So that was really the start of the course. I put down all my experience, the lessons I had learnt and I saw other people going through and it became The Publish Your Book on Kindle course.
2. Is it necessary to be an acclaimed author to publish an eBook?
Not at all. Publishing a book is the way we demonstrate our expertise and our experience. I believe that all of us have something worth sharing – it’s just about how we put it together so that it makes the most sense for the reader. In the non-fiction arena, there will be people who want to learn to do what we know how to do, or who want to understand the latest developments, or just share our story and be inspired.
I know your readers are mostly translators and there is also a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with existing authors to take their books into other languages. Especially on kindle where the process of getting a book up is very straightforward.
3. What would you recommend to someone who wants to write a book?
Be really clear about what that book is about. I work with non-fiction authors and when someone comes to me with a book idea they often actually have ideas for two or three books. So the first stage is to get that clarity on what you are writing – what is that one clear message or story in your book?
And then it’s about writing. The writing doesn’t need to take long. A kindle book might typically be shorter than a print book – so 15,000-20,000 words is a great place to start. Get the first draft done and then improve it to get your second and then final draft.
A lot of people think they are not great writers but if you understand your subject or story and you can talk about it in a way that connects with other people then you can write a book. You just have to imagine that same conversation taking place on paper instead of in person.
4. In what sense do you think the course can help someone who is considering the possibility of publishing an eBook?
Oh, the course is a complete A to Z. In fact when I was doing the research before I created the course I realised it wasn’t just about the technical process of putting your book on kindle. Most people were actually getting stuck at an earlier stage – they wanted to write but couldn’t decide or couldn’t structure their material – and so never finished the book.
Most people I speak to who are thinking about self-publishing already have a book idea and often have some part of it already written. They just don’t know what to do with their ideas.
So a large part of the course actually walks through some ideas for books and how to write and create the book.
I also go right through the formatting process, as well as marketing and also business ideas once you have published your first book. Believe me I rarely meet someone who stops at one book!
5. What advantages does an eBook have compared to a traditional book?
Well it definitely isn’t an either or. You can have an ebook and still have a paperback copy. But the advantage of doing the kindle or digital version first is that it is much easier to make it live and get published. Also because it is a digital file, if you spot any errors, or you want to change or add sections, then you can simply replace the file.
I find that understanding that helps people get over the perfectionism that often holds us back from finishing a project. Yes, the book should be as good as you can make it, but it’s good to know that in the worst case if you find a spelling error you can correct it right away.
Another factor is that it gets your content out so quickly. You can publish – literally – overnight. So you can get something out there, test it and if it seems to be selling, then you can go into a hard copy book, or create an online course, or develop the material further. It’s such a good testing ground.
I know this section is long – but another great advantage is that many people will be reading your book on a device (a kindle or an iphone) that has internet access. So you can put live links in your book. This is really important for two reasons – one you can link to video or other material that enhances the reading experience – and secondly – from a marketing perspective – you can link to your website and encourage people to join your email list or find out about other products and services that you have.
6. Assuming that the author has already written the book, how long can it take to publish an ebook? What are the major technical difficulties?
Oh it is so simple! First of all it has to be the right format (I’ll come on to that) and then you need a cover – which you can get done by a professional designer very affordably. And then you simply publish. That means you upload the file to Amazon kdp (their kindle publishing department) and it goes live within a few hours. The process is free and it is very easy – I tell people that it is easier than creating a facebook page so I hope that gives you some idea how straightforward it is.
In the course I cover exactly how to do this and also some of the things you need to think about – how much do you want to price your book for, what are your options, how do you choose the right keywords – so I also cover the strategy behind the process.
7. What is the best format for eBooks?
Kindle creates a mobi format file, which is a special kind of html. So depending how technical you are, you can either format the book in html (I don’t recommend this unless you are a techie!), or you can use some of the special software that is available to do this for you. Or, easiest of all, you can just upload a word document to Amazon. This is what I recommend for most people starting out (and I teach this in the course). There are some limitations with word formatting but I didn’t want this to be a block for people just starting out – so start there and then for a second book maybe you can outsource to someone to format for you or you can use some more sophisticated software if you want to.
8. What are the best selling platforms for ebooks?
I recommend that you start with just Amazon. Of course there are lots of other platforms like the iBookstore, kobo, and so on. In the course, I cover why you might want to go just with Amazon and when you might want to go on other platforms and I show you the easiest ways to do this. Again, I recommend you start simple by just selling on Amazon, and then you can expand later if you want to. I know that taking it step by step is less overwhelming for someone starting out and they are more likely to actually publish. I love people to complete and get their book out there!
9. Do you know any success story related to eBooks?
Oh of course – many! And I think success will depend on what your expectations are. For some people it’s about selling books – but selling thousands of books can be very hard, and I work with people who usually have a business, and are not full-time authors.
For these people it’s important to think beyond the book. Do you have a service business and therefore you would love to bring more clients to you? I have clients who are able to increase their rates after they become published authors, and find that people will contact them rather than always seeking out clients. Because they have a book they stand out in their market and they become “the expert”. I also have some clients who have had great success going on to speak – and it’s all down to the book and presenting themselves as an expert.
And these days when online marketing is such a big part of our businesses, having a book on Amazon means that people find you, they learn more about you, and they can come to your website and sign up for other services with you. I never promise that someone will get a bestseller status (because I don’t know your book) but many of my students do – and that in itself adds an extra layer of success to your book.
10. What can your course offer to someone who wants to publish an ebook?
Well I really hope it offers them everything they need to publish! I know that if you are reading this and you have an idea for a book – or an idea that you want to write a book and publish it on Amazon’s Kindle, then the time is right for you to go for it. It is definitely not as complicated or as time-consuming as you might think, so I’d love someone to just go over, read the reviews and decide that this is the time to publish their first (or next) book. And then I always ask people to let me know so I can help celebrate your success.
Cathy Presland website: http://thebigbookproject.com