Publish on Amazon

Today I pressed the publish button on Amazon.

If you’ve already done this yourself, you can skip this post, but for those who have yet to experience this particular ‘joy’, there may be more to this process than you would suspect.

Full disclosure, between reading everything carefully and multiple google searches this took me almost a full day.

My novels aren’t ready but in the interests of preparing the way, I have decided to individually publish a few short stories that have been gathering dust. I have to tell you, this is not generally recommended. Most experts will tell you to publish short stories in anthologies or collaborations with other writers… and they are right. I’ve willfully ignored this excellent advice because I’m not particularly looking to profit from this but to learn. This way when I get around to publishing the bigger works there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises.

What I’ve learnt today might be helpful to anyone else following the same path. Obviously, you want your final draft ready to format. You should also have

  1. Your banking details 
  2. Your front material and back material ready.
  3. Your description (for ebooks this can be your blurb)
  4. Your cover image and author headshot ready to be uploaded
  5. A knowledge of which categories you want to publish under
  6. A set of up to seven keywords/phrases to help readers find your book
  7. You should also be aware of your ownership rights and options for Distribution, and DRM
  8. If you plan on publishing under your own ISBN you should have already purchased that. 

Setting up Banking

Naturally, the Amazon site uses American standard terms. You can check your bank homepage to find out the BIC/SWIFT code and the routing number is just the BSB to identify the bank and branch. As an Australian to looks like only the .au site will allow electronic fund transfers, so for everywhere else you sell (we’ll look at that later) make sure you select the check option. Tax is pretty self-explanatory and where it asks for a TIN just use your TFN.

Front/Back Material

If you are using Kindle Create (you can download a copy for PC or Mac) then adding front and back material is a breeze. Don’t forget to include a Copywrite page and you can use the template provided by KC. You should probably also add an about the author page, a bibliography, and links to your active social media funnels. In this case, since this is only my first upload I’ve included all three in the same entry. Everyone seems to be recommending using a headshot so readers can relate to the author, but I have skipped that.

Description

Your description is how you sell your book to potential readers, it should mimic back cover of a paperback including the blurb, but you don’t have to stop there. Have a look at successful authors in your genre and use them as a guide.  

Cover Image

There are lots of sites that can put you in touch with a good cover designed, or for the artistically gifted you can create your own. For my short story, I created my own cover with GIMP know-how and the magic of stock photography. being an e-book and having no plan to publish the story in physical format (at least not by itself) this was relatively simple. However if publishing a paperback you need to understand the different cover dimensions, the effect that has on page numbers, and how that, in turn, impacts the spine width. I also didn’t need a barcode or a back cover with the book blurb on it.

Categories

This is where Google is your friend. There are a heap of categories and the ones you choose will impact how you reach your audience. For example, Urban Ritual deals with magic, a god, and a mostly typical urban setting. Putting it under Fiction/Fantasy/Urban is a no-brainer, but I can’t put it under Occult & Supernatural as people searching those terms are looking for a ‘how-to manual’ not a quick read. I suggest you do some research BEFORE you get to this point.

Keywords

Keywords are where you get creative, they are also where you can sink hours looking at Kindle metrics trying to find the most popular phrases and descriptions. To get maximum exposure you don’t want to waste a slot on something already obvious in your book details. So having published under the category of Fiction/Fantasy/Urban there is no point wasting a keyword field on Urban Fantasy. The first two of my keywords are basically meta-data, the next three are descriptive. Fear not, you can change these later if you find something you think will work better.

  • short story – because I don’t want people to think they were tricked into buying a short piece when they were looking for a full novel.
  • Australian Author – a bit of geolocation doesn’t hurt
  • magic ritual
  • urban myth
  • ancient gods

Ownership, Distribution & DRM

You should own the rights to your work. No trademarked names, no stolen intellectual property. Your work should be original and yours. DRM is murkier, I will be doing a lot more research before I publish a full novel, but in this instance, I didn’t select DRM on principle. If that turns out to be a mistake it won’t cost me too dearly.

Optional ISBN

If you plan to distribute wide you should give this some thought. I’m publishing a (very) short story in digital format so I’ve left this blank. Which means I will be using the automatic amazon provided number. If you want to have more control over your work you may wish to supply your own ISBN, and remember you need a different one for each format you publish in.

 

 

Urban Ritual

Urban Ritual should be available on Amazon this week.

Urban Ritual cover image

This is a stand-alone short story that could be considered ‘plot adjacent’. It is set in the same world/city there is no crossover in the terms of meta-plot or characters.

This one was a bit of a Frankenstein publishing attempt. Initially, this was to be part of a collection having previously been published elsewhere, but I’ve had a change of heart. Think of this as an experiment in so many things, setting up my Amazon Author account, pricing, audience targeting, and most importantly of all making sure I’ve got all my formatting/publishing t’s dotted and my i’s crossed. If this is successful and doesn’t devolve into tears, I should be prepared for the much bigger conversion soon to come.

Wish me luck.

Redheads

I just had to share some feedback I got on a short story today.

“One of your characters needs to be a redhead. You need more representation in your story.”

Okay that could be legitimate feedback unless you consider a few minor points

  1. About 3% of the world’s population are redheads and it feels like every second female UF protagonists. So I don’t really see under-representation as much of an issue.
  2. There are only two characters in this story. Again I should mention that 3% thing.
  3. At no point is either characters hair colour mentioned. You can make them whatever you want, it has no impact on the story.
  4. It is set in the middle east about 3,000 years ago.
  5. … you didn’t read it did you?

Pre-Publishing Checklist

So, you’ve finished your first manuscript. How do we get it out there to a world of potential fans?

Here are your answers in seven, no 11, no 14, no 16 easy (?) steps. Keep in mind that everyone has a different process, and no process is right for everyone.

  1. Finish 1st Draft
  2. Clean / Tidy (2nd Draft)
  3. Concept Editor Goes Here
  4. Get the manuscript to Beta Readers
  5. Collate feedback from Beta Readers
  6. Cry. Make friends with a bottle of spirits
  7. Re-Write using Beta feedback (3rd Draft)
  8. Get the manuscript back to Beta readers
  9. Scream when the feedback suggests you change things back to how they were
  10. Procrastinate terribly. (Bonus points for starting a new manuscript)
  11. Re-Write using Beta feedback (4th Draft)
  12. Clean / Tidy (5th Draft)
  13. Line/Copy Editor Goes Here
  14. Check format (size, font, the page settings). Add front and back material, the cover blurb, and placeholder artwork.
  15. Send Final Draft to ARC team/reviewers
  16. Create/Purchase the cover
  17. Publish

Just joking… kind of.

All those bold bits above, I’m going to do a post on those explaining what I mean. At least I will at some point.