Thursday, July 7, 2011

Becoming a Kindle Millionaire (Yeah Right)

I wrote earlier about my Smashwords experience, so now I'm tackling the Kindle format.

Other writers have blogged about this and many of them will know more about it than me. I'm sharing what I'm certain is a very basic Kindle experience as it pertains to short stories. I have not formatted a full-length novel for Kindle, so this is the "baby steps" version of adding content to Amazon's behemoth of a platform.

I'm hoping this modest guide will serve as a brief "How To" for anyone intimidated by Kindle Direct Publishing. This is coming from someone who is not an expert and has slightly above average knowledge of tech stuff.

All right, first, head to You can use your existing Amazon account or create a new one. For better or worse, I've got my consumer account, author central page, and Kindle Direct Publishing account all tied to one email address. You can certainly choose to do it differently.

This is your home screen:

I have three stories on here already...if this is your first time, you won't have anything here. Hit "Add a New Title."

You'll get a lovely form to fill in:

1. Name - Title of your book. Simple enough.

Book is part of a series/series number - This is a checkbox for novels that are part of a series.

Series title/Series volume - If your book is a part of a series (or you plan to make it part of a series), this is where you input the title name and volume number (for a fake example: Circle of Life Series: Volume XVI).

Edition number - If you have plans to expand a story or made heavy revisions, this is where you can note that by numbering the book version.

Description - A summary of your book up to 4,000 words. Based on personal preference, I'm going to say the shorter, the better on this. I don't appreciate 4,000-word book summaries when I'm browsing for a new book. You can, of course, feel free to differ on this.

Book contributors - This is where you get to add your name and declare yourself the author. If you have a co-writer, you can note that. I would image you can also add various contributors if you're publishing an anthology.

Language - The primary language of the work. Pick Latin just for kicks.

Publisher - This is where you note who published the book. I've published my short stories while listing myself here. If I come up with a great name for a publisher, I'll use that instead. Maybe.

Publication Date - The date you want your book published.

ISBN Number - Ye Olde International Standard Book Number. If you've purchased one for your book, be sure to enter it here. You DO NOT need one to publish on Amazon's Kindle platform.

2. Publishing rights I'm going to assume you're not spamming the Kindle store by uploaded a poorly-formatted public domain book you copied off the internet. Select "This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights."

3. Target Your Book - You can select categories for your book, but only two of them. Be sure to choose carefully and try not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available.

Search Keywords - This is optional, but I'd recommend it. This gives you more control over how people can find your book.

4. Upload Your Cover - Having a good-looking cover is a necessity. Make sure it has at least 500 pixels across and a max of 1280 pixels vertically. Right now, Amazon accepts only JPEG and TIFF formats.

5. Upload Your Book

Digital Rights Management (DRM) - You can set DRM or not. It's up to you. One offers piracy protection, the other doesn't. But know this: once you've made your selection, you can't go back (unless you unpublish your Kindle book, create a new version, and set the new book's DRM).

File - This sets which file Amazon will use as the source for your Kindle book conversion. The Kindle Digital Publishing site has a page with suggestions for formatting here.

SIDE NOTE: If you're a Word user, save your document (.doc) in the "Web Page, Filtered" format. And make sure you import that HTML file into Mobi Pocket Creator as Amazon suggests.

I tried skipping the Mobi step...and realized my books don't have covers. So, um, don't do that.

Preview - This is important. It gives you a pretty good taste of what your ebook will look like on the Kindle. I usually go through, screen by screen, to check for any strange formatting. I am NOT a pro at this yet. If you want a terrific primer on ebook formatting, head here.

Next: hold your breath, grasp the mouse firmly, and click "Save and Continue."

6. Verify Your Publishing Territories - Select "Worldwide Rights" or "Individual Territories." If this is your book and you know you have the rights to it, go with "Worldwide Rights."

7. Choose Your Royalty - You can choose 35% or 70%. IMPORTANT: Your book must be priced at $2.99 or higher to qualify for the 70% royalty. In addition, $9.99 is the upper limit of the 70% royalty. Go any higher, and you'll have to take the 35% rate.

You can also set prices for various Amazon stores, though I've been selecting "set prices based on US rate."

8. Kindle Book Lending - You can choose to opt in or out. If you say "yes," then someone can loan their book to another Kindle user for two weeks. If you say "no," then they can't loan your book.

Are you really sure you want to do this? Make sure to check the box next to:

By clicking Save and Publish below, I confirm that I have all rights necessary to make the content I am uploading available for marketing, distribution and sale in each territory I have indicated above, and that I am in compliance with the KDP Terms and Conditions.

Next: hold your breath, grasp the mouse firmly, and click "Save and Publish." Or, if you're skittish (and understandably so!), click "Save for Later" so you can work up the courage to put your work in the Kindle Store.

The whole process, by the way, took about 20 minutes.

Tomorrow: Smashwords vs. Kindle Store: Which is easier?