Monday, June 7, 2010

Kindle and the New Self-EPublishing

Most successful authors have previously published works for which the publishing rights have reverted to the author. They'd like to see their books re-printed, but finding a traditional publisher to pick them up is pretty difficult. Re-printing a paper book is an expensive proposition for a book with a limited market.

Enter Kindle.

Kindle is widely regarded as the most significant forward-moving force. Probably true. But I think it's not so much Kindle as it is the Kindle Bookstore, which arguably holds more ebooks than any other source on the internet. People buy Kindles because of the enormous inventory of titles. And the reason for this is that Kindle opened itself up to the Independent Publisher. Essentially, this means ANYBODY.

This is the perfect opportunity for re-issues. The investment is tiny, and the author receives 35% royalties. Sales aren't huge, but they are growing, and supposedly Amazon will be hiking the royalties to independent publishers to 70% beginning this month. I'm not sure of the details, but since Kindle is the biggest market for ebooks, this would be nice. Many authors feel they can afford to set a more attractive price since they don't have to share with a publisher or agent.


Where: on, Kindle Store>In Sidebar, Publish on Kindle> On top line under Kindle Books, Small publishers and Authors... Digital Text Platform, DTP link>Sign In by following directions.

I suggest reading through FAQs and other information before starting. Some of it won't make sense at first, but when you reach that point in your process, you'll have an idea where to look for your answer.

Here's a list of the information you'll need to assemble for uploading your ebook. I suggest you get it all together before you start and save yourself a lot of back-tracking.


#1 Enter Product Details
ISBN: You don't actually need an ISBN for your own Kindle upload. But if you already have one, or are planning on other ebook releases, get one. Don't use the same ISBN for print and electronic books.
Description: 4000 characters max
Publisher: That's you
Pub Date: I suggest about 5-7 days from current date. They may get faster in the future
Categories: e.g. Historical Romance
search key words: look for as many appropriate words as you can think of
Product Image: min 1200 pix on smallest side I used 300 dpi, 6x9"
Edition Number: (optional)
Series Title: (optional)
Series Volume: (optional)

#2 Confirm Content Rights

Worldwide or Individual Territories
You'll later be asked to confirm or verify this. I sent the email letter granting release of rights.

#3 Upload & Preview Book
formats: Word, HTML, PRC, PDF (poor)
Preview- not easy if you don't know HTML but go through the whole thing anyway. Sometimes it looks fuzzy- I'm not sure if it would be fuzzy in the finished book. I did it over just in case it would improve and it did. You could be surprised at the things that show up in the preview, or don't show up. If all else fails, cancel (trash can) and start over. Before you do, though, make sure you have copies of all the info you put into the blanks and boxes.

#4 Enter Suggested Retail Price

I decided to price low. I can always raise it later.

wait 48-72 Hours while it's being reviewed.
You might not see your product description right away- up to a week.
Be sure to read the Amazon DTP Quick Start Guide, under Getting Started Guide


You can publish your book on Kindle in just about any layout you want. You don't even have to check for spelling errors. But if you don't want to irritate your readers, it's a good idea to make sure you understand what works well for reading on the Kindle.

Your book might already be in proper book layout for a print book. But this isn't necessarily the best layout for an ereader, especially Kindle. Kindle has no page numbers because the content is so adjustable. Depending on font size and other adjustments, the number of words per line, number of lines on the screen, and therefore the number of pages changes. So you want your content to flow easily for the reader.

The first thing you want to do is remove all headers, footers and page numbers. They take up screen space and irritate the reader, who just wants to get on with your story. And besides, remember, Kindle books have no pages, so headers, footers and page numbers mean nothing.

I suggest eliminating all page breaks between chapters. And since it's an irritation for readers to keep thumbing down through blank page after blank page, which is what you get if you have a lot of lines left before the beginning of the next chapter, substitute about 5 or 6 line returns for the page break. It won't seem like enough for you, the author. But those same 5-8 or so lines can take up a lot of space on the ereader. Do 2,3,4, or whatever you choose, but I suggest doing just enough to make it clear there's a new chapter coming up. I want the first lines of the new chapter to show on the same screen as the last words of the previous chapter.

Because I use Word Perfect, I've found it best to use the Reveal Codes feature to strip out all those little codes that don't seem to be there-until I change font, format or programs. But in Word, you can often get rid of such codes by highlighting the entire manuscript, then putting in the formatting that you want all through the manuscript. For instance, you might have some oddball font codes you think are gone, but will pop up sometimes if you do a backspace in the wrong place, or other such nonsense. Select and choose ALL. Then change the font to the one you want consistently, such as Times New Roman.

It's quite possible to scan a print book if you don't have an electronic copy. Most scanners have OCR (Optical Character Recognition) ability now and can convert to text document. But they're ‟sloppy", meaning they don't always get it right- ‟cl" often becomes ‟d", for example. The best way to do this is to take the book apart and scan each page flat so you don't get a ditch or gutter distortion. I haven't tried this, but I hear it's a bit of a pain. Still, better than re-typing!

If you work from a manuscript, you probably double-spaced, and used a five-space wide paragraph indent. Not good for e-reading. Select All and change to single spacing. Set your tab at .200" or .300". You'll even like the look better yourself.

Some people don't center chapter headings, but I prefer them. And I close down the spaces between scenes, separating them only with ***. Keep remembering, ereader screens are small.


A good cover is very helpful for selling ebooks, although I rate it less important than a reduced price and known author name. You probably can't use a cover from a previous edition unless it's your own creation. Even then I'd suggest you use a different cover to separate yourself and your book from the previous edition under other publishers.

Covers can be simple or elaborate. You can pay an artist- we cover artists tend to work very cheap, but not all do. You can do it yourself, too. If you're not artistic, you can buy royalty-free photos from a number of sites online, and add your own lettering. You will need some sot of program to manage your graphic tasks. Often simple programs are shareware. Photoshop Elements is pretty good for basic work. You can have your 6 year-old kid color with crayons if you want. It's your book. You do want something that gets attention and makes a reader want to buy.

(I do cover art, in case you're interested. I can do simple for around $20-25 or complex, up to around $150. Sorry but I don't have time for anything more complex.)

Don't use copyrighted material without permission! Use your own photos or maybe a friend's but even with the friend, ask him to sign a release giving you permission to use it. If you buy art or photos from royalty-free sites, check the usage agreement. They are all a bit different.

Upload a good quality cover. This means a high resolution. If you swipe photos off the internet, chances are good they aren't good quality. So it's not even in your best interest to take them.

Who edits your book? Nobody but you, unless you arrange for it yourself. You are solely responsible for the quality of your book, so be patient with yourself and the process. Turn out a product you'd be happy to buy.

Now you're pleased with your accomplishment and the book is available on Kindle. Sales start trickling in. And new questions start trickling into your mind. How can I promote? How can I increase sales? And the newly intriguing question:

Is there more to this than just Kindle?

Sure, there is. But that's for another post. Coming up:
Smashwords Makes a Splash.
And other things E.


  1. Hi Delle - I definitely see a trend towards this self publishing. This was a good step by step article.

  2. I agree anyone can self-publish on Kindle. Just like ten years ago anyone could self-publish via POD with Lightning. And still can. A caveat. In 2004 there were 1.2 million titles available. 950,000 of them sold less than 99 copies. Granted, distribution is better via Amazon for Kindle, but still, I recommend for previously unpublished fiction writers not to self-publish unless they are the world's greatest promoter and have a fantastic hook for their novel. I also recommend that if you do bring your backlist out, to try to build teams of authors with similar subject matter and help each other promote.

    Additionally, I think Kindle might well become the next Betamax. I'll be blogging on that shortly.

    I'm not being negative, I just think just because there is opportunity, that doesn't mean it's a good opportunity. One has to weigh the pros and cons. I've brought backlist out on Kindle and we're doing well and will be publishing an original title soon with our publishing company, Who Dares Wins. So I'm not negative on it, I just think reality is a lot harsher than many suspect.

  3. Thank you so much for this, Delle. I'm planning to self-pub a book for which the rights have reverted back to me. I'm printing your blog as an aid. Thanks again for such a timely topic.

    Carolyn Matkowsky/Cara Marsi

  4. I'm in thorough agreements more to it than I have here, which is why I'll be saying more- later. And I'm watching your blog too. Let's put your link up here where people can see it.

    This is no get rich quick scheme. And the kind of promo you do does make a difference, but so far isn't paying off enough to go buy that yacht we may be dreaming of. I'll be talking about Smashwords next, and showcasing Lexie Harrington who is the whiz kid among historical romance there.

  5. I think there are a lot of opportunity for authors that weren't there years before and it's a very exciting time to be an author, but as Bob pointed out, there are a lot of things to consider when deciding to self-publish and how to self publish.

  6. Thanks Carolyn. There's much more to be said. And there are other places to put your book too. Watch for future posts.

  7. Jenni, I certainly agree, there's much more to consider, which it why I'm going to do a series of blogs.

    I don't know that I would self-publish a book that has never been published elsewhere. I might- just not under the current circumstances. There are some authors who only do self-e-publishing. In some genres, it may work better than in romance. And for many authors, the ability to re-publish in print is a viable option. Some have done both print and electronic re-publishing.

    It's interesting to me that now I am making quite a bit more money per book than I had been making under the previous publisher. True, these books of mine had been out anywhere from 6 to 10 years, and of course no longer had quite the audience of a newly issued book. But they seem to have found a new readership, even though they had all been previously issued as Kindles.

    That doesn't mean what is true for me would be true for other people. It's important for each author to carefully weigh the circumstances for his/her own books.

  8. Fascinating information -- makes me want to start getting my rights back. Thanks, Delle, for such a complete how-to-do-it checklist!

  9. Delle, very interesting blog and great tutorial. I agree it sounds like a good opportunity, particularly for previously published material to which you've reacquired the rights. I don't know at this point if I'd self-publish an unpublished book... I might give it away as a freebie at my website instead. I do know some authors with big backlists who are very grateful for the income they get from this source.

  10. Laurie, it's worth checking out. If you have books that could be earning a little something but are sitting idle, this might be a good choice. Some people make some pretty good money, but for the most part the romance genre doesn't do quite that well. YET. I say that because it's changing rapidly. But I'd still rather have my older book earn $10, $50, $100 a month than nothing.

  11. Thanks, Norah. I'd say, if you can re-issue in print and make lots of money, go for it. But if you're looking at re-issuing to en e-publisher, then look again at doing it yourself. Some sites give up to 85% royalties. But more on that on another blog.

    I have a free book up on Smashwords, THE MUDLARK, and it's had over 2300 downloads in two months, and has definitely brought sales to my other books. I first put it up on my blog, complete with all kinds of graphics, and I had around 200-300 followers reading it. Good blog numbers. But why not reach wider? The same book is for sale on Kindle, and doing pretty well.


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