4 things I learned from publishing for Kindle

Kindle Slate ImageAs I have mentioned, I recently published a short story called The Golden Daemon for the Kindle. I expect to follow this up with a Smashwords release (though it is a strategic choice – ask Shakespeare). My motives were simple – I wanted the experience and to begin to build my brand. You can’t publish your second, third, thirtieth Kindle title until you publish your first.

Now that I have the experience I am going to share the lessons I have learned.

The lessons

First its called Kindle Direct Publishing but everyone calls it kdp. Now I’ve got that out of the way the four things I learned were about:

  1. Process
  2. Pricing
  3. Updating
  4. Profiles

Process

This is self-publishing so kdp is a platform rather than a service, though it does have some service elements. You have to work with it in certain ways, follow their steps and let it happen. You set up each book as a thing in its own right on your bookshelf and I suggest you do this way in advance. You upload a cover and again I do this when I create the book; for me this makes it look real. You produce your book then get it ready for publishing. I suggest you triple check everything and then once you have uploaded still make sure you proof it as a kindle book to look for odd bits of layout and quirky page breaks (not a lot that can be done about this to be fair).

Even with all that done I still needed to make a couple of edits; more on that later.

Once you submit you then wait hours for it to get vetted and go live. The kdp site suggests 12 hours is not uncommon; The Golden Daemon was short and live within a couple.

Pricing

[pullquote]Here is where I was most surprised[/pullquote]

Here is where I was most surprised: Amazon has a floor price of 99c (US) for any title. I had ideas of putting some short stories up at a UK price of 49p; with the exchange rate and VAT the lowest UK price is 77p (today’s exchange rate). You also need to choose between two routes – KDP Select or not. I will write more about this later – look out for a post with a title like The KDP Selection Solution. There are various tricks that can be done to try to change this but the bottom line is you are hampered. Yes KDP Select allows for promotion days but see The KDP Selection Solution.

Updating

My one key tip is to allow time between making your final edits and publishing. I tweaked one sentence, didn’t re-read it and was so enthusiastic about getting a title in the Amazon store that it went up with a mistake. I edited, submitted an update and nothing happened. I did it again, spotted what I had done wrong and nothing happened. The long and the short of it is it can take days for changes to ripple through. I tried various tricks such as deleting from the device, re-loading but nothing. My advice here is calm down.

Profiles

I was super-keen to get my Amazon Author page up and running (all vanity no doubt). I was surprised that Author Central is an entirely separate site from kdp and needs its own account. Thinking about it they aren’t necessarily the same thing. A Venn Diagram might show a big overlap of kdp publishers and users of Author Central but of course most authors aren’t just publishing for Kindle. What does puzzle me (and tells me something about Amazon’s architecture) is that you need multiple versions of your page. So far I have set up the UK and US pages. I still think this could be made more seamless but for now it isn’t the end of the world.

What about you? What did you learn from your first KDP experience? What have you learned since? Let me know!

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