Like just about every other writer, I’m interested in self-publishing ebooks for Amazon’s Kindle. I’m also interested in publishing print versions, and I want to know about the other distribution channels for ebooks.
This post won’t be like many others here. I’m no expert in this; in fact I’m a noob. I’ve done the traditional publishing route with my two hiking guidebooks on northern California (The Mountaineers Books, Seattle); both are widely available in bookstores in California and elsewhere. I’ve also published two of my own ebooks/digital products that are distributed through e-junkie.com. (Click the covers in the sidebar to the right for more details.)
What I’ll Be Doing
I have one manuscript that’s just about ready, another 6 or so ideas that are on the front burner, with maybe a baker’s dozen on the back burner.
Will they all be about freelance writing? No. The first one will be, and there’s a couple others in the works for freelance writers and other self-employed folks.
But I also have other projects unrelated to freelance writing, projects I’ve wanted to do for years, on a wide variety of topics.
About These Kindle Questions
These are questions I’ll be researching in detail in the coming days and weeks. For some questions I provide a preliminary answer. If you have a better answer, or more details, feel free to share your knowledge in the comments below.
Why Questions Are Important
For any project you do, you’ll be far more productive if you first create a list of important questions to guide you in figuring out exactly what you must do to bring the project to a timely and successful conclusion.
Now let’s move on to….
My Amazon Kindle and Related Questions
1. What percentage of the overall ebook market does the Kindle capture?
About 55%, according to this November 2012 article in Publisher’s Weekly. Apple has about 20%.
2. What are the monthly average earnings for all Kindle ebooks?
I couldn’t find data on this, just info on people who’ve done really well. Is this a situation where a small percentage rakes in most of the dough, a few do OK, and most struggle to make a few bucks?
3. Is it possible to make substantial sales of Kindle books even if I don’t have a strong online presence?
Some of my ideas are definitely outside the freelance writing/self-employed niche, and I don’t want to create a blog, or Google+ group, or set up a Twitter account for each idea.
In his book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur (recommended) Guy Kawasaki stresses the importance of having a strong online presence in the book’s niche to drive traffic to Kindle sales page. However, is it possible rank well in Amazon searches without having to do a ton of such marketing?
4. What are the most important other distribution platforms/channels for ebooks besides Kindle?
Kawasaki’s APE book says these guys, in order of market share (links to main page for self-publishing authors):
5. Do I own the rights to my work, or does Amazon/CreateSpace, or any of the other relevant distribution companies?
I’ve only researched Amazon Kindle, where it appears the rights remain with the author. I haven’t checked the others yet.
6. What if I want to leave a given ebook distribution platform?
I ask this because some of the self-publishing companies out there for print books can make it difficult to get your title away from them. I think it’s fairly easy with Kindle. I don’t yet know about the others.
7. How easy is it to publish using a pseudonym/pen name?
Fairly easy, according to Amazon.
8. How easy is it to do a print book on CreateSpace?
My friend Nikolas Allen just published his excellent marketing book for creatives: Death to the Starving Artist. I recently e-mailed Nikolas to ask about his experience. He said “Absolutely happy with CreateSpace! Two enthusiastic thumbs up!”
That’s a good sign.
9. Can I publish to Kindle and other platforms by beginning with Word documents?
I think the answer is yes, as long as the formatting guidelines are met, but the different companies have different formatting and file requirements, unfortunately.
I know there are important rules to follow in formatting. I also wonder how easy it is to create one Word document that will work across the different platforms.
10. How hard is it to convert from Word to MOBI and other formats to sell the ebook across other major platforms?
I’m guessing that it ain’t that easy if you don’t know what you’re doing. I might hire someone to do this.
11. What are important trends in self-publishing, both print and digital, that will impact me and other authors in the future?
Ebook sales growth is flattening, says Nicolas Carr in his August 5 post analyzing data released by the Association of American Publishers. The same data shows that trade (print books) declined 4.7%.
Resources for Researching the Amazon Kindle
Yes, there are extensive resources provided by the big boy:
Kindle Direct Publishing. Look in the left column for specific topics. (I’ll be spending a lot of time here.)
CreateSpace. Amazon’s program for publishing print books.
Of course, there are many Kindle ebooks about how to produce Kindle ebooks.
I recently found this extensive and recent article by veteran author C.S. Lakin about publishing on Amazon. Well worth the read!
Have you self-published on Kindle or elsewhere? What were your experiences? Got any answers to these questions? Have general thoughts about self-publishing? Please share!