By Miranda Moore additional reporting by Linzy Novotny
Now that Amazon is offering its free publication services, it’s becoming easier for unknown authors to get their names out there by publishing their books via the Kindle. The service—Kindle Direct Publishing—is fast and easy. All you have to do is upload the content, enter sales, copy and pricing information, and you can be published in minutes. There are three publishing options to choose from: Do it Yourself, Print & Digital or you can use a conversion service. Let’s say you are more of a reader than a writer, well, the publishing service is just as useful to you because it gives these unknown authors a chance to get their work published and readers the opportunity to read these e-books for a low price or even free.
Do It Yourself: Save Money by Utilizing Amazon’s Guides to Publishing
When choosing the Do It Yourself option, you are automatically given a guide. This guide comes in two versions—a PDF or video. This option allows the author to build the entire book on their own and the guide walks the user through how to build their book in Microsoft Word. Everything from the front cover to the last page is explained. There is also a guide for Mac users and a book, “Building Your Book for Kindle,” available for free.
An important aspect of publishing is to choose your royalty rate, which is the amount the author will get paid when their book sells. Amazon allows the author to choose between a 35 percent and a 70 percent rate. The 35 percent rate allows for sales of the book in all territories, while the 70 percent rate allows the book to be available in select territories—including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other various countries in Europe. The 35 percent royalty rate does not deduct delivery costs from the author, but the delivery cost for the 70 percent rate is dependent on the file size of the book multiplied by 15 cents, if selling in the United States.
In factoring potential profits, the 35 percent royalty rate is calculated by multiplying the royalty rate by the list price. If you are selling your book for 99 cents, you would earn 35 cents per book sold. With the 70 percent royalty rate, subtract the delivery costs from the list price and multiply by the royalty rate. Let’s say the book is 1 MB, which makes the delivery cost 15 cents. If the book’s list price is 99 cents, and using the above calculation, the author would earn 58 cents per book sold. It doesn’t sound like much, but if the book garnered 2,000 downloads, profits would be around $1,160 with a 70 percent royalty rate and $700 with a 35 percent rate.
Print & Digital: Mixing the Old School and the New School
If you would like you book available on an e-reader and in print, CreateSpace, an Amazon company, is a tool and service that the author can use. When using CreateSpace, you are given the option to either do everything yourself or use a professional service. For example, you can build the front cover yourself using a free cover tool, build it from scratch or get a professional cover made. The author also has the choice of a black and white or color design, as well as different lengths for the printed pages. As an added bonus, CreateSpace gives the author the option of buying copies of the book. Books are also manufactured as they are ordered.
Conversion Service: Get the Publishing Help you Need
If the author needs help with any aspect of publishing their book, conversion services are there to help. These services are for the less tech-savvy authors who may have trouble converting their work to the Kindle. There is a list of conversion services on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. Some of the companies are 52Novels, Booknook and CreateSpace.
With CreateSpace, the company offers affordable design, editing and marketing services to the author as well as distribution and royalty options. If the author ever needs help, CreateSpace is available by phone and email. There is also a community, where questions and ideas can be discussed and explored.
Free and Discounted E-books are Out There for Readers to Find
Now on to the readers—because Amazon is making it easier for writers to get their work out, more writers are being discovered, meaning an endless amount of e-books to read. In addition, since their work is virtually unknown at first, the price of the e-books is low and sometimes even free. But, as the writers are discovered and the e-books begin to sell, the prices go up. You have to be quick and grab the books while they’re free or at a discount. There are several different ways to find them and some may come as a surprise.
Amazon: Read E-books for Free with a Kindle Prime Membership
After purchasing your Kindle, you must register it and become an Amazon member to use it. Once you are an Amazon Kindle member, Amazon will automatically email you lists of Kindle books that are free or discounted. With each book that you buy or look into, Amazon sends you e-books based on what you enjoy. There are free domain books as well, which are open to the public at no cost. Some titles of free domain books include: “Frankenstein,” “Wuthering Heights”” and all of the Jane Austen books.
Kindle Prime Members have the luxury of being able to use the Kindle Lending Library. The Kindle Lending Library enables the prime members to choose from over 145,000 titles to “borrow as frequently as a book a month with no due dates [for free],” according to the Amazon website. To become a Kindle Prime Member, readers must pay an annual membership fee of $79. Readers can also try the program with a free trial.
Facebook: Get Free or Discounted E-books in your News Feed
There are several Facebook pages dedicated to free and/or discounted e-books. Some of these pages are Pixel of Ink, Ereader News Today and Kindle Author. To find other pages type “free kindle books” in the search box and click pages. You can “like” as many pages as you want and every time a new book is mentioned, it will appear in your news feed.
Blogs: Write About Discounted E-Books
There are hundreds of blogs that are dedicated to helping readers find Kindle books. The website, Freebookdude.com, lists several free e-books and has a tag line of “Free Kindle and Nook books every hour of every day.” Blogspot and Tumblr have several blogs dedicated to finding free and discounted e-books. Better yet, try Googling, “free e-books.”
If you don’t like any of the blogs you find or maybe you just want to add to the search of these discounted Kindle books, why not try making your own blog? By enabling authors to submit a picture of their book, a synopsis and the link to Amazon to buy the book, you would not only be helping the author but also Amazon. Once you have all of the information you need, all you have to do is put it all together in a post. Throw in some good HTML and you’ve got yourself a blog.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service is spearheading a new era in book publishing. Many authors have become known through publishing their work on the Kindle—with Carolyn McCray being an example. She is a popular paranormal romance writer who has written several books as well as worked with other popular Kindle authors. Her books range in price from 99 cents to $7.99. Writers are not the only ones benefiting from the service as readers have access to works by thousands of new authors. In all, as technology is changing, the e-reader gives authors another medium and thousands of potential readers as e-readers give these potential readers thousands of books to choose from.