When people find out I’m an author who originally published independently, they often ask me how they can get started. I therefore thought it would be useful to put a few suggestions together in a document. I’m reproducing them here on the blog in the hope that they might help other new authors.
KDP Select – This is the Amazon site for authors, which enables you to publish your book independently. The help pages https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200798990 have a wealth of information about the whole process and the way in which Amazon works. They can be explored from the menu on the left-hand side of the screen.
Price Point – I used to price my books at £1.99 as an independent author and that seems like a popular price for books published independently although some are priced at £2.99. For Amazon promotions books are usually priced at either 99p or free for a day. There is a qualifying period for how long the book would have to have been at full price before the promotion so it is best to check this out via KDP Select where you will find all the other details of how their promotions work.
Proofreading and Editing – This is really important before you begin to get your book out to a wider audience. Some reviewers are really picky, and they will find any excuse to give a bad review. You don’t want negative reviews of an otherwise great book just because of proofreading or grammatical errors that can be easily corrected.
Editors are useful for giving you an objective view of your book and pointing out things that you might have missed. Publishers usually appoint a structural editor, a copy editor and a proof-reader so the book goes through a series of checks and improvements before it is published. If your budget is tight then I would say you need your book proofread as an absolute minimum.
NB You should also ensure that all text on your book’s Amazon page is proofread as this is the first thing the reader sees, and it could affect their purchasing decision.
David Gaughran – I can’t recommend this guy enough. He publishes books on Amazon (the Let’s Get Publishing series). These cover the entire journey from publication to promotion and advertising. He also has a blog at: https://davidgaughran.com/blog and publishes regular newsletters, which you can sign up to on the home page of his website.
Readers in the Know – When you run a promotion with Amazon you need to shout about it, and there are promotion websites specifically for this. Readers in the Know points you to numerous websites of this type but if you pay to join you can also promote your books on this site. The page with a list of promotion websites is at: https://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites.
Sandra Beckwith – Similar website to David Gaughran but with a US bias
The Publicity Hound – Similar website to David Gaughran and Sandra Beckwith but with a US bias and not just for authors. NB These two are easy to find in Google search.
Amazon Exclusivity – In order to run promotions with Amazon you must publish exclusively with Amazon, but I think the advantages of doing this far outweigh the disadvantages as they have more than 80% of the digital market. Exclusivity is only for a limited period though and you can deselect this option once you reach the end of the qualifying period for your promotion – details are at KDP Select.
Going Wide – If you want to publish on more digital platforms e.g., Kobo, the easiest and quickest way to do it is with Draft 2 Digital (https://www.draft2digital.com/) which enables you to publish to several different platforms at once.
Print Books – It is also possible to publish print books via Amazon. Their print publishing arm used to be called CreateSpace, but I believe it is all now done via KDP Select. However, as their print books are print on demand, they are expensive to produce so you have to set a high sale price to make any profit. For example, my print on demand books are priced at around £12.99 on Amazon whereas my books that have had a mass market print run are priced at around £7.99 or less. You used to be able to calculate price, profit etc. on CreateSpace but I’m not sure how this is now done as it was 5 years ago when I published my own.
Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads – It is also possible to advertise your books on Facebook and Amazon. However, to advertise your books on Facebook you will need to set up an author page first. David Gaughran’s articles often give details of how to do these things.
Social Media – You can also shout about your books on social media. I have a Facebook author page and a Twitter page, but other authors have other social media platforms such as Instagram.
I hope you find these ideas useful but apologise if any of them are out of date. Now that I’m with a publisher, most of this gets taken care of for me and it’s a few years since I had to take care of everything myself. Good luck with your publishing journey.