Friday, March 5, 2010

Kindle, Smashwords and e-Book Publishing:

So your manuscript is complete, polished and ready for publishing, then it's time for you to consider making your work available for e-Readers via Amazon Kindle and Smashwords.  

Amazon Kindle: An e-reading platform available through, which allows readers to digitally download your manuscript to their Kindle device, PC, or cell phone.

Smash words: This is a website, which allows Independent Authors and Publishers to publish their books in a variety of digital formats including, but not limited to: P.D.F. , Kindle (in mobi format), E Pub, Sony Reader, HTML.  Premium Publishing on Smash words requires better e-book formatting, but will gain you access into the Nook and Sony stores.

How to Sell on Kindle?

Step 1: Publishing your e-Book on Kindle is free to set-up - a big plus for small publishers and Independent Authors.  To get the Kindle publishing process started go to

You can sign in via your Amazon screen name, which you use for purchasing items off the Amazon site.  After signing in you will be sent to the DTP or Digital Text Platform Dashboard. Your DTP Dashboard is your entry point into Kindle publishing.  From here you can set up your book (known as a 'Title'), edit and republish you work(s) when corrections are made, check your royalty reports, and set up direct deposit for payments, etc...

Looking at your dashboard you'll see several things.  At the top of the browser:

My Shelf - This is where you set up titles, and monitor existing titles.

My Reports - Where you click to check royalties.

My Account: Your Account info.

Step #2: Setting up Titles:

If you want to to set your book title, click the "My Shelf" Button on your dashboard.  In the upper left hand corner you'll see a button that says: "Add a New Item."  Click the icon and you'll be able to set up a new Title.  The process to set up the Title comes in four, fairly easy steps which I'll go through in detail below via steps 3-6.

Step # 3 Enter Product Details: This is the first step in the title set-up.  You will be asked to list and detail the following information: 

Title: What's the title of your work.  Example: my book is "Burden of Proof."

Description: Write a one to two paragraph description detailing your book's plot synopsis.  I have heard from consumers that a more detailed synopsis is better.  Don't give away plot twists or give the entire plot away, but try to give the consumer a good feel for what the book is about, key themes, characters and why they should read it.  For examples on how to write a product description try going through the top Kindle sellers and emulate a similar method in your description.  (*Note Product Description has 4000 characters Max)

Authors: List Author(s) and any other contributors to the project (I.E. Editor) here.

Publisher: List name of Publisher.  If you are self-publishing and are not with Create Space (Amazon's self-publishing platform for paperback books) then list the name of your publishing company (For example, I own Lone Mountain Press - I came up with this name because I love mountains.  Pick a Publishing House name that works for your image as an author/publisher)

ISBN: If you have an ISBN number type it here.  This ISBN number costs $150 through Bowker and can be used for digital books and traditional paperback and hardcover books.

Language * Pub Date: What language is the book in?  What is the date it was published.  

Categories: List the genre your book is in or keywords to identify it.  I.E. with "Burden of Proof" I put keywords such as 'espionage' 'suspense' 'thriller'

Product Image: Upload a J P.E.G. or TIFF of your book cover.  

- Digital Rights Management - can be enabled.  This is a way to stop Internet Piracy on your e-Book.  As someone with an Intellectual Property background I recommend enabling DRM.  For more info on Digital Rights Management and whether or not to use it: DRM

Step #4: Confirm Content Rights - Here you will need to confirm that you have sole right to publish you work (I.E. you own copyright and distribution rights).  Select which region you are legally allowed to distribute.  If you own sole distribution rights then opt for Worldwide Rights.

Step # 5:  Upload and Preview Book:  Before you reach this step, be sure to make sure your Kindle book is formatting correctly.  If you can a Word Document you might just want to delete blank pages at the top of the document before uploading.  For more on formatting check out the Amazon Guide

Here you can upload your digital file.  DO NOT USE PDF FILE!  For some reason Amazon Kindle is not set up for PDF and a Acrobat file will not lead to a poor quality Kindle book.  I recommend exporting a Word or PDF document to HTML or simply uploading an MS Word Document.  

Once you've uploaded the file, you can click the preview button to make sure that it reads properly in the Kindle format.  

Step # 6: Set Suggested Price - You have to set the price at a minimum of .99 cents per Kindle book.  I suggest a starting price of $1.99.  I know that seems a little low, but I've had a lot more luck with sales at that price.  If you want to set your book as a free e-book, you have to work this out with Amazon directly.

Step # 7: Click Publish - Make sure the Content Rights have been approved and then click published.  Your book will typically be 'Live' in the Kindle Store within 48 hours.

Other Issues regarding Kindle:

Royalties: You're in this primarily because you want people to enjoy your book, but any author/publisher who is working to be in print wants their efforts to pay off in a royalty check.  At this juncture you don't have any say in what royalties you receive or what discount is given to the distributor.  This is a bit annoying as Amazon requires 65% percent of the profit be reverted to them and 35% go to the author and publisher.  This option will open up this summer when Amazon will give authors/publishers a 70% royalty option, in which Amazon will receive 30% of profit and A/P - 70%.  If the 70% royalty option is chosen, Amazon will charge a fee per KB downloaded per sale and then configure the 70% rate after the KB deduction is made.  

So if you have a book priced at $1.99 you'll make .70 cents.  It's not much, and you may be tempted to price higher, but speaking from experience stay under $4 (and preferably $2) - you'll make more money by selling in bulk, as more readers are willing to purchase you book right away if it's cheaper in price.

Returns: Kindle users have seven days to return a book.  This will just be deducted from your royalty report and unlike paperback returns - you owe no money, you just lose the royalty you already received and sense you are paid 60 days after the end of the monthly report - you'll take no direct loss.


- Make sure that you have a typo free and well-formatted Kindle book as Amazon Kindle users will vehemently write in a negative review if they find a typo or formatting issue.  The good news is you can upload a new manuscript as many times as you need to for no fee - there is just a 36 hour lay-over before the new version is live.  With my paperback book re-uploads with LSI it's a $40 fee...

Smashwords: is another great site for Authors/Independent Publishers to promote and sell their work.  With Smashwords you can reach a lot of different e-Book formats and you receive a higher royalty than Amazon (80% A/P Royalty).  I recommend being on both Kindle and Smashwords

To get your book listed on Smashwords is easy.  Once you set-up an account you can upload titles simply by importing your MS Word or HTML file to the site.  For more info check out this link:

More on E-Book Promotion Soon!

If you're interested in checking out "Burden of Proof": Kindle 

*Note - New Version now Availble on Kindle for only $1.99

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