My advance copies are now in the hands of my readers and I'm patiently awaiting feedback on my novel. I've selected a mix of folks to read it -- some friends, some acquaintances and others who I know less well. I'm actually hoping for honest feedback and reviews that are real -- meaning not all "5 stars" on Amazon. Lots of great authors have mixed reviews; you can't please everyone!
So, over the past week I've been navigating Kindle Direct Publishing to get my novel up on Amazon. This is a lot more complicated than I thought it would be! In fact, the learning curve on this part is as steep as the writing and editing was.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the publishing arm of Amazon that manages the book listings and facilitates the e-book publishing process. If all you are doing is a Kindle version, this is the only place you need to go. But if you want a paperback version as well (as I did) then you need to utilize Createspace, a business that Amazon bought but hasn't fully integrated into KDP. So you have to upload and proof your book in two different places. Once you've determined that your physical book meets your specifications, you approve it and it gets sent over to KDP for sale on Amazon.
As you can imagine, this is a bit confusing. When you first start out, you will publish two separate books (your Kindle version on KDP and your physical book on CS) and they will initially appear as two separate listings on Amazon. Within 72 hours Amazon promises to merge the listings together, so that when you click on your book you will have the Kindle and physical purchase options together.
The most important piece of this process is choosing your book's categories and keywords on Amazon. This was quite a process for me, because my novel falls into multiple genres and isn't as simple as categorizing a cookbook or a self-help book. Here again, KDP makes the process probably more complex than it should be. When you go to publish your book you have a choice of some very high-level categories -- fiction or non-fiction, etc. that you can drill down into. But the drilling is pretty limited, and you have only a fraction of the category choices you have when searching Amazon for books. I ended up settling on the high-level categories of Fiction/War and Fiction/Alternative History. Keep in mind that Amazon uses these high-level categories to initially channel your book to the right area of the "bookstore" but will further refine it as the process your book. In the end I ended up with these categories:
Since I'm just starting out, these seem fine to me. The good news is that you can adjust your categories whenever you want, and if you email KDP they will help you find a better category if you are unhappy with your current selections. Note: if you change your categories at KDP you will also have to as Createspace to do the same! It's double the trouble and is less than ideal, but right now that's the way this process works.
Ok, so now that the categories have been determined, the next critical step is selecting the keywords. This is like choosing terms for Amazon's search engine. The idea is not to duplicate words in the title or the description. So I chose things like "JFK assassination books", "military history", "Vietnam war books", etc. The idea is to mimic what people actually search for on Amazon. Hopefully these terms will work. And if not, they can easily be changed at anytime.
So, that's pretty much it to get your book up and live for the world to buy! The Two Gates is up and available here.
Next up: Book pricing and getting people to actually buy it! Easier said than done!