Today I pressed the publish button on Amazon. Here is what you need to know.
If you already know how to publish on Amazon, 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
- Your banking details
- Your front material and back material ready.
- Your description (for ebooks this can be your blurb)
- Your cover image and author headshot ready to be uploaded
- A knowledge of which categories you want to publish under
- A set of up to seven keywords/phrases to help readers find your book
- You should also be aware of your ownership rights and options for Distribution, and DRM
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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. I also published across all available sites, moving forward I may narrow my market to just the UK, Australia, Canada and the US but I an work out the details later.
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 AISN provided when you publish on Amazon. If I wanted to have more control over my work I would supply my own ISBN. Remember you need a different one for each format you publish in.