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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Very Basic Tutorial on Uploading E-Books to Amazon and Barnes & Noble

I should have written this down while I was setting up my own account, but I didn't.  However, I shared this with my budding author friend and decided to share it with others, as well.  It is meant to be a shortcut, but you should go to the source and read all the Kindle/Nook literature yourself.  After that, compare my listing below to the authorized site and adapt as needed.  With that caveat, here goes.

1.  Go to www.Amazon.com.
2.  At bottom in middle is Make Money with Us.
3.  Fourth down is Independently Publish With Us.  Click on that.
4.  Which brings up the Self-Publish with Us page--first part is Self Publish via CreateSpace (to have your books in print) and the next down is Kindle Books (for e-books).  Choose Kindle Books.  You can download the free Kindle Publishing Guide or you can click Learn More to read about it, or you can click Get Started and just begin.
5.  Under Get Started, it will ask you to set up your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account (name, sign-in and other info, mailing address and if you want your royalties via check or via direct deposit.  I did direct deposit).
6.  After that, it should direct you to the BOOKSHELF area.  Yours should be empty.
7.  Click on Add a New Title.  It will ask you for the usual stuff, the title, the publisher, that you have the rights to this work, if you have an ISBN.  If you have no Publisher Name, Amazon will be your default publisher.

For e-books, it is not necessary to purchase an ISBN at this time (although there are contradictory opinions on this--if I had the money, I'd probably purchase my own block of ISBNs).  Absent your own ISBNs, Amazon will assign you one of their inhouse ASIN routing numbers for free.  Add in the author's name--but you can also choose to add the illustrator's name or co-author's name from the drop-down menu.  You need a Synopsis, a short blurb of your work like you would see on a book jacket, so have one prepared.  I think it gives you like 2400 WC to do that.
Amazon (or B&N) will take your Microsoft Word document (although there are other formats accepted, but MSWord seems to translate well) via their free software conversion process.

YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO PREVIEW THE DOWNLOAD.  Here is where I spend at least two hours working out all the glitches.  There will be strange indents happening and missed paragraphs or too many blank lines at different spots.  You go back to your MSWord doc and play around with it, save it and then UPLOAD your document AGAIN within KDP, PREVIEW it again (and again) until it is pretty and looks like it should.  

It SHOULD go without saying (but I will stress it here anyway) that your book be free from spelling snafus and grammatical errors, with no plot holes or inconsistencies and you have checked your facts.

You need a JPG cover (or maybe a TIF is allowed as well)--there are only two forms allowed.  To get my JPG, I simply scan my cover into my home printer and play around with colors and text (title and author name) with the use of free art software called GIMP 2.  MAKE SURE YOUR COVER LOOKS GOOD AS A THUMBNAIL--those small cover sizes you see when you peruse Amazon to buy a book.  
Just reduce the % within MSWord from 100% to 25% and see how the cover looks.  Even if you cannot read your name, make sure your cover still is recognizable and your title is readable.

For a cover, you can create your own, hire an artist or buy one of the royalty-free stock photos found online (like at www.istockphoto.com/).  The problem I have with stock photos is that you (and anybody else) can buy the same photo and your book cover could be duplicated many many times.  I like the uniqueness of having my own covers. Make sure any purchased stock photo is ROYALTY-FREE.  You want just flat-rate services as you Indie-publish your e-books.

You will upload your cover in a separate step from your text.  Hit "Save And Continue," going on to page two.  You choose a royalty.  For UNDER $2.99, you get 35%, I believe.  So about 34 cents of the 99-cent price (which is the lowest price, whether you are selling a one-page research article on How To Lose Weight, or a 600-page tome) is your royalty amount.  

If you choose to sell your book at $2.98, you still get just the 35% royalty from that.  However, if you go with the $2.99-up-to-$9.99 price ranges, you get 70% of the sales price (in the U.S.).  My books are all 99 cents, with the exception of my copyediting manual, which is at $2.99.  Pricing is up to you.  

Check the box re Worldwide Rights, so you will be in all the countries where Amazon has an online store--right now: Italy, Spain, Germany, UK, France, U.S.  There is something about "Do you want your project digitally protected from theft?" and I choose YES each time.  It always confuses me but it seems to be a good thing (unless I've misunderstood it all this time).

8.  Click Upload or whatever once the two pages are filled out like you want.
9.  Your book will be "Under Review" for at least a day and then it becomes LIVE and will appear on both your BOOKSHELF as well as the online Amazon site.
10.  You should go to Amazon Author Central and consider uploading a picture of yourself or your pet or favorite landscape or your book cover.  Upload your bio (I forget how many WC you have, but it's a lot).  List your website if you have one.  It won't take my blog page, so I added it to the end of my bio.  List all your books here too.  It will have the thumbnail of your novel show up soon and you just click Yes This Is My Book, or something like that.
11.  Then you can go back to the BOOKSHELF page load and up top, choose next to it REPORTS, then MONTH TO DATE UNIT SALES and it will show you if you've made any sales in the U.S.  You have to scroll down to the drop-down menu and choose UK, FR, ES, DE, IT to see about sales within the other online stores in other countries.  It should default to the U.S. for us here in the States.  
If you make more than $10 IN ROYALTIES at the end of a month (your 35% or your 70% of sales) or at the end of two months or whatever, then you will get a royalty check/direct deposit from Amazon in sixty days.  I've received three or four from Amazon to date (I first uploaded March 27, 2011) and have received one royalty check from B&N.

12.  I never could get my tabbed indents to work for my paragraphs IN THE PREVIEW UPLOAD, so mine are flush left with an empty line between paragraphs.  For my upcoming novels, I will use the ruler to set auto indent and no spacing between paragraphs--like the standard e-book and paperback formats.  We'll see how that works out later.

It does take me about three hours Previewing my work to get each e-book pretty before going public with it.  Of course, once you set up your KDP account, then you just need to go to the BOOKSHELF area and ADD NEW TITLE each time.

You can edit both your initial personal info and the individual book info at any time by going back to BOOKSHELF and there is an "Actions" button to the far right-hand side of each title.  Click on it and it gives you the ability to Edit Profile or Edit Book Details or Edit Rights, etc.  Again, there is the "In Review" process going on and in a day or so, your book again becomes Live.

I read the Amazon contract but if you have the money, an Entertainment attorney can explain it to you probably for one hour's fee.  I'm not saying you can get the terms changed, but at least you can have the boring legalese translated to you in layman's terms.

Three more things:  (1) NO ADS are allowed in your e-book.  I took that to mean even a preview of my new book and asking readers to buy it with a CLICK--although other authors seem to be doing this.  HOWEVER, with an email or two to Amazon, they said it is not a contract violation for me to have a page (which I entitled OTHER BOOKS BY AUTHOR) of Amazon links to my other books.  I do not want to do anything that bans me or my books from Amazon.  (2)  You cannot publicly share your royalties made.  Weird, I know.  But it is plain as day within the contract.  (3)  In fact, you cannot share the Amazon Contract publicly.   So no postings to the WWW or even within a group forum posting or a blog.

That's "it" for Amazon.  Ha!  I know.  In one initial sitting, it can be overwhelming, but you'll get through it.  And then a couple months later, when your next e-book is ready for release, you will wonder if you remember how to do it.  You will.

For B&N, you go to PubIt! at http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=pi_reg_home and fill out their form.  They only have a U.S. store at this point.  There is a little extra step in uploading your JPG at B&N because of pixel size restrictions (750 to 2000 pixel count).  I fix my Amazon cover to fit those B&N specs via GIMP 2 and make a second version of my cover to upload to B&N.  B&N takes less time to upload its ebooks to LIVE status, but you still NEED TO PREVIEW your upload and fix the glitches that occur in translation.

The royalty rates are different at B&N, being 40% and 65%, respectively, compared to Amazon's.

I am looking into Smashwords (another free site for e-book uploads) to access the other markets:  Kobo, iPad, Sony reader, etc.  Will let you know more about that when I get into it.

Good luck all!

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