This one would be all about details and knowing how to. I would refrain from getting into humor.
To all budding writers thinking of getting their books out into the market and for whom sending books to various publishers was not helpful.
For starters, it’s better if you try Amazon Kindle . Basically, because it’s easy. There’s not much effort required apart from logging onto KDP website via your same Amazon India login credentials if you ever shopped there.
The next thing to do is to upload your book and the cover page. There are a lot of websites which offer free images to use commercially. Just try them out and learn basic Photoshop skills from YouTube. Set a selling price that is on the cheaper side to increase sales. It’s also a matter of Keywords – use whatever suits your book genre and story. Don’t try to use extraneous keywords, as I have tried using them and they don’t help at all. After all that’s done, you can expect your book to be out on Amazon in the next 48 hours.
Promotion wise KDP doesn’t offer much to the author. So it’s better that you reach out to social media handles like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I would recommend you to follow some Book Clubs in there and post about your book. Also, try creating a Facebook Author page of yours and if you have a little money to spare (Rs.100-200), try to run a promotion of it. (Promotion doesn’t help much but it’s a good step for a beginner). I hope you are not having any followers on Instagram apart from your school or college friends. Then search #bookreaders or some other relevant tags and try adding a few of them. (Do note to never indulge in the policy of FOLLOW-UNFOLLOW. Firstly, I hate that and secondly, It’s just not good, making a fool of someone). Due to some bad person’s work, everyone suffers.
Back when I started using Instagram in the month of March 2015, I had somewhere around 225 followers and half following that. I didn’t grow followers in a week or so. It took years of hard work, patience and effort.
So, believe in that and get going. You can promote your posts on Instagram too and that promotion is a little better than running it on Facebook (There are numerous fake profiles on Fb).
Don’t just be all about your books. Make posts to showcase who you really are. Try to do question posts too. It’s a good way to be connected with the people there and to know more about them.
If you find your future lover in there, then you can thank me later.
A month will pass really fast and it would be time to check how much you earned from kindle. Do note that by selling your book at Rs.49, the minimum price you can set on Kindle is bound to return your Rs.13 per sale. The Kindle Unlimited Reads stand at Rs.7-10 per 100 pages. You should know if it’s doing well or not within the next 3-4 months either via sales or via random DM’s from someone out there.
If you already have enough money to spare with you, then you should definitely go for the print run. If not, then wait for some more time for kindle to return it to you. This is really not the toughest but a tedious process that would require a lot of hard work mainly because it’s your first time, so everything is new. But don’t be afraid. You can email me or whatsapp me on the contact details given at the bottom of this page. I am always eager to help. It may be possible that I reply after a few hours or so, but I would definitely reply, for sure. Even for a tiny bit of detail or confusion, just DM me.
Before reaching out to any printing press near you; have the following things ready:
Your book is in Word Format. So, try to convert it into Printable PDF or use Adobe Illustrator/ Corel Draw. Add page numbers, headers, drop caps and graphics to make it more appealing. You will already have the cover page ready by now or at least the top page. Try Photoshop to make a back cover and spine according to the number of pages in your book. Spine is generally 0.025 cm per page. If you live in Delhi-NCR, I can help you with that or if you have someone in mind, do reach out to them.
The ideal print run to minimize cost is 2000 copies. But some printing press can give you a good deal for 1000 copies, too. A Creamy page is generally preferred to a white one having a GSM of atleast 90. The cover page should be ideally of GSM 200 plus. You can go for UV coating on the book cover too, it would make the book look good and hardly cost Rs.1-2 per book.
After a time-frame of 4-10 days, thinking you got them delivered to your home, it’s time to create an account on Amazon Seller Central. Decide on any name for your seller account and select categories such as Books. They are exempt from GST, so you don’t need to have a registration for the same. Do get a stamp made from a local vendor of the seller name you wish to take for future use, as it comes in handy when sending or delivering your books to an amazon warehouse.
There are two options to sell on Seller Fulfilled vs Amazon Fulfilled/ Flipkart Fulfilled.
Seller Fulfilled is when you pack each and every book yourself and either ship it yourself as and when an order comes in or let the Amazon courier guy pick it up from your home. This is OK in the beginning but gets tedious as your book gains in sales. Do note that the procedure to sell on Flipkart is similar too, but I would prefer for you to go to Seller Fulfilled there. Let’s say the policies are not too user friendly.
For more than a year, it was Amazon Fulfilled for me and Seller Fulfilled for Flipkart and I really loved packing and signing books for my readers. You also need to have a printer ready at home to print out invoices and labels. It is highly recommended.
The charges that Amazon and Flipkart charge for listing and delivering your books are not cheap. If you have a 200 page book and a printing cost somewhere around Rs.50 per book, I would recommend you not think of earning in anything more than what you spent on printing and delivery. It’s sold at break even. You will continue to receive earnings via kindle, so it’s okay. They also have a tool to play with the price and check the expected return, so try that.
Speaking of Amazon Fulfilled, if there’s an Amazon warehouse somewhere around 10-50 km from your home, try to deliver the books there yourself as 3rd party couriers recommended by Amazon charge a lot, ultimately increasing your selling price, which is not preferred. In one go, you should send somewhere between 250-500 books. Anymore than that for a new author is bound to make you pay heavy inventory keeping charges.
When your print book finally shows up on Amazon, it’s really a momentous day and when you receive your first order, it’s like you really want to kiss that person whoever it is. Do note that Amazon doesn’t provide you with the person’s number or email address, just the address. So, you really can’t thank him/her personally. If you are looking to go to their address and thank them personally, you can do that too. I never tried that. You can even end up behind bars, beaten up by a group of strangers or get kidnapped too. Try that at your own risk.
Having discussed some of the usual points, It’s time I discuss the harsh reality of the self-published author world too.
This is a 100% true incident that happened to me and may have happened with a lot of other authors too. It was somewhere around December’16-January’ 17 considering my print book came out in April 2016 and Kindle in December 2015. Let’s take it up that people order your book and if for some reason they aren’t at home at the time of delivery or change their mind later, perhaps, the book (order) is bound to return back to the amazon warehouse. Sometimes, people even accept delivery and either return if they didn’t like the feel of the book or the story itself, thinking it’s not worth it to spend their money on it. But, that’s totally okay with me. And it should be with you too. You can’t please everyone and you can’t change each and every person. Life’s not that easy. Amazon and Flipkart policies are not lenient and they charge you 80-90 Rs for each return. You should set aside Kindle earnings to compensate for that. You are following your passion and it won’t earn you the money you expect it to be, but you surely can win a lot of hearts. Not the hearts as on Facebook or Insta, but people’s hearts. If you are not going to depend on your parents, better try for a job too. Just like I am doing.
Now, coming to the major point. Read below only if you want to hear my self-publishing backstory and not just publishing tips. I finished them all above.
My book was doing well. At least, I felt that. Now, a certain someone, started doing really mischievous things. Like creating fake accounts on Amazon and ordering my books 2-3 at once on some random fake addresses in Punjab, which were ultimately bound to return undelivered. Not a week passed by having 5-8 such orders and it was really bad, totally bad and heartbreaking. I didn’t understand what was happening at first, but the whole picture came to me soon after. I complained about the whole issue to amazon, providing them with all the order id’s and details and they just jerked off the issue saying that the orders are legit and we can’t share with you the personal details (as in phone/email) of the person ordering them. Well, they were gaining free money because of that. So, it was profitable for them. And here, me and my sister was like, what to do now. At one point she told me to stop everything and let do away with the writing thing. But I would still tell her that whoever is doing this, he/she can’t take our fate away from us. Some 2 months later, a person messaged us on Instagram saying that “your book is really bad, how did you get all those followers and reviews on your book (I had 10.3K some followers on Insta and 79 some reviews on my book).” Did you purchase them all, as a book like yours can’t even earn a single one “. I checked his Instagram profile and he was a writer promoting a book yet to be released from the past 1.5 yrs and running a bookstore and publishing agency in Punjab/Haryana region. It was like spark after spark in my head telling me he is the one. (I don’t want to even speak his name or the publishing agency’s name in here, if you want to still learn about that, you can DM me. I can remember the scene from Harry Potter’s movie wherein at a bar, the name of Voldemort was not to be spoken off). Thinking about it now, I can just laugh at his actions and all that bad Karma. One thing we did was block him from our Instagram but having a public profile there is bound to still make anyone see all your work. Life was still going and it became usual for us to see that fake order day after day, but we limited the maximum order copy to 1 per account. Well, he was not stopping. We were reaching out to bookstores- online and offline apart from our hometown to increase the book’s presence and that’s when a mail to some bookstore (I really thank this person) led us to send a mail to Prakash Books to deliver our book to major bookstores all over India. What was next, looking at my book’s performance on Amazon and Flipkart, they replied back- “Why don’t you re-publish this book with us?”. I was thanking God and ready to take up the offer when my sister told me to wait a bit more. In the meantime, she was thinking to contact Westland and Rupa. I still want to go with Fingerprint. Westland editor’s made us wait more than a month to say the manuscript is in its final stage and is just awaiting approval from their CEO. 10-15 days later, it was a No. Now, she wanted to wait a bit more as an editor from Penguin was really interested in the story and wanted us to wait a further 1 month more. I finally told her I was going with Fingerprint. I can’t wait any more. I sent an email to Fingerprint about re-publishing and they were still ready to go with us. I can say that the publishing team is really good at theirs. With the owner’s being more than understanding. But they lack on the marketing front. There’s too much ego and arrogance in their marketing team. We signed a contract with them in the month of May 2017 and stopped all book sales at Amazon, recalled all the inventory left back and this marked the end of his fake orders. What a relief!
The same person released his book that year and a thought came into my sister’s mind to let him feel the same that he made us go through, yes she would cry at times too..(Gemini’s are Air signs, so it’s obvious), whereas me being a Capricorn (Earth sign-calm), told her to leave him be. We never did anything bad in return for his actions and that’s how we were rewarded.
If anything like that happens to you, just leave it in the hands of GOD. IT gave us results after a year, but you may receive it sooner or later, but you are bound to receive a good result, if you don’t get into the bad karma thing.
If you still think I can help you, you can contact me on Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook, Gmail or Twitter even.
I know a certain bit about vedic astrology too.. I spent 3 whole months trying to understand that reading books and online stuff, after leaving my first job and before embarking on this writer path. I can help with that too, if you have any doubts on that front. I got this potato face and potato’s are innocent btw.. So, reach out to me anytime.