Jehovah and Hades has now been live for four days (since 1/27/12). I figured I'd go over the steps I've taken to get to this point. Feel free to ask questions if you have any; I'd be happy to help any prospective writers with their self-publishing.
Amazon.com Publishing - Things You Should Know
1. Amazon has two royalty options. They are discussed in detail here Amazon Royalty Options. To paraphrase, books priced between $0.99 and $2.98 receive 35% royalties and books priced $2.99 and up receive 70% royalties. Before you go thinking that you can throw a book together quickly and start charging $2.99 or more for the 70% royalty option, I'd recommend looking into some bestseller books on Amazon that are currently going for that price. I initially thought I would start Jehovah and Hades at $2.99 but the word count of just under 22,000 words convinced me that it was better as a $0.99 book. You can always throw a few $0.99 books together later on in a package deal for $2.99 (once the Jehovah and Hades series has 4 books, I'll probably be doing this. If you sell the 4 books separately at $0.99 each, you'd make $1.40 but in a package they make you $2.09).
2. Amazon ebooks for the Kindle have to be formatted in a certain way to look good on the devices that they are sent to and there are a couple of features that all ebooks generally include. If you're going to use Microsoft Word to write your book, save it as a .doc (not a .docx).
2a. The first thing you'll want to consider is adding an active table of contents. A good resource to help you with that is found here: Active Table of Contents. Jehovah and Hades has an active table of contents that allows you to skip to any of the chapters from the front of the book.
2b. Second, after every chapter remember to insert a page break. To insert a page break in Microsoft Word, go to insert and then click on page break.
2c. Paragraph formatting requires some special attention. I won't go into the details, but I had to update my book shortly after it's release because the paragraph formatting (when sent to a Kindle app or device) was way off. A helpful article on paragraph formatting for Kindle is found here: Kindle Formatting. I ignored the stuff he said about converting to html because after I formatted the paragraphs correctly, the book looked ok.
Keeping what I just said in mind, start writing your book in Microsoft Word or whatever word processor you'd like to use. I remembered page breaks at the end of every chapter but I just left a blank page at the top for the active table of contents (which I created when I finished writing the book) and I didn't worry about paragraph formatting until I had finished (which I should have done and I will for my next book).
I started Jehovah and Hades on August 11, 2011. Yes it took me forever to write 22,000 words between school, work, friends, and other things I had going on. I got into a good routine in January, however. I'd say you should commit to writing at least 1,000 words a day. Keep a separate outline in a Microsoft Word document with ideas and keep it about a chapter ahead of where you are writing. When I finished a chapter, I'd go to my outline and make sure I wrote stuff in there until I had enough material to start another chapter. If you're going for a 80,000+ word book and taking a shot at a price point of $2.99+, writing every day should be a goal you take seriously. Jehovah and Hades was mostly written for fun in my spare time until I got to January and decided to finish it up. I think my next book will be a lot easier and quicker to write because I've looked into what other authors do.
There's the cover for Jehovah and Hades. Contrary to what you may have heard in the past, your book will be judged by its cover. The cover with a short description is all people will see when they're browsing books on Amazon. Make sure you get a professional looking cover. I can admit I don't have drawing skills. For the cover for Jehovah and Hades, I hired Doug Beckstead of One Click Digital. You can check out his webpage here: One Click Digital.
Throughout the writing process, I sent out copies of Jehovah and Hades to my family and trusted friends. I mainly just got feedback on how the story was progressing and what ideas they would add in. I got a couple of good ideas from family members that ended up in the published version of Jehovah and Hades. Remember that good ideas for your story can come from anyone in your life who's interested enough to read your book.
When you go to edit your final story, read over it multiple times. I read Jehovah and Hades over five times and asked for help from a few writer friends as well just to find little word placement mistakes, grammar issues. There could still be a few in there right now. Make sure you do all you can to clean up and polish the document before submitting because mistakes in your book look unprofessional and may detract from your well-written story.
Before you publish, I would recommend that you review Amazon's Self-Publishing Guide which can be found here: Amazon Guide. Sign up for an account at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin. Publishing should be pretty self-explanatory if you follow the steps provided for you there.You may want to consider publishing at http://www.smashwords.com which will publish you at other sites. I'm currently enrolled in the KDP Select Program which means I can only be on Amazon for 90 days. Amazon will explain the KDP Select Program and its benefits when you sign up to publish.
You may want to consider making a hard copy available and publishing that option to Amazon as well. You can do this at http://www.createspace.com. CreateSpace is an Amazon company so it doesn't interfere with the KDP Select Program (which is nice considering you have to be on Amazon only for 90 days).
At this point, you need to post the link to your book everywhere. I posted mine on my Facebook, Google+, blog (you can see a link to buy it on the right side), Amazon forums, and I asked people to share the link on their Facebook walls as well (which a few of them did and I wanted to say that I really appreciate that). I also did an interview for indiebookspot.com which can be found here: Interview with Jehovah and Hades Author - Randy Morris.
Once you've gotten your link out there to as many places as you can, watch your sales. I'm going to give some advice here. Don't watch your sales obsessively, just keep an eye on them. Looking up your numbers every hour (like I did my first day) doesn't actually help you sell anymore books.
On To The Next One
When you've gotten your book out there and sales start to come in, continue to promote occasionally. Maybe make the book free for a few days (a perk of the KDP Select program) every once in a while to gain a fan base. Don't obsess over your numbers... the best thing to do at this point is to move on and start writing another book.
I've promoted Jehovah and Hades through every channel I know for the past few days (except twitter... and I still refuse to get one). Today I put together an outline for the first chapter of the prequel to Jehovah and Hades. It features their father, Jacob, as he recounts his family history and how they inherited the Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde curse. It's going to be epic, I promise. I met with my cover artist last night to get him working on a new cover for me. I'll start writing (if homework allows) the first few days of February.
You made it through my whole guide? Congrats. Now go buy Jehovah and Hades by clicking the link here: Jehovah and Hades. Then start writing. :-P
Sunday, January 8, 2012
One Click Digital and his blog is here: Doug's Blog.
Jehovah and Hades is available on Amazon. Check it out here.
Jehovah and Hades is available on Amazon. Check it out here.