Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Some of my favorite Books on Kindle Publishing

I was on an email discussion list today and someone asked about books on Kindle Publishing. An hour later, I had written out an annotated bibliography of some of my favorites. So, I'm going to reprint that here. BTW, don't forget my own book about doing well in the Amazon Search engine Called Point of Sale

 I read several books before starting to self publish. I found good ideas (and some very bad ones) in each. Like my Mother used to say, "You take the chicken and you leave the bones alone." Also, you will find each of these writers, people who were quite successful individually, will disagree about several issues. 

So, with those disclaimers here are my collection:

A bit misleading title since he had a few years preparing the book, but the idea is still good. If you can stomach Locke's arrogance, pomposity and sense of self-importance, you can find some very useful information here. Some ideas, like his "Blog posts that will change your life" and his use of Twitter to build email contacts, I think will work only for people with a certain personality type. Also, remember, Locke got dinged for using "sock puppets" to post fake good reviews of his own books. But having said all that, there are some excellent pointers here. He was the one who convinced me to stick to my 99 cent price point. I loved his reasoning. His idea was that of being competitive. Someone could buy 10 of his books for the price of one James Patterson novel. He said something like: Is Patterson 10 times the writer I am? 

McDaniel is probably my favorite writer on Kindle publishing. Her books are clear, easy to read, and take a step by step approach. Having said that, I think sometimes she over charges. She sells her books at various prices, but sticks close to the $2.99 price point which bothers me a bit when some of her books are under 100 pages. However, having said that, this is a good basic primer for the person wanting to get started. It is a bit dated because some things have changed with Kindle since its publication, but overall, it is a good solid book. 

Everything I learned to format my first kindle upload came from this and the next book I'll mention. It's simple, easy to follow and once you get this process down,
you can do the whole thing in 30 minutes or less. The book however, is dated. You no longer have to convert your file to a .mobi format. Kindle will do the conversion for you. However, if you have InDesign, there is a plugin you can download from Kindle that will do the conversion so you can both download and preview before uploading to Kindle. But that's for design geeks and others who want to do a bit more. I did that for awhile, but then I started just uploading my MS-Word files and couldn't tell the difference in the output. Therefore, I just decided to cut out that step. 

Publish on Kindle With Kindle Direct Publishing by Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Publish-
Building Your Book on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007URVZJ6

One really good thing about all of these is that they are free. The other good thing is they are from the source. The Simplified Formatting Guide is technically not a book, but a webpage. Kindle's help section is wonderful. Anything you want to know about formatting, uploading, account information, requirements, etc. you can find simply by going to your Kindle Direct Dashboard and clicking on the help button. There is a great section just on formatting your document. It is the most up-to-date information. I noticed, when preparing this, that they are suggesting now to convert .doc to html files. No biggie since it can be done inside of any word processor, but it is good to know. However, I've not had any trouble with my .doc files, except for one which was my fault entirely.

BTW, the most useful and recent content I found is in the Building Your Book on Kindle. It shows everything based on the most recent version of MS-Word 2013. (No big changes between 2013 and 2007 but it shows how recent this book is.)

One of the things I emphasize with new ebook writer/publishers is that you don't have to spend a fortune on "experts" to help you do everything. Most people have on their computers or available by download (free download) or in the cloud
everything they need to create a good quality book cover. That's why I like Harper's book. She shows you step-by-step how to do it using MS-Word or Photoshop. Some of the book is a bit dated, but the basics of design are still strong. BTW, if you don't have Photoshop, you can download GIMP (http://www.gimp.org ) which is as good as photoshop for this sort of thing and is free. Also, I've designed covers using http://www.pixlr.com advanced editor. Both of these free options have the same look and feel of photoshop. If you learn the photoshop technique she teaches, you can probably use one of these programs to do the same thing.

Incidentally, Amazon has upgraded their Kindle cover creator which simplifies the process greatly. My last book, I used it and had a cover done in about five minutes that looks great. I don't know I'll use it for all my covers, but it was better than I expected. 

While not specific to ebooks, this was a great book about coming up with ideas and market testing them using tools you find on Amazon. I really found this useful. And now that I'm clearing out the last of my private clients and going into writing books full time, I'm sure I'll be using these techniques a lot. Not fiction oriented, but most writers, I believe, should diversify if they want to stay fiscally solvent. 

Okay, like Locke, Alvear is a bit full of himself, and his language is less than
pristine. And as a social media person, I say he is probably right about blogging, but Facebook and Twitter are the town square or general store of the new millenium where people meet. However, I do think you can probably do away with them all and still do a good job selling on Kindle because of the conversion factor. If you are depending on your social media to sell a book, you are going to be in trouble. Conversion rate is very low - under 1 percent. So, even if you have 10,000 friends, you will be lucky to get 100 sales from your social media.

What I like about Alvear's book is his discussion of the Amazon search engine. A bit dated, but still relevant. 

However, I must put a big RED FLAG up about his chapters on getting reviews. Many of his suggestions are marginally unethical, some are totally unethical and some, if used today, can get you banned from Kindle. Any type of review gathering that involves using your friends and family or you as an author planting a review on a competitor's page can get the review removed. If you are found to be using fake reviews or buying reviews you can get sanctioned from Amazon. So, about the only suggestion he has that makes sense concerning reviews is including a link to the review page in the back of your book. Something I need to start doing. 

So those are my picks, what are some of yours? Add them below. 

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