Guest post by Tom Corson-Knowles (@JuiceTom)
Should you just leave your manuscript sitting on an old thumb drive and forget about it for 30 years?
Should you write a book proposal and pitch it to agents in hopes of getting a book published with a major publisher sometime in the next 2-3 years?
Should you find an independent publisher who specializes in your market and hope to get lucky?
Or should you self-publish your book and start earning royalties in 30 days or less?
The choice is up to you.
After six years of failing to find an agent or publisher for my first nonfiction title, I finally took the leap and decided to self-publish in early 2012. It was the best decision I ever made!
The income from self-publishing is wonderful, but nothing compares to the freedom it provides. In the world of self-publishing, there are no bossy editors, no overbearing agents, and no lazy publishers to deal with. You earn your fair share (70 percent) from your book sales, and there’s no one to blame for your problems but yourself.
If you’re ready to self publish your book on Kindle, here’s how:
Step 1. Craft Your Bestselling Book Title
Once your book is completed, edited, and ready for publishing, it’s time to finalize your book title. Many first-time authors make the mistake of just choosing the first title they think of, or choosing the title idea from a friend because they like it. This can be a huge mistake!
The title is one of the most important keys that will determine how many books you sell. A poor title will give you little chance of success in the self-publishing world, whereas a great title can make a huge positive impact on your sales through word of mouth.
Your title must be repeatable, memorable, and searchable to maximize word of mouth sales.
Word of mouth is a multi-step process. It starts with someone coming into contact with your book somehow (online, in a book store, heard about it from a friend, etc.). Then, that person must communicate the title of your book and its importance to someone else. Then, that other someone else must search for and find your book (90 percent of the time that means a Google or Amazon search). Finally, that person must find your book listing online acceptable and purchase it.
Your title needs to be repeatable. That means if you tell someone the title of your book, they immediately understand it and can repeat it verbatim. If your title is not repeatable, the entire word of mouth process breaks down.
Make sure your title is easy to understand and doesn’t contain unnecessary puns, homophones, wordplay or archaic language. Test your title with friends, acquaintances and strangers to see if they get it right away and can repeat it. If your title fails this test more than it passes, you need a new title.
Your title must be memorable. This means when someone speaks your title out loud, the listener can easily remember it and how to spell it. If readers can’t remember your title, they won’t be able to find it.
Your title must be searchable. This means when someone types it into a Google search, it comes up immediately. Luckily, Amazon books tend to rank very high on Google. However, ultra-competitive search terms, especially one or two-word searches, can be very hard to rank for.
For example, I have a client with a book titled Rerun. It’s a paranormal thriller novel, but it’s impossible to find in a search engine by typing just “Rerun” into Google. Even typing “Rerun Amazon” doesn’t do it because there are so many other listings on Amazon with that keyword.
Another client has a historical romance series called The Somerville Trilogy. The first book is Willow Grove Abbey. When you type either “Willow Grove Abbey” or “The Somerville Trilogy” into Google, the book listings on Amazon pop up in the #1 spot. That’s exactly what you want to happen with your book, and you can plan it out ahead of time by creating a unique title that is repeatable, memorable and searchable.
Step 2. Design a Bestselling Book Cover
After you’ve finalized your book title, it’s time to get a book cover designed. Unless you’re a professional graphics designer or book cover designer, I highly recommend you hire a professional e-book cover designer to design your cover.
There are a few points you need to understand to get a proper cover for your e-book that will help you sell more books.
First, e-book covers are most often viewed on Amazon’s website and on Kindle reading devices, iPads or other tablets. That means the size of the thumbnail image of your cover that readers see when considering whether or not to buy your book is usually 60×90 pixels or less (that’s really small!).
Because the size of the thumbnails is so small in the digital age, you want to make sure your cover designer understands this and that the title of your book is easily readable at 60×90 pixels. You can test this by shrinking down the cover image using a photo editing program and make sure the title is easily readable.
Also, because of the small size of thumbnails, detail is very hard to see in e-book covers. A hand-painted custom cover that costs thousands of dollars may look great on a print book, but in e-book format most of that detail will be lost. For e-book covers, it’s better to have one or two main images on the cover to draw the reader’s attention – extra detail beyond that often just gets in the way or becomes lost.
Finally, you want to make sure that your cover design elicits the emotional response from your reader that your book will. If you’re writing a romance novel, your cover should be easily identifiable as a romance novel. If you’re writing a business book, it should look like a professional business book cover (and not a blurry, cheap cover image created by your eight-year-old nephew).
Everything’s $5 to start. You might have to try out several designers to find one you like.
For a few hundred dollars, you can get access to designs from dozens or even hundreds of designers.
Here you can find freelance cover designers, look at their portfolios, and have them bid on your project.
Step 3. Write Your Bestselling Book Description
Authors often write the book description as an afterthought instead of taking a carefully planned approach. Your book description is one of the key pieces that will help potential readers decide if they’re going to buy your e-book or not. A poor description can dramatically reduce your sales. On the other hand, a well-written book description can help you sell many more books.
Have you ever been shopping on Amazon or another website online, found a product you were interested in buying, and then read the description and found that it didn’t have enough information to help you make a good decision, so you didn’t buy it? This happens millions of times a day, every single day, for products and books online.
The most crucial task your book description must achieve is giving potential readers a clear idea of what your book is about, for whom it’s written, and how it will help them. Readers buy nonfiction books to either solve a problem or learn more. Your book description should clearly state what problem or problems your book will help your readers solve, and what information they will get access to.
If you’re not sure how to structure your book description, think about including bullet points of the major topics your book will cover, and include how those topics will help your reader.
Amazon gives you 4,000 characters (about 600-700 words) to use for your book descriptions – make sure you use as many of those words as possible to maximize your potential to connect with new readers and improve your book’s search engine rankings.
Step 4. Formatting Your Manuscript for Kindle and Uploading Your Title to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
Once you’ve finalized your book title, created your bestselling book cover and written your book description, it’s time to get your book formatted for Kindle and upload it to KDP (www.kdp.amazon.com). Ostensibly, uploading your e-book to KDP and publishing it on Kindle is very simple and easy. However, there are a lot of nuances to the process that can make a huge difference in your sales and income over the life of your copyright.
That’s why I created EBook Publishing School, a 100 percent free training program for authors to learn how to format and publish eBooks for Kindle for free. It’s an in-depth video training program where I walk you through the formatting and publishing process on KDP step-by-step. You can start watching the free training videos right now at www.EBookPublishingSchool.com
About the Author
Tom Corson-Knowles is the international best-selling author of more than twenty books including The Kindle Publishing Bible and is the founder of TCK Publishing, an independent publishing company specializing in digital marketing. You can connect with Tom on Twitter and Facebook.
Photo courtesy of Naypong | Freedigitalphotos.net. Amazon links contain my affiliate code.