Most Kindle Advice posts are written from an ‘I have arrived’ point of view. You can choose to take their advice, but you must then make the journey alone, working from the bottom using the advice of Zeus atop Mt. Olympus. Here, you will find a humble ‘I am on the verge of breaking out and am totally pumped about it’ point of view. I invite you to take this exciting journey with me.
After dutifully following all the advice out there, from an ocean of blogs and sites and forums, to Publishing E-Books for Dummies, to ‘Secrets to Amazon Kindle Publishing Revealed’ YouTube videos, etc, I have discovered something interesting that a wiser man might’ve realized sooner: not all advice is solid. Some of it works only for some people. I tried running a free (un-hosted) blog for my books. Useless. I tried Goodreads. Made friends, ran some forums. Pretty much useless. (Although, that might have been because I had only 1 book to flog at the time, and I did not possess much confidence.) The worst part is that a lot of the advice will cost you a bundle to follow, with little to show for your output. In August I spent $52 for a year-long site hosting package, including a $25 initial set up fee (like it costs the host anything to do that, pfft!). And that was a big spend for me.
Professionally Designed E-Book Covers
Most Amazon e-Book gurus will tell you that you MUST pay for a professionally designed cover. I don’t know about you, but forking over $250 for 1 eBook cover is a little bit totally ludicrous to me. These same ‘expert advice givers’ will tell you that you also MUST hire a professional editor. Oops, there goes another $200 to $300 down the toilet.
This cover I made for free. It’s not winning any awards, but I think it’s pretty good for free.
I understand if you are self-publishing just for the prestige or whatever of getting your work out there, or if this is an amusing hobby for you and you have Benjamin’s to burn. But if you’re like me, and your goal is to create a legitimate business, to become self employed and earn a living because you’re poor right now, then you don’t have hundreds or thousands to blow on so-called professionals. Those people exist to take advantage of lazy writers. (Though again, I’m sure they are the right choice for those people looking for merely passive income.) I may be mistaken, but it seems ironically hypocritical to hand your work over to be improved by others and then still expect to claim it as your own. OWN YOUR MANUSCRIPTS.
Are You a Real Writer?
Are you a real writer? If so, then you owe it to yourself and to your potential readers to hone your craft to the point where you are just as good as any ‘professional editor’ out there. I understand that in traditional publishing your book goes through the wringer by editors. That is as it should be. But self-published writers don’t have that luxury. (Most of us can’t afford it.) We need to be our own editors. The effort to improve our writing skills and the earned ability to correct our own work is not only rewarding, but necessary.
I have learned much. But I am not a know-it-all. I am a learn-it-all.
I have learned that one major hurdle remains for me: Reviews. I did what they said. Asked my family for reviews first. That was a bust. Amazon won’t accept reviews from other Buckel’s. And my non-Buckel relatives are not big readers. This basically leaves me at the mercy and kindness of strangers. It is up to me then to get my books in front of strangers and to make my work as pleasant-looking and as intriguing as possible for them.
In addition to constantly improving my work (writing and covers) I am trying Something Different. I am going to use techniques from Amazon Samurai, a software program designed to help you discover the most useful Keywords for your book. I always just whipped off words in the section of the Kindle Publishing area, like a bonehead. Also, I am setting my Sprinkle Takes the Cake short story for free (only for 5 days, as Amazon is a bit touchy about ‘freebies’) and publishing my Collection of Sprinkles, 4 Sprinkles stories, for $2.99.
I’d suggest you work on keywords and use KDP Select to offer free ‘Firsts’, and then sequels for regular price (this is advice I have read over and over, so let’s just do it already), while also pointing out that you should include a link to you blog and Amazon Author’s page, and a ‘thank you and please leave an honest review if you enjoyed my story’ at the end of your books. But these are things I am only just now starting to do; and while I am hopeful, I’ve only had minimal success to this point, so who am I to offer advice? An arrogant author, that’s who.
We are on this journey together, remember. So if you are just beginning, I hope you have found something useful in this post. And if you have already mastered these techniques, then more power to you. Maybe you have something you could teach me. Either way, happy reading!