Six months ago, I discovered that it is free to self-publish books on Amazon (KDP) Kindle Direct Publishing. This feature has been around for many years, however I only developed an interest in self-publishing books recently (I am not being sponsored by Amazon for writing this). I may never have gone down this path of self-publishing if I hadn’t left a full-time accounting job last year. I finally had the free time I needed to explore my love of writing … for a little while.
I am still very new at it. I found the process to be simple. I was able to figure out how to do everything by following the basic steps provided on Amazon’s book publishing site. I downloaded Amazon’s free Kindle Create software to create my ebooks. For the paperback versions, I used MS Word and later saved as a .pdf file. I designed my own book covers using Amazon’s free cover creator software and images.
For the first book, I took down the poetry and spoken word from my website and turned it into a small poetry book called Spirit of the Wolf.
After it was finished, I transferred my self-help and life/spiritual coaching articles into a second book called One Step at a Time: A Short and Simple Self-Coaching Book.
The third book I published was actually a paranormal fiction novella that I wrote in between transferring my blogs into books. I had fun writing it. The novella took about a month to finish.
For the last book, I transferred all of my content about CSR, social/environmental responsibility and conscious leadership into a book called Evolve: Changing the Purpose of Business.
My blog is temporarily an empty canvas since all of the content has been converted into three books.
Would I recommend going this route to other people with blogs? Yes and no. If you are an introvert like me, it’s tough. I rarely engage on social media or in marketing/book promotion online.
Major publishing companies seem to dominate the market on Amazon now. It is hard to get noticed as an independent author unless you already have a large number of supporters online. Some authors have gained an audience on sites like Wattpad or other author platforms. I have yet to try it.
Amazon does offer free book promotion services for five days (every three months) if you enrol in their optional KDP Select program. However, it means that your book can only be distributed through Kindle/Amazon during enrolment. Every three months, you will have the option to cancel enrolment, or renew to receive another five days of promotion again.
Many people downloaded my books during the KDP Select free book promotion. I did enjoy that. However, I have only sold a handful of books. I will continue to research other self-publishing platforms to determine whether Amazon is right for me.
In the end, writing a book is fun, inspiring, meaningful and a tremendous amount of work. It was worth it!
However, in order to sell enough books to quit a day job, I recommend the following:
1) Hire a professional editor if you can afford it (unless you are already an expert).
2) Hire a professional book cover illustrator/designer (it really can make or break book sales).
3) Create an excellent marketing plan, which requires extensive research on what your target audience wants.
4) Build a large audience online (through author platforms, social media, blogging, paid advertising, etc.).
5) Ask for honest reviews of your book. I haven’t done this part yet. It’s no secret that reviews will help a book gain exposure. I still prefer to let it happen naturally, despite the fact that books without many reviews may not attract the attention of readers on Amazon. Amazon has strict guidelines for authors to ensure that book reviews are authentic.
6) Devote time and patience to editing several times. Sometimes editing a book can take longer than writing it. Many authors recommend a resting period after writing a book; they will often set the book aside for a week or more before editing it.
I wish you great success should you decide to write a book. Choosing whether to self-publish or seek an agent/publisher is a very personal choice, both have pros and cons.
If you have suggestions or advice about self-publishing, please feel welcome to comment below.