Watch Me Self-Publish #3

The Cover

(Pre-order link goes live tomorrow – 19th April 2015 – A Historic Date!)

The next 10 steps:

1. Sent a PDF of the book to the reviewers with a link to the How to Post a Review blog. Ryan at  A Writer’s Path said he had no time to review but recommended his new site for people looking for or writing reviews: The Book Review Directory. 

2. Uploaded the book to my Kindle Direct Publishing Bookshelf. To do this you need:

  • A KDP account – it’s basically the same as your Amazon log-in. Each Amazon marketplace (USA, Australia, UK…) has a KDP page. This is important for tax, payment and marketing. No matter where you publish, the content is available on all Amazon sites. Click for the KDP Page.
  • Your properly formatted book
  • With its beautiful cover
  • And its copyright information
  • And its ISBN
  • And a description of your book

2.1 Formatting your book document. Do it as a Word Doc – Kindle likes those. BUT make sure that you do your final edit in Web Layout. If you do that then page breaks etc are inserted (invisibly) into the document in HTML/CSS codes and they will appear properly in your eBook.

Lots of other information about formatting is available here: Kindle Publishing Guidelines and Simplified Formatting Guide. The Kindle Publishing Guidelines is a contender for world’s dullest document but it has an index so you can skim through to the bits you need.

The only snag I hit was not having a full version of Word (this is to do with my unreasonable fury about what Microsoft did to Solitaire in the Windows 7 upgrade. If I have to have a completely unreasonable attitude in my life, I figure directing it at Microsoft is acceptable). So I have the free Wordstarter which doesn’t let you make a Table Of Contents without a lot of muck ing about and in an ebook you need a TOC with hyperlinks to stories or chapters (there are no page numbers because my page size is different to your page size…). I moved the doc to Open Office, made the Table of Contents, saved as a .doc file and…hey presto 🙂

Preview the book. This was SO useful. I got a reminder email from something I’m subscribed to about making sure your content is the best it can possibly be. Fortunately I previewed. I also had Patrick spell-checking in his hospital bed (he said he was bored!) The KDP platform does some spell checking; between us we caught the rest and I seem to have avoided using words like colour and aeroplane. The previewer lets you go through the book page by page checking that the formatting is correct both in portrait and landscape. I’m currently reading an ebook that hasn’t retained its page breaks. So where there should be a page break you just go to a new paragraph and it’s REALLY confusing. The first time I uploaded the book, it didn’t have page breaks so there were horrible things like a title sitting at the bottom of a page and the story starting on the next page. I got picky, previewed, made notes, fixed the document and re-uploaded. About 5 times.

2.2 The Beautiful Cover – it really does help to get someone else to do the artwork. For my book it needed to be quirky and recognisable. I’m planning a series of books, so I wanted some elements that could come together as an instantly recognisable brand.

2.3 Copyright Information – I used Creative Commons because it lets you work out what level of copyrighting you want. In the Kindle publishing page, I’ve chosen DRM-free ( click for an explanation of Digital Rights Management) and the Creative Commons licencing that allows sharing but not re-selling. I’m not going to re-visit the whole copywriting debate here – right now I’m focussed on building an author platform with a substantial following (2-5,000 people) and I want people to read my work. I would rather have my work read by thousands of people than only a few.

2.4 ISBN – meh. If you want an ISBN you can get one in Australia from Thorpe-Bowker. It’s not expensive – about $200 for 10 ISBN numbers. You need separate numbers for hardback, paperback, ebook, audiobook etc. That’s because the ISBN system is designed to help booksellers order books. It doesn’t seem to do much else. You get an entry in the National Library Datatbase for the country where you purchased your ISBNs. I will definitely get an ISBN once I progress to Print On Demand. For now, for ebooks… I really haven’t been able to justify it. Thorpe-Bowker’s Identifiers page is handy if you’re interested in ISBNs.

2.5 Book Description. This is not a synopsis. This is not a synopsis. This is not a synopsis. 🙂 This is marketing. This is like the back of a printed book where you read enough to make you want to read the whole book. To write this I’ve used the feedback I got last year from my survey and today I’m emailing a few people to ask if I can quote them. Also you get to pick two categories for the book eg Romance, humour…

3. Marketing Stuff – The KDP Book Creation section has good advice on promotions.  I’ve signed the book up with Kindle Select – I can’t change the price for 30 days and the book gets globally promoted to people who are readers. They are such enthusiastic readers they have a paid subscription with Kindle to get notified of new publications. They are actively hunting for new authors. They have money! They are the market I want to access because a proportion of them will like my work. And give me nice reviews. And pass the word…

4. Over-Boggling. I was discussing Tax and ISBNs with Cymbeline and we agreed that all this information is not difficult, there is just a LOT of it. I stalled again around this point. Also Patrick was just coming out of hospital and my brain was in tiny pieces. My mind was first boggled and then over-boggled. Went and looked at the inspirational plants in my career corner. They look fairly healthy but no bigger than before. They weren’t very inspiring to be honest but I was outside in the fresh air.

5. Getting Paid. This is the Tax Thing and the Royalties Thing. It’s very very complicated and boils down to you will get paid about half of what you sell your book for. This is still much better than traditional publishing.

5.1 Tax Thing: Ok – I’m in Australia. If I earn money in Australia, I get taxed on it in Australia. If I earn money in the US, I get taxed on it there. So…whatever I earn through is taxed by the US. The U.S. IRS requires Amazon to collect 30% withholding tax from royalty payments issued to non-U.S. entities. The tax withholding is automatically deducted from royalties when they are paid. Information about claiming a lower rate of withholding is found here.

However…Non-U.S. publishers resident in a country that maintains an income tax treaty with the U.S. and that issues tax identification numbers used for income tax reporting purposes may enter their foreign (non-U.S.) income tax identification number in KDP’s tax interview to claim treaty benefits (i.e., a reduced rate of U.S. tax withholding on their royalty income). For a list of countries that have an income tax treaty with the United States, check the IRS website. For Australians here is the Income Tax Treaty.

This is fairly mind-boggling and I won’t be able to talk about it with any real authority until I’ve gone through a tax year – what I THINK it all means is that whatever I sell on Amazon has to have income tax applied. The treaty limits the tax on Royalty payments to 10%. But that was in 1982. I did the Kindle Tax Interview thing last year. And there is a record of it in my KDP Account. The witholding tax is set at 30%.

5.2 Royalties Thing. As author you set a list price for your book. As bookseller, Amazon sets a retail price which may be higher or lower. And Amazon pays authors either 35% or 70% Royalties. Depending on how much the book sells for, where it sells and where the author lives. I’ve ticked the box to be paid 70% royalties. Which means I have to charge more than $2.99 for the book. And it might not apply.

Oh, and everything is different in Brazil. Because.


6. Setting the Price. So I was going to set the price at $3.99. It seemed reasonable based on other books I’ve looked at. It’s 22c per story. More to the point, it’s what I’d pay to read one work by a new author. My potential earnings per sale would therefore be:

– 70% Royalties which is $2.79 which then gets taxed at 30% giving me $1.95

But then I looked at the next section in the KDP publishing process and they have a graph showing highest author earnings for similar books (short stories, fantasy) are when you set the price at $2.99 on a 70% royalty plan. I’ll get about $1.50 per sale but with significantly higher volumes.

This is not a get rich quick scheme! On the other hand, it’s passive income. And it’s only a part of how I want to sell my work. Once I’ve established everything on Amazon, there are many other platforms to get into: Kobi, Nook and all the others. And the purely promotional/ sales gateway sites like Smashwords and Gumroads.

If I wanted to earn, say, $50,000 per annum purely from booksales I would need to sell 33,333.33(recurring) books. And an Australian bestseller has sales of around 6,000. So in the best case scenario where this book becomes a bestseller, I will earn $9,000. That’s why The Plan is to have 10 books for sale, each of them earning about $5,000 per annum which means 3,333.33(recurring) sales.

7. My Lovely Reviewers! I was flagging a bit at this point so it was VERY nice to get some feedback from a couple of reviewers about how much they were enjoying the stories. One of them said “I’d forgotten how ***ing funny they are!” Phew!

8. Refreshment. When I was talking about publishing to one of my business mentors, JP at Auspicious Arts, I said to him that I had this backlog of work I wanted to publish and that I was pretty sure once I started publishing the backlog, it would free up my mental channels to let out lots of new work. He got this non-committal look on his face because he didn’t want to agree or disagree…I could have discovered that I only really had one book in me…Or I could have found myself telling the same story over and over to a smaller and smaller audience. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened. Now that I have declared that set of stories “finished” the other stories are fighting to get out. More turn up every day. I have material spewing out of me. It’s a relief. And what’s more, it’s fun!

9. Author Page. Today I’m working on my Amazon Author Page. You can’t have one of these until you have published something. Then you can set one up through Author Central. I’m using Value Based Language again. No-one gives a rats arse about me as a person (tall/short, married/single, religious/aetheist etc) – what people really want to know is what I am doing trying to write stories for a living. So my author page is all about who I am as an Author (where have I studied, how have I developed my craft), what I’m curious about as a Writer (the things that fascinate me enough to want to wrtie stories about them), why I do it (because if I didn’t I’d have to kill people) and what I’m working on at the moment (how to write a story in three time locations without confusing readers so much they give up; how to show that two people really love each other without them saying it or doing anything lovey-dovey; how to find the happy endings in disasters; how to raise a human child in a penguin suit). If I get that finished today I’ll be happy AND I can email the reviewers to say “Look – here’s the author page…”

10. Aaaaaargh! Then I hit “Submit for Pre-Order”. And the KDP widget thing said “Your book is now being published” And I panicked. I don’t really know what that means and how visible it is right now…I don’t know if I’ve got the book page quite right (I haven’t sorted out permissions for quoting people)…I don’t really know about all the tax and payment things.

And that’s what the Kindle Run is all about – whizzing down the snowy slopes giggling and hoping we don’t hit a tree.

Coming Soon:

  • Print on Demand
  • Other Platforms (Nook, Kobi, Gumroad etc)
  • Getting More Reviews and other Marketing Things
  • Launch Day – still aiming at May 1st…
  • Launch Day Post Mortem