In this entry I’m going to cover how we got the ebook on to Amazon.
I find Amazon a frustration to deal with as a small publisher. We’re based in the UK and Amazon have several distribution centres here. This means when we supply a physical book to them we are often supplying a single copy. They take a large portion of the cover price and we have to cover postage, so the actual amount of money we make is very small. However, people do tend to look on Amazon first, and sometimes it’s the only place they shop, so we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. My hope is that the ebook experience will be a more favourable one.
To start, you need to go to the Kindle Direct Publishing side of Amazon at kdp.amazon.com. There’s lots of information here, but it is straightforward enough to get going. You will need a few things in advance, such as your prepared and validated ePub, your cover in the correct format, your bank details and your tax reference number. It probably also helps to write your book’s description in advance, too, so it’s ready to be copied and pasted.
Amazon, being a US based company, means they require a TIN, a tax number supplied by the IRS. If you’re outside of the US and haven’t applied for one you’ll need to use the one issued by your own country’s tax authority. There are more complex rules for some countries, but fortunately the UK isn’t one of them. What it all boils down to is ensuring that you’re going to be paying the required tax on any monies paid, which is fair enough, but one question in particular had me scratching my head in bafflement. It involves derivation of income and is coached in such ridiculous jargon that it really isn’t clear what the correct answer is. I googled it and read a few forum posts and think I’ve answered correctly, but am I one hundred percent certain? Not really. Good luck with that one.
Uploading the book and cover are much easier, as is adding the other required information. One aspect that’s a little frustrating are the seven keyword fields. Amazon breaks the books down into sub-categories and associates certain keywords with those categories. So, for example, if Natural Phenomena had a werewolf in it, or time travel, those keywords can be applied to point the potential reader in the right direction. Unfortunately, Natural Phenomena doesn’t fit the handful of keywords they supply. That doesn’t mean you can’t invent some of your own to aid searches, but it's not going to be found under their prescribed sub-categories.
Pricing was a tricky one. The recommended retail price Amazon suggested was $2.99. I feel this is too low and so I’ve gone for $4.00. It then applies this to all the other countries it sells ebooks through, converting the figure to the equivalent price. This makes for some strange pricing, but I found I could round up and down on an individual basis. You’ve probably noticed that many ebooks sell for a much lower price, and plenty are available for free. As I understand it, this is to draw new readers in when the author has a series or, at least, other books the reader might like to explore having enjoyed the first one. This being our first Young Adult novel we don’t have the luxury to offer that, but we’re certainly salting it away for later.
There’s also KDP Select to consider. This is a scheme that gives Amazon exclusive rights to retail your ebook for three months should you choose to sign up. You can’t put the ebook anywhere else, or even offer pre-orders, for that period. There are some incentives, though, and with such a large market share anyway it made sense to us to try this out to see if it reaped any results.
Once created your ebook appears on your bookshelf within KDP. There’s an opportunity to link the paperback here, which I tried, but it couldn’t find it. After much searching for answers it may be because I’m being too quick to link them, although it did reveal that the paperback version wasn’t turning up in searches on the Amazon.co.uk site unless I typed the title and sub-title out in full – this wasn’t the case a couple of months ago when I first registered it. It also revealed that on the physical books listing the description had disappeared. This looks like it’s a significant problem across Amazon with lots of people complaining of the same issue on help pages and forums. I’ve messaged Amazon through Amazon Advantage and they’ve already replied to say they’ve taken care of the search issue and have requested the Description text. No explanation as to why the text I’ve inputted through Amazon Advantage isn’t working, but we’ll see if that turns up.
I’ll update on what happened with those issues in the next entry. I’m also interested in creating paperback versions of the book in other world areas where people don’t want to pay for shipping from the UK. Amazon offer this through KDP, so I’ll be taking a look at whether that’s possible, or indeed practical.