Saturday, May 26, 2012

How to Publish Your E-Book on Amazon in 3 Quick and Easy Steps

Just a few years ago, trying to get a manuscript published was like searching for the Holy Grail, or, my favorite metaphor, emptying out the Atlantic Ocean one spoonful at a time.

Then along came’s digital publishing program allowing authors to upload their books to make them instantly available for sale to owners of e-book readers, smartphones, tablets, PCs and other devices. These readers of e-books buy the books, Amazon collects the money and then pays a royalty ranging from 35 % to 70 %, deposited directly to the author’s checking account. Cost to the authors? Nothing.

For many writers, the only stumbling block remaining is the mechanics of actually how one publishes on Amazon.

Author James Byrd, guest posting on social media coach Andrea Vahl’s Web site, recently did one of the better jobs of plainly explaining this simple process. He distilled the procedures into three easy steps, so painless that if you have a finished manuscript today, you might well have it online and selling tomorrow.

Step One: Prepare the manuscript

Step one is to get your manuscript ready in Microsoft Word. Keep things simple by eliminating all fancy formatting which may skew the uploading and converstion process. Forego bullet lists, tables, headers, footers, special fonts. Keep pictures to a minimum.

Step Two: Create an account

Open a Kindle Direct Publishing account at Go to Either sign in with your existing Amazon account, or click a link to create a new account. Follow the instructions on subsequent pages. When choosing how to be paid, many authors choose the direct deposit option – to get their royalties quicker. 

Step Three: Upload the book

Once you have an account at, you’ll be taken automatically to a page labeled “Bookshelf.” Here, you click on “add a new title” and follow the instructions. You’ll be prompted to enter information about your book, to upload a JPEG from your computer’s hard drive as a book cover, and to upload the Microsoft Word file that contains your book manuscript.

Some newcomers get confused when selecting a royalty rate for the book. The rate can be 35 % or 70 %. To get 70 %, Amazon requires a book to be priced between $2.99 to $9.99. More or less than that and the royalty drops to 35 %. When you finish, it will take a day or two for your book to go live on

If your manuscript and your book cover are already finished, you could get them uploaded to Amazon in perhaps just a few hours, allowing time for formatting and adding “front matter” (title page, copyright page, table of contents, author bio). Even sooner, if the manuscript is already ready for an instant upload.

For more information on all aspects of getting published on, see Amazon’s tutorial at

Remember, though, that publishing a book, as lofty an accomplishment as that is, is just half the work. The other half is promotion. For information on publicizing and promoting your book, see A 25-YearPublicist’s Guide to Promoting Your Book.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Escape from Oblivion: What Could be the Single Most Effective, Least Time-Consuming Way to Promote Your Book?  


What could be the single most effective, least time-consuming way to promote a book today?

The short answer may be: Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select program  -- or KDP Select, for short.

If you are already an electronic publisher on Amazon, you can sign up for the KDP program for 90 days. You must agree to sell ONLY through Amazon for that period, although you can withdraw from the program at any time. Since many digital authors sell the lion’s share of their books through Amazon, anyway, this is often a small sacrifice.


While you’re in the Select program:


  • Your ordinary customers can buy and download your books to their Kindles, smartphones, tablets and other devices as usual.


  • Amazon customers who pay a monthly fee to be part of a special library-style program called Amazon Prime, can borrow your book cost-free. You still get paid – but out of a special monthly fund that Amazon sets aside for that purpose. The author-compensation fund varies each month. In March, 2012, Amazon set aside $600,000, and each author earned $2.18 per borrowing when the pie was divided. By the way, borrowings are counted by Amazon as “sales.” 


  • Most significantly, you gain the right to have a total of five days in which customers can download your book for free. You can pick the days, and in any combination.


It is this last benefit that has brought me sales results that resemble the customer response I have gotten over the years from radio and TV interviews and press coverage.


For example, in the days leading up to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic this month, I offered a five-day free download to promote a title I released last year, Prophecies Surrounding the Titanic. Within three weeks, the book was downloaded for free 546 times and this resulted in 61 extra sales, a download-to-sales ratio of better than 10 per cent. Although the promotion has long since ended, I am continuing to get higher-than-normal sales.


Let me emphasize that I did virtually no promotion of this giveaway – except for a posting on Facebook and less than a half-dozen e-mails. It was simply an experiment. What if I had been systematic and thorough?


Giving away books seems counter-intuitive to writers, but you’re gaining massive exposure and building a fan base. Once heavy readers realize your material is professional and interesting, the ice is broken.  


Keep in mind also that all these free downloads – like the borrowings mentioned above -- count as customer demand when Amazon’s software calculates your title’s all-important demand ranking. These downloads push you up in the Amazon ranking charts. You’re like a band rising in Billboard’s charts and, as a result, having more radio stations play your “hit.” Which exposure results in more sales. In other words, this is a “virtuous” cycle upward – the pleasant opposite of a vicious cycle downward.


Only in Amazon’s case, as you move up in the charts, the Amazon software may start displaying your book in “teaser mentions” to readers who are searching for subject matter similar to that of your title. Also, you could begin to have readers, bloggers and others review your book online, continuing a promotional ripple effect. All this attention builds credibility for hesitant prospects.


You may also enjoy a spillover effect, as readers who discover you begin to look on Amazon for other books you’ve written.


Authors can repeat the Kindle Select Program for another 90 days after the initial period. This opens up the possibility of another five days of free download promoting. Happily, there is no cut off.


My conclusion is that Kindle Direct Select is ideal for professionally written, marketable books that are currently lost needles in the haystack of hundreds of thousands of titles in the marketplace. It’s an old axiom in publishing that the best book in the world will often die on the vine without promotion. KDP Select has become the spotlight to throw on any languishing book.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

C-Net's David Carnoy on how to self-publish an e-book

I recently came across this excellent, concise explanation of how to break into e-publishing. Carnoy covers all the basics. One of the most popular routes, as he discusses, is to upload a Word file of your work to's digital publishing platform, create an arresting, professional-looking cover, and price the book low, in the range of 99 cents to $4.99. Amazon will pay a royalty of 70 per cent of the sales price on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. The royalty drops sharply if the book is priced above or below that range. Carnoy reminds us that, despite the winds of technological change blowing through publishing, one bedrock principle still remains constant: The book must be good.

Here is the link:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Spanish edition released of author John Ronner’s longtime best-seller on the subject of angels

MURFREESBORO -- More than 50,000 copies of Murfreesboro author John Ronner’s book Know Your Angels: The Angel Almanac are in print in English and 48,000-plus in Japanese. Now, these paper editions are joined by a new Spanish language e-book edition downloadable to Amazon’s Kindle readers, smart phones and other devices (La Enciclopedia de los √Āngeles).

“As the book market in Latin America continues to explode, I wanted to aim for new readers in that direction,” said Ronner, whose first book, Do You Have a Guardian Angel?, appeared in 1985.

Currently, Ronner has more than 140,000 copies of his books in print in English, Japanese and Portuguese, but is now converting to digital publishing.

“The traditional publishing model is far less appealing to writers, in my opinion,” Ronner said. “Publishing e-books eliminates the many middlemen of traditional publishing and enables experienced writers to go directly to their readers without spending months or years coaxing publishing houses to issue them contracts. J. K. Rowling recently announced that she will be self-publishing Harry Potter e-books. Meanwhile, thriller writer Barry Eisler has turned down a $500,000 advance from a traditional publisher so that he can independently publish his next two books.

“Of course, some things don’t change. You still need strong content and to get the word out to your readers. The digital wave notwithstanding, books still only very rarely sell themselves,” Ronner said.

Know Your Angels, and its Spanish edition, list biographies of 100 prominent angels drawn from scripture, legend, folklore and mythology. There are also many entries for angel-related topics like the legendary war in heaven, the different opinions about how angels fell, the seven heavens, and Moses’s visit to heaven, among many other topics.

Ronner spent three years’ researching the original English edition.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Seven tips for producing and promoting a best-seller as massive change rocks the publishing industry

Radical changes are sweeping the publishing industry that bring huge advantages to writers, but authors still must turn out an excellent product -- and promote it vigorously.  Here are seven tips for producing and promoting a best-seller:

(1) Books don't sell themselves, as most writers sooner or later figure out, often too late.

(2) You need an excellent product aimed at a (preferably narrow and identifiable) target audience that is already predisposed to want to read what you're writing. They just have to hear about it. Chess books to chess players. Civil War books to Civil War buffs, and so on.

(3) You have to find media, forums or other places where the target audience congregates and plant yourself in front of them. Consider talks to specialized groups, articles in specialized magazines or newsletters or blogs, forum postings, as well as radio and TV interviews, particularly on special-theme shows.

(4) The most expensive and best marketing campaign in the world will not move a badly conceived or poorly done book.

(5) If you have a non-fiction book, take your specialized subject and be sure to give that topic a new twist, so there is (temporarily) no real competition in the marketplace, even though your overall genre is filled with titles. Be the first book collection of "angel letters" from experiencers. Not the second one.

(6) The traditional publishing model is rapidly disintegrating. Massive book returns from the stores, once the plague of writers and publishers, is disappearing along with the old system. In Amazon's Kindle e-book program, there are virtually no returns. Also on the way out is the secondary market undercutting, often fatally, your print sales. With e-books locked to individual Kindles, there is no pass-along readership. Books don't end up in the used markets that then piggyback on your publicity and promotion efforts and reduce your sales. Lastly, e-publishing writers now have a way around the traditional gatekeepers at the editorial houses. No longer does an editorial bottleneck stand between writers and their audiences. It's a Brave New World, infinitely friendlier to the long suffering and struggling author.

(7) In-depth research is critical, whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction. I recall one best-selling author in the 1970s who spent three years on each novel. One year for research. One for plotting. One for writing. Before the writing starts, organize your material in file folders, with a folder for each section of an individual chapter. In short, good research not only leads to better books but to much better interviews promoting those books. And, therefore, more sales. What's more, research is a great tonic for writer's block: What you're going to say is already there in your notes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Speciality blog gives Kindle authors a chance to sound off, promote their books, and help one another

A speciality blog by a California screenwriter, novelist and producer is now giving e-book publishers with Amazon’s game-changing Kindle program a new voice.

The blog Kindle Author ( is the brainstorm of David Wisehart, himself a Kindle writer of such imaginative titles as Devil’s Lair, about a medieval knight who leads a quest through hell to recover the Holy Grail from the Devil and The Vatican Dagger, where Dracula meets the historic Borgia family in Renaissance Italy.

David’s site allows authors to discuss their adventures with Kindle publishing and provide tips and other information to readers who want to emulate them.

Author interviews are linked back to their Kindle book pages on Amazon as well as the writers’ Web sites.

This week, I made a guest appearance on this innovative and useful blog, which you can read here:

In the interview, David and I covered the tsunami of change that is currently sweeping over the traditional publishing world, as it moves from being a print-based to a Web-based medium. And we discussed my belief that this is probably the greatest leap forward for entrepreneurial writers since the desktop publishing revolution of the 1980s.

Kindle authors interested in requesting an interview with David should e-mail him at: Write "Kindle Author" in the subject line.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Publicity and Promotion: The Golden Key to Getting Published

Newton discovered the laws of gravity and motion. Galileo realized the earth is not the center of the universe. The budding author must likewise discover a world-changing Immutable Eternal Truth concerning publishing: Sadly, with only rare, lottery-like exceptions, books DO NOT SELL THEMSELVES!

They must be promoted aggressively  -- through talks before groups, social networking sites, blogs, radio and TV interviews, newspaper columns or articles. And a hundred other ways. In fact, as many ways as the mind can dream up, from publicity stunts to booths at book fairs.

The cold hard truth is that it is almost never enough to pick a powerful subject, research it masterfully, condense it concisely to 200 pages, and package it colorfully and with flair. Without publicity, your tome will be a needle in a book superstore's 100,000-title haystack. If it even gets that far, since sales determine your distribution, and without publicity, there will be no sales, hence no distribution.

Luckily, the media have a huge appetite for articulate authors with compelling subjects who have honed their presentations and piggybacked them onto a news peg. That news peg could be a holiday that fits the book's theme, or a current news event that is relevant to the title's subject matter.

Getting the interviews, though, is a tricky matter. First, you craft a powerful media kit about you and your book to be e-mailed to pre-identified decision makers. You try to time the submission to coincide with a news peg. You follow up continually, knowing that most e-mails are "lost in space" in the newsroom because of the flood of publicity aspirants bombarding media people. Then, having landed the interview, you prepare thoroughly, because the quality of your performance, not the quality of your book, will of course determine sales. This is, after all, the only thing your audience has to go on in deciding whether to buy.

The art of promoting a book is critical for self-publishers but just as important for commercially published authors, since most companies do comparatively little promotional work on mid-list titles (titles that are not designated by the publisher to become "big books." With "lesser" titles, which is the great majority of books, the publisher leaves most of the promotional work to the author. And usually, by the time the author of an also-ran title figures this out, it's too late. The book is being taken out of print for "lack of public demand." Of course, the public may never have demanded it, because it never heard about the title in the first place.

Remember: If you have a business or hobby, promoting a book also promotes what you do and can bring you clients or simply new friends to add to your network. And remember this, too: Publishers are always on the lookout for authors who know how to promote themselves and their work.

For a detailed report on how to get publicity and to promote your book or your work, see my detailed report: A 25-year Publicist's Guide to Promoting Your Book -- available for download for $3.95 at Happy publishing.