Self-Publishing on the Kindle? Wait a Minute!


Amazon.com’s announcement last Friday that authors can now self-publish Kindle versions of their books has me thinking, and smiling and nervous at the same time.

Smiling because authors who write in English, and now French and German, can upload PDF, text, Word or HTML versions of their work, set the own prices and get 35% of sales.

Nervous because as a publishing professional who works with many self-published authors, I know that the quality of self-published works is spotty, at best.

(That said, I’m wondering if Amazon will, in future, establish any minimum requirements for writers who want to publish via their platform, offer editorial services, weed out bad writers, etc.)

But before you run out and upload your latest manuscript, there are a few things first time authors need to consider.

Working style/Personality: If you are the kind of author who loves only to write and cares little about the business aspects of publishing, this news might not affect you.

Pricing: How will you price your work? For first time authors with little or no name recognition, pricing at the lower end of the spectrum, say around $2 seems to work best. But bear in mind your upfront costs, e.g. cover design, editing, proofreading, etc. How many ebooks will you have to sell to break even? Make a profit? How many titles do you have to publish to make, say $100/month?

Marketing/Publicity: How will you find your audience? Just as you would with a bound edition, you have to get the word out about your ebook. Do you have a website or blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts? Will your ebook supplement a print edition or is it a standalone?

Research: Do your homework. How are works similar in genre to yours priced? How well do these authors do?

It is a brave new world we are charting in publishing. No one knows for sure how ebooks will affect print publishing or what the business will look like a year from now. I am excited by all the options available to authors and encourage them to take advantage of the ones that fit their needs and working style.

Share your comments below about publishing your ebook via Kindle or the future of publishing.

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