Understanding your market
The success of e-readers, particularly Amazon’s Kindle, has been extraordinary. There are now hundreds of millions of Kindle e-books available to buy and the American market in particular has been quick to ditch print for the electronic version. The Kindle opens up a new world of easy self-publishing for novelists and non-fiction writers.
This article will focus on how to create, publish and market your non-fiction Kindle book and generate a residual or even full-time income.
The article How To Write An E-book covers the actual process of finding a topic and writing the book so this piece assumes that you have written a non-fiction e-book or have a definite idea in mind. However, it’s still worth checking out Amazon’s site to get ideas about what kinds of books are selling well.
Amazon makes this research easy by allowing you to search by popularity in any particular e-book category, giving you a sense of what is selling well (and what has already been written) in your niche. While the top 100 selling non-fiction books list is full of Kindle versions of printed publications, it’s interesting to note that some of the topics could be tackled by any freelance writer with some good research materials.
At the time of writing the article, some examples were:
- How to teach your child to read
- Techniques to get students into college
- Developing pre-reading skills
- How to repair cars
- How to use a diary to change your life
- Activities for parents to share with their children
- How to overcome dyslexia.
Keeping an eye on these trends will help you to gain a fuller understanding of the Kindle market and how you can tweak your content to encourage more sales.
Formatting your Kindle e-book
While publishing on Amazon is a relatively simple process, there are some formatting issues to get around before you can upload your e-book to Amazon’s website. To make sure that your e-book complies with the Kindle format, you can try one of the following options:
- Do it yourself. To achieve this, you need to convert your document to one that is ‘clean’ and unformatted by clicking on the ‘Clear formatting’ symbol on the ‘Home’ section of Microsoft Word. If you have never used it before, it’s the button between the ‘Shrink font’ and ‘Bullet points’ icons. You then need to resize your e-book to A5 size (under the ‘Page Layout’ section). Make sure that you have deleted all headers, footers and page numbers as Kindle will insert its own numbers and formatting. When you upload to your document to Amazon, you can preview it so it may be a case of trial and error to make sure that everything looks good.
- You can use Mobipocket Creator to convert your Word document (which you should initially save as an HTML document) to a Kindle-friendly MOBI file. It’s free to use and has a comprehensive guide to take you through the process. You can also use it to create a table of contents, a front page and a book cover.
- Calibre is an alternative website that offers a tool to covert many different file formats. You will need to change your .doc file to a .txt or .pdf file before you use the tool but you can then save it as a MOBI file.
- If all of this sounds too technical to you, there is always the option of paying someone to convert your document. You can find a suitable freelancer on sites such as People Per Hour, Freelancer or Fiverr or use a company like eBook Architects.
Placing your e-book on Amazon
Amazon’s DTP section takes you step-by-step through the process of registering your e-book and uploading it for sale. If you haven’t yet thought of an e-book cover, you could use a stock photo (available from sites such as Big Stock Photo, I Stock Photo and Fotolia) for a reasonable price and add your book title and name to the image.
Alternatively, you could pay a freelance graphic artist to create your cover or use software such as Paint Shop Pro or an image editing website like Pixlr to create it yourself.
The way you market your e-book begins as soon as you start the registration process as you’ll be asked to insert a purchase price. If you’re new to e-book publishing, you may want to start at a very low price to generate interest and (hopefully good) reviews.
Researching the prices of other e-books in your niche will help but you can also change the price of your e-book at any time. This allows to you to adjust and experiment to get the best results.
When Amazon publishes your e-book for sale on its website, it allows you to create a summary to entice people to buy. You should regard this section as your sales pitch. Include important keywords and be clear on the purpose of your book and its contents. Again, reading the descriptions of popular e-books should give you an idea of what works. A good way of looking at your description is to treat it like the sales blurb that you find on the back or front insert of printed books.
As part of the process, Amazon will ask you to select two categories, such as ‘Self Help & How To Guides’ or ‘Business & Finance’, for your e-book. Be careful to make the right selections so that people who browse in a particular category will find your e-book relevant.
When you have completed these steps, you can publish your e-book and move on to the marketing stage.
Simple marketing techniques
There are a number of easy, low cost ways of promoting your e-book. The most effective ones are:
- Add tags to your e-book sales page that are keywords and phrases relevant to your subject. These improve the chances of people who are searching Amazon on your topic to find your e-book.
- Start a blog and promote your e-book through it. Share your blog on Facebook and Twitter for maximum effect. You may even want to set up your own fan page on Facebook if you intend to write a series of e-books on the same subject.
- Submit articles on associated topics, with links back to your e-book, to as many article directories as you can.
- Contribute to appropriate discussion boards and attach a link to your e-book. Be sure to make your posts interesting to encourage people to find out more.
- Ask established bloggers if you can produce a guest post for them and include a link to your e-book.
- It’s a little cheeky but ask your friends and family to buy and review your e-book. Some early positive reviews are a valuable marketing tool that will give other potential customers the confidence to buy.
You should always remind people who read your blogs or articles that they don’t need a Kindle to read your book. Apps to enable smart phone, tablet and laptop users to read Kindle books are freely available.
Becoming a full-time publisher
It’s unlikely that one e-book will make you a substantial amount of money. However, if you can produce a good quality e-book every couple of weeks on popular topics and market them appropriately, you may be surprised by the cumulative effect.
The best part of Kindle publishing is that you can change any part of your e-book or marketing strategy at any time so you can learn as you go along and find your own techniques to bring success.
Author: Marc Walton