You're An Author!
Kindle self-publishing opportunities have made this the perfect time to become an author. Publishing your own writing doesn't require the approval of a publishing house, nor do you need a book company to market your product for you. In this day and age, as long as you have a computer and can write in popular word processing programs, you have the option to publish and market your own books online.
The Kindle platform is one such venue that makes it very easy for anyone to publish their own books and start to gather an audience for their work. That's because of the Kindle, an e-book reader developed by Amazon, has the backing of this large online book retailer to help promote your offerings on their website. There are others but I am interested in the possibilities Kindle opens up. They make it possible for anyone to publish ebooks. But, before we get into the mechanics of how to use this unique platform to publish your manuscripts, you do want to do a little planning ahead of time – particularly if you have no topic or ebook ready to publish, yet. The making of a bestseller isn't just about uploading a perfectly formatted ebook. It's also about understanding the market for ebooks and learning what sells best. By paying attention to the market first, this helps you not only become a successful author but a profitable one too!
But, before we get into the mechanics of how to use this unique platform to publish your manuscripts, you do want to do a little planning ahead of time – particularly if you have no topic or ebook ready to publish, yet. The making of a bestseller isn't just about uploading a perfectly formatted ebook. It's also about understanding the market for ebooks and learning what sells best. By paying attention to the market first, this helps you not only become a successful author but a profitable one too!
Find The Profitable Topics First
If you don't have a manuscript yet, you're in luck! It's far easier to write a great book that sells when you've researched the profitable topics first. It doesn't mean you're already written manuscript can't sell, but why waste too much effort on a topic that has little market potential? Instead, start by putting the right foot forward and writing what the market demands. Then, you know that you have the potential for greater profits. You need to work out your keywords.
To the find out what might be selling best in today's market is not as hard as it sounds. The Internet makes this a very easy research exercise that anyone can do. You do want to do the research close to the time you plan on writing the ebook as the trends in sales can change overnight. But, some topics never go out of style too. So, whether you are trying to grab the market for a very HOT, but transient, topic or whether you want a classic, like business marketing, you can make money if you understand that timing the market help build sales too. Don't wait to publish the really hot topics that might not turn into classics, because someone else will have beaten you on it by then.
Here are some places you can visit online to research book topics that are selling well or would sell well due to current events.
The Daily News
Keep your ears and eyes open to the current events, as these are the topics that are VERY HOT but for a short period of time, mostly. So, these you would have to get out the ebook in record time in order to profit from the current event.
Basically, what you are looking for is some problem that has come up a lot in the mainstream news that needs a solution. If you are the person who knows that solution and can write about it, you stand to make a mint on that idea. An example of this would be when eBay decided to no longer allow info products to be sold virtually on their site in the regular auction area. This small change was big news for Internet marketers and had you sold an e-book on how to package your info products in other formats to allow the submission with the auction format, you would have had people storming down your doors for that information.
You don't have to be a genius to come up with a solution. You can even research solutions that other people have come up with and write about them. The ideas themselves are copyrighted, but the product may be. So, you will have to be careful how you use other people's ideas in your ebooks so as not infringe on any copyrights.
If you don't have time to do all that research and writing, don't worry! You can always hire a ghostwriter who can do it for you. Then, you just pay them for all the rights and slap your name on their work and peddle it as your own.
Some of the biggest e-commerce sites offer bestseller and hot lists for their visitors. These are to help them find deals or topics that are immensely popular and can tempt them into buying them. For you, those same lists can help you figure out what topics are selling best on the Internet market. Amazon has their own list of bestsellers for the Kindle too. Even though you are selling on the Kindle, it doesn't mean you can't check other resources for the best market topics. If you know of blogs or commercial websites that get lots of traffic in a market niche you are considering, check them out. They will often have “most viewed” or “hot topics” listed. The more discussion on a particular topic, the more the odds are that people are willing to pay to seek more information about this topic.
Google has many tools available (keyword tools, tend tools) in addition to basic search to discover good topics. Once you start doing your research, you may find that non-fiction is far more popular online for ebook topics than non-fiction. The reason for this is that there are many business professionals, computer geeks, and hobbyists online. So, if you want to start off with a bang, concentrate on finding a nonfiction topic that many people would be interested in buying. In particular, “how to” topics are immensely popular.
There are plenty of niches that can be profitable. If they happen to be in your area of expertise, all the better! You write the book then, otherwise, send it to a ghostwriter who can research and write an informative, and relevant, ebooks that will represent you professionally to the readers of the Kindle platform.
The Professional Writer
You will need to organize your ebook information. There is quite a bit of information to gather, and preparatory work to make sure that the upload and conversion are as successful as it can be. Unfortunately, even with these steps, you will have to preview your work and in a trial and error way, reformat whatever doesn't look quite right before you publish it.
To keep from having too many do-overs, keep track of the following:
- Don't add page breaks to your ebook
The Kindle will put page breaks where it sees fit and if you enforce a page break it probably will not land where you want it. For things like title pages, you can just add extra spacing, instead of a forced page break to make it match the Kindle page format, which is smaller than a regular page.
- Save images to the same directory
Ensure that you don't put the images in a separate subfolder, as this won't work with the Kindle conversion. Keep them in the same folder
- The Title
Believe it or not, this is the absolutely most important feature of your book. The title can make or break the sales of your books. You might want to include some hot keywords in the title to generate more hits from search engines, but if it doesn't appeal to humans as well, you won't get them to peek at the sample of your ebook that Kindle provides to spur sales. So, be careful to pick a title that wows them and gets them interested enough to sample or buy.Jacket Blurb
This is the product description of what's inside. It is short and sweet.
Remember those keywords we asked you to get? Well, here is where you now use them. The more, the merrier. This is what the search engine will use to categorize and index your ebook offering.
- Product Image
If you don't have a cover image you can use, create one. There's lots of software around to do this. Creating a cover doesn't have to be traumatizing. You can just pick a nice colored background, add a photo or image to liven it up, and then place the title and the author on the cover in nice fonts.
- Headings And Subheadings
While we're on the subject of headings and subheadings, you should write an ebook with multiple headings and subheadings to make the information easily skimmed, particularly if this is a non-fiction ebook. When people buy non-fiction, they're typically interested in solving a problem or learning how to do something. Many people want to skim over the headings, find the area that most interests them and start reading from there.
- White Space Is Noticeable
If you've only written novels, then you may not be interested in adding too much white space to these types of fiction books. With non-fiction, the absence of white space is particularly noticeable, and not in a pleasant way. You want to add white space to help the reader rest their eyes as they read through the material, and it's just more visually appealing than an entire glob of writing mushed together. Don't forget to add a little white space around your headings and subheadings too. However, you space it in your original document should be the way you see it in the Kindle conversion.
- Bulleted And Numbered Lists
Another way to quickly organize information in a non-fiction ebook is to make use of bulleted or numbered lists. These can be a very helpful way of summarizing information, especially if you use bolding or italicizing, to bring out the salient points. People can quickly skim a list and heading or points and figure out which ones apply to them. Don't forget to use the white space here, as well. You will want to make sure that if a list looks too cramped that you add a space in between each point to make it more readable.
- Highlight Important Points
You can use bolding, italicizing, and underlining for highlighting. It's important to use these when you want to make a point to the reader that they won't miss. Even though it may not be as important as a heading or subheading, it still alerts the reader that there is valuable information within the paragraph that is important to the overall understanding of the topic. They'll take notice and decide whether it merits an entire read or not.
Your Audience Matters - Marketing Your Ebook
Let's take the time to examine the audience you are trying to attract. If your book is about toy trains, the groups that you want to access should have toy train enthusiasts and hobbyists in their ranks. No matter how large or popular a forum is, if they don't have the audience you need to sell your book, then, they're simply not worth the effort. What is going to sell your ebook is to connect the audience demographic that likes your topic to the ebook on the Kindle Store. If the two don't match, the odds of a sale are very low. So, stick with those people you know will be interested in your topic to begin with.
The nice thing is though that you can build your audience for yourself and once your name is known, you can go anywhere and that audience will follow you. You will know how to generate more interest for your work and you won't be dependent on finding a literary agent or a publishing house that is willing to publish your work. In a lot of ways, it offers you a lot more creative freedom to see what the market will accept versus what a publisher may deem to be unmarketable. And, it doesn't cost too much in money, although it can take quite a bit of time to keep an active marketing campaign going.
Here are some of the strategies to expose your work to more readers, not just the ones who go the Kindle bookstore already, and thus make more sales.
Within Amazon Ecosphere
- Setting up description categories and keywords correctly
- Author profile
- Author Website
- Social media sites (Twitter, Facebook)
- Audiovisual sites (YouTube, Podcasts)
- Press release
- Advertising (PPC)
- Promotions (email, specialist sites)
Write Up A Business Plan
Okay, so you've decided that this isn't just a one book venture. You want to be a publisher of many ebooks. So, get out your pencil and start taking notes on what it might take to succeed if you see yourself mass producing numerous titles. Then, track your winners and losers using the tools provided by Kindle to make sure that you are on track with your business plan.
Here are a few things to include in your business plan:
- Planning For Press Kits
Some marketers even create this first, before the book is even written. That's because they can put out a press release of an upcoming book and then find out how much interest there is through advance sales before the book is even published. You just take names, not money. Then, if the demand is poor, don't bother. Try a different one. You've just saved a ton of time on a loser.
- Understand Your Audience
Include demographic information, potential clubs or associations where your audience congregates, and the type of advertising that works best with your target demographic.
- A Timeline
How many books do you want to publish a month? How many in a year? Do you have titles and timelines lined up in advanced? If you plan on being a publisher, then you have to think ahead of the game. You also have to try to time the market for big events like Christmas and other major purchasing holidays.
- Media Contacts
Who do you know that can help you get the word out? Make a list of all the people you plan to contact to help promote that book.
- Sales Techniques
Is there one sales technique more than another that appeals to you for your book. Are you tracking which methods provide better results than others? Maybe you've found you get most of your orders from people who visit a blog that you've commented. Time to start commenting more or getting that blogger to do a review.
- Success Measurements
How will you determine success? Traffic, sales, or some other way? How will you measure and track success? Luckily, Kindle offers an area for reports that show you how your ebooks are performing in the marketplace. This gives you some instant ways to measure their success in terms of dollar values.
How do you plan to build your audience and how much does it cost?
What parts of the ebook creation and marketing will you outsource? Do you want to have someone do the ghostwriting? Someone to generate websites or blogs, or to comment online and write reviews for you? Do you want to have someone else take care of queries about your ebook? Do you need to hire a graphic designer to do the jacket of your ebook (probably)?
Estimate your pricing strategy and how much profit you will make based on a projected number of sales. These are your sales goals and will help you to decide whether the business is making you good money or needs or whether you've overestimated sales or profits. Then, you tweak things to make the profit you want, or you modify the business plan to cut expenses where necessary. Always have an account balance sheet that shows how many sales you made in a month on what titles and what the final tally is. That's your net sales. Then, make sure you understand what your profit level is from those net sales. Subtract your expenses from your profits and that's the true value of what you've earned that month. Of course, taxes can change that picture in the end, if you're not careful. Always keep in mind the bottom line in order to make a successful business and not just a side hobby that generates a few dribs and drabs of income. All of these things are vitally important to creating a business plan that helps you develop a publishing business that can shoot out numerous ebooks per month, creating residual income for as long as Amazon publishes the ebooks.