An Experiment with KDP Select

Earlier this year I published a women’s fiction book, Hold My Hand, but have done very little to promote it (I sent it to a couple of review sites, but so far no reviews have been posted). Sales, as could be expected, have been dismal.

So yesterday, when I logged into my Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) dashboard, I was very intrigued by the new KDP Select program. Basically, KDP Select lets indie authors add their books to the Kindle Owners Lending Library in exchange for a 90-day exclusive with Amazon (you also get 5 days of free promotion during that 90-day period). Now, the best part is that you earn a royalty every time your book is loaned out. There’s a royalty pool each month, and you get paid based on the number of times your book is loaned, based on the percentage of the total number of loans.

The book will still be for sale during this time, but only via Amazon. It’s in the process of being un-published from everywhere else (though I’ll probably put it back up once the 90-day exclusive is over). I’m hoping that if nothing else, this will get the word out about the book, and hopefully even get some reviews. If, at the end of the three months, there’s no change in sales and it hasn’t been borrowed much, then I’ll have to rethink some things about the book (probably the cover first).

So, I’ll post an update at the end of the 90-day period and let everyone know how it went. I’m also interested in how others who are trying the program fair, so if you are, please let me know in the comments how it goes (feel free to post a link to your own blog if you write a post about it).

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 10

Wow, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been self-publishing for ten months now! I hit a big milestone this month: I sold my 1,000th ebook! This is a huge deal to me, since most self-published books never sell more than a couple hundred copies. I’ve also had my best sales month to date.

As far as marketing this month, I’ve been plugging a little bit on Google+ and Twitter, which I know has generated a few sales. And I had a couple of new reviews on Amazon (if you’ve read either of the books and feel like leaving a review, I really do appreciate them!), some of which were really favorable. One of my favorite quotes from a review of The Great Healion Race:

This is not Edward and Bella, living in perfection for all eternity. These are two adults with overwhelming baggage as the ballast for their journey. I especially appreciated how Ms. Chapman allowed her protaganists to be messy, angry and human.

Seriously, that’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about my books. Because that’s exactly what I was going for: complicated people who have messy, screwed-up lives, and find a way to love each other anyway.

Below are my sales numbers for this month. I saw a drop in sales for the second book, but a big jump in the first book. Hopefully that will translate to more sales for the second book in the next couple of months. Continue reading

A Quick Note About a Common Self-Publishing Misconception

This is going to be short and sweet.

I recently came across someone on a forum talking about how they wouldn’t recommend self-publishing ebooks via Amazon because then you only get the Kindle crowd. And my eyes bugged out of my head.

When you self-publish your own ebooks, you can distribute through as many platforms as you like. That means you can publish on Amazon for the Kindle via KDP, on Barnes & Noble for Nook via PubIt!, and on Smashwords for everywhere else. You can also self-publish on your own site or other sites you find (so long as it doesn’t interfere with their terms of service, and if it does, I’d run away from that site as quickly as I could). Let me repeat:

You can publish on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and elsewhere, simultaneously.

You don’t have to pick just one. These are not publishers who expect you to turn over your rights. They’re distributors. They allow you to publish to particular platforms, nothing more, nothing less.

Do yourself a favor and publish to as many platforms you can manage if you’re self-publishing. Don’t limit yourself!

A Rant About Self-Publishing Rip-Offs

Okay, so I was going to mostly stay out of this debate/conversation (with the exception of a brief status update on Google+), but the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off.

I guess I should start at the beginning. Back in April (?), I signed on as a private beta tester of Penguin’s Book Country site. I had been a relatively early member of Authonomy but that site had gone downhill and I was looking for somewhere new to converse with other writers, get feedback, etc. Book Country looked like the place to be.

I posted some work, got some feedback, had some conversations in the forums, and generally found it to be a decent resource. I kind of stopped using it around mid-summer, though, because I had a lot of stuff going on.

This week, Book Country did something that has made me decide to close my account. They’ve started offering self-publishing services.

Now, I self-publish and have no interest in working with a legacy publisher. Ever. And I understand that not everyone wants to take the time to learn to format their own books. That’s fine. What I take issue with, in Book Country’s case, is their complete and utter price gouging. Their pro package, which offers ebook and print book formatting and uploading and basically nothing else that you couldn’t find with some quick Google searching, is $549. That’s FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINE DOLLARS. I’m sorry, but under what system is that not a total rip-off? Continue reading

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 9

I can’t believe it’s been nine months since I started self-publishing The Steam and Steel Chronicles! Sales were good this past month, better than they’ve ever been, which is nice. I seem to sell between 145 and 165 books per month without doing much marketing (other than the occasional Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ post), so that’s encouraging. It means the word is out there at least to an extent.

I’m hard at work on books three and four as part of NaNoWriMo (over 7k words into book three already), and hope to release them in January and February. I’ll be doing a tight release schedule like I did with the first two, so you won’t need to wait too long between them. I’ll also be putting together some special editions, and will probably do a contest or two surrounding the launches of the books. I’m even thinking about giving away a Kindle! (It’ll be one of the ones with offers, because while the books are selling well, they’re not selling that well. Of course, if someone wanted to sponsor an iPad giveaway, I’d be more than happy to oblige!) Continue reading

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 8

So this is a few days late because I’ve been dealing with some family stuff for the past 10 days or so (father in law ended up in the hospital and had to have emergency surgery last week, but he’s coming home today). I’ve also decided that I’m only going to do these posts through the 12-month mark, though I may do occasional sales updates after that. This is partially because I see next year being very, very busy for me, and also because I’m trying to be less obsessed with my sales numbers. Continue reading

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 7

So, here we are at the end of month seven! Not much in the way of promotion this month, other than discounting the second novella in The Steam and Steel Chronicles to $.99 through Labor Day. I’m honestly considering leaving it at that price, though I haven’t made up my mind for sure yet. Continue reading

No More Times New Roman! Font Combinations for Book Design

I have seen way too many people involved in the indie publishing scene who say, “Don’t get caught up in the whole font thing. Just use Times New Roman. It’ll be fine.” As a designer, I have to say that this borders on infuriating to me. Typography is important. It has a direct impact on how we perceive a written document, and our enjoyment of that document. Times New Roman was originally developed as a newspaper font, specifically to be economical, space-wise. In other words, to fit more content in less space. It then became popular among corporate documents. But optimal readability is not among Times New Roman’s strong points.

If you plan to indie publish in print, then it’s vital that you understand the basics of book design and layout (or that you hire someone who does). The typefaces you choose for your text and headings have a direct effect on the readability of your text (along with your margins, line spacing, and kerning). Bad typography makes your book look less professional, even if you readers don’t directly realize what it is that’s giving them a negative impression of your book.

Below are fourteen combinations, mostly made up of free fonts. Some are  more suited to one type of book or another, and have been noted as such. Others are more universal, and can be used on virtually any kind of manuscript. Continue reading

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 6

Wow, so I’ve been selling my novellas online for six calendar months now! Holy cow!

Sales went up in July, but only just barely. This tells me that I need to get my butt in gear and finish up book 3 and get it out there. Also, I’m starting on it today, as part of Camp NaNoWriMo!

So, without further ado, here are the numbers for this month: Continue reading

Ebook Formatting the Easy Way

So I kind of take the whole DIY indie publishing to the extreme compared to a lot of authors. I do my own editing and proofreading, create my own covers, and format my own books. It helps that I have a background in each of those areas, through various jobs I’ve held over the years (I copyedited for a small publisher and I’ve done some freelance copyediting; I have a background in print design for a national magazine, including cover design; and I’ve done plenty of web design and coding, so hand-coding the HTML files for formatting is easy, if also tedious). Now I realize that  not everyone is going to have the skills (or the desire) to do all of the above on their own. Personally, I enjoy doing it, and until someone complains about a lack of editing or bad formatting or a crappy cover, I’m going to keep doing all of those things myself.

But I’ve been looking for a better way to format my ebooks. While I know how to format and code by hand, it’s still a long, tedious process. It’s not exactly what I’d call “fun”. And the constant tweaking it seemed to require to get the books absolutely perfect was getting time-consuming.

I’m about to publish my first full-length novel (The Steam and Steel Chronicles have all been novellas), and the prospect of having to format an ebook roughly three times longer than the ones I’ve done before wasn’t appealing. I wanted to find a shortcut that would make it easier and faster to create perfectly formatted ebooks.

I think I’ve found the solution, and since it requires very little hand coding or other technical know-how, I decided to write up a tutorial (note: I wrote this tutorial at 1 AM, so if any of it doesn’t make sense, let me know and I’ll try to clarify). While you might not have the skills necessary to proofread your own books or design your own covers, I’m pretty confident that nearly anyone who can format a manuscript in a word processor can format their own ebooks using two simple, free tools. Continue reading