Sunday, July 26, 2020

Amazon: A Self-Published Author's Dream

Media Graphic created by 100 Covers
Your manuscript is complete, polished . . . fini . . . ready to hit the big time—and you’ve decided to self-publish your book. Getting ready for publication means your manuscript has been vetted over time with your critique partner(s), a professional editor, and has stood the test of time, meaning during revision you’ve let it sit a few days between revision sessions. Now what?

Publishing on Amazon is the Likely First Choice
Put your mind at ease. My book, a children’s book for 7-11-year-olds, was published on Amazon less than a month ago, and my experience uploading the manuscript and book covers for both the eBook and paperback, was a positive one. Here’s why:
  • Google the question,“Can I have my book formatted and cover created at Amazon?” and you will see several companies offering these services. Or you can go to kdp.amazon.com/prepare your book, and see that your eBook manuscript can be formatted with Kindle Create, and cover designed by Cover Creator. Free tools are also available for your paperback.
  • Since I already had illustrations for the book’s cover and interior, I chose to go to professionals to format the book and create the cover, and I’m glad I did. I’ve received compliments on how professional my book looks. I purchased a combination deal with Formatted Books and 100 Covers to do the work. I sent both companies the documents for the manuscript, interior illustrations, and for the covers for the eBook, the paperback, and now a square cover for the audiobook, which is in the making. For formatting, I sent my manuscript in a Word file. All for one low, reasonable price.
Time to Start the Amazon Learning Curve
I went to Amazon KDP and looked over the material—lots and lots of material—and tried not to be overwhelmed. I decided to print the explanations and put them in a 3-ring binder so I could study them at my leisure. That cut down on screen fatigue and actually gave me reassurance, something to hold in my hand, I suppose.
  • First order of business: obtaining an ISBN number. Amazon offers ISBN numbers for free. “Amazon will auto-generate an ISBN number for your print book and an ASIN number for your digital book, register it with Bowker and www.booksinprint.com and even generate the appropriate EAN barcode for the back of your printed book.” (Google, May 28, 2019) 
  • I chose to purchase my own ISBN numbers so that I own them, and went to the source: Bowker.com. I purchased ten ISBN numbers for the rest of this series, including the audiobook, and for future books. Note: Ebooks don’t need ISBN numbers. Bowker offers other services which are worth checking out, including getting on their mailing list for self-published authors. Lots of helpful information there.
A few hiccups
  • You need to decide how much royalty you would like to receive, 35% or 70%. I couldn’t find an explanation to help me decide, so I went for it. I chose 70%!
  • Be careful how you price your book: I had the bar code made, also from Bowker, with a nice, low price on it. Then when it came time to price the book while filling out the Amazon questionnaire, my price was lower than the minimum Amazon requires. So, I had to ask 100 Covers to change the book price on the bar code located on the paperback back cover to a higher price.
  • Insert the correct imprint (trade name) for your book. My attempts weren’t accepted, so I called Bowker, a gentleman answered right away, and he told me to go to Bookwire.com and plug in the ISBN number. VoilĂ ! There was my imprint!
What Next?
Once your information is accepted into the system, Amazon says your sales page will appear in 72 hours. Mine appeared in 24 hours. Then it’s time to take advantage of all Amazon has to offer.
  • Apply to Author Central to create your Author page.
  • Apply for “Look inside,” a feature that Amazon creates and displays in about five days.
  • Order author copies right away. I ordered ten, which took about two weeks to arrive as books are Print on Demand. I’ve used five of my copies to send to reviewers (with a gift, or swag, that I created as a thank you--more on swag in a future post), and have kept five to give away or sell. I included a note to the reviewers to ask them if they would pass the book on once they’re done with it, and have gotten a positive response on the desire to do that. I reminded them about leaving a review on Amazon (that’s the only place my book is sold right now). Also, I’m taking Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s advice in her terrific book, How to Get Great Book Reviews, and am sending thank you cards and thank you emails to my reviewers.
  • Karen Cioffi, award-winning author and creator and owner of Writers on the Move, posted her review of my book on Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s very helpful website, https://thenewbookreview.com/. Check it out!
  • My first newsletter was emailed to my email list that I’ve been cultivating.
  • Swag (author gifts) was made, which I’ll cover in a future post. Hint: recipients have liked my swag because I have made it useful.
  • An audiobook is on the way from Findaway Voices. If you think you had fun writing your book, wait until you hear a professional narrator read it!
  • For my final hurrah, I have purchased Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad School to take the next step in selling my book. And when I find time (uh huh!) I plan to register for the free program to distribute my paperback at IngramSpark. My eBook doesn’t qualify because I signed up with KDP Select, which I think authors need to consider. Try this terrific SPF Community on Facebook for help with deciding whether to go with KDP Select or go wide, meaning you can sell your book in any market. KDP Select is a 90-day commitment to sell only on Amazon (with lots of benefits), and is renewable.
  • A note about Amazon Prime: Having your book included in Amazon Prime is by invitation only.
  • A note about KDP and Author Central's Help Desk: It is great! My questions--and there were many--were answered politely and quickly. Knowing this gave me reassurance.
  • Check out my May post "Help for Self-Published Authors" for more tips on getting started on your self-publishing journey: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2020/05/
I’ve enjoyed every step of the way, from writing the book to arriving at this juncture. The next step is cutting out time each day, or on a schedule, to keep track of my ads on Amazon, continue to expand my email list, continue to look for reviewers, and so much more!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, Linda's first book, is available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor. The next book in the Abi Wunder series, Secret in the Mist, will be available soon. Follow Linda on https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

6 comments:

Terry Whalin said...

Linda,

What a great article about your journey with making SECRET IN THE STARS. One key I noticed is you sought professional help and insight for every step of the process--in order to produce an excellent book. It takes hard work and knowledge to achieve each step. Congratulations.

Terry

Linda Wilson said...

Thank you, Terry. My friends who have read the book have remarked on the quality. The two companies, 100 Covers and Formatted Books turned out a super high quality product that I'm very proud of.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

What a cute picture of you, Linda!

And thank you for sharing your newly learned processes! Sometimes that's exactly what it takes for people to learn. Those who have been around a long time sometimes don't start basic enough for newbies and they therefore don't have the necessary platform to build on! Hugs, Carolyn

Linda Wilson said...

Thank you, Carolyn. I can certainly talk about the basics, and I hope they help new self-publishers.

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, this is such a useful article for authors jumping into self-publishing with Amazon. There aren't many articles that give detailed information on what's involved. Thanks for sharing!

Linda Wilson said...

Thank you, Karen. Amazon is an adventure, no doubt about that! But it turned out to be more rewarding and not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I hope the article helps authors see Amazon in a positive light because I really believe they are there to help authors succeed.

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