Indie publishers – defined as self-published authors through the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) route – are on a roll. In the U.S, about 25% of the top 100 kindle books published are from indie publishers.
Meanwhile, indie publishers from UK are on the rise. Self-published works from U.K publishers regularly show up in the top 100-bestselling books list.
The Guardian has a few stories to inspire you: The Guardian – Amazon Kindle Ebook Sales For Indie Publishers, Pan Macmillan recently signed a deal with Kerry Wilkinson for his crime series.
Hodder & Stoughton inked a deal with Nick Spalding who already sold more than 400,000 copies of romantic comedies.
Beth Reeks – a 19-year old physics student — was Time Magazine’s 16 most influential teenagers in the world (standing in the same line as Justin Bieber and Barrack Obama’s daughter Malia) because of her popularity as a romantic fiction author (Random House eventually scooped her up).
The good news: Amazon does its best not to “ghettoise” self-published work and puts these titles along side some really well known publications. People make recurring income (not to mention popularity and fame) from Kindle publishing.
The not so bad news: self-publishing isn’t as easy as writing up documents and uploading to Amazon. There’s work, just as it is true for most things.
Here’s what you’d succeed with Self-publishing with the Kindle Direct Publishing program (and it’s not about writing a book):
James Altucher – self-published author of Choose Yourself (one of the other 11 books he published) – has a huge list of things you ought to know about self-publishing on CopyBlogger.com.
If you are a self-publishing enthusiast, there’s more to self-publishing than just writing. You’d have to think like a business owner. Talk about business, and you’d have to work on the modalities of publishing, distribution, pricing, marketing, and management.
You’d be an Amazon self-published author in an instant if you used any of the services like CreateSpace and Smashwords. So could everyone else. This post isn’t about “How to Write a Book” or “How to Self-Publish in 24 hours with 0 Dollars (Pounds) spent”.
It’s about preparing to succeed. It’s about doing it right. It’s about the road to self-publishing success.
You’d only succeed when you do it right. Getting it right is about treating self-publishing as a business, and Kindle books like products. Create a platform to attract potential readers (In addition to exposure that Amazon gets you), build your audience, connect with your fans or followers on social media, educate them, and engage with them.
All this even before your book goes on the shelves.
You’ll need research and lots of people to help you complete the book (no matter how much “self” there might be in “self-publishing”). You’ll need a platform to help gain visibility, exposure, and credibility.
As you begin writing, your book will have more credibility with inputs from professionals or actual stories, so you’ll need to reach out to others. You’ll also need people to vouch for you, give you feedback, and later, provide reviews on Amazon.com.
The platform: Opportunities come through people. So will your book sales, reviews, and beta readers. It’ll take time to build a solid, responsive network. Courtney Carpenter of Writer’s Digest insists on building a platform before you publish and Christina Katz wrote a book on the importance of how to cultivate visibility from scratch.
Research and inputs: Begin reaching out to others – relevant to what you are writing about – for their inputs. Get them to quote, grab and feature their stories, or just point out to their success (or failure, or both). This has multiple benefits for you (and for them):
- They get a free mention in your book. If you get popular, so will they. In any case, they get free exposure.
- It’s only human that they’ll promote your book for you since they are featured in it.
- It gives your book real meat. It boosts credibility and also lets your readers know that you had put in real effort.
- Your readers – and many others you reached out to – will love you for life.
Build social proof: You can only include only so many people or stories in your book. There are, however, many others who follow you, read your blog, like you on social media, and know you from work.
Your friends, family, relatives, acquaintances, and even strangers are still available to tap. Give them your pre-release copies and have them give you their critical feedback. You can then mention them in a blog post and/or on social media to gain some extra love.
Optimizing Your Kindle Books For SEO
I am only going to touch on Kindle SEO (or KSEO) generally in this article, but search powers 90% of the Internet and although that number is certainly lower in Amazon when it comes to book sales (fiction in particular), it is very important.
Optimizing your book’s information for SEO allows you to sweep in all the organic traffic for your published book. Most of what you need to do this is already available in the KDP dashboard while filling up the details of your eBook, (although there are some amazing tools out there to help you like AK Elite).
Title & Subtitle
Titles are everything. They are like the headlines on newspapers, subject lines for email, and headlines for articles. They are what make people take interest.
Get creative around keywords and include your primary keyword in the title, at least get the keyword into the sub-title. If you were publishing a book on Freelance writing, mix the keyword with creative titles.
“The Royal Freelancer: How Freelance Writing Can Get Others to Work To Make You Rich”
“Cooking Secrets: What The World’s Greatest Chef’s Would Never Tell You”
Description, Search Keywords, and Categories
Help your readers know what your book has to offer. With just 4000 characters of real estate here, you’d not want to give away much and not be vague either. Use a teaser here with just enough information to help draw your readers in.
If possible, use your keyword only if it sits perfectly into the description and not because you should use a keyword. For instance,
“Freelance Writing is a wordsmith’s dream. It’s an instant, location-independent, and lucrative way to start doing what you love and make money doing it. You’ll not have overheads. You’d not deal with office space and hard-to-find talent. Apart from your bills and mandatory taxes, there are no other expenses.
You could be on the French Riviera or on exotic beaches, and still manage to work your way to exactly what you want.
That’s the truth.
But there are lies too, and it’s not as easy as it seems. Do you know the best way to start kick your toes in those waters? Is what you read online the only way to get started with freelance writing? The world isn’t telling you everything you ought to know? What you don’t know is costing you opportunities, money, and stress.
It’s time for you to know the truth.“
KDP gives you a field for entering the most relevant keywords for your title, and you’d do just that. Use free keyword tools, hangout at relevant forums, brainstorm, and come up with the best 5-7 keyword phrases you find. Kindle says it’s optional but you do know it’s mandatory (for you). Of course, choose the exact category that your book best belongs to.
Most self-publishing authors might not think of this route since it involves investment, and tons of hard work (like launching, managing, and tracking marketing campaigns).
If you take this route, make sure you are willing to invest and analyze if you’d be able to more than cover up for the expenses. If you do decide to take this route, here are things you shouldn’t forget:
- Paid campaigns (actually, any campaign) should have a landing page. Never launch without one.
- Principles of copywriting, social proof, and better campaign management apply to every campaign you launch.
- Paid campaigns have effective ads, great landing pages, awesome copy, and complete attention to detail.
What do you think about self-publishing? Are you prepared to take it up?
Tell us all about your journey to self-publishing.