This spring, I decided I’d seen enough of the writing on the wall, and uploaded a novel to the Amazon Kindle. It has done fairly well, selling about a hundred per month with no marketing. That doesn’t cover my rent, but it’s a hell of a lot more than my Netflix subscription, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about the process:
1. It’s easier than it looks.
2. Despite #1, hard work and attention to detail pay off in spades and allow you to outrun the competition.
3. Cruise the Kindle Top 100. Notice everything (covers, product descriptions, author bios, reviews, the “Click to Look Inside” feature, etc). Imitate.
4. You will obsessively track your sales. Resistance is futile. Go ahead, though. Knowing your book’s display page like the back of your hand and clicking through your “also-boughts” will help you to notice everything (see #3).
5. Kindle readers live in a different world than the Big Six publishers. They feel that remarkable storytelling is more important than lyrical wordsmithing, and they’ll forgive occasional typos but not a bland tale.
6. There are three kinds of writers. First, there are those who won’t epublish because the see ebooks as pathetic, since the lack of professional gatekeepers (agents, editors, publishers) means the ebook market is a slushy vanity-press free-for-all. Second, there are those who won’t epublish because they find all those readers intimidating, and want their work vetted by a pro before it is cast to the lions. They aren’t sure if their writing is worthy enough. Third, there are writers like me, who fall somewhere in the middle and are willing to give epublishing a try.
7. (Bonus!) By far the greatest discovery of the epublishing world: If you lower prices by a factor of five, readers buy five times as many books. Writers now have access to an insatiable audience. There are almost a million ebooks available on the Kindle, but that is nowhere near enough. The readers are waiting for more.