Kindle E books. The Good, The Bad, The Holy F***

I’m not sure if I’m in the right spot. Mod’s help me out here. I’ve got a short story I’m thinking about publishing on Amazon KDP. I was curious as to any other Straight Dopers had ventured this route and share their experience. I’m not looking to get rich quick, but thought this might be a way to get some of my work out there. I’ve looked at all the materials supplied by KDP. Now I’d like some honest feedback about the experience.

Since the OP is looking for advice, let’s move this over to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

I’ve published one novel on Amazon, as both an ebook and a paperback, and I’ll be publishing my second very soon. It was easy and cheap and I recommend it if you’re unwilling or unable to publish traditionally. I’d be happy to answer any questions.

As an unlimited Kindle reader (yes, I do read that much), I’d advise you to use many descriptive words for the search. (I don’t know how that’s done, but I do know that I sometimes miss books from authors I like because they don’t come up for me unless I search by name.) I search for terms and even if your story is just what I’d want to read, if I can’t find it in the search, I won’t read it.

Also, put some of your text in the description that prospective readers see. If I’ve never read any of your stuff before, “Exciting!” “A spell binding novel of pirates and romance on the high seas.” “An amazing twist at the end!” really won’t work for me.

I have three novels and a novella up.

The take-home message is that, if you are an unknown author, the wall of apathy is astounding. Unless you know exactly how to drum up excitement via social media, or are willing to spend money on advertising, I strongly recommend that you start your book in KDP Select, which gives you five “giveaway” days per quarter during which you can distribute the title for free. On these free days you generally give away between 50 and 200 copies of your book. That gets your name out there, gets reviews, etc.

Use the giveaway days on weekdays. People are too busy with real life on weekends to be downloading.

At the end of your book, have an “about the author” page in which you politely ask readers who enjoyed the title to tell a friend or leave a review, because of word-of-mouth is the indie author’s greatest tool.

Do what you can to have the best editing, the best formatting, the best content, and the best cover you can. During your first 30 days on KDP your book will be in a New Releases section, which will move more copies than you’ll afterward be able to move, unless you develop a following. You want it as shiny as possible during those 30 days.

… however, KDP allows you to modify and update the title as many times as you want. So don’t sweat it if you find typos after release day. Just fix them and upload a corrected file.

I have a nonfiction book, a novel and 16 short stories on Amazon, all of them erotica. (I’m so ashamed!) What general category of book are you publishing? There are some definite things you need to know in publishing on Amazon in erotica.

Thank you all for your information thus far. It is refreshing to hear actual accounts and not hyped up testimonials about publishing on KDP. I would love to be traditionally published, but I’m also exploring the idea of self publishing. I know either side has their pros and cons. My short story would most likely be classified under crime. Although I think it’s more comedic than a crime caper. I also have a novel I’ve shopped around some, but I feel it needs more polishing so I’m not as eager to get that out there. If I do go with self publishing on the book I would want to have it available in print, which I know amazon has this service as well. I wouldn’t classify myself as a mystery/crime author (I am currently working on a story that falls into the science fiction/ paranormal category).
Also, any thoughts on the other ebook self publishing sites out there? iBooks, B&N, and so on.

Sattua’s advice is spot-on.

If you want to explore non-Amazon avenues, I recommend Smashwords. Only 89% of our sales come from Amazon, 10% come from Smashwords, and builds up to a significant amount of money over time.

You can’t use Smashwords and KDP Select together, and KDP Select might be the better way to go as you’re starting out.

Laying out a novel for print is getting easier and easier and you can do it yourself, but for God’s sake, pay for good cover art.

Well the general thought among erotica authors on other ebook self publishing sites out there is that they are much smaller markets than erotica, so much smaller that it pays to jump through the often ridiculous hoops that Amazon forces erotica authors to jump through. In fact the Amazon market is so much stronger than the other markets that it pays to take the Amazon KU Collect program (same as KDP Selecte mentioned above) which pays you when people get your book through their Kindle Unlimited program) even though to qualify, you can’t publish your book with any other publisher.

I would check with people who write in your genres to see if that holds true for everyone. It might not. Conditions do vary greatly from genre to genre.

Smashwords publishes through multiple sites, including Amazon, B&N, Apple, and others, and you can pick and choose any to leave out if you wish. I set up my book on Amazon, and then on Smashwords for all the other sites (I assumed Amazon would have most of my sales, and I wanted to focus on them).

I also published the paperback with CreateSpace, an Amazon affiliate, which was quite easy.

I want to thank everyone for posting to this, as well as the information you have shared. I’m hoping to have this short story up on Amazon soon (as early as the end of the week). I already have a cover designed, and I have gone through several rounds of editing. I’m hoping this will be the first of many. I already have a novel written that needs some tweaking, and the start of a new story in mind.
If you think of anything else please let me know. Until then I’m sure I’ll share the details and links as to where it is and when it will be available in the MPSIMS forum or maybe the Cafe Society, but I’m not sure if the latter would be allowed.
Thanks again.

Forgive me for the hijack, but as an aspiring writer who’s just starting out, what forums or groups would any of you recommend for me to join/peruse? I’m looking for what is probably the usual gamut of things available on such sites: feedback, tips, reading the writing of others, perhaps writing exercises, and other features that aren’t coming to mind at the moment. If you have used such sites, have they helped you, and in what way? If you’ve not been a regular at such sites, what was it about them that made you go your own way, so to speak?

When you get your story up be sure to either post a link or send one via PM to interested parties (such as myself). I thoroughly enjoyed iiandyiii’s novel (when are you going to write more in that universe, hmm?). I don’t enjoy everything the new authors put up but I have found some surprisingly good stories.

I will, and thanks. It should be any day now. I just uploaded the cover art and the content today. There is a lapse between now and when it’s live. Hopefully it will be as soon as tomorrow.

I can’t really answer your questions as far as which group you should look at. It all depends on the genre you write in, and what your taste in writing is. I’m not a seasoned pro, but someone who has always enjoyed writing, and within the past year or so have been taking it more seriously. Part of taking it seriously was building an online presence on my website through blogging, becoming more active on twitter, and so on. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a long way for me to go, but I recently thought “what the hell,” and decided to put one of my short stories up on kindle to see what happens. I used to work in publishing and have a decent knowledge of marketing.
There is worlds of information and groups and all sorts of people who blog on a regular basis that I enjoy. Chuck Wendig at, though not writing entirely in my genre, is what they call a hybrid author meaning he has stuff traditionally published as well as self published. I really enjoy his blogs, which mostly revolve around writing, and want to read several of his books. I just have to buy the books. I’ve found a lot of people through Twitter, like Joanna Penn who has lots of advice for self published authors. There are places that have monthly short story contests like There is also stuff out there like the 3 day novel challenge taking place on Labor Day weekend, and NaNoWriMo in November which are designed to hammer out a novel (first draft) as fast as possible.
Also, and this is a personal preference, stop calling yourself an aspiring writer, unless you are not writing and only talking about writing. If you want to be a writer then you have to sit down and write. OK. Rant over. Sorry about that.
Like I said, there is plenty of info out there, Straight Dope included, but you have to spend the time to figure out what works for you. Hope that helps.

Thanks for the advice and leads, powerjacob. Yup, I consider myself an aspiring writer instead of simply a writer since I’ve not really written anything that wasn’t a class assignment. I think the first step is to lose the ‘aspiring’ part, then sit down and write something, even if it’s only a paragraph or three.

Thanks for the kind words! My second novel will be out in a matter of weeks, but it’s not in the same universe as the first. I’ve started on a sequel to the first, but the idea I had for the one that’s about to be out demanded attention first. :slight_smile:

I understand. You don’t have to be a traditionally published writer to be a writer. You just have to do it. It can be hard, easy, uplifting, and crushing all in the span of a sentence. It can make for an awesome ride to see where your own imagination can take you.

Congratulations. Send me a link and I’ll check it out. Even write a review if you like.

For anyone else out there, I got the email last night and my short story is now online. It’s on Amazon and titled “Frank Winston.” I’m not sure what the rules are as far as posting links to our own stuff to sell, so I will leave the link out for now.