazon within about 12 hours so check by searching for your name, even if the control panel says that it is still ‘publishing’.

If, like me, you decide that you want to change the categories, price, description or anything else, then it is easily done once the book is ‘live’ but remember that it takes you through the whole publishing process again and will put it back into ‘publishing’ unavailable mode for another 24 hours afterwards. The book will still be for sale during this time though, so don’t panic.

Once you’ve got a searchable author’s name you can do the very fun bit of adding an Author Central account to your Amazon pages – you can’t do this until you are listed on Amazon but once you are, then it is very easy to do and links up automatically. To make it look really good, you need a decent photo (I opted for one of me brandishing a bloody knife in an evidence bag, but will change that soon as it’s not really the look I should be going for) and an interesting description of yourself and where you are as a writer.

The US site gives you the option of adding a blog feed to the page as well, which I decided to do but I’ve also put a link to the blog in my author’s description.

After this, it was time to publicise and so I’ve been mentioning it on my Facebook page, Twitter, Live Journal and here. I’ve also got a few blog chums giving it a bit of a shout out soon, which will help spread the word a bit more. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit demuring but I think I’ll have to get over that and start being a bit more shameless about promoting my work because being all ‘I’ve written a book, it’s alright but you don’t have to read it’ is all very becomingly modest but the fact is that I think my book is actually better than just alright. Sorry, but it is.

Oh gosh, I’m all ablush now. Forget I said that.

Anyway, I hope this was of some use to someone! You can check out my book on Amazon UK and Amazon US. It would be LOVELY AND I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER if you decide to buy a copy (all revenue is optimistically going into my RNA Conference, Louboutin and Florence Research Trip funds) and if you DO then please remember to leave a review, because Amazon reviews are what makes the world go round. You’ll see…