Instant Gratification: Books Meet Kindle Publishing

by Joel Friedlander on March 2, 2011 · 16 comments

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Amazon’s Kindle format continues to be the most popular way to buy ebooks. It has spread thanks to the introduction of Kindle apps for almost every platform including mobile operating systems. You can literally buy, download and read books from the Kindle store on almost any computing device available.

Kindle sales account for somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of the market. For many people, ebooks are Kindle books. Will the growth of ePub—the format that ereaders like the Apple iPad, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook and others use—erode Kindle’s market share? We don’t know.

What we do know is that there are now over 20 million ereaders in people’s hands. And we know that people with ereaders just read more. And buy more books. And that doesn’t include the hundreds of millions of smartphones, many of which can also host the Kindle app.

I’ve talked often about getting our books into ebook formats to take advantage of this burgeoning market. This week I got to do it myself.

Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guides Headed to Ebook Formats

I’ve been busy with lots of projects lately, but I didn’t want to neglect to get my first two Quick & Easy Guides into ebook formats.

These reports, drawn from instructional blog posts on specific subjects, are pretty heavily formatted. They include photos, bullet lists, numbered lists, block quotes, subheads and more. It turned out to be a challenge to get them right.

They also have numerous links, which I think adds a lot of value to the documents. If you can just read about copyright and click a link right where you’re reading to go to the website where you can download a specific government form, that’s a user benefit. So the links had to work, too.

Conversion and Beyond

I used ebookconversion.com to do the conversions to Kindle and ePub. I sent them PDF files that I had checked rigorously, since they are the same ones that are on sale here. You can check the Ebook Conversion Service Directory for lots of people who do ebook conversions.

Pretty soon I got the files back. I used the Mac Kindle App to open the Kindle files and check them out. For the ePub files, I loaded them into iTunes and then synced my iPad, transferring the book to the iBooks application.

Here’s what they looked like when they were finished:

The Original PDF:

Self-Publisher's Quick and Easy Guide to Copyright-PDF

Click to enlarge

The Kindle eBook:

Self-Publisher's Quick and Easy Guide to Copyright-Kindle

Click to enlarge

the ePub eBook:

Self-Publisher's Quick and Easy Guide to Copyright-ePub

Click to enlarge

In the end, I was pretty happy with the conversion. You can see I’ve switched the iBooks version to Verdana to see how it looks. All the links finally worked in all versions, and I was ready to publish.

Publishing, About As Easy As It Gets

I headed over to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (https://kdp.amazon.com/) and signed in with my regular Amazon account info.

You’re taken to your Bookshelf, a simple interface which lists your titles, and where there’s a button to Add a Title. Clicking this takes you to the first of two screens you have to fill out:

Kindle Input 1

Click to enlarge

The first one has to do with your book and its content. The form is easy to understand and complete. Running down the right-hand side are context-sensitive help topics if you don’t understand any of the questions. Most helpful.

Once you finish this entry and upload a cover image, you go to the second page to answer questions about royalties. Here it is:

Kindle Info 2

Click to enlarge

You can see here that I’ve elected to sell in the U.K. also, and that since the retail price is $4.99 I’m eligible for the 70% discount program, and I’m informed that each sale will earn a $3.46 “royalty” after the payment of a $.05 “delivery fee.” I’m happy with this arrangement.

It takes a day or so for the ebook to go live, and Amazon sends a link in an email to let you know it’s up and available for purchase.

Speed, Pure Speed

I had spent the time to take care of my ebook conversion to the Kindle format before starting this process. But I was impressed with how fast it was. With a description ready—and this is crucial, since it’s where you’ll put your sell copy and your keywords—and a graphic, you can publish on this platform in less than 15 minutes.

I put this Guide into the Kindle Store about that fast. The combination of digital content, which doesn’t have to be any particular length, and digital delivery to all those apps on all those devices, will surely change the world of publishing.

As each Guide is ready, I’ll be uploading them to Kindle and letting people know they are available there. Next I’ll send the ePub files that were made at the same time to the retailers that deal with ePub. Here’s a link to this first one:

The Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guide to Copyright [Kindle edition]

And I’ve already sent A Self-Publisher’s Companion off for conversion to Joshua Tallent’s ebookarchitects.com. The new world is upon us, and I want all self-publishers to profit from it.

Photo by kodomut. Amazon links are affiliate links.

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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Thomas Wilson June 17, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    For converting pdf or other type of doc in to digitized form it involves number of steps and Consequently the writers and the marketers are looking for such a company now days that would help in that. great post thank it is very useful to me.

    Reply

    Averill Buchanan March 7, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Joel, many thanks for taking the trouble to answer my questions with another blog post! It’s very helpful and much appreciated.

    Reply

    Averill Buchanan March 6, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Hi Joel,
    A really interesting and useful article – thank you. I’m curious to know (a) why you used a paided-for service (ebookconversion.com) to do your conversion rather than use software like Calibre (free) (http://calibre-ebook.com/about), or Quark or Adobe CS5 which now accomodate eBook conversion formats; and (b) why you have chosen to send the second of your publications to a different conversion service (ebookarchitects.com) – is it perhaps because it’s the one with the complex layout?

    I’m weighing up the options out there and am very interested in the reasoning behind others’ decisions.

    Averill
    (Northern Ireland)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Averill, I decided to answer your question with a blog post. Check it out here when it goes live on 3/7/2011: Making eBook Conversion Decisions

    Reply

    Steve Miller March 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Joel,

    Now that we can convert to e-book platforms with pdfs, we’re not plagued by some of the former limitations that plagued us with uploading in Word and having to make formatting as simple as possible. If I’m correct here, then don’t we need to rethink the possibilities of formatting for e-books?

    Like you said, including live links for certain types of books will be a huge boon. Also, we can use color in our “interiors,” for no extra charge – color pics, color headings, etc., which used to cost tons in paper books! Any other features we should consider for e-books, rather than just taking our print book and uploading it in pdf format?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 4, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Steve, sales of PDF ebooks, as far as I know, have not enjoyed the same type of sales as ebooks in ePub or Kindle formats. PDF is awkward on the small screens of mobile devices and they cannot be read by most ereaders, although the iPad displays them brilliantly.

    Any ebook can contain links, but the real challenge here is to transfer some of the design and typographic elements from print books (or PDFs, which are simply a representation of the print book) into ebooks.

    Reply

    Alice Flanagan March 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Joel and David W,

    I agree that there is room for both printed and eBook formatted books and that publishers have been a little slow off the mark on the eBook. The eBook finally puts Indie authors (like me) onto an even playing field in the publishing industry which could be part of the reluctance to move forward.

    It reminds of the a time when the thought of buying a bottle of wine with a screw cap was, well, unthinkable. Akin to the ritual of removing the cork being seen an integral part of sharing a glass of wine, holding a printed copy of a book has been part of the reading experience. Well, in Australia at least, once a few of the larger wineries started to sell only screw capped bottles we all realised that there was great convenience and advantage not having to struggle with a corkscrew and cork and the wine cellared so much better (if it wasn’t drunk first!). I suspect this will be the way of the eBook too once the benifits of lower cost, instant access and the ability to carry a library in your pocket hit home and the demand dictates the market.

    Thanks for your interesting article Joel!

    Alice

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 4, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Thanks for reading, Alice. I remember being introduced to the wine store in Melbourne and someone explaining the whole screw-cap situation. There’s so much energy in the ebook world now, with authors going direct to E, or books that are successful as ebooks being moved to print. Just a lot of options for authors, finally.

    Reply

    David W. Berner March 2, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I’m all for progress, Joe. I’m not one of those who thinks publishing is dead, it’s just a new delivery system, that’s all. We have to find a way to work within it, not fight it.

    But I’m still concerned that the publishing industry, although beginning to embrace this approach, is still living in ancient times and giving little respect to many authors who publish this way alone. Print still seems to rule. For goodness sake – many publishers and agents STILL won’t accept emailed or uploaded submissions, opting for snail mail, and even one literary journal, that will go unnamed, wants 3X5 note cards with your name and title to go along with your printed manuscript. What? Really?
    The change is coming, but the embrace is still a tentative one, I’m afraid.

    David W. Berner
    Author, Accidental Lessons

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 2, 2011 at 10:55 am

    David, I quite agree that publishing is not dead, and it’s not dying. It is, however, undergoing huge changes in almost every aspect of the business, and this shows no signs of slowing down.

    Publishers were slow to respond to the advent of e-publishing but are trying to catch up fast. An industry built on practices that are as much as 500 years old is not a nimble industry. Understanding and implementing electronic systems will take time, especially for smaller publishers. What fascinates me is the way the tools of publishing have devolved into the hands of the authors, long the least-favored part of the publishing equation.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    Reply

    Amelia March 2, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Hi Joel!
    That’s an interesting approach. Indeed, I just a short time, e-reader is becoming synonymous to Kindle. How about the cons? Instead of resisting the progress let’s just simply make the most out of it.

    Reply

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