It’s a good time to be independent. That’s part of the reason this site exists: to make sure authors know that it’s a good time to be independent and we’re here to help you make the most of it. And it’s about to get better: recent announcements from Amazon about modifications to ongoing programs are bound to benefit authors, especially of the independent variety.
The first announcement is a coming change to the KDP Select program and deals with how authors are paid. Currently, authors whose books are available through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library are paid based on how many times those books are “borrowed” through these services. Starting July 1st though, Amazon will start paying authors based on how many pages a customer reads the first time they read the book. If a page is on the screen long enough to be registered, it’ll add to how much the author is paid.
According to Amazon, authors who write longer works and feel short-changed by the current pay-by-the-rent format can stand to earn more if they can write long stories that are exciting and keep the reader involved. At the same time an author who writes a 100-page thriller novel is encouraged to maybe see if they can extend the story a little bit longer.
Of course, one shouldn’t write a book based on this sort of formula (or possibly on any formula(, but it might give some authors encouragement to try a few new things while giving other authors who already write longer books hope for a little extra income through KU and KLL.
The other announcement deals with changes to reviews and rating. You ever get that low review where someone just takes offense at something on your cover art or a typo in your author bio on Amazon or just to say “I did not like this book. It was totally stupid?” Sometimes they don’t even buy the book? Had my first of those recently, brought down my rating a little. Thankfully, with this little change these sort of not reviews will matter less in the grand scheme of things.
Currently, Amazon rates its books by averaging customer reviews. If you have a book with eight reviews, for example, and you have five four-star reviews, two five-star reviews, and one three-star review, your book’s rating will be 4.1 out of 5. Under the new system though, which they are already testing, reviews that are recent, have been written by a customer who bought the product, and are found helpful by other customers will be given more emphasis than other reviews. So if you have a five star review that’s been found helpful by twenty people and it was written last month by someone who bought the paperback, it’ll be given more weight in the rating than other reviews.
This is a huge change in the review and rating system, and has a number of positive benefits for both Amazon and people who sell their work through Amazon. It’ll not only prevent those fake reviews intentionally posted to bring down ratings, it’ll stop false reviews meant to pump up reviews (Amazon has had a heck of a time trying to stop these reviews, even suing companies that provide positive reviews to authors for a price). And if products have a few flaws around release, once the updates are done and people start reviewing the updated product, the reviews dealing with the product flaws will be less prominent and matter less in the long run.
Right now they’re still experimenting with the new system, and it’s only covering a small group of products, but once Amazon starts using it for all their products, it’ll change everything about the reviewing system! And it can only benefit. Assuming an author writes a very good book, customers looking at the reviews will get access to the most helpful reviews first and foremost.
Like I said, it’s a very good time to be an independent author. And it’s going to get even better. With more chances to get paid for writing the stories you love and not having to worry about length, and a new ratings configuration that keeps bad reviews from totally ruining your rating, authors stand to prosper more from doing what they love and do best. And I cannot wait for these programs to become available for all.
What are some modifications you’d like to see done to Amazon or other book distribution sites?
What are you looking forward to with these new changes?
I got an interesting email this morning over breakfast. Apparently KDP Amazon has added a new feature or two which is supposed to help market your e-books. You can now select an age-range and (if you’re marketing your books to schools) a grade-range for your works. The former goes from 0 to 18+, the latter from “Board books” and “Picture books” to “Teen and young adult chapter books”. The people who wrote the email recommend you generally space your minimum and maximum ages or grades within 3 to 4 years.
I have to say, it sounded intriguing and decided to try it. Neither the email nor the new options on KDP (listed where you can put and change your e-book’s general information) list how exactly these ranges help get your books to your customers, but I think Amazon probably knows the ages of its customers, and can target books to their customers based on age and past buying experiences. In any case, I thought I’d give it a try and see if anything happens.
The one thing I can see wrong with this new feature is that they don’t go higher than 18+ or “Teen and young adult chapter books”. It would be convenient to have options that go higher, seeing as 18+ is a pretty wide range and I’m sure plenty of people would like to put a range on their books that’s closer to college-level or higher.
Then again, this is the early stages of these options and there’s room for improvements. Maybe in a few months they’ll adjust the ranges to allow for more diverse ranges.
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing how author’s book sales are affected by this. Will you be doing these age ranges? Do you see any problems with these new options? And do you think they’ll affect sales that much? Let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Go to http://kdp.amazon.com and sign in with the big yellow sign in button. You will want to use your amazon account for this, even if you have never used KDP before. I accidentally made a new account and now have two amazon accounts that use the same email address (originally they had the same password, too!) and it created quite a mess. Don’t make my mistake.
Once you’ve logged in you’ll be taken to your dashboard. Depending on whether you have books published or not, your may look slightly different. Click the yellow “Add New Title” button.
This will open a new page. The first option you’re confronted with is whether or not to enroll your book in KDP select. There are a lot of divided opinions on this, and you should do some research before deciding, but the run down is that if you join KDP select your ebook must be available ONLY on Amazon for three months and in return you get some marketing “tools” including five days that you can set your book to “Free”. There’s a lot more to it, and a lot to consider such as whether you will lose sales from other channel (again, your ebook can only be on Amazon and no where else), and I’m not going to cover all of that here, or tell you which is better. It’s a personal decision and you should do what is best for you. If you want it, check mark the box. If you don’t then do NOT check mark the box.
Scroll down and enter your book title. If your book is part of a series then check mark the series option, otherwise skip it. If you have an edition number (such as second edition) then fill it in, and if you have a publishing imprint put that under “Publisher”. I don’t, so I leave it blank.
The next option is your description, which you should have prepared. You can see the < p > in mine; this is HTML code that will make it skip a line. you can do some light html code in your description, such as bold or italics.
Scroll down and click the “Add Contributors” button
This will give you a pop up. Type in your author name and then use the drop down button to select “author”.
If you have other contributors to list then choose “Add Another”, otherwise click “Save”.
The contributors will now be listed on the page. make sure you’ve spelled them correctly, and then select the language your book is in by using the drop down box. English is default, so if it’s in English you can skip to publication date. I always leave this blank, as the publication date is whenever I publish it, but you can set it if you want to by clicking the calendar.
You’ll notice that the available days to click are today and BEFORE, not after, so this does NOT work to pre-publish or make your book available for pre-order. You can’t choose a day in the future.
Once you pick your day, be sure to drop a check mark in the “This is not a public domain work” (unless it is) and then click the “Add categories” button.
This will give you a pop up. Some categories have sub categories, for instance, under FICTION you can see that African-American has a plus sign. If we click that it will drop down with more choices such as general, christian, etc.
If you’re not sure what to classify it as then look around; go ahead and add as many as you want because you can remove them before you hit save. My particular book is Fiction>Fantasy>Paranormal. You can actually choose TWO final categories, but there isn’t another one that fits this book (I usually also file under Romance> Paranormal, but there’s not really any romance in this as it is a freebie of shorts), so I am only going to choose one. I recommend that if you can find two categories that fit to choose two. The more you have, the more lists your book will be in.
Choose them by check marking the box next to the final sub category. When you’ve got your list, use remove to whittle it down to two, if necessary, and then click save.
Your categories now appear above the button. Fill in up to seven key words that describe your book. For instance this is a collection of flash fiction “prologues” that take place the day before Heart of the Raven, my novel, takes place, so I used the series name (Amaranthine), Heart of the Raven (the novel title), short, flash-fiction (because that’s what it is), vampires and paranormal (because it’s about vampires) and add free because it is free on the other channels, so Amazon should make it free too (I will cover this later).
Now it’s time to add our cover. You have two options: Browse for your cover or use a cover creator (currently in beta). I will “cover” the cover creator in another post (ha ha!) so fir the point of this we’re going to upload our cover.
Clicking browse will open a dialog box where you can navigate to the image saved on your computer. It MUST be a .jpg or a .tiff (these are file extensions) and should be between 1000 and 2500 pixels on the longest side.
In this box click browse again to get a pop up and navigate through your files. Select the cover file and click open
Once it has the file path in the text box, hit the upload button
When it finishes you will see a thumbnail view of the cover. It will look pretty rough – this is NOT what your “official” cover thumbnail will look like, but rather a rough version so that you can make sure you’ve uploaded the right picture. The final thumbnail will be smoother.
If it looks good, hit the x in the upper right corner.
Now it’s time to upload your book and choose whether you want DRM enabled. DRM means Digital Rights Management, and is something that amazon will put in the “code” of your book to keep people from pirating, think of the old VCR tapes that used to turn the movie a rainbow color if you tried to tape them to a second tape, or DVDs that won;t copy if you try to rip them. DRM is a hot button issue, some people feel it is a waste and only makes it harder for consumers and others think it is a great idea. You will have to choose what is right for you.
Once you do, use the browse button to find your book file, the same way that you found your cover. It should be a .doc file.
After it uploads, you’ll get a little box that says:
This may take a few moments. If you have completed all required fields above, click “Save and Continue” to move forward while conversion continues.
However, I just stay there until it’s done.
When it is finished converting you will get a screen saying that it was successful, and you may get “suggested” spelling errors.
Click “view them” and a pop up will show them to you, then you can decide if they are really typos or not:
After a double check, I have determined that Hikaru is the correct spelling of his name, and free online dictionary states that “woosh” is a valid form of “whoosh”, so, for good or bad, I am going to leave them by clicking “Ignore All” (please no comments on whether you agree or disagree about woosh/whoosh). However, if you have errors you want or need to change, then you shouldn’t do that. If there’s a lot you might want to mail them to yourself, and if there are only a few then just leave the screen up, open your document and use the “find” feature of your word processing program to find and then fix them. Once you’re done, close the pop up out with the x in the upper right corner of it and reupload.
Now we’re ready to preview the book. You can either use the online previewer, or you can download and install a previewer application. I am just going to use the online feature.
The preview will pop up. Because I have been doing this for so long (taking screen caps and hopping back and forth) I had to sign in again. If you’ve taken a long time setting up, you may, too.
The previewer “looks” like a Kindle:
You can scroll through the pages and make sure they look the way you want. This is where some authors (Ruth Ann Nordin, for example) read through the whole book. I am going to admit that I don’t because by the publishing stage I have usually read it thirty times or more, and have it memorized anyway. But at the very least you should check your chapter headings and endings and your opening pages to make sure there are no strange page breaks or weird formatting.
You can use the drop down box to select different devices, such as the paper white, etc.
It’s up to you how thorough you want to be. But, when you’re finished, choose Back to Book details in the upper left of the screen. you can then upload a new version if you need to and preview again, etc. I am happy with mine, so we’re moving on.
At the bottom of the book setup page select Save and Continue to go to the next page of steps.
Now it’s time to tell Amazon where you have the rights to publish this book. If it’s yours and has never been published by another publisher, then you have worldwide rights. Mark that dot and move on. But, if your book has been published previously by a publisher, you may not have all the rights, as your publisher may still own some of them. For instance a book published through a small press in the United States may have had rights for the UK and US in the contract but not for India or other countries, in which case you would select the second option and then choose only those countries that that publisher does not have rights for. If you’re unsure, you may need to speak to your previous publisher and/or a lawyer.
My book has never been published by anyone else, so I am picking the easy option.
Now we’re going to choose our royalty – 35% or 70%. As with the other big choices, the decision depends on what is right for you. If your book will be priced below 2.99 (mine will) you have to choose the 35% option, but if it will be priced $2.99 or higher you can go for the 70% option. I will say that I have chosen 70% for those books I have published that cost more than $2.99, but the choice is yours.
In this case I have to go 35%. So I will check mark it and I will put in the price.
I just check mark the “set price automatically” feature for all the other channels, but you can set them individually if you want.
Now it’s time to decide if you want Kindle lending or not (this allows someone who has bought your book to loan it to anther person’s kindle once). If you opted for 70% royalties this will be grayed out.
Make sure to check mark that you are confirming all rights, then hit Save and Publish.
A pop up let’s you know that it’s being published and that’s it – time to go back to your dashboard and wait until you get your “congratulations” email.
But wait. Didn’t I say that I wanted this book to be free? Why did I then set the price to $.99?
Because Amazon won’t let you choose free as an option. What you have to do is use a price match. In other words, that book has to be on another retailer’s site for free. At the moment, that book is on Smashwords, B&N, and others for the low, low price of nothing. Now, I can wait until Amazon notices it and sends me that nasty little “Tut, tut,” email (which might take days) or I can speed things along by “reporting it” myself.
But, I need to wait until it’s published. I doubt you want to stare at this spot for twelve hours, so I am going to use my magic wand to fast forward time.
And look at that! The book is published! For some reason they have done something odd and linked it to Heart of the Raven the novel, but I’ll suss that out with an email later. In the meantime, let’s report that price.
Go to your book’s page and scroll down to the Product Details and click on “tell us about a lower price”.
Now you’ll get a little pop up. Click the mark next to “website”.
the box will expand with an area to paste a link into. At this point you need the link from the lower listing page – i am going to use Smashwords. Enter the url, the price (in this case 0) and the date, I dropped it back to August 1st but you don’t need to. Then click Submit Feedback.
It will then say “Thank you for your feedback” and give you a “close window” button – and that’s it. Now we just wait for Amazon to get it and say “tut-tut”.
If you set a book free via price match and later want to charge for it, can you get it switched back? I assume so, but I have never tried it, so if someone with more experience wants to chime in in the comments, that would be great!
If you’re familiar with styles, this may be easier for you than the last one was. (To see the images bigger, click on them)
Open your document and scroll to the place where you want your table of contents to go. Depending on what style you choose (we’ll get there in a moment) You may want to type in your “Table of Contents” heading, or not.
Choose the References tab:
Click on the Table of Contents to get a drop down box. There are some pre-styled ones to choose from (this is what I meant about depending on what you chose, as you’ll notice they all have a “contents” heading) I just chose “insert table of contents”
If you choose that, too, you’ll get a pop up where you can set some things. you want to make sure that show page numbers is UNCHECKED. If you use the drop down box you can choose some different styles, but for the ebook I’d just go with from template and forget it
You’ll get a pop up. Just click ok.
If you haven’t used any Headings when you formatted you’ll get this error:
Don’t worry, we’re going to fix that. (If you have headings already, you should see your chapters neatly listed. you’re done. Yay you!)
First we want to prepare our headings by adjusting our style. This is easier than it sounds. On the Home tab choose the Heading 1 style and RIGHT click on it. A menu pops down. Choose Modify.
(yours will look different than this because I have some custom styles saved)
This gives you another pop up. here you can adjust the font style, size, etc. You can center your headings (I usually don’t for ebooks). Once you’re done, you may want to click the format button for further tweaking
I’m going to go ahead and make some adjustments to the paragraph aspect
When you’re done hit OK until all the boxes go away.
Now we need to make those chapter titles into headings! Find your chapter heading, highlight it and choose “heading 1” from the style box on the home tab:
If your navigation pane is open you’ll see your chapter suddenly appear in it. if it isn’t open or you have no idea what I’m talking about don’t worry about it.
Repeat the last step for the rest of your chapters including introductions, prologues, conclusions, etc. (I’m only doing six for the purpose of the demonstration)
When you’re done go back to the references tab and click “Update Table”
And – magically – they appear
The difference between this and the other method? As you can see they don’t LOOK hyperlinked; no blue font or underline, but if you hover over them you have the option to click them:
I admit, I don’t know if this method will work for Smashwords formatting, too, as I have never tried it with them (I use the previous method for them). If anyone else has, I’d be interested to know.
*EDIT* be sure to set your Table of Contents and any headings with AUTOMATIC for the text color or you’ll get a nasty notice from Amazon that your color is not readable. Sorry, forgot to mention that earlier 😉
If this method still does not work for you, or if you have another method, please let us know!
I wanted to share this, but I am a bit behind today, so I’m just going to copy in the email I received:
We are excited to announce Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon.fr!
If you have distribution rights in France for books you’ve published through Kindle Direct Publishing, they are already available in the new Kindle store on Amazon.fr. The list prices and royalty plans for titles sold on Amazon.fr are based on those you’ve chosen for the Amazon.com store.
In addition to KDP titles becoming available for sale on Amazon.fr, sales made to customers living in France, Belgium, and Monaco will qualify for 70% royalty on titles enrolled in the 70% royalty option.
If you have books in the Amazon KDP program you should have gotten one of these. Yes, it means there is now an Amazon ebook market in the UK, Germany and France. Personally I haven’t sold any books on Amazon.de yet, so I’m not sure the fr is going to make much of a difference to me, but here’s hoping it does for some of you!
If your published through Amazon’s KDP program (Kindle Direct Publishing – which used to known ad DTP) you might have gotten a letter from them a few days ago telling you about an exciting new “kindle store” called Amazon.de.
What is Amazon.de? It’s Amazon in German and it’s available to residents in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.
So what do you need to do to make sure your book is listed there? If you have already ticked the little checkbox that states you have worldwide rights to publish/distribute your book, then nothing. Amazon has already listed all books that have available rights in Germany, to the tune of 650,000 on opening day.
If you’re not sure whether you’re book is available, then you can go to Amazon.de and look yourself up. (I did! It was fun to see my books surrounded by German. It felt very international!) If it’s not there, or if you don’t feel like a search, then you can log in to your Amazon KDP account and check or edit the book’s settings.
What does this mean? Not only is it a new market for authors already published through Amazon’s KDP, but it’s likely to mean an increase in German authors and German language books, as well. European authors will be able to choose whether to be paid in pounds, euros or U.S dollars and – more good news – Amazon is now offering European authors electronic transfer royalty payments, so they can get the money deposited directly into their bank account., which makes royalty payments faster and easier.
The opening of the new Amazon.de kindle store leaves me with just one question: What do you think is next?
We’ve all done it a million times. We finish a great book and loan it to someone else. Maybe it’s a friend, a coworker, or even a spouse. Regardless how close they are to us, there’s a pretty good chance that while we’ll let that paper back out the door, we’re not really interested in loaning them our entire Kindle device.
Amazon has remedied that.
The new Kindle book lending feature allows users to lend out digital copies of books they’ve purchased. But, there’s a limit to this; each digital book may only be lent out once, for no more than 14 days, and while it’s on loan the original purchaser can not access it.
By default, all DTP titles are available for lending, but if you’re signed up for the 35% royalty option you can choose to opt your titles out by deselecting the checkbox under “Kindle Book Lending” in the “Rights and Pricing” section of your title. Anyone who purchased your book before you unticked that checkbox can still lend it, however, but new purchasers can’t. Of note, if your book is enrolled in the 70% royalty option then there’s no way to opt out.
Authors won’t receive notifications (right now, anyway) that their books have been loaned, nor will they receive a royalty payment because no book was purchased. But, before you get angry about that, consider this. when you loaned that paper back to your friend/coworker/spouse, did the author know? Did they receive a royalty payment for it? The only difference I see is that Amazon has capped the number and duration of loans.