When I first started thinking about writing a book, some eight years ago now, I of course envisioned a hard-cover copy in my head. You know, lovingly illuminated pages bound and gilded, to sit alongside the Jules Verne and Hardy Boys on my bookshelf. And then, five years later when the first book was done (my, how time flies!), I began looking around in earnest for the best way to get my book into production. As all of this coincided with the recent e-book revolution, I was unsure how to proceed into the brave new publishing world. Back in 2005, self publishing was mainly vanity press, which served those who just wanted their story wrapped in a cover to give out to their friends. Most of my friends at the time thought that publishing independently seemed cheap, something that the non-talented writers of the world would resort to. But my, how all that has changed.
The publishing industry still hasn't managed to figure out what is happening. Big huge book stores like Borders and Barnes and Nobles continue to shutter their doors. Smaller bookshops are having more success, though, serving those who still like the ambiance, who enjoy their favorite staff members recommendations. But for an unheard of author such as myself, the likelihood of finding an audience in bookstores, without a major advertising push from a major publisher, or without any critical reviews available for potential customers, remains slim. How, then, to get anyone to read my books?
The internet is the thing. Thanks to services like Amazon and iBooks, anyone with a connection to the web has the whole world of published materials at their fingertips. No need to search in old bookstores for lost classics, no need to shell out money for a paperback that winds up at the Salvation Army after a half-read. While I do offer my books in a paperback version, through Amazon's Createspace website, I must say that the only people who have paid the $14.99 for a physical copy are friends and family members. It is through the kindle store that I have had most of my success, managing to get my work into hundreds of electronic devices.
The great thing about the kindle store on Amazon.com is that anyone can upload to it. It is a truly democratic process, in that the works that touch the most people rise in the ranks on the website based on reviews, which garners them even more readers and reviews. Suddenly, that single mother of four who writes in the wee hours of the morning needn't worry about preparing press packets or looking for a pricey agent: if their writing is good, and they learn just a little bit about formatting and cover design, the only thing standing in the way of sales after that is how well they get the word out, which I have covered partially in another article here on this blog about Twitter. And the other great thing about Amazon is that their apps are available for every kind of electronic device: Windows, Blackberry, Apple's iPhone and iPad, just to name a few.
So what exactly are the benefits for an aspiring indie author using Amazon's tools to sell and promote their work? The answer lies in Kindle Direct Publishing.
From Amazon's website, here are the advantages to publishing online through them:
A simple-to-understand Simplified Formatting Guide is available for all to utilize on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing website. Following their easy directions, even the most inept of computer users can see great results with minimal effort. If you can use a computer to write and surf the internet, you can format an e-book.
Sure, someday I'd like to see my books in a neat, hard-bound row on the shelf in my library, where I smoke a pipe (if tobacco isn't yet outlawed in this imaginary future) and avoid my many children. But until then, until I can even really justify having my books in paperback, I am very happy collecting e-reviews and making a small amount of profit with e-books.
Up next in Adventures in Indie Publishing: Using Amazon Pt. II, which will cover Kindle Prime, Kindle Direct Select, and many more topics.
Until then, keep writing!