Before posting your question, let's check it's not one of these first, hmmm?
[b]Do I have to pay to publish on Kindle?[/b]
No. Amazon will take a percentage of each sale as a royalty. There are no upfront costs.
[b]What royalty rate is best?[/b]
If you charge between $0.99-$2.98 per book, you can only opt for 35% royalty. Charge between $2.99-$9.99 pick 70% (after all, why would you take less???). Over $10.00 you have to select 35%.
[b]I picked 70% but some sales are showing up as 35% - why?[/b]
Because sales outside the Amazon domains .com, .co.uk, .de, .fr, .es and .it are sold through Amazon.com at a reduced royalty rate.
[b]Can I make my book free?[/b]
Only if you sign up for Select, in which case you will get 5 free days every three months. Otherwise you can add your book for free on another site (B&N is the biggie) and Amazon might price match it. You will have no control over if/when they price match, or for how long they will do so.
[b]What is Select?[/b]
If you join Select your book must be exclusive to Amazon for three months at a time. The Select option automatically renews if you don't opt out. You will get to make your book free for limited periods (see above) and your book will also be available for Prime members to borrow. Borrow rates are announced the following month and are usually around $2.50 per borrow. No borrows are guaranteed. Your book can still be bought conventionally from the Amazon store.
[b]Can I list my Select book on my blog / B&N / iTunes etc?[/b]
No. For the period your book is in Select, you cannot withdraw it and you cannot put it up anywhere else in any form.
[b]What about paperbacks?[/b]
Select only applies to ebooks.
[b]Do I have to join?[/b]
No. You can sell books on Amazon without being in Select, but you can't make them free or let them be borrowed.
[b]How do I get reviews?[/b]
Get readers. Read-review rate is something like 750-1 for paid books; 1500-1 for free books, so don't panic and don't hold your breath. They will come...eventually.
[b]Will you do a review swap with me?[/b]
No. There is nothing more suspicious than a new book with half a dozen glowing reviews. Don't waste your time getting friends/family/sycophants to leave you reviews, they will do more harm than good.
[b]I can't see my book ranking?[/b]
Book ranking in the Kindle store will appear on your book page once you have made at least one sale.
[b]I can't see my genre ranking?[/b]
Genre ranking will appear on your book page once you reach the top 100 in genre. For some genres that's easier than others.
[b]How many books do I need to sell to make the top 100 in store?[/b]
[b]What are tags?[/b]
Relevant keywords/phrases that people search by - 'thriller', 'romantic comedy' etc etc. To add tags, go to your book page on Amazon, press 'T' twice in quick succession and a box will pop up where you can add them in.
[b]Will you tag my book?[/b]
No. You only need two or three people to 'agree' with tags to make them relevant. You don't need 200 'agrees' to every tag.
[b]I got a negative review. Should I reply?[/b]
No, never. Suck it up and move on.
[b]Can you vote down my negative review?[/b]
Not unless it's rambling, aggressive nonsense. Some people will just hate your book, and they're entitled to do that. Look at it again, they might even have a valid point.
[b]Reviews keep saying my grammar is terrible - are they idiots?[/b]
No - you're the idiot. Don't trust great aunt Sally to properly proofread your book and tell you it's fabulous. As a minimum you need good betas and a firm grasp of English. Some people need more help than others. If you're serious about writing, you'll learn your craft and get help where you need it.
[b]I took a great picture of my dog, that will do as a cover, right?[/b]
Your cover is your first impression. Fail and people won't look further. make sure it's good, make sure it coveys the tone of your book and most importantly make sure it looks like a book cover should. So a name, a title and the right shape for starters.
[b]I asked why my book wasn't selling and you were all mean to me and said I needed to do loads of work on it.[/b]
That's called tough love - get used to it.
[b]Will you follow me on Twitter / Facebook?[/b]
Only if you write stuff I'm interested in, otherwise why would you ask me to? There's no point having 10,000 followers if none of them read ebooks.
[b]So I started a blog yesterday, I wrote all about my writing method, but I only got two hits and no new sales. What gives?[/b]
Blogging is a long-term plan, but it's a good one. It takes time to build a following. And don't write about writing, it's boring.
[b]I just published. How do I market my book?[/b]
You think about who your readers are, where they hang out and what interests them. Then you get their attention and you give them what they want.
[b]What is Goodreads?[/b]
It's a site where booklovers meet to review books and share recommendations. It's a great tool, but you have to get involved properly. If you spam a few forums and never speak to anyone, you won't get anywhere. You'll probably actually put people off buying your book.
[b]Should I promote on the Amazon forums?[/b]
Not unless you like being tortured. Don't go there, and if you do, don't mention that you're an author, and if you do, don't cry to me when they savage you and leave you negative reviews just because they can.
[b]I spotted a typo in my published book, can I fix it?[/b]
Yes. If you need to make changes to the book's file (typos, rewrites, changes to font / formatting etc) or if you want to change the price or distribution, go to your bookshelf, click the select box next to the title and then in the options drop-down you will be able to edit the book's file. It will take up to 3 days to republish the book with the new changes, but the book will be able to be bought throughout.
[b]Can I change my blurb without republishing?[/b]
Yes. Make an author central profile (http://authorcentral.amazon.com) and you can change the blurb from there, and also add reviews, a "from the author" section etc. Changes go live within about 15 mins.
[b]Is author central useful for anything else?[/b]
Yes. Use author central to create an author profile, add pictures, link to blog / twitter feeds and track sales of your books. You will need to create a new profile for every domain (.com, .co.uk, .de, .fr). You can only edit book details from .com
[b]I need help formatting, where do I start?[/b]
If you're working in MS Word then get the FREE Smashwords Style Guide http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52 this is a great starter guide for formatting.
[b]Can I publish places other than Amazon?[/b]
Not if you're in Select, because you've signed to say you will offer Amazon exclusivity. Otherwise there are lots of places to try - wwww.smashwords.com offers distribution to B&N, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, iTunes and Baker-Taylor. If you're in the US you can publish directly thought Pubit onto B&N without going through SW. There are lots of distribution sites out there so get googling.
[b]I want to publish in paper, can I do that?[/b]
Yes. The three biggest sites are Createspace, Lulu and Lightning Source. These are all POD (print on demand) services. In the US, CS is considered the better source, Lulu works best in the UK, but there are pros and cons to all of them and you need to check them all out properly to make sure you've picked the best option for you.
[b]What sales should I expect?[/b]
None. Anything over that is a bonus. Some people sell a book a month, some sell a book a second, and there's people on every step in between. Don't expect to throw a book out there and get a flurry of downloads without putting in any effort. "Success" can only be defined by the sales figure that makes you happy - comparisons with other people are arbitrary and meaningless. Unless you're the #1 book on Amazon there will always be people outselling you, and even if you are #1, how long will you stay there? Concentrate on your own efforts, not on what others are doing.
[b]Why can't I see my book's price when I'm checking the UK store from the US (or vice versa)?[/b]
Because Amazon knows that you can't buy from a foreign domain, so they'll try to prompt you back to your own side of the fence and block the price. If you click on your author central profile you'll be able to see the book price there - inclusive of any taxes that may be due for foreign purchases. The people who are buying from that domain do NOT pay these taxes.
[b]People say I need an editor. Can you recommend one?[/b]
Different editors work in different ways, you need to find one that you can work well with. Depending on your level of competence you might need a more or less extensive edit. There are numerous recommendations on these boards. As a rule an editor should be willing to do a short free sample for you, of the first few pages of your manuscript. This will show you their style, what you'd be getting for your money, and you can decide if they are someone you can work with and if they're offering a service that you need.
[b]Do I really need a cover?[/b]
If you want to make sales, you need a decent cover. The stock covers used by Amazon for coverless books won't help you. Instead you can design one yourself (if you have the technical ability!) using an image you've created; or get a stock photo (there are threads with numerous sites listed - istockphoto is a good place to start). You can buy these for as little as a few dollars. GIMP is a great (free) tool that works very like photoshop. If it's beyond your ability then there are people out there who will design covers for you, prices usually start around $50. Like anything the sky is the limit where price is concerned, you need to decide what your limit is and make sure you get value for your money. The cover is your book's first impression, so it needs to count!
I just looked out the window and saw a baby robin on my second story deck. He was perched on the bottom rung of the railing, looking down. After a few minutes, the mother robin stopped by and fed him a worm, and then swooped away. The baby hopped over to the other side of the deck, looked down at the lawn, took a deep breath, and glided down to the grass where he can hunt for his own worms. Of course, now he’s in all sorts of danger from cats and hawks, but that is all part of becoming independent.
Newbies, be grateful for this valuable advice from Diamond. This forum was and is a great source of useful information for me and I hope it will be for you. Now that you’ve published, you’re in danger from disappointing sales and bad reviews, but eventually you just have to find your own worms. Best of luck.
"Read-review rate is something like 750-1 for paid books; 1500-1 for free books, so don't panic and don't hold your breath. They will come...eventually."
Are those accurate figures? My (paid) book gets reviews an order of magnitude more frequently, and I don't do swaps or solicit reviews or anything like that (beyond a general encouragement to fans to help spread the word). Did you mean 75-1, perhaps, or am I some kind of weird outlier?
Oh, not so. I've price matched twice since Select came in. Start with Smashwords, get it to B&N, then ping the "lower price?" button on AMZ about 10 times and they'll price match. Getting it back from free is a mixed bag.
No. It can of course be more, but that's the average I've seen. My latest baby has a read-review rate of 1000-1 on Amazon (higher in places like Goodreads, of course). You can get lucky (or unlucky, lol), and a lot depends on the reader, but basically the vast, vast majority of readers don't review.
And they're still price matching? I did not realise that...I've learnt something today