Catherine McGrew Jaime

Author, Historian, Lifelong Learner, Teacher, World Traveler

Category: Writing

Writing hints from an independently published author of many years.

More KDP Publishing Information

After questions that came up at last night’s Writer’s Meeting, I debated whether to update my first blog on Publishing Options or whether to put it in a new post.  With the length of the first post, and the additional important KDP publishing information I needed to share, I decided it was better to write a new one.

Two points came up that need to be addressed, one that I had forgotten to include the first time, and one that was brand new information to me.

Publishing Paperbacks

In my first post I spoke of my recommendation to publish paperbacks through CreateSpace. That is not the only option out there, of course, but from my own experience and my research, I strongly believe it to currently be the best – the cheapest, the easiest, and yet, still high quality way to get books published in a “Print on Demand” manner.

But what I forgot to mention was another option that Amazon has just released – of publishing your paperbacks through KDP along with your Kindle books. Amazon is touting this as an “easier” way – because it only requires one account to keep up with rather than two. However, at least at the moment, my research indicates that the disadvantages of going that way outweigh the advantages, specifically the inability to purchase your own books through that system. (And having two accounts to deal with is no big deal!)

On CreateSpace you have the option of ordering physical proof copies of your books before having them go live for the whole world to see. And while I appreciate the ability to now proof my books digitally with CreateSpace, I ONLY use that option when I am making small tweaks to an existing book. My personal rule of thumb is to ALWAYS order a copy of my book before I actually publish it to the Amazon website. That is particularly important for books with pictures inside, but I find it useful for all of my books.

I also appreciate being able to purchase my own books at a low price, so that I can have a copy for myself, gift it to family and friends, give it to potential reviewers, or even sell it myself directly (something I did when I had a physical store to carry them in, but don’t plan to do now because of sales tax headaches).

But apparently there is no purchasing option through the KDP print system at the moment.  From what I can tell without participating in it, the system itself is probably very similar to CreateSpace’s (which would make sense, since Amazon is behind both of them). But as long as the option to purchase low priced copies of our own books isn’t there, I would just stay with CreateSpace!

If you want more information on the KDP print option, you can see look at Print Publishing Guidelines.

Kindle Delivery Fee

This second topic is actually one that I have to admit being ignorant of in spite of having published through Amazon for more than six and a half years now. Apparently, somewhere in the small print (and we had to DIG to find it last night) KDP explains that there is a delivery fee for our Kindle books (on top of the percentage they keep after giving us our royalties). And that delivery fee is based on the size of the book file. So for the vast majority of my Kindle books, which are text dense and tend to have only a few pictures, this has not been a big problem. But for a photo based book, or an illustrated children’s book like they are trying to publish, this can quickly become a very big problem.

In my six plus years of publishing with Amazon I have been very happy with their customer service and their business model. But this “hidden” fee certainly threatens to rain on my Amazon parade.

Again, to be clear, for those of us publishing books that are text-based not picture-based, this is a fairly small issue. But for people who are wanting to publish picture-based, or even heavily illustrated, books, this is something to pay attention to!

I checked my reports from the last few months and found that most of my books were being charged a $0.02 delivery fee. Obviously that’s not a big problem. But one of my books, that has pictures, but isn’t even what I would consider a heavy-hitter when it comes to size, had a $0.23 delivery fee.  Again, not the end of the world, but certainly significantly more than the other books I’m selling, and something I will pay more attention to in the future! (And the month I sold 100 copies of that book, it certainly added up to more than pocket change.)

Now that I’m looking for it, I see the delivery charge in my account when I’m publishing a Kindle book. This is a screenshot from one of my books that does have quite a few pictures. It has a $0.30 delivery fee.  Screenshot from my Kindle AccountNow, one thing to note – in this case, I’m still going to make more money going with the 70% royalty option (in this case $1.88 – $0.30 versus $1.05). But if my book was much bigger and the delivery fee rose above the differential of $0.83, it would make more sense for me to chose the 35% royalty, because at least right now, they are not charging a delivery fee on those books.

So, now that I know the delivery fee is there, and see where it is showing up on the KDP website, I can still recommend to authors that they put their picture-heavy books up as a Kindle book – BUT they need to pay close attention to the delivery fee, and make an informed decision of whether they need to choose the 35% royalty option or the 70% option.

For more information on the Delivery fees, see Amazon’s Agreement, and search for “Delivery Costs.”

Reader Questions

Are you using KDP’s service? Are you happy with it? Did I leave out anything important on the KDP front?

Happy Publishing!

Cathy, author of 65 Kindle books, but still able to learn!

To Use KDP Select or Not to Use KDP Select

Decisions in Self-Publishing

I am a BIG fan of publishing through the different options Amazon provides, now active in their programs for paperbacks (CreateSpace), e-books (Kindle), and audio books (Audible through ACX). And I do strongly encourage authors to use at least the first two programs as often as possible. But even once you’ve decided to publish a Kindle e-book, your decisions are not over. Next you have to decide whether you want to participate in KDP Select or not.

Like many decisions connected to self-publishing, this is not a simple “Do it” or “Don’t do it” choice.

How KDP Select Works

Let me start by explaining a little about how the KDP Select program works:

  1. If you have multiple titles that you are publishing through Kindle, you get to make a choice for each individual title (in that sense it’s not an all or nothing option, which I like, since I don’t want to have ALL of my books entered into it).
  2. When you choose to put a title in the program you are committing to give Amazon exclusive rights to the e-book version of that title for 90 days. You can mark your title to be removed from the program at the end of the 90 day period, or you can continue on for another 90 days.
  3. Of course, exclusive rights mean that as long as a title is in the KDP Select program, you can not offer it for sale as an e-book anywhere else (no uploading it to Smashwords, Apple, Barnes and Noble, or any of the other myriad sites that accept e-books). It can still be a paperback or audio book in places besides Amazon, this just effects your e-book options.
  4. For some people, the exclusive nature of the program keeps them out. They are not willing to give up their other publishing options. And that is a decision that you will need to make, too. I don’t have many of my titles in the KDP Select program, because I do make some sales on other sites. But, I do make most of my sales on Amazon (most months, more on Amazon than on all other sites combined). So, occasionally I am willing to put a book in the KDP Select program for 90 days.
  5. So, why even consider giving up the option to publish in other places? Amazon does give you a few benefits for being in the KDP Select program. For starters, only books that are in the program get to be in Amazon’s “Kindle Unlimited” and the “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.” Those may or may not matter, depending on your book(s) – my experience is that more expensive titles will benefit most from those options. The other benefits for KDP Select books are being able to participate in the “Kindle Countdown Deals” and the “Free Book Promotion” option. Those are the two biggies that help sway me to consider KDP Select from time to time.

Making the “Right” Decision

For me, I doubt I will ever go strictly to KDP Select for all of my titles, but I will consider it for a limited time for new titles.

For more information on both sides of the issue, you may want to check out one or both of these blogs:

Smashwords offered a fairly extensive look at the KDP Select program from their perspective in their July 2014 blog post, Is Kindle Unlimited Bad for Authors? If you want more information on the program, that’s a good place to look.

Of course, Amazon has a different perspective, as they explain in their article, Why Enroll in KDP Select.

My Decisions

I hope by now you can see that it is a complicated issue, without a right or wrong answer. You get to decide which option works best for your book!  And again, you can always change your mind. (Though from personal experience I will say that it is easier to start in the KDP Select program and then bow out after 90 days, than try to get into it once you’ve published your book on other websites (where you then have to be sure to completely remove the book before trying KDP Select.)

I am starting my most recent novel, Leonardo: A Return to Painting, in the KDP Select program. I may or may not leave it there long term – that’s a decision I’ll make just before the first 90 days are finished, paying particular attention to what the Countdown Deal does for my sales.

Happy publishing!

Cathy,

Author of Leonardo: A Return to Painting

 

Answering the Question: Where Should I be Self-Publishing my Books?

Me along the beach in South CarolinaSelf-Publishing Questions

In upcoming posts I plan to address all three of my biggest passions beyond my family and my faith (writing, history, and travel). But today, let’s start with a particular subset of my passions that I get questioned about often – self-publishing.

Because I have written and self-published so many books for so long, I hear questions about it again and again – twice this week in fact. In general the question goes something like this: “What suggestions do you have for writers for publishing alternatives?” Or it might be “I have a book written, now what?” In answer to these and related questions, I’m going to share some of my favorite self-publishing options.

Self-Publishing Options

After many years of writing, I started publishing on-line in 2010. In the past seven years I’ve put together almost 400 e-books of various sizes on CurrClick.com, a site dedicated to homeschoolers, and over 200 paperbacks through Amazon’s publishing arm, CreateSpace.com.  So it’s safe to say I’ve got more than a bit of experience with such things!

I’m going to start this post with the assumption that you’ve already written your book and had it proofed and edited properly. Those topics might be an entire post by themselves at some time in the future. Here all I’ll say is, you have to do both before publishing your book(s) – writing and editing. You don’t have to pay tons of money for the editing (or any other portion of this publishing journey), but one way or another, it needs to be done.

If you’ve gotten past those and are trying to figure out your publishing options, here’s some of my favorites:

1.Paperbacks – CreateSpace

CreateSpace is my number one choice for paperbacks. It is easy, it is inexpensive, it is high quality, and your books can quickly be available on Amazon.com. (I did try one other “print on demand” company for a few months before I found my way to CreateSpace, but in my experience, CreateSpace wins on price and ease of use. CreateSpace offers many different size options for your paperbacks – from 5×8 to 8.5×11, the last time I checked. I have done my paperbacks in a variety of those sizes.  And you have the option of doing the interior of your books in black and white or in color. Color costs more, of course, but both are economical options.

And regardless of what you may read on some blogs or in some books, I think you should make a paperback version of almost any book you’ve completed. As I mentioned,  CreateSpace is “print on demand” – so we’re not talking about a garage full of books here, we’re talking about buying at least one. And the books only have to be a minimum of 24 pages – so even some of your smaller book ideas can be made into paperbacks.

2.E-books – Kindle

When I finish a book the first two places I’m going to publish it are almost always CreateSpace and Kindle. Part of that is because both sites are so easy to use, and part of that is because those are the two sites I make the most money on. If you are doing a book that can be read on an e-reader (or these days, on an app on a phone), you should definitely consider publishing it to Kindle.  I have some books that are student workbooks, those don’t go on Kindle, but almost any other book I’ve written does go there.

There is an option on Kindle, KDP Select, that you choose for each title whether to participate in or not. I plan to have a follow-up post soon just to go into the pros and cons of that program. It’s biggest downside is the required exclusivity (for 90 days for that title). But again, I’ll have to come back to that in a post in a few days.

3.E-books – Smashwords

Smashwords is often the third place I publish my books. It is another site for e-books, and I do make some sales there, but Smashwords is actually most beneficial as a distributor of e-books. Thanks to Smashwords I no longer have a separate account to maintain at Barnes and Noble, but my books are available there, as well as on Apple, Kobo, and a whole host of other e-book sites – but all thanks to Smashwords’ distribution efforts, not mine.  The only time I don’t put an e-book on Smashwords is if I’ve decided to try it in Kindle’s KDP Select program. My latest novel, Leonardo: A Return to Painting will be in the KDP Select program for at least three months (the shortest time you can commit to it), so it is currently not being sold through any other e-book sites. But my other novels, and many of my non-fiction books, are also published through Smashwords.

4.E-books – CurrClick

In my writing, any books that aren’t in KDP Select and might appeal to a homeschool audience, get uploaded to CurrClick. The beauty of CurrClick is that books there are generally uploaded as Pdfs, and since they can be priced as low as $0.50, they can be quite small. CurrClick is my favorite site as far as the additional options they offer – from easily being able to make bundles to being able to send emails to previous customers about great specials going on there.

5.E-books – TeachersPayTeachers

For any and all materials that might appeal to a classroom teacher, TeachersPayTeachers is another great site. I found out about it a few months after I started on CurrClick. My sales haven’t been quite as good there as at CurrClick, but since I can easily add my books to both sites they are still a steady source of additional income.

Getting Started with Self-Publishing

The beauty of all of the above sites is that they are all free to set up accounts on, are all free to publish your titles on (you’ll have to pay a nominal price for the proof copy of any paperbacks you do, but that’s it for charges), and are relatively easy to use. When I started on each of these sites, I had no idea what I was doing, and knew no one else who was publishing through them. All I did was go on each site, find my way through the sign up process, and then started uploading books! When I started on CurrClick, a publisher had to apply for an account (I believe it’s still that way now). But on all the other sites it was just a question of going on the site and setting up an account.

6.Audio Books – ACX

I recommend the first five options (when they apply) to all writers who are wanting to publish their work. As I said before, they are easy and inexpensive. And all have great potential for helping you make money from your books, if that’s important to you.  This last option doesn’t fall in the same category. Audio books are not as simple or inexpensive as the first five options I’ve recommended. But, now that I’ve recently delved into them, I have to at least mention audio books. I have been enjoying listening to Audible books for several years now, and had long dreamed of “someday” having some of my books available in audio format.

But it wasn’t until a narrator approached me in January and offered to narrate one of my books, Understanding Presidential Elections, that I realized just how doable Audible books really are.  In fact, I currently have narrators working on two of my historical novels, Leonardo the Florentine and Failure in Philadelphia. I’m not quite the expert in this area as I am in the other methods of publishing, but I am very excited about what we’ve done so far!

Stay tuned for more on the Audible experience in a future post.

Ready to Start Self-Publishing?

Are you still overwhelmed? If I had to narrow down my advice to writers wanting to publish their works, my number one advice is “go for it”! Pick a site, set up an account, and work your way through the process.  On all of the sites I’ve published through in the past, it’s always easy to make changes – whether to my book cover, description, or even the book itself. It’s very unlikely that you will make a mistake that can’t be corrected. (The one site I can’t say that about is ACX for Audible books – that’s not in the same category as the first 5 options I mentioned.)

And my number two suggestion – don’t spend lots of money! I’ve met too many people who thought they were self publishing (but really, they were using some version of “vanity publishing” – and usually spending a pretty penny in the process).  Don’t be tricked into spending money you don’t need to.

Did I leave out any of your favorite publishing arenas? Or leave a basic self-publishing questions unanswered? Let me know.

Happy publishing!

Cathy

Author of Simply Put: Self Publishing Basics

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