In response to my “Why Don’t You Have a Digital Version of Your Book” post, we received several requests from authors to summarize digital services and/ or point you toward decent tutorials for doing so. I’m in the process of developing a series just like that, and today we’ll start with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), which is Amazon’s popular self-publishing platform.
I always tell authors to start with KDP for several reasons. For one, Amazon gives you the most control over your book (in my opinion) in terms of categorization, keywording, and giveaways, and I like that they give you immediate access to your sales. I know, publishers have relationships with booksellers so they don’t want to use only one distribution channel, but for first time self publishers, I do think it’s a good place to start, and a good proving ground for books to get used to doing giveaways, getting publicity, getting reviews, and generally getting your feet wet in the business of selling books.
The first thing you’ll need in the KDP process is an account. Amazon makes this super-easy, and they have probably already set one up for you if you’re an Amazon customer. Just go over to http://kdp.amazon.com, verify your account, and you’ll be ready to go.
Next, you obviously need to get your book into digital form. Whether that means digging up the old Word file of the final draft or having someone re-type the original hardcover / paperback edition (this also assumes you hold the electronic rights), there really is no failsafe way to just “scan the book into the internet” as several authors have asked me, so I would say my best advice there is: find the Word file or get to typing. This is also a job an assistant or outsourced worker could do.
In case you’re the kind of learner (like I am) who would rather just see someone walk you through something, I will say that I have watch A LOT of Kindle tutorial videos, and the best tutorial I’ve ever seen on the whole process of Kindle Publishing was made by Jim Kukral from Author Marketing Club, which I totally think you should join if you are an author trying to get books out there. Jim does an awesome job with his training seminars, he’s always making innovative tools to help people sell more books, and he’s generally a great guy, so I think you should go over there and sign up for the AMC right now (either the free version, or the Premium Version, which I belong to myself and which I think is actually underpriced at the annual rate). Once you’re in there, you just go to “Video Tutorials,” where you will find enough information to make your head fall off. The videos are available in the free version, just in case you’re wondering.
Personally, I did my first Kindle book with very little in the way of instruction, preferring the “trial and error” method, and therefore, it took about 100 times longer than it should have. I found the whole thing easy until I got to the actual uploading of the cover and the book file itself, and that is where I would recommend you have a guide or a tutorial in place.
Once you’re done publishing your book, you will need to send a request to Amazon to have the Kindle version “joined” with the paper version (if that doesn’t happen naturally). You might also want to pick up a copy of the book “Making a Killing on Kindle,” which is a solid strategy book, or our book “How to Market a Book,” which covers getting your author platform in order and starting to reach out to bloggers and on social media to get your book some coverage.
This can all sound overwhelming, and that is totally understandable. Having a digital version is definitely something that you’re going to need going forward, though, so it’s good to start working on that process sooner rather than later.