I’ve been producing Kindle-ready ebooks for a while now. Through a process of trial and error (sometimes it’s been a trial, and I’ve made lots of errors…) I’ve realised that the whole experience needn’t need tooooo difficult, provided you keep a few basic do’s and don’ts in mind…This post is part of BookMachine’s #kindleweek. Join the debate on Twitter.
1. Judge a book by its cover
Remember that, when it comes to actually SELLING your book (as opposed to reading it), the cover is king. Spend time on it. Live with it for a while. Show it to friends who know nothing about your book’s content, and ask them what the cover conveys to them. Make sure that the cover tells readers something about the flavour of the book, its mood, its vibe. There’s free software out there such as Scribus or Gimp which can produce excellent results.
2. Choose your keywords carefully
Until recently, Amazon allowed uploaders to add as many keyword tags to their Kindle titles as they liked (i.e. words which will help the book show up in searches), but not any more. You’re currently allowed just seven, so choose them with great care. Don’t just put down ‘vampire’ or ‘harry potter’ assuming it’ll put your book at the top of most reader’s searches. It won’t.
3. Don’t underestimate the value of your work
There’s great debate all over the ebook world about pricing. All to often, the advice is: make it as near to free as possible. While this does entice some readers, it also badly devalues the long hours of work you’ve put into your book. You wouldn’t get Gordon Ramsey flogging dinners for the same price as a Big Mac, would you? Or Apple doing iPhones for the same as an entry-level pay-as-you-go? All Kindle titles can be sampled before they’re bought. If the book is good, readers will pay a fair price for it. I’d say a fair price is a few pounds less than the print equivalent.
4. Throw away your copy of Word
Although you CAN upload Word documents for conversion into Kindle format, I’d say don’t. Unless you’re prepared to re-upload it every time you find some weird formatting glitch in the finished product. And ebook readers HATE formatting glitches. The Kindle uses a simplified version of HTML, and if you want your ebook to look good you should upload an HTML file, with the text derived from a format-stripped, plain TXT source. Everything, from paragraph marks and italics to chapter headings and em dashes, should be individually coded. Yes, that’s a lot of work. But, you’re charging a fair price for it, no?
5. Plan ahead
When you come to write your next masterpiece, think ahead. If needs be, don’t write it in Word at all, just use a simple text editor. It makes for less work later on. Or even, if you’re confident with HTML, code as you go! Insert your bold tags and your line break tags in with the story if you like, rather than putting things in bold, or whatever.
—SIMON CHESHIRE has been a professional writer since the 1990s and is the author of a number of bestselling children’s titles, including the Saxby Smart detective stories for 8-12 year olds. He’s published seven (soon to be eight) books himself, in both print and ebook editions, and he designs and formats ebooks for other writers via the Self-Publishers’ Page at www.simoncheshire.co.uk