View Full Version : Indie Publishing to the Kindle


Steven Lyle Jordan
11-22-2007, 10:02 AM
As an independent, I naturally took notice of a service that allows me to get my e-books into Amazon.com, essentially with no contract, and with no cost to me other than giving Amazon the lion's share of any profits I made.

So, naturally, I'm checking out their Digital Text Platform (http://dtp.amazon.com/mn/signin). I want to see how my books are received, if they get any exposure against paid advertisers and big publishers, and how they'll look on the Kindle. Personally, I have my doubts that I will get any kind of exposure at all through Amazon, but if people who already know me buy Kindle versions of my books, maybe it would generate notice at Amazon. Who knows?

So far, I've discovered that their DTP system is easy to use, allowing you to type in a book's title, description, ISBN (if you have one), volume and series info, author and any contributors, and name your own price (of which Amazon takes 65% of, and they ultimately decide if your price is reasonable. I believe their intention is to keep people from charging too high a price for books, but we'll see how they like lower prices.) You must provide a bank account, so any profits you make will be sent electronically to your account by Amazon. Then you can upload your book, click a "publish" button, and wait for the cash to roll in (cue laughter).

However, the system is a bit buggy, mainly in relation to uploading and converting documents. Although the server will accept multiple file types (including Mobi, HTML, and Word Doc), it treats each one differently in conversion. Occasionally, it makes its own decisions about converting, with the result of an occasional line or paragraph that is in a different font size, or odd paragraph spacings. Just uploading and publishing your work, therefore, is not a good idea... you need to look at every page in their previewer first.

If you need to edit their converted document, Amazon lets you download the file as HTML in a zipped package. Then you can open the HTML file in your HTML or text editor, and edit it manually. Their HTML has particular tags used, and others they ignore, and it comes out as a bit bloated to accommodate their formatting requirements, but it's easily interpreted and fixed.

I've been trying to do this with one of my novels. However, last night their server began giving me "Conversion failed, try again later" messages every time I tried to upload the edited file. It now no longer accepts Word or Mobi files either, so it's clearly their system having a problem, and not my files. I left a message in their forum this morning, but haven't seen a reply yet (and now that it's Thanksgiving, wouldn't be surprised if I don't hear back before Friday, but we'll see).

Amazon states in their forums that a published book could take 12 hours to a few days to actually show up on their system. So far, it's been 2 days for me just trying to get one book into the system! And then, we'll see how easy it is for Kindle owners to actually find them. Stay tuned.

igorsk
11-22-2007, 12:55 PM
Hang in there!

yvanleterrible
11-22-2007, 01:02 PM
Hope the whole deal works for you!:2thumbsup

HarryT
11-22-2007, 03:06 PM
How does it compare with the Mobi system? That allows you to "self publish" too, I believe.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-22-2007, 11:33 PM
How does it compare with the Mobi system? That allows you to "self publish" too, I believe.

Actually, I never tried Mobipocket's system... just creating Mobi files using Mobipocket Creator (which is fairly easy) for my own website.

HarryT
11-23-2007, 04:41 AM
Might be worth putting your books into the Mobi system too, perhaps? They do, I believe, take a somewhat smaller percentage (45%, from memory?).

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-24-2007, 08:26 AM
Might be worth putting your books into the Mobi system too, perhaps? They do, I believe, take a somewhat smaller percentage (45%, from memory?).

I will take a look at it... again. I did look at Mobi a few years ago. Although I can't remember for sure, I believe it was the fee that turned me off, and I had the impression (possibly wrong at the time) that my work would be DRM'd, whether I liked it or not. Afterward, I simply felt that Mobi would not get me good exposure, because I would be lost in their vast library of books, which, being e-books, would not sell to a very large audience in the first place (again, my impression at the time).

With the Kindle, I'm hoping Amazon brings enough exposure to the e-book market to really push some e-books. It's also my hope that signing on will help bring me some exposure, though I'm still not sure about that.

Especially since, as I write this, their download server has been down for the past 2-1/2 days, and no one has answered my queries in their forum... not a great sign for indie publishers, holidays notwithstanding. I'll bet they have plenty of people on staff to make sure their Black Friday purchases are going through...

HarryT
11-24-2007, 08:47 AM
I will take a look at it... again. I did look at Mobi a few years ago. Although I can't remember for sure, I believe it was the fee that turned me off, and I had the impression (possibly wrong at the time) that my work would be DRM'd, whether I liked it or not.

If you want to sell them in the bookstore, I believe you're right in saying that.

I'll bet they have plenty of people on staff to make sure their Black Friday purchases are going through...

Black Friday???

FourOhFour
11-24-2007, 09:08 AM
Black Friday???

Day after thanksgiving, the day where insane people mob stores to get questionable deals because "quantities are limited". (bah humbug)

(yes, I know, some of the prices are very good. I'd still call it a questionable deal considering it involves standing in line to get into the store at 4 am.)

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-24-2007, 09:10 AM
Black Friday???

Sorry... "Black Friday" is what U.S. retailers call the day after Thankdgiving, when the huge Christmas sales season officially starts. It is always inaugurated with incredible sales promotions starting on that Friday, and many retailers hope they get "into the black," profits-wise.

Of course, the incredible sales rushes, manic shoppers, overspent credit and incredible traffic around major retailers earn it the name "Black Friday" for a different reason among shoppers...

HarryT
11-24-2007, 09:12 AM
Thanks! Hadn't come across that one before :)

SanAntone
11-24-2007, 12:17 PM
Steve,

Haven't read any of your books, but I'd like to. Please let us know when you get them uploaded to Amazon.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-24-2007, 06:09 PM
This morning, I managed to get 2 of my books into Amazon's system... my newest, As the Mirror Cracks... and one of my e-books from 2 years back, Berserker (the Kestral Files).

I'd been having trouble uploading Berserker... for some reason, Amazon's server kept choking on the file and not converting it. After 2 days of no responses from Amazon, I tried creating a brand new item, altering the name slightly, and uploading the same file. This time, it worked. Go figure.

Anyway, it's in, and Amazon states on my control panel that the book will be "published in 12 hours." (Approximately 8 hours since I published, the message is still there.) But in their support forums, they state that this is an "average time," and that it could take up to 72 hours "to make this content 'live' on the Amazon Kindle Store." Amazon states this is "because it involves integrating your content into the Amazon.com global catalog, i.e. creating a product detail page, addition of content Amazon's search index and the Amazon Kindle categories, etc."

I have discovered that if you search for the books, they appear with "Sign up to be notified when this item becomes available" notices. The covers are there, but no prices (it will be interesting to see if Amazon honors my suggested price, or alters it).

So, the countdown is on, and we'll see how long it takes before they become available!

gteague
11-24-2007, 10:22 PM
As an independent, I naturally took notice of a service that allows me to get <Del>
However, the system is a bit buggy, mainly in relation to uploading and converting documents. <Del>
last night their server began giving me "Conversion failed, try again later" messages every time I tried to upload the edited file. It now no longer accepts Word or Mobi files either, so it's clearly their system having a problem, and not my files. I left a message in their forum this morning, but haven't seen a reply yet (and now that it's Thanksgiving, wouldn't be surprised if I don't hear back before Friday, but we'll see).

Amazon states in their forums that a published book could take 12 hours to a few days to actually show up on their system. So far, it's been 2 days for me just trying to get one book into the system! And then, we'll see how easy it is for Kindle owners to actually find them. Stay tuned.

welcome to the sinking boat! i jumped into this right away and managed to upload a short file. but the problems started when i needed to make some very minor changes ...

... now when i upload i get a message saying 'conversion successful ...' but when i try to preview i get a message saying my book is '... possibly invalid' and i can't preview it. and when i download what is there, it is not what i uploaded, so in my case it might be converting successfully, but it's sure not replacing what was up there to begin with. and now i can no longer see what is up there.

i've posted two threads on the forum and have received some replies, but not very specific ones. i've been trying for 3 days now to get this right and was seduced into the ease of the initial success to think it was going to be a piece of cake. also, out of firefox, ie and safari, safari is the only browser that will work. ie6 on win xp crashes spectaculary on every attempt.

i thought about adding a new item and trying the original again, but i can't find a way to delete items? can you publish the same item and delete the original?

also, when i use mobipocket creator, it creates .prc files for me. how do you get it to create a .mobi file? just rename the .prc perhaps?

good luck,

/guy

gteague
11-24-2007, 10:46 PM
looks like someone might be monitoring that forum after all. or perhaps the system is just now catching up. just literally seconds after i finished typing the whinge above my file showed up in the preview just as i had sent it the last time. i stripped the html down to the bare metal. anyway, i'll check it very, very closely this time and then hit publish and wait another 12 hours. guess i'll have to buy my own item to make absolutely sure what it looks like on the device itself. i asked in the forum for them to provide an emulator, but i'll bet they don't want one of those loose in the wild, people might use it in lieu of buying the kindle.

off-topic somewhat, but if i return mine it will be because of 3 reasons:

1) can't touch it without hitting a control or button
2) display flashes and takes too long to go page to page
3) general performance slowness and sluggishness in the web browser especially, but also globally. every operation takes too long.

/guy

UncleDuke
11-24-2007, 11:09 PM
maybe i should dust off the old manuscripts

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-25-2007, 12:33 AM
maybe i should dust off the old manuscripts

Hey, why not?

i've posted two threads on the forum and have received some replies, but not very specific ones. i've been trying for 3 days now to get this right and was seduced into the ease of the initial success to think it was going to be a piece of cake. also, out of firefox, ie and safari, safari is the only browser that will work. ie6 on win xp crashes spectaculary on every attempt.

I've been using Firefox on Win2K... no problems there. But your file uploading problems do sound similar to mine.

i thought about adding a new item and trying the original again, but i can't find a way to delete items? can you publish the same item and delete the original?

Not that I've found... It may be a matter of contacting Amazon and asking them to remove the file... or maybe we can convince them to add a "delete" button.

also, when i use mobipocket creator, it creates .prc files for me. how do you get it to create a .mobi file? just rename the .prc perhaps?

PRC is a legitimate Mobi format, and Amazon's server will accept them (both of my submissions were PRC files). Any failure messages you're getting aren't related to that.

Amazon's forum seems to suggest that the problem might be in cache or cookies building up after multiple edits, but I had the same problem after clearing my cache and cookies and restarting the browser. I think the problem is a glitch in their server... maybe caused by Borders Gremlins, I don't know.

gteague
11-25-2007, 12:40 AM
i followed my own earlier post here in saying that something broke loose right after i complained. i see your posts on the forum now. they've got me listed as 'accts6' instead of my name.

tks for the response,

/guy

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-25-2007, 12:44 AM
I just checked my DTP account, and it now lists my 2 e-books as being "live"... however, the e-books are still listed as unavailable, no description, no price. For the record, Amazon reports at the moment that they have over 91,000 Kindle books in their catalog.

gteague
11-25-2007, 12:53 AM
I just checked my DTP account, and it now lists my 2 e-books as being "live"... however, the e-books are still listed as unavailable, no description, no price. For the record, Amazon reports at the moment that they have over 91,000 Kindle books in their catalog.

i've seen status of 'live' and 'ready', but i don't quite know the distinction.

right now i'm in the 12+ hours publishing loop having just managed to edit my few pages and send them back to the mothership. i've done the publish button at least 4 times now because i was too ignorant to realize that you could download, preview and edit before re-publishing, although, in my defense, not all these features were working in all my browsers and i missed the download and preview buttons. and then i started getting all those conflicting error messages. in any case, each time it has been nearly exactly 12 hours for each publishing cycle.

i see where it says 'sign up to be notified' next to your item. i must have been one of the first to 'publish' on nov 20th or 21st and this time i've changed my publication date to today. i guess they take your word for it rather than the date they publish it.

/guy

HarryT
11-25-2007, 05:46 AM
Steve,

Haven't read any of your books, but I'd like to. Please let us know when you get them uploaded to Amazon.

Why not just get them from Steve's web site directly?

gteague
11-25-2007, 05:59 AM
Why not just get them from Steve's web site directly?

anyone who wants to read my humble submission should be able to figure out how to bypass the whopping 99-cent fee just from reading carefully on the amazon page. and i am just joking, please don't buy it, i'm still uploading a few changes which haven't published yet. [g]

i'm so tickled to actually have something i wrote on the largest online bookstore that i could care less if i sell a single copy. this may spur me on to greater production than my current 1-page-per-annum-in-a-good-decade effort:

http://www.amazon.com/Chloe-%2526-The-Unicorn/dp/B000ZN0UGQ/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1195984440&sr=8-16

/guy

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-25-2007, 08:34 AM
Good point. I guess no one mentioned it in this thread, but you can upload any Mobipocket file into the Kindle, and my site (http://www.stevejordanbooks.com) has Mobi versions of each e-book. Due to Amazon's skimming the bulk of the profits off of any sales I make, I have set the price of my books on Amazon at $3.50, which is $1 higher than they are at my books site. (Consider that the "retail" price, while all MobileRead members can get 'em wholesale, direct from the publisher... me! ;).)

In fact, now that I've arranged to sell my e-books in bundles (http://www.stevejordanbooks.com/bundles.htm), you can save even more money on my e-books through my site. And be aware that if you buy your books from Amazon, you can only read them on your Kindle, whereas if you buy my e-books direct from my site, you can save them on your computer and upload them to your Kindle, your PDA or cellphone, another company's e-book reader, or anything else that will read Mobipocket files. To wit: Amazon is easy, but I give you more choices.

(Hey... I should write that down!)

gteague
11-25-2007, 09:22 PM
i posted a comment in between here and got a message that a moderator would have to approve it. i've been too busy, i'm ashamed to say, to read the terms of use, but i had a link in there to my item on amazon and i wonder if that triggered them to not post it.

seems strange because i'm definitely not recommending anyone buy it, it was a pure 'proof of concept' experiment for me and anyone with the least bit of internet savvy can figure out how to read it for themselves for free from the product page. quite the opposite, i explicitly stated i was uploading changes at the time and it was not ready for download.

and it can't be because the forum bans posting commercial web sites since i see those urls in signatures (not picking on you, steve!).

wonder if a mod would comment on why my post was nixed? it was approx just after harryt's post early this morning.

/guy

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-25-2007, 09:35 PM
I don't know, unless it has to do with your post sounding vaguely like you're inviting people to somehow hack Amazon to beat the fee. This site does not support or allow instructions on hacking software (or web sites), since it's illegal.

JSWolf
11-25-2007, 09:48 PM
Could be that because you are fairly new to this forum and you had a link in the post, that the post needed to be approved. So you would not see it till it is approved.

gteague
11-25-2007, 10:00 PM
I don't know, unless it has to do with your post sounding vaguely like you're inviting people to somehow hack Amazon to beat the fee. This site does not support or allow instructions on hacking software (or web sites), since it's illegal.

i sure did not mean to imply anything of that sort. my 'publisher' is the name of my domain, that's all there is to that.

and the post was not important enough to quibble over. i'd just like to know why it was singled out.

[edit: i've found and read the faq. nothing about new users limits nor posting links nor commercial use that i could see]

/guy

igorsk
11-25-2007, 10:15 PM
Apparently the spam filter is a bit more strict with the new users.

gteague
11-25-2007, 10:20 PM
Apparently the spam filter is a bit more strict with the new users.

i'm sure it's something simple like that. by no means am i complaining or feeling picked on or singled out, i'm just a new user and trying to learn the modes and mores of this forum as i might be here awhile if i decide to keep the kindle. after nearly 5 days with it, it is still a hard decision as the interface and sluggishness and inadvertant button presses frustrate me mightily. whereas the attraction of carrying around 200-800 books attracts me just as mightily. and then there's the ability to publish myself for absolutely free--not even he cost of a website or bandwidth, just whatever cut amazon takes--although i do realize i could do that without a kindle as one of my friends (who actually owns a pub company) is doing right now. he sends me files which i convert and view on the device for him until he can get one of his own. it's way awkward, as you can imagine, but this is brand new to everyone right now so hopefully the users will cut the publishers some slack at any early problems. i hope.

/guy

gteague
11-25-2007, 10:53 PM
hey steve, got a question for you.

did you notice the categories to choose from don't match the categories displayed on the kindle book page?

i put my item in the following categories:

FICTION > Fairy Tales, Folklore & Mythology
FICTION > Fairy Tales, Folklore & Mythology
JUVENILE FICTION > Fairy Tales & Folklore > General2
JUVENILE FICTION > Legends, Myths, Fables > Other

but i am unable to locate it by category from the kindle books page, nor am i able to discover on the product page the 'category tree' the page is listed under. i did pose this as a question on the forum, we'll see if anyone answer this question.

/guy

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-26-2007, 01:07 AM
I was surprised myself that there wasn't a simple "science fiction" category. Somehow, their FICTION>ADVENTURE and FICTION>TECHNOLOGICAL don't do the genre justice, and I may have a hard time categorizing some of my novels.

gteague
11-26-2007, 01:51 AM
I was surprised myself that there wasn't a simple "science fiction" category. Somehow, their FICTION>ADVENTURE and FICTION>TECHNOLOGICAL don't do the genre justice, and I may have a hard time categorizing some of my novels.

i notice i pasted one entry twice when i listed my categories before. the one i inadvertently omitted was:

FICTION > Fantasy > Epic

... which seems slightly overstatement for a fairy tale ... unless its the size of lotr. [g]

there is a FICTION > Science Fiction > [Adventure] [General] [High Tech] category, btw. shouldn't your work fit one of those? and that category nearly matches the categories on the product page. i couldn't find FICTION > Technological as a category on the DTP page.

/guy

HarryT
11-26-2007, 04:18 AM
i posted a comment in between here and got a message that a moderator would have to approve it. i've been too busy, i'm ashamed to say, to read the terms of use, but i had a link in there to my item on amazon and i wonder if that triggered them to not post it.


Yes, for your first so many days of membership, any post with a link in it automatically gets put into the moderation queue and has to be manually cleared by a mod. This normally gets done within a few hours.

gteague
11-26-2007, 04:28 AM
Yes, for your first so many days of membership, any post with a link in it automatically gets put into the moderation queue and has to be manually cleared by a mod. This normally gets done within a few hours.

thanks harry. it's no big deal and i think i've talked it to death. i didn't mean to make an issue of it, just to understand.

and just now i've noticed that post has popped into place right behind yours and about 8-12 hours later. so you can read just how insignificant it was for yourself. [g]

if i had been thinking (hard at 0400) i'd've put in the asin# amazon assigned it instead of the link.

/guy

HarryT
11-26-2007, 04:43 AM
Not at all - it's always good to understand how these things work!

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-26-2007, 07:53 AM
there is a FICTION > Science Fiction > [Adventure] [General] [High Tech] category, btw. shouldn't your work fit one of those? and that category nearly matches the categories on the product page. i couldn't find FICTION > Technological as a category on the DTP page.

/guy

Hmm... I remember looking for something like that, and not seeing it... I'll have to look over the categories list again, maybe I wasn't using it properly.

BTW, I see that my books are now buyable on Amazon.com! ...but with no sign of the book description I wrote, nor a link to it...

gteague
11-26-2007, 08:26 AM
Hmm... I remember looking for something like that, and not seeing it... I'll have to look over the categories list again, maybe I wasn't using it properly.

BTW, I see that my books are now buyable on Amazon.com! ...but with no sign of the book description I wrote, nor a link to it...

hang in there. i seem to remember that my description lagged behind by 12-36 hours.

/guy

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-26-2007, 11:47 AM
hang in there. i seem to remember that my description lagged behind by 12-36 hours.

That would be the "Product Description," under Editorial Reviews, right? Why would it lag behind everything else? Particularly when it took a day to post the book, and another 2 days to make it purchasable?

Oh, BTW, I discovered the categories you mentioned, amended mine and republished. It looks like the books stay purchasable while being re-published, but I guess I should expect a few more days before the categories reflect the change.

Now, the catch: Finding the books. Subtitle: How many bestsellers and Big Publishers' books do I have to dig past to find my humble novel, without resorting to a specific search? In fact, when I used a specific search for As the Mirror Cracks, using the title in quotes, my book was still not on the first page of found items. It was pushed to page 2 by Big Pub items, mostly Agatha Christie reprints of The Mirror Crack'd... not even an exact match. So how is anyone supposed to dig me out of over 91,000 books, when I'm stuck behind the Big Pub giants' shadows?

gteague
11-26-2007, 06:20 PM
That would be the "Product Description," under Editorial Reviews, right? Why would it lag behind everything else? Particularly when it took a day to post the book, and another 2 days to make it purchasable?

i haven't the faintest idea. but i'm nearly certain it was not there when the item first went 'live' because i was surprised when it suddenly showed up.


Oh, BTW, I discovered the categories you mentioned, amended mine and republished. It looks like the books stay purchasable while being re-published, but I guess I should expect a few more days before the categories reflect the change.

Now, the catch: Finding the books. Subtitle: How many bestsellers and Big Publishers' books do I have to dig past to find my humble novel, without resorting to a specific search? In fact, when I used a specific search for As the Mirror Cracks, using the title in quotes, my book was still not on the first page of found items. It was pushed to page 2 by Big Pub items, mostly Agatha Christie reprints of The Mirror Crack'd... not even an exact match. So how is anyone supposed to dig me out of over 91,000 books, when I'm stuck behind the Big Pub giants' shadows?

i'm still unable to find my book by category at all. i posted on the dtp forum about it, but haven't checked back for an answer today. finding by my name, title (or partial) or asin works fine and given my pub date, it sorts by that criteria to near the top.

the only way i seem to be able to find my item by browsing is by sorting by pub date. the last time i uploaded i changed my pub date to 11/24, so my item is within the first few pages of the sort for now. but i see more and more people getting in on the action. i think we were a couple of the very first (independents--although i deserve no such tag) to publish works there judging by the publication dates. but then again, perhaps others used original pub dates instead of considering this a new publication.

[later note: just went to the dtp forum, and while they haven't answered my category question, it looks like they've answered your question and also the difference between 'live' and 'ready':

Re: Amazon Listing Issues
Posted: Nov 26, 2007 12:36 PM
Reply
Items that show up as 'Live' inside DTP may take a while to appear in the Amazon catalog. Their descriptions will usually require even longer (up to a couple of days) to appear in the Amazon store.



[much later note: and i got this reply about the categories. they seem to be saying we are creating the book page categories by selecting them on the dtp page:

Re: categories on 'my shelf' and the kindle books page don't match
Posted: Nov 26, 2007 4:48 PM in response to: accts6

If the right categories don't appear in the catalog yet, it may take up to a week for them to be created and fully show on the detail (book) pages.

at any rate, it seems that people who can answer questions about publishing are on the forum as of monday and they are clearing the backlog we dumped on them over the long holidays. promising ...

/guy

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-26-2007, 11:25 PM
at any rate, it seems that people who can answer questions about publishing are on the forum as of monday and they are clearing the backlog we dumped on them over the long holidays. promising ...

Checking the forums, it was obvious to me that SOME of them were in over the weekend, too, but it's nice to see they're all back to work now. I've got a few questions I'm still waiting to hear back on.

wallcraft
11-27-2007, 06:47 AM
Subtitle: How many bestsellers and Big Publishers' books do I have to dig past to find my humble novel, without resorting to a specific search? I assume Amazon is sorting based on sales volume, so any new title would be low on the list. I don't know if the Kindle search is based on AZW sales only or not. If it includes all media, then e-book only products will be at a disadvantage.

Note that Amazon is quite effective at suggesting new titles based on overall buying patterns (others who bought this also bought), and your own buying patterns (you might like). However, recommendations may also be biased to high volume items. Some times the individual recommendations get fixated on new purchases over older ones, so if you just bought (say) several hard case crime books this category will dominate Amazon's picks even if overall you buy more science fiction.

Amazon's fixation of sales volume can be annoying, they will slip in a best seller recommendation out of left field occasionally, but I'm sure they would tell you that their technique maximizes sales.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-27-2007, 07:53 AM
Amazon's fixation of sales volume can be annoying, they will slip in a best seller recommendation out of left field occasionally, but I'm sure they would tell you that their technique maximizes sales.

Well, it certainly maintains sales for those already at the top. Like any other store, the most popular material is stocked to the rafters and displayed right out front and on end-caps, while the not-so-popular items are hidden away in the light bulbs aisle...

This, of course, is part and parcel to the problem I've always had getting recognized by a "castle"-based publishing system: It is designed throughout to promote the rich and powerful already on the inside, while the serfs are left on the outside to fend for themselves.

sfernald
11-27-2007, 01:27 PM
Does it give you an option to allow Kindle users to download a free sample chapter?

I really like that option because within one chapter I can usually tell if I like the writer's style and if I like the direction he's going with the story.

gteague
11-27-2007, 01:37 PM
Does it give you an option to allow Kindle users to download a free sample chapter?

I really like that option because within one chapter I can usually tell if I like the writer's style and if I like the direction he's going with the story.

there's a heated discussion (well, one dude is heated, at any rate) on the dtp forum about this very thing. evidently amazon haven't yet worked out the mechanism for providing samples of self-published items.

in my case, with a story only a few pages long, it is sort of redundant although i like the idea of being able to provide at least a few sample paragraphs for just what you say--determining if you like the style.

just out of curiosity, i wonder what would happen if they let the self-publishers mark off a sample area and some selected the whole work so they could provide it free to their friends? i know, anarchy to even think like that and steve will b****-slap me again i'm sure! [g]

so i have no dog in the fight except i'm always for free samples. of ice cream or reading material ...

/guy

Alisa
11-27-2007, 02:49 PM
I hope they fix that. It seems to me that a sample is even more important for a less well-known writer. I'm much more apt to take a chance if I can read a little of it first.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-27-2007, 02:57 PM
I agree, excerpts would be a good idea. I'm surprised that the Amazon pages don't even provide the book descriptions when the books go live, much less provide samples. It may be that Amazon was so hip to get this thing running that they didn't think about all these details, but now that they are being thrust under their noses, we'll see which ones they respond to.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-27-2007, 04:57 PM
Still no sign of the description text, although I see that my price adjustment to both books was accomplished inside of 24 hours. It seems some things will change quickly, while others are glacially slow at best... if they are moving at all...

But Ah! The description has shown up on Berserker! That's one out of two!

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-27-2007, 05:11 PM
I just hit on an idea regarding excerpts: I'm using their discussion section to put in a link to the info and excerpts pages on my site.

bingle
11-27-2007, 05:52 PM
So how is anyone supposed to dig me out of over 91,000 books, when I'm stuck behind the Big Pub giants' shadows?

It seems Amazon's search is flawed, then - maybe it takes popularity into account for search results? A useful heuristic when dealing with most books...

Despite being hard to find on Amazon, do you feel like you've at least got a seat at the same table as the big publishers now?

I've always said that one of the greatest promises of digital content is the increased exposure to indie producers. It looks like Amazon is trying to capitalize on that, at least somewhat. I think that's fantastic. I wonder if we're looking at the YouTube of ebooks...

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-27-2007, 05:56 PM
It seems Amazon's search is flawed, then - maybe it takes popularity into account for search results? A useful heuristic when dealing with most books...

Popularity of greenbacks, maybe...

Despite being hard to find on Amazon, do you feel like you've at least got a seat at the same table as the big publishers now?

Y'know what it feels like? Like I'm the mangy mutt underneath the table, licking up whatever crumbs roll off the table my way. Or maybe the bum at the back door to the kitchen, intercepting the table scraps before they go into the trash...

Darqref
11-28-2007, 01:54 AM
I just hit on an idea regarding excerpts: I'm using their discussion section to put in a link to the info and excerpts pages on my site.

Here's another suggestion: make up lists of your favorites that include your books. For example, I frequently browse mystery authors on Amazon to find suggestions for new authors. I look at a favorite book, then check out all the "listmania" groups on that page to see if a category that someone created off that book includes an author I haven't read. I'm pretty sure the list will get displayed on the page for any book included in the list.

That way you sorta create links from (hopefully) similar books back to yours. Just means you need to know your competition.... especially if you think your prose is similar to a best selling author.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-28-2007, 10:48 AM
Yes, as of sometime last night or this morning, both e-books were live, buyable, and presented as completely as Amazon is set up to present them, based on what I've uploaded. I still see no hint of any type of preview or excerpts, which you would think would be easy enough for them to accomplish given the nature of e-books. I'll have to see if the DTP forum has any discussions going about that.

Given the lack of information about the books, I may go back in and add to the product description section to provide additional info. I have a review of Berserker, so this would be a good place to put it. Maybe a few words about what kind of SF story it is, the tone, etc. That might help to make up for the sparse info and options available to me.

And now that I have a good picture of the overall process, I can see about adding my other e-books to the system, as soon as I find time to do the minor adjustments I need to optimize each file for Kindle.

In retrospect, this part has been slow, but easy. Promotion... that'll be the trick.

yvanleterrible
11-28-2007, 11:00 AM
Ahhh! Good news!

I'm really thrilled to see how things evolve for you. :tup:

Other writers out there, take notice. And publishers too, this is the way things will work when DRM turns out to be a fiasco. Hopefully... :grin2:

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-28-2007, 05:20 PM
Today I... ahem... had way too much time on my hands at work. That gave me time to upload 2 more books, Evoguia and Lambs Hide, Tigers Seek. I expect them to be live and sellable in 3 days, based on prior history.

Edit: BTW, I uploaded these two in Word DOC format, and they seemed to upload fine (based on previews). As always, the quality of your e-book depends on the quality of the original document, so make sure the Word file is formatted cleanly and properly.

Uploading Lambs made me realize something: There is no provision on the Amazon pages for disclaimers about book content, including language, sexuality, etc (of which Lambs has some). I suppose Amazon isn't overly concerned about what people buy, any more than most US bookstores worry about how appropriate the content is for the purchaser. But it makes you wonder where the limit is, how much Amazon monitors all this unsolicited content, and how Amazon will exercise their right to remove "inappropriate material." Let's see how long it takes before we see mainstream news items about Amazon removing pedophile and neo-nazi literature from its Kindle uploading service...

Something else that's worth mentioning, to anyone considering following in my fairly fresh footsteps: Amazon's agreement states that Amazon will send a check to the author/publisher's bank account at the end of each month, for any sales made. However, it also states that it will send that check only if the amount owed to you by Amazon is $100 or more. For most indie and unknown author/publishers, this could mean:

Waiting many months before your sales reach the $100 mark; or
The possibility of Amazon.com keeping up to $99 of your sales, if you don't reach $100.


For me, this means that I won't be making any plans on my "expected sales," as there's no telling when I might see a single check. Could be months... years... who knows? Hopefully when I do get my first check, I still remember what it's for.

JohnClif
11-28-2007, 11:56 PM
I also uploaded a book, and found the process was very cumbersome and buggy.

First, forget uploading a .ZIP file with HTML, images, etc. Doesn't work at all. I finally used MobiPocket Creator to create a non-DRM .PRC file and was able to upload that without any problems.

Second, yes, the description is missing (although it does show on the MobiPocket website).

Third, it's very hard to get the book to show up under the Kindle categories (it shows up under the general item categories instead).

Fourth, if you have illustrations/images, be warned that the book will look different on a Kindle than it does in the Kindle preview.

Once Amazon gets all the bugs out, this should empower smaller and/or less-known publishers.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-29-2007, 12:10 AM
...be warned that the book will look different on a Kindle than it does in the Kindle preview.

This is still my greatest concern: That the "preview" doesn't match the actual device (as in fact they warm you that it is only an approximation). I can only hope that anyone who buys one of my books reports back to me, if there's something not right about it.

tsgreer
11-29-2007, 12:46 AM
Hey Steve, I was in the Amazon Kindle Books section just now, searching for "Firefly" (an awesome US tv sci-fi series) novels. And guess what? Your book, The Kestral Voyages: Berserker, was on the first page of results, number 8 on the list. Three pages worth of results showed up, so your's being on the first page is pretty cool.

So the good news is I found your book without looking for it at all, so potential new customers there. Bad news is no Firefly novels. But there was a novelization of Serenity, which is the movie based on the Firefly series. :)

Anyway, thought you might like to know that it shows up fine and dandy. I was surprised to have it pop up when I searched for Firefly.

So remember, don't go hatin' on the Kindle, because there will be lots of Kindle people buying your books! :)

HarryT
11-29-2007, 05:29 AM
Let's see how long it takes before we see mainstream news items about Amazon removing pedophile and neo-nazi literature from its Kindle uploading service...


Obviously paedophile literature would probably be illegal, but surely you don't think they should remove neo-nazi material, do you? Isn't freedom of political expression a right in the US? One may disagree with the agenda of neo-nazis (and I certainly do!), but (in this country at least) they have a legal right to express their viewpoint, as long as they aren't committing any crimes.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-29-2007, 07:58 AM
Hey Steve, I was in the Amazon Kindle Books section just now, searching for "Firefly" (an awesome US tv sci-fi series) novels. And guess what? Your book, The Kestral Voyages: Berserker, was on the first page of results, number 8 on the list. Three pages worth of results showed up, so your's being on the first page is pretty cool.

Thank a careful use of tags for that! I referenced both Star Trek and Firefly, since the former was inspirational for my story, and the latter turned out to be so similar to my material (nd both are referenced in the afterword). Nice to know some things work!

Obviously paedophile literature would probably be illegal, but surely you don't think they should remove neo-nazi material, do you? Isn't freedom of political expression a right in the US? One may disagree with the agenda of neo-nazis (and I certainly do!), but (in this country at least) they have a legal right to express their viewpoint, as long as they aren't committing any crimes.

Essentially true... however, I used them as an example because they have had issues of censorship and denial of service directed at them in the past, especially by web sites. Remember, the web is an international community, and even though they might be in America, and Amazon might be an American company, Amazon might not want to upset parts of its international community (France, for instance) that would object to their material.

I could have just as easily suggested a book of Mohammed caricatures.

Either way, you see my point: Amazon shows no sign of screening content. Does that mean they're not... or just doing it surreptitiously? We won't know until some inappropriate content gets pulled.

HarryT
11-29-2007, 09:12 AM
Either way, you see my point: Amazon shows no sign of screening content. Does that mean they're not... or just doing it surreptitiously? We won't know until some inappropriate content gets pulled.

Certainly I see your point and of course a privately-owned web site such as Amazon has the right to impose any censorship policy that it may deem to be appropriate. I'm sure that there must be a mechanism by which Amazon would remove material deemed grossly offensive or inappropriate, but I doubt they publish that policy. I suspect that they probably just remove stuff if a sufficient number of people complain about it.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-29-2007, 12:05 PM
I suspect that they probably just remove stuff if a sufficient number of people complain about it.

I'd hope it wouldn't be that simple. Just because people complain about something, doesn't mean it isn't worth making available. How many people claim Harry Potter books are about the Devil, and should be banned? There needs to be a legitimate reason behind it, or it shouldn't be done.

But you're probably right... with tens of thousands of books, I'm sure Amazon doesn't pay anyone to check them out, or even run screening programs over them. They probably wait to get a complaint, then manually check out the book in question and make a decision.

yvanleterrible
11-29-2007, 02:01 PM
A screening program would work as fast as a virus program.

bingle
11-29-2007, 06:56 PM
Uploading Lambs made me realize something: There is no provision on the Amazon pages for disclaimers about book content, including language, sexuality, etc (of which Lambs has some). I suppose Amazon isn't overly concerned about what people buy, any more than most US bookstores worry about how appropriate the content is for the purchaser. But it makes you wonder where the limit is, how much Amazon monitors all this unsolicited content, and how Amazon will exercise their right to remove "inappropriate material." Let's see how long it takes before we see mainstream news items about Amazon removing pedophile and neo-nazi literature from its Kindle uploading service...



The 120 Days of Sodom, by the Marquis de Sade (http://www.amazon.com/120-Days-Sodom-Other-Writings/dp/0802130127/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196376481&sr=8-2)

They're not too worried about carrying very extreme print books. I would hope they won't filter the ebooks. After all, no one ever treats digital content differently than print content... :rolleyes:


Obviously paedophile literature would probably be illegal, but surely you don't think they should remove neo-nazi material, do you? Isn't freedom of political expression a right in the US? One may disagree with the agenda of neo-nazis (and I certainly do!), but (in this country at least) they have a legal right to express their viewpoint, as long as they aren't committing any crimes.


In fact, as you can see by the above book (banned at least in France, if not the rest of Europe), the US has very liberal freedom of expression laws. Paedophile literature isn't illegal - there's very little literature that is, as long as it's in hardcopy print form. What you can write in a book you can't necessarily say on the radio, broadcast on TV, or (they're working on it) publish on the Internet.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-30-2007, 11:12 PM
Paedophile literature isn't illegal - there's very little literature that is, as long as it's in hardcopy print form. What you can write in a book you can't necessarily say on the radio, broadcast on TV, or (they're working on it) publish on the Internet.

Good point... still, even in the US, there's a limit to what you can sell "over the counter" to a minor. IOW, pornography, even in print, is still considered pornography.

RWood
12-01-2007, 12:17 AM
I just checked Amazon for "Steve Jordan" and found Lambs Hide, ... in position #3 of the search results. Clicking there led to the description page and clicking the "Steve Jordan" on that page led to a listing of four (4) books -- all Kindle editions.

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-01-2007, 05:26 PM
Right. FYI, 2 more are in the uploading process, which leaves 4 more to put into the system! It's kind of strange, the way the new books sort of "percolate" up, with the titles and covers appearing within 12 hours, the books themselves appearing within 24-48 hours, and the final product descriptions appearing within 48-72 hours...

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-03-2007, 10:29 AM
After having problems formatting my Product Descriptions (Kindle uploaders apparently cannot create breaks, headers, italics, links, etc, the way they are displayed in Amazon's other book sections), I have sent yet another message to technical support, but received no answer yet. Reviewing the tech support forums, I've noticed a distinct lack of responses from support regarding many of the features of the DTP platform, including formatting (or lack thereof), server download issues (of which there are many), and cancelling an item before publishing and/or unpublishing (you just can't).

For the record, someone also asked specifically, "How many Kindles have been sold?" and that question was also dodged. (Answer: "We sold out early in our first run, but we don't have sales figures.")

Clearly Amazon is not treating the DTP system with the same support that they would give Big Publishers. On one hand, why should I expect them to, when they are not getting any money for advertising, etc, from me? But on the other hand, they are collecting 65% of every sale I make... you'd think that could count for something.

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-05-2007, 11:20 AM
As of this morning, I've uploaded all 10 of my novels into Amazon's DTP system, which means that within the next 12 hours, all will be visible, and within another 72 (or so) hours, they will all be purchasable. (I haven't uploaded the free short stories, and don't plan to at this time.)

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the experience. Getting the novels in, of course, wasn't hard. Most of the books I downloaded were from the original Word documents, with formatting cleaned up to correspond to the DTP conversion process. Although I don't know firsthand how a book will actually look on the Kindle screen, I'm fairly confident that the preview display captured the book as I intended, and any differences in font sizes, etc, can be dealt with on the reader.

Concerning DTP, I am not satisfied about how well it functions. Amazon has taken steps to limit the control an indie has over what they publish--possibly to avoid hacking or other vandalism, I'm not sure--but as a result, I cannot create a nicely-formatted Product Description. Right next to my entry, Big Publishers have entries with nicely formatted descriptions, reviews, headers, etc... indies get one paragraph, however long it ends up.

Other indies have complained about a number of other DTP functions, many of them requesting the ability of being able to set up descriptions, list multiple authors, add reviews, etc, much like standard (ie, Big Publisher) entries. Some of those requests have been denied outright... most have simply never been responded to by DTP support.

Speaking of DTP support... they don't speak of much. They have not been very forthcoming about the hows and whys of their system, they do not respond to many questions other than "We're looking into it," and they haven't even pretended that they give a rat's a$$ about any indie's suggestions or complaints. (And we thought Adobe support was bad...)

Also, now that the books are in... I cannot remove them. Amazon has apparently left DTP indies no choice in the matter. If I decided to not make my books available, I'd probably have to upload a blank file and alter the product description warning people that the book was no longer available. Which may work, but it won't exactly leave people talking favorably about the guy who has blank pages for sale on Amazon.

And is there any way for me to promote my e-books? No, there is not. They are in, but that's pretty much all. I do not have the funds to buy my way to the top of the search engines, as the Big Pubs do, nor to buy banner ads. So, unless I am discovered by someone else, somewhere else, who spreads the word around, my e-books won't be percolating up to anyone's "favorites" or "also boughts" categories anytime soon.

So, overall, I'm giving the Amazon DTP process a D grade... D for Below Average, as is befitting my ongoing status in the Amazon universe... and only because the end result of getting your e-book available on Amazon.com is, yes, a bit of a rush. Not a victory, not even a score--after all, I might never be found in there--just a vague thrill for being even a small part of the largest online bookseller on the planet.

LwoodY2K
12-07-2007, 07:20 PM
They have a link about self-published content at http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/entry.jspa?externalID=122&categoryID=4 for some rough guidelines.

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-18-2007, 02:04 PM
I just checked, and discovered that I have managed to get a grand total of 2 sales of Kindle-formatted books!

Actually, I'm making that sound snide, but in reality I'm surprised that I've gotten even those two... I'm such a small fish in a big, big pond, and I didn't expect to see any sales for quite some time.

Amazon's report system lists individual sales, with detail of what was sold and in what quantity, what Amazon made on the sale, and what you made on it (my total so far: $2.44). There are no details on who bought it, of course... Amazon clearly keeps those details to themselves, unsurprisingly.

Any guesses on the buyers? It could be someone who heard about me through Mobileread... although if they did, they also know that they can get the e-books for less by ordering them from me directly, and in non-DRM'd mobi format. It could be someone who just wanted to see how the books came out on Kindle, but if they have, they haven't reported anything to me, so maybe not.

My guess is this: I recently set up an account at Shelfari.com (http://www.shelfari.com/) (devoted to reading, reading, reading... and then talking about their reading), and I listed my books there, with links that take you directly to the Kindle pages (and no comments about my books site). I'm thinking the orders came from there. (I plan to strike up a thread or two about the group's perception of e-books, to see what kind of responses I get, but probably after the holidays are over.)

But this is only a guess, and I am not privy to any of Amazon's info about who bought my books, or from where. I have no way to track the purchases. So, unless some direct feedback is forthcoming, from here, Amazon or elsewhere, all I can do is sit here and watch. Again, I suspect that Big Publishers get a lot more info than this from Amazon, and again, I suspect it's directly related to exclusive contracts and agreements (and money changing hands).

sfernald
12-20-2007, 01:37 AM
What is the cheapest you can price a book?

I would think they would not let you drop the price of a book/short story to below $.10 because that is probably near their cost of the bandwidth.

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-20-2007, 07:47 AM
I seem to remember someone saying it was $0.25, but I could be mistaken.

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-20-2007, 07:53 AM
The other day, I went into the Amazon forum and made a slight stink about the fact that big publishers had tools, specifically, the ability to use HTML to format the Product Descriptions section, that indie DTP users do not have, citing it as highly unfair and stating that DTP users must have the same tools.

Although I had touched upon this on earlier threads, and received little or no response, this time, the ubiquitous "DTPadmin" responded:

Hello,

We are currently working to make sure DTP-uploaded content has the same options available to users as all other Kindle Editions.

I've made sure to let the team know how important this is to everybody, and it should be coming soon!

The DTP forum allows you to mark a question as answered, once the response comes in from DTPadmin. However, I don't consider "should be coming soon" to be a satisfactory answer, so I have left it marked as "unanswered". I could try to press them, but I already know that to be pointless.

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-21-2007, 12:36 PM
Amazon's DTP added a reply to my "not good enough" reply on user tools:

the way in which some content was brought on-site in bulk prior to the Kindle launch enabled different formatting options.

We are working to make those options available for DTP as well, but those were simply different means of publication. Rest assured that we are very keen to see DTP succeed and provide the best platform possible, and we're dedicated to ensuring your content looks great.

I imagine they are referring to the fact that they used existing html-based print book content from publishers when later setting up their Kindle editions, and just pasted it into the Kindle descriptions. This still doesn't answer the question of why we don't have those tools, IMO.

What I believe they are specifically not saying is that, although HTML can obviously be used in the descriptions, Amazon didn't trust the public not to input obscene or defamatory text, viruses and other rogue HTML into text fields that they were clearly not vetting first. I imagine their "efforts" to permit HTML to be used are mainly about protecting themselves from HTML-based attack or vandalism.

And since I can't get them to admit it one way or the other, this is the explanation I am sticking with. (If anyone out there has any other theories, please speak up.)

schulzmc
01-12-2008, 10:00 PM
Steve -

Just thought I'd let you know that after reading this thread I checked out your books and just finished reading Sol. Nicely done! I not only enjoyed reading the book, but the formatting was mostly good. From time to time a section would be indented (as if there was a missing image on the left) but that was not a big deal.

I read a lot, and read a lot of science fiction. Your book was one of the most fun things I've read in a while.

Although I did find one spelling mistake (grin).

brecklundin
01-12-2008, 10:57 PM
Steve,

First...one of the bright spots I saw in the initial Kindle release was the ability for author's to electronically self-publish with them. Of course you already can do that via other software. But here you can gain exposure with a site like Amazon. Nice.

Next, as far as promotions...yeah paying someone to do it can be expensive without a doubt. BUT, you are in a smaller market and while there is competition it's not as difficult to get on that first page above the fold doing it yourself.

For about a decade I have used a program off and on for client sites as well as a former smaller market business I created online. It helped we were an early adopter of selling and offering information online but still there was competition.

I found a free, at the time, program called WebCEO (http://www.webceo.com) (Web Search Engine Optimization). It worked great as it also blasted info out to many of the very obscure niche & freak web search engines. We shot up to the number one result from Google for the two years I stayed on top of it and before my biz partner filed personal bankruptcy and took the biz down with him. Not really his fault but he never gave me a chance to buy him out, even under the table. bad advice from his attorney.

But anyway, it's an excellent package and I see they still offer a free version to try out. They top end product is not very pricey at all.

Getting outside of Google, Yahoo, MSN and whoever are also not a bad thing for a business. There are MILLIIONS of people who simply find these smaller search engines more within their comfort zone.

The software also helps optimize with the major search engines also...

Last, why can you not join the Amazon Affiliate program and promote your books that way, rather than directly? That would reduce the effective overhead of Amazon's cut. If need be put in your better-half's name or a good buddy.

But, it will be interesting to see how this all pans out for author's such as yourself. I can see it catching on even with established authors. They already have a name they no longer need the big publishers, specially so for ebooks.

Anyway, this might all have already been apparent to ya...but thought I would pass it along...we need you guys to eat regular so we have new stuff to read. ;)

Steven Lyle Jordan
01-13-2008, 10:19 AM
I have been taking steps to optimize my search tags on Amazon's site, and I believe it is already helping. I haven't looked at any programs like WebCEO in a while, but it might be time to have another look.

I didn't know about Amazon's affiliate program, so I'll look into it. If it is a tool that could legitimately help indie authors, you'd think Amazon would make mention of it through the DTP system, but then, there are a lot of DTP benefits that Amazon is proving slow to implement (like HTML in their description sections, which they still haven't accomplished).

Amazon has finally acquiesed to users asking that unfinished or bad entries can be deleted. However, I'm sure that was for their own need to clear their databases of bad material, more than DTP users' need to clear their shelves.

April Hamilton
03-03-2008, 08:58 PM
I've got two novels up in the Kindle store; I addressed the lack of a 'search inside the book'/'read an excerpt' limitation by hosting pdf excerpts of each novel outside of Amazon, on personal web space, and providing a link to each excerpt in the description passage for each book.

Also, as I'm also an independent, I thought you might be interested in my blog, "Indie Author":
http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com

It's relatively new and I've only made 2 blog entries so far, but I've included a section with links of interest to indie authors, and a link to an interview I gave to The Writing Cast on the topic of how and why I became an indie author. Other writers I know are just beginning to discover DTP and the many other tools they can use to convert their work into ebook formats, and several have asked if I can provide some how-to articles in that vein. I'm trying to get those articles up and linked from my blog in the next few weeks, so bookmark it and check back from time to time. :) Which isn't to say I think you need *my* help---your website makes that much clear---but I may have hit on some tips or ideas you haven't, and vice-versa. I've already bookmarked your site for my own edification!

Kingston
03-03-2008, 11:26 PM
April I read your blog and some of your comments in the Amazon Kindle forum. It seems that one (both?) of your books used to be 80 cents in Kindle format but the price has risen.

Also, I'd like to read that forum that you had a bad experience with, if you could post the link to it.

Thanks much.

April Hamilton
03-04-2008, 01:19 AM
I originally priced my first DTP release as low as possible, thinking price point would be a major factor in convincing Kindle owners to take a chance on a new author. As it turns out, within reasonable limits they don't seem terribly concerned about price, provided they are given access to a try-before-you-buy excerpt, so I made excerpts available.

I still would've been OK virtually giving copies of my ebooks away, but there was growing suspicion in some quarters that my books were *only* selling due to the bargain price. Since I'm at the forefront of the new and growing indie author movement, anything that can detract from the perceived legitimacy of my work is to be avoided. Therefore, I repriced that first novel at $4.99 and set the original list price for my second DTP release at $5.99---but these prices are still a bit lower than the going rate for Kindle editions from well-known authors.

As to that discussion group...I prefer not to name them, since whatever you post on the internet can come back to bite you when it's least expected and most inconvenient. Moreover, since the great majority of group members had no involvement whatsoever in what happened, it seems unfair to expose the entire group to closer scrutiny on account of the actions of just a few members. :)

April Hamilton
03-04-2008, 04:26 AM
As promised, I've written a guide to using the Amazon DTP to create Kindle editions of manuscripts and put them up for sale in the Kindle book store. Because it ended up taking an awful lot of time and effort, and I intend to write some similar guides on related topics, I'm thinking that when I've got them all done I would do well to combine them and sell them as a book.

But in the meantime, I'll be making each one available for free for a limited time via a link on my Indie Author blog. Since it's after midnight here in L.A. and I'm far too tired to go post that link right now, I'm providing it here to any and all takers from the MobileRead forums. Enjoy, and feel free to save a copy of your very own! :2thumbsup
http://www.thinkydink.com/HowToUseAmazonDTP.pdf

Steven Lyle Jordan
03-04-2008, 11:03 AM
April, I just looked over the PDF, and you did a great job! You cover the process very accurately.

tsgreer
03-05-2008, 11:58 AM
As promised, I've written a guide to using the Amazon DTP to create Kindle editions of manuscripts and put them up for sale in the Kindle book store. Because it ended up taking an awful lot of time and effort, and I intend to write some similar guides on related topics, I'm thinking that when I've got them all done I would do well to combine them and sell them as a book.

But in the meantime, I'll be making each one available for free for a limited time via a link on my Indie Author blog. Since it's after midnight here in L.A. and I'm far too tired to go post that link right now, I'm providing it here to any and all takers from the MobileRead forums. Enjoy, and feel free to save a copy of your very own! :2thumbsup
http://www.thinkydink.com/HowToUseAmazonDTP.pdf

Wow, thank you so much for this April. It's very helpful. :)

April Hamilton
03-21-2008, 02:34 PM
Hi, guys! Wanted to let you all know I've now got an author website up:
http://www.aprillhamilton.com

I've written some additional IndieAuthor Guides and posted them there (on the "IA Guides" page). I'm still intending to write a whole series of Guides to compile into a single volume for publication as a book, but after reading the "Free" article in this month's Wired magazine I've decided that even after the book is available for sale I'm going to leave the individual Guides up on my site for free download.

Finally, I've opened a Cafepress shop to sell IndieAuthor t-shirts, mugs, etc. with slogans like, "Independence: It's Not Just For Musicians and Filmmakers Anymore" on them. There's a link to the shop on my site ('Merchandise' link), but I'll post it here, too:
http://www.cafepress.com/indieauthorshop

I hope you'll find something of interest at my site, and FYI, I'm still blogging too; I just link to my blog from my site now. :)

April Hamilton
03-24-2008, 11:35 PM
I just got my first press release out, announcing my ABNA novel "Adelaide Einstein" has become a bestseller in the Kindle store. The more traffic I can drive to the release, the better. If I can get it enough attention, and tomorrow's a slow news day, maybe the AP will even pick it up. Can any of y'all who have accounts with Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Furl, De.licio.us or Blinklist please go submit it? Thanks! :D
Here's the link (http://www.prlog.org/10059398-independently-published-novel-makes-amazon-top-10-bestseller-list.html)

Edited to add: just so no one thinks I'm being deceptive, Amazon has a 'bestseller' list in each category and my novel is currently at #10 in one of those lists. Also, Amazon sales ranks are constantly being recalculated on the fly as books sell, so even though my other Kindle novel was ranked in the top 10 of 'Mystery', and higher than current books from Evanovich, Robb and Patterson for a whole week, such rankings are always transient. However, both of my Kindle-edition novels have been pretty consistently hanging around the #1000 sales rank mark for the Kindle store overall, and since there are around half a million Kindle books in that store, I think it speaks well for how they're being received by readers overall.

Steven Lyle Jordan
03-25-2008, 10:08 AM
I just got my first press release out, announcing my ABNA novel "Adelaide Einstein" has become a bestseller in the Kindle store.

Congratulations! That's better than I'm doing with 10 books!

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-04-2008, 11:42 PM
So, it has been 1 year. And in that time, the 11 books I have had in the Kindle store have netted me... (drumroll, please) ...$50 and change.

In fact, I didn't know I had made even that. That's because Amazon's 3 payments showed up unobtrusively in April, July, and October, and were so small as to be practically unnoticeable.

Since I hadn't noticed the payments, I tried calling Amazon to speak to someone about it. I was told there was no phone number to call to the DTP department. I was given 2 e-mail addresses. I got no responses from either. So I went to the forum, where I left a message, and another author gave me a third e-mail address. Again, I received no answer. Finally, I submitted a second e-mail to the forum, wherein I used the following title:

"I have been advised to sue Amazon."

Then I got a reply.

All told, it took me about a month to find out that I had made a grand total of $50.00 over the past year through the Kindle store. And in combining the pittance I made with the pretty lousy customer service response, it was easy for me to come to the following decision:

I have removed my e-books from the Kindle store.

Obviously, this won't present much of a loss, to Amazon, to my customers, or to me. My customers can still buy MobiPocket versions of my e-books, and load them onto their Kindles manually. And if they have a problem, they can e-mail me (not "SJB," not tech support, not the accounting department in Reno, but me) and get a response. From me.

I will not go so far as to advise others not to use the Kindle DTP system. I will state that it clearly did not work for small publisher me and my 11 science fiction books. I will also state that the general consensus among DTP users is that the support from the DTP staff has never been timely or positive... they've all but actively chased customers away. Check out the DTP forums, and you'll see what I mean.

And so, we come to the end of the chapter. No more DTP, no more Kindle store, no more bad customer service to deal with. That's the way it goes, sometimes. Moving on.

pilotbob
12-04-2008, 11:47 PM
And so, we come to the end of the chapter. No more DTP, no more Kindle store, no more bad customer service to deal with. That's the way it goes, sometimes. Moving on.

Does this mean the people that did buy the ebooks will not longer have access to them?

BOb

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-04-2008, 11:50 PM
Does this mean the people that did buy the ebooks will not longer have access to them?

No. Part of Amazon's agreement is that they get to keep the books I published, as long as even one person has bought them... specifically, in order to be able to resupply the books to those past purchasers when they upgrade their HW/SW, etc. So, in fact, my books will be in Amazon's system in perpetuity (or until they themselves retire the Kindle system)... just not for new purchasers.

pilotbob
12-05-2008, 12:04 AM
just not for new purchasers.

I see. Well, I am planning on buying all your books directly... as soon as.... well, as soon as people stop giving me all these great free ones. Maybe after I finish all the Sherlock Homes stories and then all of Jeffery Carvers freebees.

;)

BOb

brecklundin
12-05-2008, 03:21 AM
So, it has been 1 year. And in that time, the 11 books I have had in the Kindle store have netted me... (drumroll, please) ...$50 and change.

In fact, I didn't know I had made even that. That's because Amazon's 3 payments showed up unobtrusively in April, July, and October, and were so small as to be practically unnoticeable.

Since I hadn't noticed the payments, I tried calling Amazon to speak to someone about it. I was told there was no phone number to call to the DTP department. I was given 2 e-mail addresses. I got no responses from either. So I went to the forum, where I left a message, and another author gave me a third e-mail address. Again, I received no answer. Finally, I submitted a second e-mail to the forum, wherein I used the following title:

"I have been advised to sue Amazon."

Then I got a reply.

All told, it took me about a month to find out that I had made a grand total of $50.00 over the past year through the Kindle store. And in combining the pittance I made with the pretty lousy customer service response, it was easy for me to come to the following decision:

I have removed my e-books from the Kindle store.

Obviously, this won't present much of a loss, to Amazon, to my customers, or to me. My customers can still buy MobiPocket versions of my e-books, and load them onto their Kindles manually. And if they have a problem, they can e-mail me (not "SJB," not tech support, not the accounting department in Reno, but me) and get a response. From me.

I will not go so far as to advise others not to use the Kindle DTP system. I will state that it clearly did not work for small publisher me and my 11 science fiction books. I will also state that the general consensus among DTP users is that the support from the DTP staff has never been timely or positive... they've all but actively chased customers away. Check out the DTP forums, and you'll see what I mean.

And so, we come to the end of the chapter. No more DTP, no more Kindle store, no more bad customer service to deal with. That's the way it goes, sometimes. Moving on.

Wow Steve, that is truly disappointing to read. Given the high premium readers pay for the Kindle device I would as a Kindle owner expect them to pay better attention to their author's needs. No matter how small the sales volume. Once upon a time Amazon was in a similar position...small fish in a large pond. How quickly these companies forget...

Still working my way through the 11-books (or was it 10 for $10) you offered a while back...enjoying every minute of it...thanks for taking good care of us readers. :)

Remember too, that any reader does not need to even manually put your books on their Kindle...there is that email addy each Kindle user has for their Kindle and it can be Whispernet'd in for just fitty-cent.

BTW, I dislike my Kindle a great deal...gave it to my better half and she can't get enough of it...I know because I get the bill every purchase...oh, joy...hehehehehe...

Anyway, obviously Amazon is not at all serious about indie authors...screw 'em. :cool:

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-05-2008, 09:51 AM
Wow Steve, that is truly disappointing to read. Given the high premium readers pay for the Kindle device I would as a Kindle owner expect them to pay better attention to their author's needs. No matter how small the sales volume. Once upon a time Amazon was in a similar position...small fish in a large pond. How quickly these companies forget...

It's true: For all of Amazon's humble beginnings, they are becoming no different than any other retailer, too big to care about the little guy. They are "in the castle," with the rest of the publishers, and now that they can afford it, they are throwing scraps and thumbing their noses at the peons on the outside.

Fortunately, we peons have more and more avenues to sell our wares than ever... we don't have to be "in the castle" to be successful, or even profitable. Such is the way of the world, and I'm happy to be part of it.

brecklundin
12-12-2008, 02:09 AM
It's true: For all of Amazon's humble beginnings, they are becoming no different than any other retailer, too big to care about the little guy. They are "in the castle," with the rest of the publishers, and now that they can afford it, they are throwing scraps and thumbing their noses at the peons on the outside.

How really disappointing...I truly mean that...just when the world should be opening up to a genuine global exchange of ideas and markets, the huge MegaCorps do all they can to manipulate and control it...it's almost like the early days of the record industry but with a few new cards hidden up their sleeves.

I just had such high hopes it and the other reading devices would open the market up so much that publishers would be trampling each other for their share of the market. Just a shame is almost all I can say...

Fortunately, we peons have more and more avenues to sell our wares than ever... we don't have to be "in the castle" to be successful, or even profitable. Such is the way of the world, and I'm happy to be part of it.

That is super to know...btw, is there a site that acts as a portal to indie authors? I am not sure I have run across such an animal. I mainly check here and buy from Baen. The better half who considered the Kindle her BD present (she got back from a visit to her dad's before I could send it back) and co-opted it as her own. I got brownie points, and a few few other, ummm, 'perks' :yahoo:, but there is now a Kindle in my home much to my displeasure. I do make her buy her own books though...I know I am just "old and mean"... :p

And thanks for knowing there is a subset of readers who will not fall in for the propaganda about these devices being the end all of reading devices. A nice start but I will stick to something not tethered to a specific company. gawds if I was of that mind set I would own a Mac...shudder...they haff zeir vays you know...

Hope it all works out with Amazon and they either come to their senses and pay what they should or ya just bail on the whole thing for your own sanity. Ya know, perhaps the indie authors should get together and have a chat with Oprah as she seems to be such a Kindle zealot...isn't she supposed to be all about equal opportunity, fair play and all that stuff?

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-12-2008, 10:10 AM
btw, is there a site that acts as a portal to indie authors? I am not sure I have run across such an animal.

I don't know of one, either... like you, I hear about a few indie authors here. All of the other sites I frequent talk about major authors, and generally thumb their noses at indies (unless you're a poet... poets always seem to be cool).

And thanks for knowing there is a subset of readers who will not fall in for the propaganda about these devices being the end all of reading devices. A nice start but I will stick to something not tethered to a specific company.

That's why I still do my e-book reading on a PDA, in just about any format I can get my hands on. Until we go to a universal format that can be translated into the reader format of your choice, I still say that PDAs beat dedicated readers hands-down. :ducks_brickbats:

Ya know, perhaps the indie authors should get together and have a chat with Oprah as she seems to be such a Kindle zealot...isn't she supposed to be all about equal opportunity, fair play and all that stuff?

If Oprah were really just about "fair play and equal opportunity," she would have been endorsing e-books in general, sending everyone an e-book on a usb key or something ("You get an e-book! You get an e-book! You get an e-book! Everyone gets an e-book!!"), and let them read it on the device of their choice. Really, all she's doing is cooperating with an Amazon Kindle promotion. She may occasionally talk to obscure authors... but they've all been published ones, and I wouldn't expect her to go out of her way for any indie author whose work she hadn't been convinced to read first, and fell in love with.

So, all you indie authors... send your books to Oprah! Send her a Mobi file, so she can read it on her new Kindle! Then sit back and wait for the phone call from her producers!

April Hamilton
12-20-2008, 06:08 PM
Steve -
What sorts of promotion did you do? I'm sure I'm insulting you by even saying this, but it's for the benefit of those reading too, so here goes...

It's not enough to just publish your books and get them listed on Amazon. You need to do everything in your power to promote them. Luckily, it doesn't have to cost a fortune, nor even necessarily take huge quantities of time.

There's an extensive chaper on Promotion in my book, The IndieAuthor Guide, and I'm giving away free electronic copies till the end of December via this Wall Street Journal/Marketwatch article (see the link in the 'Books and guides' section):
http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=93f140600927445d84004584efc2ff81&siteid=nwhpf&sguid=q8rm-C7zrkm7RO8k4sUMiw

Get the book and take a look at that chapter, as well as the one on Creating Your Brand. I'm having a great deal of success in indie authorship, and I hope others can do likewise with their books. That's why I wrote The IndieAuthor Guide! I hope you will reconsider indie authorship...it's been very fulfilling for me. Good luck, and happy holidays! :xmas:

Steven Lyle Jordan
12-21-2008, 05:38 PM
You're very astute, April: This last year I did only light promotion for my books, and none of it through Amazon, which resulted in lackluster sales (other than the month that included Read an E-book Week). However, with the same light promotional effort I sold many more books through my own site than on Amazon, suggesting that I did not need to make two book sources available... especially when the e-books bought on my site can be viewed on the Kindle.

2009 is (supposed to be) the year that I spend much more of a promotional effort on my books, so we'll see how it goes. And if, in the future, I start to get a lot of requests to make my books available in the Kindle store, maybe I'll go back. But considering the poor customer support I received, as an author, through Amazon, I don't feel I have much incentive to do so... my efforts would be better spent on my own site.