Posts Tagged How to publish on the Kindle
I’m at Tuesday Serial today, a weekly round-up of serial fiction being published throughout the web. They were curious to know about my experiences releasing My Memories of a Future Life as four parts on the Kindle, which is how I originally launched. Thinking back, it made me revise more sharply – and I’m glad I did because it surely strengthened the novel. Come over and see, on Tuesday Serial -or any day you like…
A year of change in publishing puts writers in the driving seat – guest post at Catherine, Caffeinated
Catherine Ryan Howard was one of the first bloggers I found when I started flinging words into the ether. She was writing about her deep love of caffeine and outer space, and of course her books – among them a memoir.
That memoir was Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida – which became a self-publishing phenomenon. Catherine put it out in 2010 after agents and editors told her that while it was a fab read, there was no market for it. Using only free promotional tools like her blog, Twitter and Facebook, Catherine has managed to shift over 7,000 copies. Not only that, she’s written a brilliant book on self-publishing, which I keep by my side when I venture into unfamiliar self-publishing waters. When I put Nail Your Novel on Kindle, it was Catherine’s blog I used to guide me.
We’ve both had very positive experiences self-publishing, but we both also swore we would never self-publish our own fiction. But a few months ago I started to think again. And then I happened by Catherine’s blog to find she was entertaining the same plan…
She asked me over to her blog to explain what changed my mind and made me publish My Memories of a Future Life (which is out today)… and why, as a bestselling ghostwriter, I even had to self-publish in the first place.
Everyone’s talking about how publishing has broken all its rules this year. We’ve had agents publishing their authors’ backlists as ebooks, or arguing about why they shouldn’t. We’ve had agents lobbying for authors to get a much higher percentage of ebook rights. We’ve had authors tearing up their contracts and going indie – and some of them have become the infamous Kindle millionaires.
One idea I’ve heard whispered in these discussions is whether longform fiction should be serialised. Usually it’s quickly dismissed. Oh no one’s doing that.
Yes they are. I’m going to.
And this is it. I’m going to publish it in four hefty parts.
The entire novel is a scale-breaking 100,000 words, so each episode is roughly 25,000 – a good novella’s worth of reading each time.
Yes, this is an experiment. It could be argued that it’s a 150-year-old experiment as it’s the same model used by another famous self-publisher – Charles Dickens.
It’s either a great idea or monumentally dumb. But I’m already breaking rules by self-publishing a literary novel when most indie releases are genre, so why not stomp on another?
My agent tells me he’s watching with great interest. Not just out of curiosity, but to see if this is a viable model for the agency’s own ventures into new publishing models. So it’s not just a small step for me…
How much will it be? The magic 99c per episode. If you’re late getting to an episode, don’t worry – once they’re up in the Kindle store, they will be up for two months. Although you might have to block your ears to the chat on Twitter about it…
So that’s my secret weapon. My Memories of a Future Life is a literary novel written to be released episodically, week by week, the way Dickens wrote his serialised novels. Starting Tuesday August 30th, then Mondays thereafter – September 5, September 12, and the final episode on September 19th.
Wish me luck. And just so I feel more emboldened, tell me what rules – writing or otherwise – you’ve broken this week.
Some people would say it’s about time too, as for a while now I’ve been getting requests to put my book Nail Your Novel onto the Kindle.
What took me so long? Two things.
1 – I don’t have a Kindle
But I’ve been knocking around writing blogs for long enough to know that we like our own ways of reading. People who read on the Kindle want their books in that format and some of them don’t even buy print any more. At the moment I prefer paper and print, but other people prefer pixels.
2 – Design
I designed the print version of Nail Your Novel with sections and sub-heads, identified by typefaces – a legacy from my years in magazines. As the Kindle does away with typefaces, how was I going to make it look right? The very thought of it was nailbiting.
Until I happened upon this blog post by Cath Ryan Howard of the blog Catherine, Caffeinated: How to format your e-book without the migraine. She made it look so simple I thought I’d have a go. She also references the Smashwords Style Guide, which filled in the whys and wherefores and is so darn clear that it deserves a plain English award. It’s deesigned for epub, but the principles also hold for the Kindle. With these open on my desktop, I had most of what I needed. Even with my complicated format, it was easy peesy.
I’m not going to rehash their instructions as they’ve done the legwork and deserve the site hits. I’ll just mention a few points that weren’t covered, although most of these will apply to non-fiction rather than fiction:
Yes, bold and italics will work on the Kindle. Apply them as you normally would in Word with the toolbar buttons – they translate just fine.
Bullets don’t work on the Kindle. So I rewrote the bullet-point lists as numbered lists.
If you’re writing non-fiction you’ll need a hyperlinked contents page, and you may want cross-references to increase the book’s usability. I found this post from Foner Books answered my remaining questions. You do not need an index as there are no pages, but there are a few electronic markers you need to put in to identify the start of the book. You also need page breaks on a Kindle, which you don’t need on an epub book. The Foner Books post explains it all.
Without a Kindle, how could I check it worked? Fortunately the Kindle publishing system has a simulator. Upload your file, check it looks okay, tweak as necessary, upload again. You needn’t worry you’ve published prematurely as you have to go through several more steps to actually launch your book on Amazon. As an extra, a friend converted my file to a format called Mobi and was able to test it on her Kindle. She gave me the thumbs up – and we were ready to go!
So…if you’re wondering about putting your book on Kindle, all I can say is do. It really is easy.
Particular thanks in my journey to this Kindle edition go to the people whose excellently written resources made it possible, and to Suzanne Fyrie Parrott of Unruly Guides and Kevin McGill of Guys Can Read. And there are many, many more of you who have given me such wonderful feedback on the book and have cheered me on in reviews and have spread the word. Thank you – I really appreciate it. (And thank you, .bobby, for the picture.)
What’s it all about?
Read the first 16 pages for free here – although on Kindle you can get a sample anyway.
Read reviews from Sarah Peppel (Novel Inspirations from Nail Your Novel) New Book Blogger, listen to me talk about the book to Joanna Penn here. Also I’m going to be popping up in a few guest posts around the virtual town, so stay tuned.