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3 Steps to Publishing on Amazon Kindle

Last Updated on May 27, 2014  

The dream of every blogger, online business owner, and internet marketer – me included – is to be able to spend time creating in our area of expertise and to have hungry buyers ready and wanting to buy what we have to sell. And have those buyers find us in the mass of online content. But it’s a dream, right?

Reality Bites.

Instead the reality might look more like this. You start a blog. You write a few posts, you get your friends to comment. You get on Facebook. You get a couple of hundred likes. You work really hard to build up an email or subscriber list of a few hundred. Or maybe you do some advertising to boost your numbers. And then – finally – you’re able to launch your first online product or program. It feels fantastic to get to that stage and get your first pay check. But how much time (and money) have you invested along the way?

I’ve been down that route. I know exactly what it takes. And I know what it takes to sustain that success as well.

Kindle

And then, by happy accident, I discovered Kindle publishing. I put my first book out onto the digital platforms (nine to be exact) in 2011. It sold 37 copies in the first month. I wasn’t ecstatic but I thought that was OK. But then sales tapered off and I realized there was more to it than just pressing publish.

So I started to experiment. I tested and tweaked with some under the radar books. And what I found is that Kindle publishing is an untapped online marketing and publishing gold-mine for people who are serious about their content. For bloggers and authors just like us.

Amazon’s Kindle is the perfect platform to get fast sales, grow your brand and reach more people. And not just for me. Anyone who has a content-driven business – a blogger, a consultant, a trainer or pretty much any kind of expert can get their content into book form and up and selling on Amazon practically overnight.

But before we dive into the ‘how-to’ let’s take a step back and have a look at what we’re talking about and why it might be a smart business move to create a Kindle book in the first place.

Instant Credibility

Everyone wants to stand out from the crowd. And if you’re the person with the book, then you become the “go-to” person in your field. The expert. The person whose advice will be listened to.

Whether you sell online training, want to get more speaking engagements or want to promote your service business, a book will position you as an authority in your field. It really is the ultimate business card.

Traffic and Lead Generation

We all want traffic to our websites. We want to be found. But everything either costs us time or money. You can advertise. You can do social media. You can blog and reach out to other bloggers. You can spend time in forums or create videos.

But how many places do you know where you can put something up for sale and have it sell without doing any additional marketing? A good book on the Kindle platform will be found and bought by hundreds or thousands of readers – if you do a couple of things right (it’s OK I’m going to tell you what they are).

The Biggest Book Retailer in The World

It amazes me why so many of us in the online world want to do it all ourselves. When it comes to physical products, the ambition of most entrepreneurs isn’t to set up their own shop and sell products one by one in their small corner of town. It’s to have their stuff in the big retailers. To be everywhere. And that’s exactly what Amazon is. The single biggest retail outlet for digital books.

And, if you’re anything like me, then the back-end business processes probably doesn’t excite you. In fact they probably turn you off. Well with Amazon you are part of their e-commerce platform. No worries about the tech stuff. No need for a shopping cart or affiliate platform, etc, etc… You’ll more than likely want to build out your back-end business, but you don’t have to – not right away.

And what about refunds and fulfillment? Those customer service questions when someone wants their money back or can’t download the book? Is that how you want to spend your time? And even then there’s the hassle of what happens if the site goes down (GoDaddy anyone?). With Kindle publishing, all you need to do is upload your book and get paid. That’s it. Amazon takes care of the rest.

But I Don’t Have a Book!

But what if I don’t have any content, I hear you cry. It will take me ages to write a book. At least a year!

No, it won’t. You’re a blogger. You have content. Lots and lots of it. You just need to take part of it, develop it and put it into a book format. I bet you could even do that in a weekend, or a couple of weeks at the most, if you put your mind to it.

This Is Working For You But Will It Work For Me?

Great question!

Just this week, one of my students emailed me to say that she had gone from having seven sales in one and a half months, to 1500 downloads in a day and hitting the #1 bestseller slot in her category.

She had invested nothing in her book but the time it took her to write. She’s not a native English speaker. She did the cover herself with a photo she took on holiday. She has no website, no marketing experience, just a desire to write. I know it’s a phrase often thrown around online but, really, if she can do it, you can too.

OK, I’m Convinced. Now What?

Well, there are more steps than we can talk about here. But none of them are hard or time-consuming. And the three that will give you the best chance of success with Kindle Publishing – the biggest return – are these:

STEP ONE: The First Thing You Need Is a Plan

Not a detailed, thoroughly researched plan. But an outline or vision of how your book is going to impact your business. This isn’t about making fast cash on Kindle. This is about building a solid business and positioning you as an expert in your field. This is about you as an author.

Don’t think about your Kindle book in isolation. Think about it as part of your marketing (marketing for which you get paid by the way). And like any good marketing piece, it needs to lead your customer gently but confidently back to your business.

So sketch out what that route is and what path you want a prospective customer to take before you press ‘publish’. Ideally before you even write your book. You want one clear outcome for your reader to take. Know what it is and arrange your content to make that inevitable.

It might be as simple as buying another book from you. Or it might be to ‘like’ your Facebook page. Or to come over and download a resource sheet from your website.

STEP TWO: You Need To Be Where The Buyers Are

You need to be in a category where books are selling. One that’s popular and big enough to make an impact for you. Sure, it’s easy to get ranked in one of those small categories where no-one is buying. That’s like getting ranked on Google for a keyword that no one is searching for. Nice to say you’re on Page #1, but it won’t help your business.

So do your research inside Amazon. What other books are out there? Which category are they in? What are they teaching? Are they getting decent bestseller rankings? You don’t get sales numbers from Amazon, so use the Kindle bestseller rankings instead. Look at categories that are actively selling, that are on the radar.

STEP THREE: Give More So That You Sell More

I find that many new authors and many new business owners are very reluctant to give their book away. “But I don’t have anything else to sell!”

Don’t worry. On Kindle people expect that books will be free some days and paid the next. I’ve tested and tested this and I can tell you that giving your book away is probably the one single thing that will get you more sales in the long run, and sometimes sooner. The student who just emailed me jumped from seven sales in six weeks to seven sales a day right after she ran her free promotion.

That’s about a forty-five fold increase in sales.

Ready To Go For It?

Now, of course, there’s more to writing a book and creating a great business on the back of it than seven sales a day. But I hope I’ve shown just how easy it can be to get started with Kindle publishing and to make sure that your book gets written, gets seen, and gets sales.

What Do You Think?

If you enjoyed this article, I’d love you to leave a comment and maybe even answer a couple of questions for me.

  1. Are you inspired to write your first or next book? Or maybe you have one that’s half-written already and you’d love to get it finished?
  2. Is there anything that’s stopping you? Any doubts or lingering questions that I can help you with?

I’ll be answering questions as they come in – just leave a comment below, tick the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email”, and I’ll get right back to you.

And if you want to check out the my full training program that walks you through this process step-by-step, then it’s all here at Publish Your Book On Kindle.

When you join, make sure to say hello in the question panel, and let me know that you came from David’s blog so I can welcome you personally.

Let’s get you published!

About Cathy

Cathy Presland teaches entrepreneurs how to create a great business with a clear business strategy and a sustainable income online through developing online products and programs. Her site is over at http://cathypresland.com and her new training on Kindle Publishing is available here

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get your copy of our flagship process checklist for building your online business out of thin air: The Online Business Roadmap. Starts from zero. No email list, no traffic, no blog, no product. The process will guide you through all of it. Sign up for your FREE LAB member account here to get instant access!


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  • Great article. It brought up an option I hadn’t thought of. And super of you to answer all these comments.

    Reply

    • Cathy Presland says:

      you are very welcome Shannon 🙂

      Reply

  • Hi Cathy,
    Thank you for this post. I have noticed this great marketplace for ebooks and I do have one book on kindle.
    I selfpublished it using Calibre, I wonderwhat do you use? a paid service or do it yourself? As I am starting out I don’t have much choice but to do it myself.
    I am wondering what do you mean by “testing and tweaking” to optimize sales? I am in the tea niche which is pretty big so I am thinking that there must be another reason why I don’t get many sales.

    Thank you,

    Ben

    Reply

    • Cathy Presland says:

      Hi Ben, Congratulations on having a book up there!

      I actually use word to format my books. I intentionally keep them very simple because my opinion is that kindle is like a text reader – and that we should think of our content differently than we would if it was in a pdf or a print book. However calibre is a great option. Basically if you want more anything more than the basics in your formatting then you need to switch from word to html – either by doing it yourself or by outsourcing.

      Testing and tweaking I mean things like price, description, cover design… You should be aiming to be up there with the bestsellers in your category. Hope that helps?

      Cathy

      Reply

  • Rex Williams says:

    Thanks Cathy, for the informative and inspiring post. Yes, I’m working on a book, and you’ve motivated me to keep at it and try to finish sooner. I’m fully aware of all the benefits and am trying to fit it into a bigger plan.

    I have a couple of questions:
    1. Would you recommend the KDP select program, or is it better to have a physical book along with a kindle version for sale at the same time? (Maybe I need help understanding the difference.)

    2. What is your recommendation regarding pricing? I know Amazon encourages the $2.99 to $9.99 range with 70% commission, but would you recommend the low end or high end of that range? Or something else altogether?

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply

    • Cathy Presland says:

      Hi Rex – congratulations on your book! Let me know when it is up there – either if you join my programme or otherwise connect on twitter or facebook. Would love to know that I have inspired you in some small way 🙂

      OK so on your questions… I do prefer to be in the select programme – but I cover pros and cons in detail in the course. You can certainly be in kdp select AND have a physical book. You just can’t have a digital book anywhere else – so you can’t sell a pdf or be in iBookstore etc.

      On pricing… again it’s an “it depends…” answer. It depends whether you are publishing for revenue from the book or whether you want to use the book to generate leads for your website for example. **In general** lower prices will sell more books but higher prices will generate more revenue. I do go into detail in the course so have a look and if it’s a good fit I’d love to have you join us – you can ask questions over there as well as you go through each stage of your publishing journey 🙂

      Reply

  • Peter Franks says:

    I just published a Kindle book, gave away nearly 2300 copies promoting it through so many free sources I am just too lazy to list them all. Result? Sold 3 books and the high rating I had quickly dissolved – took about a day. I can guarantee anyone writing a book a couple of things. Marketing it will take 3-times what you spent writing it. You need special software – Amazon’s Word convert to mobi will make a mess of your book. Fortunately, the software is free – Download ‘Sigil’ it will allow you to create a book that Amazon will do a pretty good job of converting. Forget about the Kindle converter.

    A caveat on doing a free promotion: If You do a 5-day promo, the book CANNOT be available anywhere else except on Amazon for the next 90 days. Considering the fact that I sold my first copy (a PDF), on Smashwords.com, it is not such a good deal in some cases.

    There is a LOT more to this than just putting a book on Amazon/Kindle. A long list like buying an ISBN number (not cheap!) so that you can put the book on sale everywhere else.

    Main thing is do not write a book unless you have done your research and a pretty dang certain there’s a market for it.

    Hope this helps.

    Peter

    Reply

    • Cathy Presland says:

      Hi Peter. Congratulations on having a book! It’s an achievement that many people want to have so be proud even if sales didn’t meet your expectations. I’m going to be honest with you and tell you that my first book is my worst selling book. But you know what, we learn from that.

      I’ve actually tested books without doing any additional marketing because I wanted to be able to support first time authors without a platform and I think it’s pretty reasonable to get to 6-10 sales a day doing nothing more than using the marketing that is available inside Amazon. The caveat to that is that you do need to be in a category that is actively selling. You can’t sell books if there isn’t a market inside Amazon – or at least in my experience.

      I do convert from word although you have more formatting options if you use html or outsource. I want first time authors to go for it and then complex formatting can always be added later once they know the book has legs 🙂

      You don’t need an ISBN for Amazon, but you do if you want to sell a print copy or in the iBookstore. Or if you want the kudos – there are good reasons to buy an ISBN if you plan to chase a mainstream publishing contract for example. I talk about this in the programme and also show you where to get them.

      I completely 100% agree tha the first stage should be research. But you know what, we often don’t know that till we make that mistake ourselves (I’ve done it and I have no doubt most of us have or will!). Now that you’ve found your way around the kindle system, you have a lot of knowledge that can be used to make your second book a bestseller. Keep me posted and I genuinely wish you every success with it 🙂

      Cathy

      Reply

  • Hi Cathy, I was wondering about publishing a book with some color pictures in it. Do you need two formats, one maybe for something available in the kindle fire and one grayscale version for the regular kindle?

    Reply

    • Cathy Presland says:

      Hi Malcolm – yes you’re totally right that the old kindle devices only support black and white. You don’t need two versions of your book tho, just that you need to check your image is still legible in greyscale. Usually you can view this in a simple photo editor before you upload the image. Use the colour image and so lond as it looks OK in black and white you have all your bases covered 🙂

      Reply

  • Hi Cathy,

    Is there a certain number of pages for a Kindle book? I have heard it should not exceed 170 pages. Can you verify this for me?

    Thanks
    Kate

    Reply

    • Cathy Presland says:

      Hi Kate – I haven’t heard that – and if you think about it some of the fiction books are much longer than 170 pages… There is a limit on overall files size – so if a book has a lot of complex formatting or contains a lot of images then you might bump up against that. I wonder if that’s what you’re thinking of?

      I do get asked “what length should my book be” and I’m afraid the best answer is “it depends”. It has to be as long as it needs to tell your story or get your message over. In general (and particularly in non-fiction where I suspect most of us are) I see shorter books working well on kindle.

      Cathy

      Reply

  • Thomas Oberbichler says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights, Cathy.
    The opportunities on Amazone are really amazing and its really easy to do.
    I already had a look at your video course and like the high quality step by step approach you take.
    See you there!
    Be well Tom

    Reply

    • Cathy Presland says:

      Tom – thank you and excited to see you over there 🙂

      Reply

  • Frank Daley says:

    Cathy, I have a question re duplicate content.
    Google has been trying to reduce it via Panda and Penguin and that’s good for those of us who are writers.
    I’ve heard that Amazon will not permit content in a Kindle book that has already been published on your own website (in the form of blogs or articles or mini-courses etc.).
    If you can sell a ebook on Kindle AND from your own website, this seems strange.
    Are there particular rules to this?

    Thanks, Frank

    Reply

    • Tehillah Hessler says:

      I have an answer to Frank Daley’s comment. Yes, that makes perfect sense, however, the rules apply to participation in KDP Select. Here is is from Amazon’s site:
      ” What does it mean to publish exclusively on Kindle?

      When you choose KDP Select for a book, you’re committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the 90-day period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for more information. “

      Reply

      • Cathy Presland says:

        Hi Tehillah – thanks for chiming in with that extract – you’re absolutely right. However those rules go beyond even the select programme. Amazon can (and I know they do) take down books that they believe are made up of content that is freely available elsewhere. This happened to one of my students who had a travel guide taken down because Amazon deemed the material available for free elsewhere on the web….

        Reply

    • Cathy Presland says:

      Hi Frank – good to meet you 🙂

      There are a two separate issues here:

      First of all duplicate (free) content. Amazon will penalise you (and take the book down) if you publish material that you (or anyone) gives away for free. So you can’t sell something that you give away for free – and you also can’t sell soomething that you have taken off a free site, for example a collection of wikipedia articles (and probably you are breaking their terms of use as well!).

      The second part is about pricing. Let’s say you **sell** a pdf on your site. Yes, you can also sell this as a kindle book. However Amazon have a price-match policy so they have the right to lower the price if they become aware that it is for sale anywhere else for less. I can’t see you doing that but better to mention 🙂

      There is a third part to this as well, which is that there is an option to put your material exclusively with Amazon – the select programme – you might have heard of it? In that case of course you can’t even sell the pdf because you would be breaking exclusivity.

      Hope that helps!

      Cathy

      Reply

      • Cathy Presland says:

        Oh dear, think I need to spell check before I press enter – apologies for typos…

        Reply

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