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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Publishing with Amazon Kindle

Authors—This post is for you

How many of you are publishing through AMAZON KINDLE right now? If you are, I’d love to hear from you. What has your experience been? Why did you choose to publish directly through Amazon Kindle? What pros and cons have you experienced?

I want to hear from you so come on out today and say hello!

Hugs,
Destiny Blaine
www.destinyblaine.com

36 comments:

Lorrie said...

An interesting question. I, too, would like to hear some answers of the experience. With the small presses, of course we are with Amazon, but are we talking about Indies?

Destiny Blaine said...
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Amanda Young said...

I chose to self-publish a few of my stories through Amazon Kindle. It was fairly simple to set up (all you need is your Word file & artwork) and the payments come on time. Sales were slow to start, but seem to be gaining speed. :D

Missy Lyons said...

I've self published and experimented with Amazon dtp and I've been happy with my limited results, but will still be using my traditional publishers for a whilem, especially with my longer or more complicated stories.

Part of the problem is it's only one avenue, and you need multiple distributors to make what you used to make directly through a publisher. Plus, those other small distributors do have standards that keep self publishers out, like the 25 book and ten author minimum of Fictionwise. Yes, you have to edit, and spellcheck yourself, and it can be really good or a dismal failure.

For me it means gas money. I sell an average of 100 copies a month roughly. Great if the price is high and you can make the 70% royalty, but at 99 cents I'm not getting rich and I end up in the lower royalty bracket. I'm still happy I tried it. They pay monthly and deposit it diretly to my bank account. Meaning I don't have to wait 6 months or more to get paid.

Rela Waski said...

I had a bad experience with iUniverse, they have partnered with Indigo.ca. I spent over $8,000 USD that I could not get a refund on. They made empty promises and to for editing which wasn't done, pay for extra for promotions and book reviews and a huge list of things to be added if I wanted to make it to the best sellers list. I only sold two copies of my book. I terminated my contract last year. I'm glad I found XoXo Publishing. They are an honest and non nonsense publisher that are truly professional in ever sense and care about us authors.
Rela

Brenna Lyons said...

I have books with publishers and also self-publish with several places, including Kindle DTP and CreateSpace.

They may claim Amazon is #1, but you'd have to work to prove that to me. I can share the following information.

1. Amazon is no harder to use than other systems. From ease of use, it's got two thumbs up, both for DTP and CreateSpace.

2. But... Don't buy the 70% thing. First of all, it's not available on all ebooks. It's only available on their terms and their pricing (which means they can undercut prices and lose you half of that anyway, which gains you nothing) AND they take a "delivery fee" on 70% books off the top, before they do the royalty percentage. Oh, and don't get me started on the tax problems they are giving non-US authors.

3. Remember that you can't use all distribution channels as a self-publisher. For instance, I cannot load on Fictionwise what I load on other sites as a self-publisher. I have to load to Sony, B&N, and iPad through the aggregate of Smashwords, which means losing an additional cut. A real down side to Amazon? You cannot (at this time) load free reads, which means less exposure to readers on Kindle. They are currently my only distribution channel that refuses free reads.

4. I sell (easily) 500 times more books with a publisher than I sell self-publishing through any venue. The only distribution channels that come close to or exceed the number of sales I make through publisher sites are ARe/OmniLit and Fictionwise...if the books are loading through a publisher. I don't tend to sell as much on self-published books, even when they're at the same sites I use for publisher-loaded books and sell well with.

5. I make much more money with ARe/OmniLit and Fictionwise than I make at any other distribution channels. My Amazon sales, even on publisher-loaded books, are anemic, by comparison.

Brenna

Sapphire Phelan said...

I would be interested to hear, too. I have some shorts I got rights back and thought this might be good to do with them--combine them all in one eBook or something.

Marva said...

Maybe I'll blog about this someday. In the meantime, I'm pretty busy marketing by self-pubbed print and kindle books.

Both CreateSpace and Kindle are easy to do, but some assembly is required.

In both venues, you've got to provide formatted source files.

For print through CS, that means distilled PDFs for both interior and cover. However, CS does allow you to upload a formatted Word file now. I tried it once and didn't care for the result. There are lots of places you can get the proper PDFs after you've done all the setup.

For Kindle, I get my starter file by uploading to Smashwords. Again, you can upload a Word document. Again, less than desirable results.

Once the Smashword files are ready, you can let Smashwords do the Kindle upload and sales for you OR do it yourself using the MOBI edition of your ebook.

Both sites provide lots of good information on formatting and the how-tos. It's just a matter of being diligent in proper formatting so that your book looks professional in both ebook and print format.

Then there's marketing, but every author has to do that and it's a big topic all on its own.

I had two books out through a small press. I wasn't imPRESSed. I've now sold two more books to publishers who seem to be much more on the ball in supporting their authors.

Destiny Blaine said...

A HUGE thank you to those of you commenting. You're providing a wealth of information and it's appreciated!

Keep the comments rolling!

Hugs,
Destiny

Erin M. Leaf said...

I haven't self-published myself, but I know a few people who've done poetry chapbooks that way. Obviously, they don't expect to make money from it (we all know that poetry doesn't sell). However, I've read some articles about using Amazon, this one is the most interesting: Writers: Making a Living Off of Kindle?. I wish it worked that way for all of us! It'd be nice to make a pile of money. Thanks for posting this. It's been interesting reading the comments.

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Destiny,
The most important aspect of Indie publishing for me is I retain all control over my work and I retain all rights. I choose my editor, cover artist, and have final say on all creative aspects of the book. I can determine my own release dates and removal dates and offer free copies or discounts as I choose for promotions. I can offer my books through Amazon/Kindle, (which I do), Smashwords, and Lulu simultaneously as well as BookLocker, KoboBooks, Sony, Apple, and Diesel and through any other distributor who accepts a non-exclusive agreement. At the same time, I can offer prints from CreateSpace, WordClay, and Lulu if I so choose. (I use CreateSpace because they are user friendly and I receive good quality books.) I generally, within certain limitations, set my own prices.
The promotions I am doing are exactly the same as when I was with a small press as they "were not a promo company" and basically did none. The amount of promotion is directly related to the sales volume. I can track my sales and tell when promos are working and when they aren't.
So far, I have had no problems receiving my royalties timely and at exactly the amounts I expect. I've had no difficulties with the 70% royalty offer at Amazon and hope that will continue. For the same number of sales I retain 3 times the royalties as when I was with a small press. The drawbacks are the continued stigma attached to self-publishing, but that too is fading. Also having to front all expenses is difficult at first, but I've not regretted it at all.

Destiny Blaine said...

Keep those messages coming, authors! Thank you for posting.

Erin: Thanks so much for posting the link for: Writers: Making a Living Off of Kindle? Great information!

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...
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Destiny Blaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Destiny Blaine said...

Question for Rebecca:

Do you load your books to CreateSpace and Amazon or if you load to one are you automatically listed with the other?

Hugs,
Destiny

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Destiny, I don't put my books on Amazon because I don't like how they do business. I use Smashwords and let them do the distribution to outlets. It saves me a bunch of time and gets my work where I can't get it.

I can also load free reads to use as marketing, change pricing whenever I wish, and decide what to distribute and to where. And, I can give out coupons to my newsletter subscribers (or elsewhere) for purchases directly from Smashwords to lure buyers with a lower price. It's very author friendly. All of my books are there and several short stories.

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Destiny asked me: Do you load your books to CreateSpace and Amazon or if you load to one are you automatically listed with the other?
You have to think of Amazon DTP and CreateSpace as one being the ebooks division of the company and one being the print division. CreateSpace only does the print versions of the book. Then the prints are sold on both CreateSpace and Amazon. The ebooks will not be sold at CreateSpace. For CreateSpace you upload a pdf version complete with footers, headers, fancier and more varied fonts, chapter headings, and justified. The ebook for Amazon won't allow these more decorative items. An ebook must be stripped down in order to be accessible for various ereaders and computers. I load my Word 2003 compatible document to Smashwords first. Then I remove the required Smashwords licensing statement and insert a generic one which Amazon DTP will allow. Then I sign in to Amazon's Digital Text Platform and upload the ebook there. After that I make a working copy of the Amazon ebook file, again replace the licensing note to reflect print laws and reformat to meet CreateSpace's print requirements, then save that to pdf.
The cover can be uploaded at CreateSpace as a pdf (they provide a template based on the size book you choose) or you can use your ebook cover in their cover creator and add a generic back with your text.
On Amazon DTP, for the ebook cover, you can upload it as a png or jpg.
I also always purchase the Pro Plan through CreateSpace as it enables the print books to be offered at B & N, Books a Million, and other online retailers, in Baker & Taylor catalogs for libraries and institutions, and also for International distribution.
It also decreases price on ordering author's copies for book signings and local sales.
I hope I answered your question somewhere in this, Destiny. LOL

Anonymous said...

A note to those using Smashwords files and uploading them somewhere else.. that is against the Smashwords contract. It uses their technology (a free service) illegally. We don't want pirates stealing our ebooks. They don't want us stealing their technology to send books to someone else.

Rebecca J Vickery said...

I hope no one misunderstood my post to mean that you take the file AFTER Smashwords accepts and formats it for uploading or sharing elsewhere. That is definitely illegal unless it is a free book and the author and Smashwords put in the copyright statement that sharing is allowed.

I was talking of formatting, then reformatting and uploading personal Word documents belonging to me, the original author, using my own created manuscripts. I am speaking as an author only here about uploading my own work and not as a reader or purchaser. I am very careful to follow the Smashwords terms of service as well as those of Amazon, CreateSpace, and any other terms of service where I do business. I use the same basic Word manuscript and adapt it to each distributor's requirements. Anyone considering self or Indie publishing needs to realize they are still bound by certain laws, rules, and limitations as to what is and is not allowed and become familiar with those before beginning.

Destiny Blaine said...

I want to thank you for posting today on this topic. A special thank you goes out to Rebecca Vickery. I emailed Rebecca privately and asked her to pop back by and answer a few questions. Rebecca, thank you for taking the time to come back and post!

Authors, feel free to ask questions. Hopefully, someone here can help you.

Readers, let us know your opinions on self-published books. Does it matter to you if you’re purchasing a self-published book or one brought to you by a more traditional publisher? Readers, and all of us are pretty much in that category, do you tend to buy more e-published books or print books? Do you pay attention to who published the book?

In the past I’ve mentioned self-publishing. At one time, and as recently as this month, I wasn’t committed to the pursuit of self-publishing. Things change. Money talks.
I’m cut out for self-publishing because I understand what’s involved. However, I was interested in learning more about the distribution and so many of you helped answer questions here today.

Like many of you, I can self-publish because I understand the commitment involved. It’s always important to consider the work behind each and every book published. Self-published authors will need to hire cover artists and possibly hire someone to prepare the book for various formats. Then, there’s editing to consider and let’s not forget promoting and advertising.

While I’m very interested in pursuing self-publication, I don’t recommend self-publishing for a new author UNLESS they’re willing to work, advertise, and promote like crazy. That said, new authors, in my humble opinion, should seek traditional publication in addition to self-publishing. They should also consider hiring a darn good editor.

Something else to ponder: SOME self-published books have horrible cover art. I know we’re taught that a reader can’t judge a book by its cover but consider this. If you spent a lot of time on your book, isn’t it worth giving the book the cover it deserves? Sloppy art won’t help you sell your book.

Erin Leaf posted the link above directing authors to J.A. Konrath’s post about Writers: Making a Living Off a Kindle. Please read it if you’re considering self-publishing. I would encourage you to visit this link too: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/03/whoa-there-ebook-writer.html.

For me, traditional publishing still offers advantages. I like being a published author, but I like seeing large profits too. 70% at Amazon definitely grabbed my attention.

Whether you choose to self-publish or take a traditional approach, e-publishing is lucrative. It’s damn lucrative. However, I would strongly encourage all authors to research, research, and research some more before they jump into self-publishing. At the same time, I encourage authors to do a little publisher shopping before submitting to any traditional publisher. In this day and age, it’s an author’s market.

Publishers are selective. Authors should be selective too. Don’t jump on board the first ship you see just because the captain is nice to you and she likes your book.

As authors, we write because we need to write. We love what we do. However, always remember, writing is a career. You have to look at the numbers and your potential bottom line. With e-publishing on the rise, it’s time to capitalize. Whether you choose to do that through traditional publishing or self-publishing is entirely up to you.

I wish you all the success in the world whichever way you go!

Keep those posts coming!

Love,
Destiny

Diane Craver said...

I have a contemporary romance published by my Indie Publisher, Rebecca Vickery. The experience has only been positive. Rebecca answers my questions instantly and I love my cover for YOUR PLACE OR MINE. Rebecca probably does more than most Indie Publishers so I feel blessed.

I also did self-publish my nonfiction books with Booklocker.com and that's been a good experience too. I have books published by Samhain, Desert Breeze and soon will have one with Whimsical Publications so have experience with small pubs. too.

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi Lorrie!

Thanks for stopping by!

Yes ma'am. I'm interested to hear from the self-published authors contributing their own work directly to Amazon.

Since Amazon is the #1 bookseller in the world, the opportunity they've created for authors to self-publish is extraordinary. However, I would think those moving in that direction would hire their own professional editors and hire a reliable cover artist.

This post is a request for information. I'd love to hear from authors self-publishing with Amazon Kindle and using CreateSpace, etc.

What are the pros and cons? Are you pleased with the back office features? Are there tools in place that you consider helpful to an author choosing to go the self-publishing route? Is the back office user friendly?

What about promotion? Do you feel publishing directly with Amazon is helpful in this area or do you feel you're 'on your own' and less likely to get the exposure you receive at your current publishers?

Sidebar: I would think those active in promoting their own books, wouldn't necessarily see a difference here. Am I wrong? It's possible. If I am, correct me.

Authors--come on out and share your experiences with us. This is a call for information! If you're published with a traditional publisher and you're loading your own books to AMAZON or other 3rd party sales outlets--we really want to hear from you. Compare, if you'd like, but give us straight talk and share what you know.

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi Amanda!

Thanks for dropping by. :)

What do you think about the end result quality in the Amazon Kindle books you load through their back office? Do you feel special skills are required or would you consider the back office user friendly? Any comments on sales reports? Are these reports in real time and easy to translate?

Hugs!

Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hey Missy!

Thanks for dropping in today. Can you tell us more about the back office and loading/formatting your e-books? Estimate how long it takes to load and format one book.

I think it’s important for everyone to understand what’s involved. How do you like the back office? After you loaded your books to Amazon, when did you receive your first royalty check? Were wait times involved for one reason or another?

Tell us more, lady!

Hugs!
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi Rela,

Yikes! It sounds like you had a rotten experience with iUniverse. I’m glad you’re enjoying your affiliation with XOXO. :)

Congratulations, hon. After what you’ve described, you deserve the best!

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hey Brenna

Thanks for posting. :)

I should’ve clarified the part about Amazon being #1. I meant in terms of booksellers: http://www.fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm. Take a look at the information Foner Books provided on Book Sales Statistics.

I’d love to find the #1 place to self-publish in terms of simplicity and user-friendly back office opportunities.

Can you tell us more about the delivery fee at Amazon? Also, is it possible to load at Smashwords and have your book included at Kindle? Just curious. If so, how much of a cut will authors lose if they choose to do this?

I’m glad you mentioned ARE. I always support ARE and Bookstrand as much as possible. Are you loading to ARE and Bookstrand at this time?

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Sapphire—

I’m glad to *see* you. :)

Rights were recently returned on the Unspoken series and a few other backlist titles are ready to go out the door as well. That’s why I started looking at self-publishing.

Of course the money grabbed my attention. The 70% profits are staggering.

Since I promote myself and never rely on a publisher to do this for me, I’m always in a push for cover art. Right now, I only have two publishers delivering cover art early enough for print ad consideration. Advertising is planned and purchased, in many cases, six months out so self-publishing will help with time management and advance purchases. I’ll advertise more in print publications.

If you’re still around, feel free to post some questions for our self-published authors.

Hugs!
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Marva,

Thanks for being here. :)

Do you mind to share the title and link for one of your self-published works so I can purchase a copy? I’d like to buy the e-book you feel is a sample of your best e-book in terms of formatting, etc.

Also, if you have tips to share in this area, please do!

I’m glad you mentioned marketing. I’m actually working on a non-fiction book geared toward marketing, advertising, and promotion. Watch this blog for more information soon. ;)

Looking forward to your next post.

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Erin,

I’m glad you mentioned poetry. Poets rarely see the profits they deserve and Kindle is probably a wonderful option for talented poets.

Thanks so much for contributing to this blog. By the way, any other fabulous links to share?

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Rebecca—

You provided loads of great information and you're appreciated. Tracking sales and watching where and when your promotions pay off is worth a whole lot.

You mentioned the 'stigma of self-publishing' and I want to comment on that. Personally, I don't think the stigma applies anymore. Some authors and readers may disagree.

***Sidebar to readers/authors, if you do, please speak out. ***

Rebecca, thanks again for everything you contributed yesterday. Keep the information coming if you think of anything else!

Hugs!
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi LK,

Thanks for dropping by to blog with us. I’m glad you mentioned the coupon advantage you have with Smashwords. Can you tell us a little more about this and how often you’re able to generate coupons for your books?

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Anonymous,

If you're still around, will you tell us about your experiences with Smashwords?

Thanks for dropping by!
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi Diane,

Thanks for being here to blog with us.

Can you tell us how you feel about the author reports through your self-publishing outlets? Can you see your sales in real time or do you have to wait at some of the sites? Do you feel support is adequate or above average when you need help from the distribution centers?

Thanks for your input!

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Most of my books are on Amazon and published through traditional publishers. I’m content, even thrilled with some of them. I’ve been very fortunate. However, as some of you may have guessed, self-publishing is something I’m giving serious consideration and for several reasons.

There are a few manuscripts I want to write that I don’t think traditional publishers would touch. That said, I’ll write them anyway because it will drive me crazy if I don’t.

I have a question for those authors self-publishing AND publishing their works through small press and mass market:

Do you see a big difference in your sales in terms of what you've self-published and what you've sold through a traditional publisher? If so, have you been able to gauge why your self-published books fair better or worse than the books you’ve sold to traditional publishers?

Erin M. Leaf said...

Destiny,
Poetry isn't actually all that great for publishing on a Kindle. I love my Kindle but poetry's line-breaks make publishing e-books an incredible challenge. The Kindle is especially problematic because of the limited number of options for viewing. Publishing poetry on an iPad via MagCloud or other apps works better because they mimic a real page.

For a Kindle, I love reading prose and I'm positive the e-book market is going to grow. I read an article in the WSJ today about how a new release sold more e-books, though the author wasn't self-published. Here's the link anyway: New Thriller Sells More E-Books Than Hardcovers.

Another good link is the "self publishing" tag under Jane Friedman's blog. She used to work for Writer's Digest (she recently accepted a teaching position) but still posts to the blog. This link has so much info I couldn't get through it all: There Are No Rules: Self-Publishing.

This is a great discussion, thanks for starting it!

Keta Diablo said...

Well I know I'm going to be in the minority here (I usually am), and please, this is just my opinion and pertains only to my publishing. I realize that some people still feel the old way is the right way.

I publish both ways, through publishers and self-publish. For exposure, particularly if you're new, working through a publisher is great.

I have two problems with the "traditional" system that we live by now and both stem from the royalty share. Authors should never receive a lower royalty rate than the publisher, and most definitely not lower than a third-party vendor. The overhead for assembling an e-book, paying an editor (if they have one), cover art, and uploading on to a web site does not constitute 50-60 percent of your royalties.

This amount should be shared equally, particularly since publishers today do very little to market your books.

Secondly there is no way third-party vendors should receive 50-60 percent right off the top. They didn't write the book. Again, they uploaded it to a web site.

Those are my two biggest complaints about e-publishing. Now, print through a large house is an entirely different scenario.
They have more overhead and print costs.

I'm very pro-author as most people who know me realize. And I think it's time authors demand an equal rung on the ladder. Never, should any publisher or third-party vendor receive more of the pie than the person who put the blood, sweat and tears into a book.

I'm sticking my neck out here, and believe me, I like my publishers. If I didn't I wouldn't write for them. But things are changing drastically every day in the e-publishing world, and these are two things that need to change now, the sooner the better.

Happy publishing, Keta
http://www.ketadiablo.com

Welcome to Destiny Blaine's Online Journal

Welcome to Destiny Blaine's Online Journal
"An Award Winning Bestselling International E-book and Paperback Author, Destiny Blaine and her pseudonyms top the charts at Amazon, Bookstrand, Barnes and Noble, ARE, Mobipocket, and other retailers online and off. Scroll down for a list of available titles, works in progress, and coming soon dates for debut titles.”

Author Bio

An award-winning, international bestselling erotic romance author, Destiny Blaine writes under several pen names. She lives in East Tennessee and spends a lot of time in Connecticut and Virginia, where her granddoll resides.