Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Price is Right! Choosing the right price for your e-book

Here's the deal on pricing your e-book for Amazon Kindle:  If you price your book below $2.99, you will not receive the 70 percent royalty on sales; you'll only receive 35 percent.
But while I'd like to charge $2.99 a copy, I've got to admit nobody knows me or my writing yet.  So I feel a little pretentious starting out so high at $2.99.  But maybe that will be a good experiment to conduct before I upload my book to Amazon Kindle Select.  I'll let you know when that happens.  In the meantime, I'm working on a new mystery novel.  It's one I've been working on for some time.  I'm finally coming into the home stretch on it, and I'm shooting for April as my due date. 
In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you think about pricing e-books.  What do you charge?  Is that price level working for you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What is Kindle Select and how can it help sell my e-book?

Amazon Kindle Select is a relatively new program launched to help independent authors and to help Amazon's sales.  It also is a way for Amazon to dominate the e-book industry by requiring independent authors to digitally publish their books exclusively on Amazon Kindle Select.  Authors cannot have the book published on any other platform while enrolled in's Kindle Select program.  The other hitch is that your book will be available for free during the promotional period of time, and lastly, your book will be available for checked out in the Amazon Kindle Owners' Lending Library.  The Kindle Owners' Lending Library can only be accessed by Amazon Prime members. 
The best benefit for independent authors in this program is the 5-day free promotion period every 90 days.  During your free promotion days, Amazon will promote your book on their site and offer it for free for the days you select.  You can either use all 5 days consecutively or you can schedule them sporadically throughout the 90-day period.  Cheryl Kaye Tardif who wrote  How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month Selling My Kindle eBooks broke up her five days into two promotion times:  a three day promotion and then a two day promotion later on.  It worked for her.  Her book tells how she laid out a marketing and promotion plan for her book using Kindle Select.  The book explains how her sales increased over a short time as a result of the program.  It was impressive.
So if you're interested in enrolling your book to Kindle Select, you'll first have to remove it from other platforms like Smashwords, Apple QuickReads, and Barnes & Noble, etc.  But it could be the best move you make in getting your e-book ranked higher in the lists and increasing your sales.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ebook publishing sensation Hugh Howey and Kindle Select

Remember all of those rejection letters from print publishers to which you sent manuscripts? Many unpublished writers can now thumb their noses at the big NYC publishers and do it themselves through digital self-publishing.  In fact, many are making on average $10,000 a year and then there are some raking in only $500.  But the world of digital self-publishing has many new superstars in its ranks--namely Hugh Howey, 37-year-old author of a popular dystopian series "Wool."  A recent article on CNN's website reported that Howey earns on average $150,000 per month.  October 2012 he sold 20,000 copies of "Wool" in one day!  Guess what he used to get his digital publishing career started?  That's right the Kindle Select program.  I'll post more details about the Kindle Select program and how it works.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Formatting e-books for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

You might be wondering which format to choose when uploading your manuscript to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing.  The best choice is Microsoft Word (.doc/.docx).
KDP also accepts these formats:
Mobipocket (MOBI)
ePub (EPUB)
Plain Text (TXT)
Rich Text Format (RTF)
Adobe PDF (PDF)
There are a few problems you may run into when using MS Word to upload your e-Book to Amazon.  Complex formatting like tables and graphics could cause conversion errors.  Make sure to use the previewer on KDP if you think your e-book contains complex formatting.  Don't expect the font sizes, margins, and page numbers that you set in Word to convert exactly in KDP.  These settings will not apply because readers can adjust font sizes.
If your document contains graphics, you'll want to use the "Insert" function to add images; not the copy/paste function.
When uploading your MS Word file, make sure you load it all as one file.  But do not include the cover.  KDP will automatically embed the cover image.
If, like many, you try to upload your e-Book in Portable Document Format (PDF), you'll probably run into conversion problems such as
  • irregularly bolded text
  • irregular page breaks
  • irregular font sizes
  • inconsistent text flow
  • and missing or oversized images.
So your best bet is to format and upload your e-Book document in Microsoft Word.

I found a book cover designer!

It didn't take long. I found a terrific book cover designer named Jeanine Henning!  I'll post an update later along with the new cover once it's completed.  There are many great book cover artists out there.  In one of my future posts, I'd love to post a list of top book cover artists for e-books.  Jeanine's work is outstanding.  You can check out her work at
I'm so excited about changing my cover!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Could this be the worst book cover art ever?

UPDATE:  I found a book cover designer!  I'm working with her on planning the new book cover, so when she's finished, I'll post the new book cover design.  I'm so excited about getting a new book cover!

Recently, I've been in search of an affordable but great book cover artist.  Does anyone reading this blog know of a great graphic designer who's affordable?  Please let me know if you do.
Here's what my homemade cover art looks like right now.  I used a photo I took of a rose garden in Raleigh, NC.
Could Death by Clogging possibly be the most hideous e-book cover art ever?  LOL  I think so.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What is

Byliner is a showcase of long-form journalism.  It's articles and stories longer than 3,000 words but shorter than a novel.  I guess you could say they are mini-books that can be read in two or three hour spans of time.  Inquisitive readers with short attention spans should love  It's mostly nonfiction journalism like the article that placed Byliner in the spotlight--"Three Cups of Deceit" by Jon Krakauer (author of Into Thin Air).  It's about Nobel Prize nominee Greg Mortenson fabricating his best selling book Three Cups of Tea and misusing donations.  More about Mortenson's story can be found in this Washington Post article.
Anyway, the article by Krakauer and 60 minutes coverage of it helped launch Byliner into the spotlight in 2011.  The site offers quality writing by today's most famous journalists as well as up-and-coming journalists and authors.  For around $9.99 a month, a reader can subscribe to the site and have access to these articles.
The writers of these long-form articles and stories also reap the benefits.  It's been said that Byliner splits the profits with authors 50/50.  The advantage Byliner authors have is the editorial assistance that the site offers to the writers.  In a nutshell, is heaven for journalist; not so much for the mass audience.  If you're an aspiring writer for the New Yorker or Vanity Fair, then you'll definitely want to check out

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who gets published on Kindle Singles?

Curious as to whether or not my little book stood a chance of being accepted by Kindle Singles, I did a little digging around on the Amazon Kindle Singles site.  Since it's launch in January of 2011, Kindle Singles has published 3 new titles each week.  Their editor received around 50 unsolicited submissions each week, so Dave Blum's job leaves knee deep in manuscripts every day.  Most of the lucky ones who are chosen to live on this list of Kindle Singles are exclusive to Amazon, meaning this is mostly original material.  Others accepted come from traditional publishers and also e-singles publishers The Atavist and Byliner.  More about those sites later.
Most authors covet the Kindle Singles list over the Barnes & Noble Nook Snaps and Apple QuickReads because they receive more marketing and promotion help from Amazon.  Also, you've got to admit most people use Amazon not only for book shopping but for looking up info on a book in mind.  It's like a library helper site as well as a book seller.
So in a nutshell the answer to the question "Who gets published on Kindle Singles?" is the lucky ones.  Also, I've got to admit the talented ones.  So I guess even if you do have a flashy book cover, it's still not going to fly with Kindle Singles because they are looking for quality; not just bling.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's the book cover stupid.

Judging a book by its cover is a reality in marketing an e-book and self-published print books.  Think about it... When you enter a bookstore and you see a homemade looking cover, you probably assume the writing is as bad as the cover.  Call me shallow, but I do, and so do thousands of shoppers out there.  Purchasing decent looking cover art is a necessity in selling your e-book.
Here's an article recently published online at Indie Author News blog:
Bad Cover = Bad Sales
The book cover artist featured in this article is Jeanine Henning and apparently she's great.  Here's her website:  J. H. Illustration
I'm still polishing the first small book of my teen fiction series, so I'm hoping to look into a book cover artist in the near future.  By the way, another option for finding a book cover artist is 99 .  On this site you set up a contest for designers to submit their artwork for your book cover.  You post the specifications and they deliver their designs to you in the hopes of winning the award you post of at least $299.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kindle Singles submission guidelines

Kindle Singles:  What are they and how do I submit my own Kindle single to Amazon?
Kindle Singles are great for authors who can't manage to finish that 300-page novel, but who want to get published in the meantime while they're still plotting out that door-stopping tome.  Stephen King should be credited as the author who brought Kindle Singles to life.  His short stories like his latest "Guns" are chart-toppers on Amazon's Kindle Store.  Many Kindle Singles are short fiction, but there are also nonfiction narratives and profiles as well as memoirs.  
In order to have your book featured on Amazon's site, you'll need to follow some submission guidelines much like submitting your work to a literary magazine.  
Here are the basic criteria for a Kindle Single from Amazon's site:
Kindle Singles Criteria
• Length: 5,000 to 30,000 words
• List price: $0.99 to $4.99
• Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
• Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
• Not published on any public website in its entirety
• We are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children's books. 

To learn more about Amazon's guidelines, go to