amazon self-publishing

Kindle Direct Publishing News: KDP Now in India

I’ll post what I think is the most important from the KDP newsletter for those who are interested in self-publishing, those might try it someday, and for those who have really self-published without their literary agent’s e-publishing services backing them.

KDP is Now Available in the Kindle Store for India!

We’re excited to announce Kindle Direct Publishing has launched in India!

If you have distribution rights in India for books you’ve published through Kindle Direct Publishing, they are now available in the Kindle store for India (sold to customers in India on Amazon.com). New features for authors and publishers in India include the ability to set prices specific for India, as well as receive royalty payments in INR. For the full press release on India click here.

Marketing Tidbit of the Month

If you are about to use your free promotion days, offered as part of KDP Select, make sure you actively announce these days in advance so you can make the most out of this valuable promotional benefit. You can announce this to your readers through your social media presence, like Facebook, Twitter, blog, email list, etc.

KDP will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The biggest book and media fair in the world is just around the corner. We’re referring to the Frankfurt Book Fair (Oct 10-14) of course. Every year this event attracts about 7,500 exhibitors from over 110 countries. KDP will have a joint booth there with CreateSpace and will give a session on ‘Indie Publishing with Amazon’. See here for a full list of events planned during the fair. As always, we love to meet our KDP authors and publishers in person so make sure to come by our booth at Hall 8, F914.

As we had mentioned before, we’ll be attending more events in the U.S. and around the world, so stay tuned for more announcements.

New KDP Author Story Featured on the Amazon Homepage

Another one of our KDP authors, Theresa Ragan, has been featured on the Amazon.com homepage as of 8/21. In the story, Theresa shares her struggles trying to publish her work over a period of 19 years, and how she finally reached readers by deciding to publish using KDP. In case Theresa’s story is no longer live on the Amazon homepage, you can also read it below.

Overnight Success, 20 Years in the Making

As a mom who worked full-time while raising four kids, romance author Theresa Ragan knows about struggle. But when it came time to publish her first novel, Theresa didn’t expect a battle that would threaten her commitment to writing. Return of the Rose took Theresa five years to complete, and though she received good feedback from the publishing community, no one wanted to publish the book. With her next two books, it was the same story. One prominent editor even asked her to add 20,000 words to one of her manuscripts and resubmit it. Theresa did. Then she never heard from him again.

“I was crushed by that. I truly thought my time had come, but then… nothing. I knew rejection was part of the deal of becoming a published author, but I had no idea it would be that hard. All I wanted was to get my work in front of readers. After over 100 rejections, there were days I thought about quitting altogether.

“It felt unfair, somehow. It was like my success wasn’t being based on my writing abilities but was instead decided by two dozen people in New York. I knew I deserved better, and that readers deserved to read my books!”

That’s when Theresa discovered a way to take success into her own hands. She learned that any author could publish their books on Kindle by using Amazon’s independent self-service publishing platform. “In 2011, my youngest child was going off to college, and it was time for me to get back to work, so I decided to give it a shot. With nothing to lose, I published two of my romantic time travel novels electronically and print-on-demand through Amazon. I hoped to sell maybe ten books. I was stunned when I sold thousands. For the first time, my stories were being read, and after nearly two decades of working hard to get published, I felt like an overnight success!

“In a little over a year, I have sold nearly 250,000 books for the Kindle. Four of my books even made the Top 100 Kindle Best Sellers List. I have been approached by agents, foreign sales people, and two movie producers, and have received mentions in the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and PC Magazine, and was recently interviewed by USA Today.

“I am so excited that writers have the opportunity to get their work in front of readers without jumping through insurmountable hoops. The publishing world is changing fast, and I plan to enjoy every minute of the ride.”

Self-publishing, E-Publishing Services, and What’s Best for You…

I have a friend who writes non-fiction. He’s been writing non-fiction (inspirational material) for many years. He even had a few books pubbed through a vanity press about twenty years ago and it turned into one of those nightmares where he got ripped off and never sold any of his books. That used to happen often. And it wasn’t an inexpensive mistake. Self-publishing used to be referred to as vanity publishing and it could cost thousands of dollars. My friend lost over four thousand in his venture, a sum of money he’ll never see again. On top of that, he discovered that twenty years later the vanity publisher he paid to publish his books is now selling them at discounted prices and he’s not seeing a dime. I’m sure his old books are NOT flying off the shelves. But it’s the principle here that matters, not the money.

When my friend discovered the KDP program, he asked me about it and I told him I thought it was interesting and that I was looking into it myself. At the time I hadn’t published any of my own fiction on Amazon and I was almost as clueless as he was. In short, my friend pulled all his older books out of storage, had them made into digital files, and he asked someone he knows to publish them on Amazon. This someone he asked knows nothing about books or publishing. He knows nothing about book covers or book marketing. Nice guy, but he knows nothing about self-publishing on Amazon. And when it comes to friends and family, I don’t offer my opinions unless I’m asked. I learned that lesson years ago.

Now that my friend knows I’ve published a few books on Amazon through KDP, he’s been asking me to look at his books. It’s really too bad to get into. The covers are the basics that I guess Amazon offers, there are mistakes in the formatting, the grammar, and structure. Even the blurb has a few mistakes. So he’s going to talk to Tony about it this week and see if Tony can fix things for him. I know enough to look at it and tell him what’s wrong. But I don’t know enough to actually sit down and fix all the problems with his books. Not to mention the fact that I’m still learning as I go and I don’t feel comfortable offering detailed advice.

And that’s because self-publishing is not as easy as it looks. I have an advantage because Tony knows technical things I don’t. I know things about books and publishing he doesn’t know. When you combine these two things it makes self-publishing a little easier. But I’ll repeat myself by saying that I would have had to hire a publishing service if Tony didn’t know the things he knows about HTML, conversion, and formatting.

Of course I could have spent my time learning how to do it. I’ve learned a lot through what we’ve been doing while publishing the “Chase” books and “Jonah Sweet.” But that would have taken time away from what I love to do the most: write. As it is the relief I have now that “Chase of a Dream” is finally being released is too wonderful to explain in words. It means I can go back to normal again. I can spend my days writing fiction instead of worrying about tags, cover changes, fonts, and an array of other things I normally try to stay away from. As I write this post, Tony is e-mailing me about issues he’s having right now as he’s trying to get COAD on Kobo and iTunes. And there are always issues to deal with.

As I said, I’d rather be writing fiction. But I’m not trying to scare people away from self-publishing. You can learn how to do it, but you need to be prepared and know that it’s not as simple to do if you want to do it right. If a friend says he can do it for you and that it’s simple, watch out. I hired an editor and a cover artist. I have twenty years experience in publishing and seven of those years are in e-publishing. I know the basics of what it takes to get a book out, without even getting into the technical stuff the includes uploading to web sites where e-books are sold. But I still didn’t feel comfortable releasing a book without a professional cover and without having it professionally edited by someone who knows what they are doing.

The good thing is that if you do want to self-publish and you don’t want to deal with all the issues that come with self-publishing there are now publishing services that will do all that for you. I’m not going to link to them because I haven’t worked with them personally. But I’ve read a great deal about them and I haven’t heard any nightmare complaints…so far. I’m sure there are other authors out there who have self-pubbed successfully and would be willing to offer you advice. Look for blogs written by self-published authors that have good track records and see how they did it. I think that as more and more authors discover self-publishing we’ll be seeing more and more e-publishing services offered. Tony’s even hinted around that he might be interested in doing it himself. I smiled and said he was on his own in THAT department.

Another angle I’ve been seeing more and more are literary agents that are offering e-publishing services. I’ve written about this before…but that was before I’d actually self-published anything myself. I know there have been a few controversial blog posts written about this, with regard to conflict of interest and ethics. So far, I haven’t seen or heard any problems with regard to literary agents who offer these e-publishing services. I also believe that as publishing changes literary agents are going to be changing as well. So I see nothing wrong with them offering e-publishing services to authors as long as they spell out what they are doing up front and there are no gray areas.

A lot of what we read on the Internet these days comes from ambitious, aggressive amateur bloggers with strong opinions and they are often very wrong. Time usually proves this. I once worked with an editor/publisher who was also a literary agent and I remember how SOME people made comments about conflict of interest. That happened about four years ago, and I can tell you from my own personal experiences with this editor/publisher that there was never a conflict of interest with regard to what I was doing with her. She was my editor/publisher, not my agent. We worked on getting books out, not on shopping them to publishers. She didn’t get a commission from me. There was no conflict of interest at all…in spite of all the negative blogs posts written about it. I have never worked with a more honest person in my life and her experience in publishing only made the books better. So all that ridiculous hype from those vacuous bloggers was really nothing more than people with loud mouths talking too much about something they knew nothing about. And the good thing is that I’m still here four years later to point this out. Even better, I’ll be around four years from now to point out even more ridiculous things I’ve seen in the past. Oh, I never forget.

In any event, my main point with this post is to try to show people who are thinking about self-publishing that you really do have to take it seriously in every single sense. And even though you can learn how to do it all alone, it might not be a bad idea to look into a publishing service that will do it for you. I know if you do search you’ll find several that look interesting. And in my humble opinion it would be a disadvantage not to look into what some of the literary agencies are doing now with e-publishing services. Literary agents are an honest lot of people…for the most part. They know books and publishing better than anyone out there. And the best ones know a thing or two about marketing and promotion. I know marketing and promotion are not part of an agent’s job right now, but I see that changing more in the future, too.

Make sure you do what’s best for you, and don’t pay attention to a lot of the negative things you read these days. Most important, you don’t want to wind up like my friend who made every single self-publishing mistake a writer can make by not doing the research. And whatever you do, don’t let that hooded stigma about self-publishing not being as good as traditional publishing stop you from looking into it. That old mindset is last Friday, not now. More and more traditionally published authors are self-publishing their books and short stories and it’s opening up a new world for readers. I recently saw where one author swore she’d never self-publish, as if it was beneath her in some way. And that’s just downright stupid.

Self-Pubbed Romance Author on Bestsellers List…


Self-published author, Bella Andre, has been making a name and building a readership on one bestseller list in particular. As a result, Andre is helping self-publishing gain more credibility.

After a $1.99 Gold Box of the Day sale at Amazon, romance novelist Bella Andre took five spots on our Self-Published Bestsellers list with her series, The Sullivans. The Washington Post profiled her writing career last year.

I still find it amazing that even though it’s been coming for a while, self-published authors are gaining momentum and readers are taking them seriously now. And galleycat is making it even easier for readers to find these self-published books.

To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we have compiled lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

You can check out the lists here.

I’ve posted often about how readers now have to be more aware of what’s being published and that they have to vet and search in more places than they did in the past. I think links like this help. And I’m glad to see galleycat doing it.

About .99 E-book Pricing…

When I decided to price “Chase of a Lifetime” at .99, I didn’t do it without thinking hard about it first. I took a lot of things into consideration before I did it, from the value of e-books to what might happen if readers assume my books will always be .99. Frankly, this is one of those times when I would prefer to have a publisher make these decisions for me.

I felt the same way about “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street,” when I first released that on Amazon. Was I devaluing my hard work, and was I devaluing e-books in general? I had to take into consideration that I paid a copyeditor and a cover artist, which I’d never had to do before with a publisher. But, on the other hand, I don’t have and agent and I’m not giving a percentage on the back end to anyone but Amazon.

I took the pragmatic approach, the same approach I’ve taken with other businesses I’ve owned in the past that did well. Right now e-books are still in the minority and a lot of people don’t know what they are all about. I do believe this will continue to change, and more people will be reading e-books until that’s the only kind of book that will be available. But right now that’s not the case. E-books are still something new and to price them the same way I would price a print book could be a complete turn off to readers. I’ve learned from my comment thread about book pirates that readers in Eastern Europe consider e-books nothing more than test books to check out, to see if they want the print book or not. There’s still a long way to go with e-books, and I know it and I never ignore it.

I also know how my readers buy e-books. They don’t just buy one e-book, spend a month reading it, and then go back a month later for another e-book. My readers buy anywhere from five to ten e-books a week, they read them all in one week, and then they go back and buy more the next week. And that adds up in cost. My own e-book budget last month was over two hundred dollars. I appreciated the deals I got with the books that weren’t over-priced. I also passed on a few that were over-priced. In fact, there’s on e-book, a BDSM anthology, I’ve been wanting for months and it’s still priced far more than I would ever pay for an e-book anthology.

Right now, as I write this post, I’m in the middle of making a decision about the sequel to “Chase of a Lifetime,” titled, “Chase of a Dream.” I still can’t go into details about it yet, but it involves pricing and how I’m going to go about releasing this title. I can say this: I will be releasing it as a .99 e-book for now. But as far as how I’m going to go about releasing it, due to the unusual nature of what I’m about to do with this book, is still up in the air. My main concern is to NOT confuse my readers. Whatever I do decide on doing will be centered on that one single objective.

I’m not the only one who has questioned how to price e-books, and whether or not .99 is too cheap for an e-book. In this post, over at “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing,” Joe Konrath talks about it, too. So far, I have no complaints about the way I’ve priced my self-published books. And, for the record, I have no complaints about the way my publisher, Ravenousromance.com, has priced “An Officer and His Gentleman” at .99. For a short time, “Pretty Man” was .99 and it did well. So price IS important.

Will my .99 books remain at that price forever? I can’t say for now. I wish I could, but it’s not possible at this point. I’m still learning as I go, and to make a promise like that would be unfair to readers. I can say this, all the books I release under my own press, “Ryan Field Press,” will be consistent in price. In other words, I don’t want my books on Amazon to be priced differently from those in Smashwords or Allromanceebooks…or anywhere.

Kindle Direct Publishing Newsletter…


Since I’ve been getting the Kindle Direct Publishing Newsletter I’ve been sharing a few interesting things from it here on the blog. Now that I have two titles out with KDP, I’m interested in learning more in all regards. From what I hear, so are a lot of other authors.

I’m sure this letter from Jeff Bezos will hit home for many aspiring writers. As a sidenote, I didn’t read the book that is discussed below and I’m not endorsing it or promoting it. I’m just passing on facts from the newsletter itself.

In case you didn’t see the letter from Jeff Bezos we featured on the Amazon.com homepage this week, it was dedicated to KDP and highlighted a great blog post from KDP author Jessica Park (Flat-Out Love). Below is the text version. Enjoy!

Dear Customers,

“Did I cry over some of these rejections? Absolutely. Did I feel inadequate, untalented, hurt? Yes. Did I doubt my ability to craft a story that readers could fall in love with? You bet.”

That’s Jessica Park, who hit road block after road block trying to get her book Flat-Out Love in front of readers. You can read her incredible blog post on IndieReader (also picked up by HuffPost) detailing her perseverance and how she finally succeeded by doing it herself with Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s heartwarming and tells a powerful story about what KDP makes possible.

Kindle Direct Publishing empowers serious authors to reach readers, build a following, make a living, and to do it on their own terms. Readers get lower prices, authors get higher royalties, and we all get a more diverse book culture (no expert gatekeepers saying “sorry but that will never work”). KDP is already meaningful–22 of our top 100 best-selling Kindle books so far this year are KDP books–and more great stories are being published every day. You can find Flat-Out Love here. Thanks for being a customer.

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO

News from BEA about KDP:

We had a jam-packed week of events at Book Expo America (BEA). This year’s attendance allowed us to connect with current KDP authors and many authors who were considering using KDP to publish their books.

Our presence began with a booth at the uPublishuU event on June 5th, prior to the start of the main show, which included a session featuring KDP authors and Amazon Author & Publisher Relations Director, Jon Fine. During BEA, which ran from June 5th – June 8th, we had the opportunity to meet and answer the questions of many authors and publishers. Additionally we hosted several sessions at our booth focusing on KDP and Amazon’s other independent publishing entities: CreateSpace for print and ACX for audiobooks. The sessions drew large crowds of interested people who were able to ask us questions and engage in Q&A with KDP authors Barbara Freethy, Theresa Ragan, and Tina Folsom. Barbara, Theresa, and Tina shared their stories of why they decided to publish independently through KDP and what success they’ve experienced since. In addition, two of our authors, James Altucher (I Was Blind But Now I See) and Theresa Ragan (Abducted and Return of the Rose) signed copies of their CreateSpace books for their fans and visitors. We heartily enjoyed meeting all the wonderful KDP authors who were in attendance at BEA and look forward to sharing more of your stories with our author community

We’ll be attending more events in the U.S. and around the world, so stay tuned for more announcements. If you’d rather connect with us in Europe, keep in mind that we will also be attending the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

What’s Coming Up Soon…Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street

I haven’t posted much about my own work on the blog recently because I wrote so much about “Chase of a Lifetime” for a while I didn’t want people to get bored. That’s why I tried to keep the posts about COAL mainly limited to technical things, like editing the book for publication and working on the actual Kindle publishing process. I know a lot of authors are curious about this and I wanted to explain my experience step by step.

Writing and publishing COAL has been a great experience for me. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I’m still learning. If you think submitting a manuscript to a publisher is hard work, you haven’t lived until you’ve published a book on your own. In the past, I always knew there would be an editor and a copy editor to cover my back if it needed covering. With COAL, it was only me.

But it was a good challenge, and I’m doing it again. I haven’t stopped writing for the publishers I’ve been working with for a long time. I have a new release coming out with Loveyoudivine.com titled, “Cowboy Mike and Buddy Boy,” and I just signed a contract with Ravenous Romance to write a new novel under a pen name. Unfortunately, I’m with the school of thought that believes you don’t ever reveal a pen name. So I won’t be posting much about the new Ravenous project here on the blog. But it’s the first time I’ve ever used a pen name in m/m fiction, and I’m actually having fun with it. The main reason for the pen name is because I’m now writing in a sub-genre I’ve never written in before. It’s more for readers, so they don’t get confused, than it is for me.

The new indie book for Amazon Kindle I just finished is titled, “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street.” It will be released sometime this summer, probably June. It will be a .99 Kindle e-book, just like COAL. This one is a little different than anything else I’ve ever written because there’s BDSM in the storyline…a lot of BDSM. But I would consider it light BDSM. Though I’ve written BDSM erotica before, I never tackled a BDSM m/m romance. I was always cautious about doing this because it’s so important…to me…to combine the BDSM and the love in such a way that it moves the story forward. It wasn’t easy to do. And it’s one reason why I’ve never been fond of reading BDSM m/m romance. But I have always been curious about it. In this case, we’ll find out when the reviews start coming in.

I will be posting more about “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street” as soon as I get closer to a publication date. Right now I’m working on information to send to the cover artist, and I honestly have no idea what to tell her.

Here’s the raw version of the blurb for “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street.”

Jonah Sweet has a secret need to be dominated and punished, with whips and chains and leather cuffs. He also has a graduate degree in puppetry from a good university, but can’t find a job and is still with his mom and dad in Queens. So he signs up for cooking school, hoping to learn a trade. But it’s nothing like he thought it would be and he winds up flunking everything from cutlery to hard-boiled eggs. The only other skill Jonah has is the ability to read other peoples’ thoughts, which he knows isn’t going to get him very far.

On the day of an important cooking exam, Jonah meets David Abernathy, the owner of the cooking school and a billionaire who owns restaurant chains, casinos, and real estate. The harder Jonah tries to impress David the worse it gets. But handsome David Abernathy sees something in Jonah. With no explanation at all, David sets Jonah up in an office, buys him a brand new wardrobe, and brings him into his unusual home on Delancey Street.

Though Jonah is stunned by all this, he’s even more stunned by the fact that he can’t read David Abernathy’s thoughts. But Jonah is in no position to turn any offers down. He takes the job in spite of David’s rude, nasty disposition and his erratic rants. From there they enter into an unusual relationship filled with bondage and discipline and more love than either one of them could ever have imagined.

When David introduces Jonah to a little boy in a wheel chair and explains his past, Jonah only falls deeper in love with David. He discovers a gentle side of David no one knows about. But will intense love and exotic sex be enough to compensate for David’s complicated personality and his vicious need to control everything? And will Jonah ever be able to put up with David’s public outbursts and his violent moods?

Chase of a Lifetime on Kobo, and Amazon Indie Publishing from Catherine Ryan Hyde & Barry Eisler


While I don’t want to bore everyone to death with details about the technical process involved in self-publishing a book on Amazon, I did want to show that one of the things I thought was important was to edit/proof my book downloaded to an actual e-reader. I wanted to see how the e-book would look on one of my own e-readers. I have five and I started with the basic Kobo e-reader with e-ink. I don’t want to assume anything, so I’ll also be testing the book out on every type of e-reader to be sure it looks the same on the most basic to the most recent tablet. And, this is editing that’s more like triple checking because the book’s already been extensively edited and copy edited down to the last line…both before and after conversion. And, “Chase of a Lifetime” is a 60,000 word full length novel, not a short story or novella.

The one problem I found while I was checking things out last night on my Kobo was that the copy editor I hired made changes, got them wrong, and I had to go back and line edit each small thing. They weren’t large. It was more of a matter of style than anything. But since I’m in charge this time and I get the final say, the copy editor isn’t going to do anything to my book I don’t like. Another problem I’m finding is that things like indentations and page numbers tend to get screwed up during the conversion process. But it’s being figured out as I write this post.

Overall, I’m happy with the way the book looks on Kobo. I wanted to be sure people who own Kobo products could download the book on Amazon, too. I won’t get into mobi files or epub files because I doubt people want to know about this. Until I started this Amazon project I didn’t want to know those details. But if I can download a .99 Kindle e-book to my Kobo, iPhone, or Nook, I would imagine anyone else can.

I also want to link to a great post I read yesterday. I was having one of those “what the fuck did I do now” moments with regard to Amazon publishing. So I did a few searches to see how other authors view the process and found a great interview/post between author Catherine Ryan Hide and Barry Eisler. For those who don’t know, Mr. Eisler walked away from a slick deal with St. Martin’s to pursue self-publishing, and CRH is the bestselling author who wrote “Pay it Forward.” The post helped calm me down and took away all my second thoughts (well, not all, but I’m working on them). That may sound dramatic, but I’ve always depended on the collaboration with a publisher and doing it alone for the first time ever after doing it with a publisher for twenty years can be scary. I’m also glad I found this post by CRH by accident. I’ve been a fan and I’ve read her book “Jumpstart The World.” It’s one of the best YA books I’ve ever read with LGBT content. It made me feel much better to know that someone I respect and admire is speaking about the Amazon indie self-publishing process, too.

I’ll keep posting more about the process of getting “Chase of a Lifetime” out next week. I’m shooting for a release of early next week. But I’m not committing to anything yet until I know the book is up and ready. But it will be up for sale sometime next week. It will be on Amazon for the first ninety days, and then I’ll decide whether or not I need to start distributing it anywhere else. I know there’s this mindset that all books should be distributed in as many places as authors can get them. (I’m a huge fan of sites like ARe and 1place for my purchases.) But I also know that most e-book sales do come from Amazon. At least that’s been my own personal experience, not hearsay. At the very least, I will probably try to get it up on the most popular romance sites where e-books are sold.