Top 5 Tips: How to avoid the traps of self-publishing on Amazon
Your book on Amazon.
You’ve decided to self-publish on Amazon, and your book manuscript is ready to be submitted. You’ve edited the mistakes and errors, checked the page count, planned out the idea of the cover, and imagined your target audience. You’ve done all there was to be done up until the point when your login to KDP Amazon enables your next step. And now what…?
As we discussed in the previous article, you are well on your way to publishing your work on Amazon’s platform and as you’re closing in on the deal there are only a few things that need to be addressed prior. Remembering my difficulties at this stage, which I had to overcome on my own, I hope that the few tips below will spare your time and alleviate some of the stress connected with the process of Amazon’s self-publishing. So, without further a due, let’s see what traps to look out for…
Tip #1 – Organise your ISBN.
What is ISBN you ask…? Imagine it to be your book’s passport or Insurance Number. It is the unique identification, through which you can ensure your work to be secured and safe from copying by a third party. It is also an essential part of the book-selling industry, as without it no store will accept it on its shelf. It is like your identification card – without it, you cannot access most of the societal opportunities and spaces.
Anyway, as we mentioned in the previous writing, your ISBN can be obtained in different ways. You can get it through Amazon’s KDP or buy from one of the ISBN stores such as Nielsen ISBN Store, which enables you to have full control over the sales of your work. The trap here is easy to spot and worthy to pay in mind – do not take a free-of-charge number, if you want your book to be independent of Amazon. Otherwise, even with the independent book shops, you will have to print through Amazon before selling it to those retailers, which will inevitably shrink your profit margin
So, give yourself an advantage and get your ISBN.
Tip #2 – Plan your book cover early.
The saying goes: don’t judge a book by its cover. Well, I am sorry to break it to you, but most of us will. Especially when shopping in-person, the prospective customer will first look at the cover before picking up the book to investigate further. It goes without saying, that books with great titles and striking covers sell better than those, which do not draw one’s eye so effortlessly. That is why you should think of your cover early.
There are many ways in which you can design your book cover, one of which is a cover-designing tool on KDP’s platform. It will be useful to check the dimensions of the book but do not let it cloud your judgement. The cover should be exquisite. It should be divine. So, think twice before settling on the free-to-use cover designer tool. A better alternative might be to hire a freelance designer, reach out to friends, or learn a few tricks in Photoshop and do it all yourself. More freedom of choice means more possibilities. You’re the one to decide.
Tip #3 – Anticipate your book format.
Although your manuscript might be ready, you need to pay in mind the designated format, in which the book will be produced. This applies to both the Kindle and Paperback versions of your work. When it comes to Kindle formatting, Amazon did a great job of creating a tool, which is easy to use, intuitive, and perfectly aligned with the designated formatting. Just submit your manuscript into the tool, check through for the formatting errors, readjust the fonts, and you’re done.
Easy as that.
The true challenge comes with formatting for paperback, as more options inevitably mean more opportunities for mistakes. First, make sure to take a stroll in the bookshop bringing a ruler along. Check the dimensions of the books that appeal to you and decide what size are you aiming for. Then, go onto Amazon’s KDP and look through the possible formats. Choosing one that appeals to your heart is only the beginning. Once chosen, you can download the formatting sample on your computer and start adjusting it to your needs. But here’s a thing… Brace yourself for some difficulty.
Discovering this error caused me a substantial drawback and stalled my work for almost three months. Formatting in Word (even provided by Amazon) does not fit the KDP final submission tool perfectly. Yes, you read it right. It just doesn’t fit.
Setting up the manuscript through Word you will have to navigate between the two platforms to ensure your work pays off. It will take time, so, if you have no money to spare for a professional editor’s help, keep your head up and keep going.
With the designated formatting in mind, after a few trials and errors, you’ll get there. Just make sure you double-check before sending it off!
Tip #4 – Choose your designated marketplace.
Thinking of the ideal customer base, you have to decide on the marketplace to focus on. Though thanks to Amazon’s ever presence your book will shortly arrive at the many different countries connected to KDP’s platform, it is imperative you make your ‘target market’ choice informed and appropriate. So, take a moment now and think – what kind of person a perfect reader of your book is…?
Deciding who to aim at will bring you somewhat closer to the designated marketplace. If the book is originally in English, putting it on German’s Amazon might not be a priority. It is up to you to consider and decide, as this will influence the space, in which your book’s initial advertising will be delivered. With KDP’s smart campaigns system, every author is able to choose how their work will be featured on the pages, and which marketplaces will it target the most. This comes in handy, as you might not have a marketing budget just yet.
Whether you are willing to pay additionally or not, choosing your marketplace will help your book’s recognition. So, make the choice.
Tip #5 – Advertising is on you.
With the book listed on Amazon’s product page, you now need to take care of the part, which determines the success of any self-publishing, self-employed endeavour. You need to make the sale…
So, what are you waiting for…? Grab a friend, ask your family, plan some posts and videos, make a website. Think in terms of quality rather than quantity and focus on the outcome in mind. Who will benefit from reading your book? Who should know about it?
Advertising without a doubt is a challenge. But it is also necessary. Falling into the trap of thinking ‘it’s there and it’s great, so people will come and buy’ will not get your anywhere. Instead, commit to reach out to your audiences on social media, website, and any other platforms you’re present on and ask for their interest. It might be discouraging at first but will prove worthy in the long run.
And whatever you do, do not lose the drive to act.
Your next step.
With the above, you can consider the challenges that might arise while in the process of self-publishing on Amazon. Whether you find them easy to overcome or not is all up to you. You will have to put in the work. I hope this article will alleviate some of the stress and difficulties that might cross your path. I wish you all the success in the literary world and hope to see your book next to mine soon enough!
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If you are interested in self-publishing on Amazon, then we also recommend reading Wojtek’s other article on how to get started!
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