Kindle – an author’s story

art-epstein-chak-chak-the-last-t-rexAs we all know e-books are the new big thing. Traditional publishing houses churn out e-versions of their print books as a matter of course these days. And while the jury is still out on whether or not electronic books will completely replace the paper variety, no one can argue that they aren’t here to stay. I’ve been wondering how easy it is to go down this route so when I heard that a Creative Writing MA student of mine (in script, not prose) had just published his young adult novel for the Amazon Kindle, I asked him to tell me about it. Khaled Mukerjee writes as Art Epstein. Chak Chak the Last T-Rex is available for download now. Now over to Khaled:

I have recently published my book through Amazon Kindle. My choosing to go straight to an e-book format was simply based on there being a large enough Kindle marketplace to make it worth my while. To date Kindle, Nook, iPad etc, account for 20% of the book buying market. Naturally I wanted to follow my heroes Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clark and get into print, seeing my books on the shelves of traditional bookshops, but there are other options available and I decided to give it a go.

How much does it cost?

Amazon Kindle has zero up-front costs. There is no charge to get your book on Kindle other than what you may have spent on having your cover designed. But even that is not necessary. I designed my own cover but if you aren’t able to do that and don’t want to pay someone else to do it, Kindle have some generic covers you can use.

So if there’s no up-front cost does that mean everything you earn is profit?

Not exactly. Amazon take a cut of your profits. For books priced $2.99 – $9.99 they will take 30%. For books under $2.99 they will take 65%. [Compare that to a conventional print publishing deal where the author gets on average 10% – The Crafty Writer]

Quality control

So now you’ve got your book published you simply wait for the dosh to roll in? Not quite. Firstly, a word of caution. It is very easy to get onto Kindle – in some ways, too easy. On one hand, that’s good, but there is a sting in the tail which could potentially discredit the e-book as a quality item: it takes less than an hour to have your novel up and out there on the internet. While this is amazing considering the traditional publishing route could take over a year to get off the slush pile from first submission, there is an inherent danger of assuming your book is good to go. Remember there is no professional editor to hit the brakes. You will have to trust someone to honestly proof your work with an objective eye. I had to fight the temptation to put out my novel on Kindle straight away and looking back I’m glad I did now. The whole point is to create a book to as professional a standard as one can muster, despite circumventing the publishing industry gatekeepers.

The blow-back from this easy publication method is some cowboys are going to flood the e-book scene with sub-standard work. One should approach writing an e-book as though it was meant for print publication so as to maintain credibility. Not doing so will bring the e-book scene into disrepute and eventually the market will move away.


Secondly, you are alone so have no publicity machinery to kick into gear. I’m learning as I go and so have a somewhat ad-hoc approach to drawing people’s attention. For me, social media networks were the first port of call, going by the saying that there are only six degrees of separation between people around the world.

The other aspect of getting people to talk about my book is pricing. Not being a former contestant of Big Brother, and hence lacking “product recognition”, I had to price low enough for readers to take a chance (99 cents current introductory offer). And if they are reading it then they are talking about it. Word of mouth has to be the oldest way of publicity. Of course you could also pay for advertising space on print and electronic media.

How to get started

The following is a link to guide you through Kindle Publishing It took me less than an hour to work through it and get my book from a simple text document into an e-book format. The guide is pretty easy to follow and you do not need to be an expert in computer technology.

See you on Kindle!

(Please note: The Crafty Writer does not review books other than ‘how to’ books on the craft of writing. This is not a review of Chak Chak the Last T-Rex. See here for a further discussion of the pros and cons of self-publishing and co-publishing).

Related posts:

  1. New novel on Kindle: The Peace Garden
  2. An e-book story
  3. How to start a publishing co-operative
  4. Short Story Film Festival: ‘Enemy Lines’ in New York

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9 comments on “Kindle – an author’s story

  1. Steve Maltz on said:

    Fiona, I am an established Christian writer (8 books published) but
    want to distribute my next one – an evangelistic book – free of charge. Is this possible with Kindle? What about other ebook formats.

    Regards Steve

  2. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    Hi Steve,

    I’m not an expert in Kindle (which is why I interviewed Khaled) but I wouldn’t think it would be possible. Kindle is a business. Its aim is to make money for Amazon. So I doubt you could go that route. You can however create your own e-book in pdf format and put it on your website. That’s what I did with ‘Donovon’s Rainbow’ after its print run was finished and the copyright reverted to me. People are free to download it. We just used ordinary pdf software. However, there is dedicated e-book software such as 3D Issue (I’ve used this at Newcastle University and it is very user friendly). I’m sure you can find cheaper software too. Some of this software is linked to a host site so your book remains on there and people can just read it for free. With other software you can host it on your own site – again it remains on your site. A straight pdf can be downloaded to any computer anywhere on the web. Adobe In Design has the capacity to create e-publishing formats. I’ve also found a good discussion on various software Rod, our web expert here at The Crafty Writer will undoubtedly add to this discussion later. Watch this space …

  3. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    Just come across this free software called eCub for creating ‘cross platform’ pdfs. Haven’t tried it myself so don’t sue me if it doesn’t work!

  4. Steve Maltz on said:

    Thanks for this wonderful advice. I will follow everything up and am trembling with anticipation for the pearls of wisdom to come from the Guru that is Rod … 🙂

  5. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    And this in today’s Bookseller: ‘Well, the wait is finally over, Harry Potter is going digital. As The Bookseller exclusively revealed earlier this morning, J K Rowling is bringing the Harry Potter series to e-books in October, exclusively through the Pottermore website. The books will be compatible across a wide range of e-book devices, including the Amazon Kindle. Of most excitement to Hogwarts aficionados (including quite a few in The Bookseller’s office) is the news Rowling is writing 18,000 words of new material about the world of Potter that will feature on the Pottermore website ‘

  6. Rod Smith on said:

    @Steve, I’m not an expert in ebook publishing by any means, but I think Fiona is correct that you can’t distribute your book for free via Amazon’s Kindle store. That’s not to say you can’t distribute a Kindle-friendly format via other means though. For instance, I use my Kindle a lot to read pdf and other compatible ebooks – you can get these onto the device either by direct transfer via USB, or more easily by emailing them to your special Kindle email address. If you plan to distribute via your own website you could probably set it up to automatically email it to your “customer”‘s Kindle if they provide you the address. Alternatively, simply allow them to download the file and provide instructions on how to get it onto the Kindle.

    For preparing the file, either save as a pdf (using Open Office works well), or follow the instructions in the Kindle publishing guide (link is in the article above) up to the point where you would upload to the Kindle site.

    There’s some pretty good info in the links Fiona mentions just above too. Good luck (and once you’ve cracked it, be sure to come back and tell us how you went about it)!

  7. Steve Maltz on said:

    Thanks, Rod. I will keep in touch (though not yet, as I haven’t finished the book yet!)

  8. Andrew Butterworth on said:

    Thanks for this. I am currently reading several interviews on this topic as I am looking to self publish my book, Tirfo Thuin, on Amazon toward the end of the year. The comment around not having an editor to hit the brakes is a very good one. Once I knew I could publish myself I just wanted to get it on there as soon as possible but this can be detrimental to the quality of the book so I took a step back and committed to more time refining, editing, getting reviews and feedback online and in classrooms etc. I am glad I did now as I know the end product will be much better.

    Also, in response to the comment by Steve Maltz I do not believe there is an option to offer your book for free but I have read that Amazon often do price reductions (that you cannot control) and offer your e-books for very little or free for a period of time. There does not appear to be a way of getting notifications when your price changes so it is a case of monitoring your e-book and promoting any offers yourself when these are applied.

  9. Fiona Veitch Smith on said:

    Thanks for the input, Andrew. And good luck with your book!

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