The Process of Publishing on Amazon

 

 

First, some administrative news: My fantasy short story, The Ravenous Flock, is now up on Amazon! So, I wanted to take the time to share my personal experience of independently publishing with them.

After part 2 of The Ravenous Flock was published by Myths Inscribed ezine, all rights immediately reverted back to me per the terms of their publishing agreement. The Ravenous Flock new coverI immediately recognized that I wanted my short story to be available on Amazon to reach a wider audience, so I combined both parts back into one seamless story and added the Prologue of The Soul Smith at the end to create hype for my novel!

The process of publishing on Amazon was fairly simple. I clicked “Independently Publish with Us” at the bottom of Amazon.com and chose to publish through their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Once you log in, you click “Add a New Title” and begin entering all the information about your book (Name, Title of Series, Publisher, Description, ISBN, etc). The hardest choice was: What genre/categories should my book fall in? You can only choose 2, but I wanted to choose 3. I picked FICTION > Fantasy > Epic. And I picked FICTION > Action & Adventure. The 3rd category that I wanted was FICTION > Fantasy > General. I may have to change this in the future.

Next I got to upload my book cover (or you can design one in their Cover Creator). Without getting into a huge debate, I knew that having a poorly crafted cover can negatively impact sales, so I spent a considerable amount of time ensuring that the graphics looked clean and professional. Once complete, then you get to upload your book. It didn’t give me any guidance as to what format it accepted, so I’m under the impression that it accepts them all. I uploaded a .doc and it converted it to the Kindle format. After upload, it even helps point out potential misspellings. Then comes the fun part of previewing your story in all different Kindle devices to ensure it is formatted correctly. It loads up a virtual device on your screen within your web browser for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Kindle Paperwhite, iPad, iPhone, and Kindle. I had to make corrections numerous times and re-upload my story to ensure that it was formatted perfectly across all devices.

Lastly, you choose whether to protect your work with Downloadable Rights Management (DRM) or not. It is completely your choice, but once you choose, you cannot change your mind. Then you get to set the price of your book. The minimum price is $0.99. The price of your ebook also determines what percent of the royalties that you earn. Anything that is priced at $2.99 or above can earn 70% of each sale. Anything priced between $0.99 and $2.99 earns 35%. Then you choose which countries you own rights to your book in (which is all of them) and then you click “I agree” and Publish!

The other major choice is whether to enroll in the KDP Select program. If you choose to enroll, you are agreeing that your ebook will be exclusive to Kindle for 90 days (which auto renews every 90 days). Note: Physical/printed books are not apart of this exclusivity clause. But, if your book is found on the Nook, for example, they will likely cancel your enrollment in the KDP Select program. The benefits of this program are that you earn a percentage of money allocated to books that were borrowed through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. In addition, you can market your book for Free for up to 5 days for each 90 day period that you are enrolled in the program.

Once you have completed the form, it takes 12 hours before your book becomes available on Amazon. So, separate from this process (but equally important) is the enrollment in Amazon Author Central. Once your book is posted, you can enroll in Author Central to get access to the Nielsen BookScan reports (which gives you book sales statistics from physical stores – not from Amazon.com) and it allows you to create your Author Page on Amazon. I created a profile and linked my Twitter and Blog to it as well.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

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The Ravenous Flock Part 2 is Published

The epic conclusion to my short story, The Ravenous Flock, is finally published! Myths Inscribed ezine makes it available for free to read on their website and also through the Google Currents app (by subscribing to Myths Inscribed).

Later, I will discuss my experiences with working with an editor, but for now, please enjoy the conclusion to The Ravenous Flock. Click below:

The Ravenous Flock, part 2 

My Short Story is about to be Published!

Myths Inscribed is an online magazine for fantasy fiction only. It was recently created by the wonderful people at MythicScribes.com (a great place to connect with a large community of fantasy writers).

After submitting to them on January 7th, they got back to me on February 16th with the news that they had provisionally accepted my 5,000 word short story, The Ravenous Flock, as long as I agreed to their editing terms. What they proposed is that they wanted to work with me to perform some edits, as well as work with me to decide where to cut the story in half (as they want to publish it in two parts across two issues). If I agreed, no other name other than mine will be on the story; and the story, all revisions included, remain exclusively mine. This extra service that they provide distinguishes their magazine from nearly all others on the market, and is something that they are proud of.

I happily agreed to the terms and I look forward to my first experience with a real editor. I have always thought I knew what they do, but now I will have first hand experience working with one. As Myths Inscribed is a new ezine, they do not offer financial compensation for your work. While this fact is considered “less prestigious” by some (for example, I can’t join SFWA unless I sell a short story for $50 or more), to me, it marks a significant milestone for any author. I have now crossed the threshold from being unpublished to published. My short story was still chosen above others from the “slush pile” all the same, and now it can be added to my author bio. In addition, this publication credit adds extra credibility to my novel.

Since my short story predates the events of my novel and is written in the same world, same style, and contains some of the same characters from my novel, this publication credit should add tremendous value toward getting my novel published. Not only will this help it get published, but once my novel is published, this short story will help sell my novel – and here is how: Per the terms of Myths Inscribed publication policy, after they publish my work, all rights are immediately returned to me, meaning I can do what I wish with my short story. At that point in time, I plan to further self-publish it on Amazon for $0.99. Once my novel is available for purchase, I’ll use my short story as a marketing tool to drive interest toward my novel and will most likely give it away for free at that point to gain readership and a following.

More to come soon as I plan to share my lessons learned with working with the editor!

Write a Cover Letter for a Fiction Submission

As of late, I have been revising and submitting my fantasy short story, The Ravenous Flock, to fantasy magazines for publication. However, with every submission comes a cover letter. Usually, the submission page of the particular magazine’s website will tell you what sort of information to include in your cover letter, but 90% of the time they always want prior publication credits (if you have any), and subject matter expertise qualifications (if you have any).

As a side note: If you are having trouble finding magazines to submit to, I recommend going to the Writer’s Association that you want to join (SFWA, RWA, etc) and look at their membership qualifications. They usually have a list of magazines that they consider as qualified publication sources to become a member of that Writer’s Association.

If you are like me and don’t have prior publications (yet), it is hard to develop an impressive cover letter. But, if you are a fantasy writer and studied Medieval History as your emphasis in college, then that is the subject matter expertise that you should definitely include. But if you have neither, writing a cover letter can seem dry. (Also, please see my prior blog about writing an author Bio with no experience here).

When composing the cover letter, the salutation is very important. Always write “Dear [name of Editor in Chief]”. Personalizing the cover letter is critical to help you stand out among their slush pile (much the same way as a personalizing a query letter to an agent). To find the Editor’s name, it can sometimes feel like a treasure hunt. Most of the time, you can find it on the magazine’s website under the “About” page, however, once I had to view a free preview of their magazine to find the Editor’s name. In the event that you cannot find a name, you should resort to using their title: “Dear Editor,”.

Even though it is stating the obvious, it is important to describe your intentions in the body of the letter. In my opinion, it says something about your skill to be able to fit it all into one sentence. For example: Please consider my unpublished 5,000-word original fantasy manuscript, “The Ravenous Flock,” for publication at [name of magazine].

Remember to thank them for their time and for their attention/consideration. Be sure to end with “Sincerely” or “Respectfully” or “Regards” or any other polite sign-off. Always leave your full name, website (if you have one), and contact info such as phone number and email. But as I mentioned before, this is a rather short and dry letter that is all business and no creativity. I’ll leave the creativity up to you, as that can be considered risky. I chose to add humor to my most recent cover letter (below), but I cannot recommend it for everyone.

Dear [name of editor],

Attached, please find my unpublished 5,000-word original fantasy manuscript, “The Ravenous Flock,” for your reading pleasure. Oh! And please consider it for publication at [name of magazine] too.

Respectfully,

-Adrian V. Diglio

But be sure to check out these other sites that helped me craft my cover letter.

  • Underdown.org http://www.underdown.org/covlettr.htm
  • About.com http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/thebusinessofwriting/tp/coverslettershowto.htm
  • Streetdirectory.com http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/16061/writing/writing_a_cover_letter.html

I Learned More Than Just Writing Tips From My Critique Group

I submitted my short story, The Ravenous Flock, to http://critters.org/ on 7/8/2012, where it sat in the queue. On Wednesday, 8/1/2012, it was released to their community of over 15,000 members. Later that week on a Saturday morning, I received my first 3 critiques. Verdict: It was worth the wait!

I learned some valuable lessons about my writing that I can now consciously pay attention to so that I can avoid them in the future. Some of which were just bad habits that had been formed long ago that had never been brought to my attention. For example, pay attention to the punctuation on this sample sentence: A dangerous voice spoke to him, weighted in a thick accent, “You will tell your king what I have done here this day, or I will come to reclaim your life.”

There should be a period after the word “accent” instead of a comma because it is actually a sentence and not a dialogue tag. This was an error that I had made a couple of times – an old habit that simply stayed below the radar of my critical eye. But the ability to learn things about your writing that you weren’t conscious of before is invaluable! The line by line corrections/suggestions that I received are immensely useful and will aid me in my next revision.

Another bad habit of mine shows in this sentence: The weight was lifted from his chest and Grindor began to hack and cough between his sporadic breaths. Did Grindor actually hack and cough? Or did he only begin to hack and cough? Words like “began” don’t help when trying to describe the actions in the scene and should be removed.

Lastly, I had some POV shifts that jarred the reader. Occassionally, the narrator switched from the point-of-view of Grindor to Ocamyr. I think I was trying to have an omnipresent narrator, but since the narrator spent so much time describing everything from Grindor’s perspective, it was odd to suddenly be in the mind of Ocamyr. These shifts in POV will be addressed and corrected so that the reader’s perspective of the events are all described through the eyes of Grindor.

I believe that by incorporating these edits and reworking the ending a little bit will strengthen my short story and prepare it for submission to magazines. Had I not taken the time to receive critique on my work, I may never have learned these flaws in my writing until it was too late. Having patience as a writer is a virtue. Take a moment and let that sink in. Maintaining one’s patience while on the cusp of achieving career-making milestones is difficult beyond measure. If a magazine purchases the rights to publish my short story, then I can join SFWA as an associate member. These two small events are what agents and publishers like to see on a submission and will get my foot in the door in this industry. Selling this short story could be the deciding factor as to whether my novel sees the light of day. So deciding to delay submitting it to magazines and patiently await for critique was unimaginably tortuous on the mind, but my desire to have the best chance of success for my short story overcame it all.

I am Composing a Short Story!

If you have read my previous post, you should know that my bio/resume as an author is pretty non-existent. I wrote a 100,000 word manuscript, and that’s about it. But composing a short story isn’t just to boost my resume as an author, it’s to prove that my writing and my story are good enough. So last night, I began composing my first short story.

My story is set in the world of Thornwall that I have created for my novel. It even involves some of my favorite characters from it too, set before the events of my novel take place. I have chosen this route for many reasons:

1) Leverage. I have already dedicated a lot of time into creating this world, so showing other aspects of it through a short story is always a plus.

2) Recognition. When this short story becomes published (and hopefully wins a contest or two) then it gives credit to THE SOUL SMITH. It is a statement that my characters, my writing, and the fantasy elements of my world are worthy of an agent’s attention.

3) Fans. Any fans of my novel will love to be rewarded with a short tale that involves some of the characters; where they came from, how they met, etc. None of this would be possible without a readership, so doing everything I can to engage them is important.

4) Marketing. My name and readership will grow if my story is published and/or wins a contest. Once posted on my website, I can drive more traffic there, get more online followers, etc. Being “publishing ready” is important to agents. Additionally, I could throw in a tag line at the end to say something like, “Do you crave more? Be sure to read Adrian V. Diglio’s novel: THE SOUL SMITH”.

5) Characters. These were some of my favorite characters from my novel and I wanted to give them the spotlight.

6) SFWA Associate Membership. After getting one short story sold, I can become an associate member and therefor further my author resume/bio.

So here is my plan. I will submit my writing to Critters Writer’s Workshop to obtain additional critique. (By the way, I am blown away at the membership they have. They have Nebula Award winning authors, and presidents of SFWA, it’s insane!) Then I plan on submitting to fantasy magazines like Light Speed that pay you if they publish your short story. Sure, they have to accept your submission, but I am confidant. They pay you 5 cents a word and they prefer stories that hang around 5,000 words in length. That’s $250 and publishing credit! I would additionally try submitting to these other places that buy short stories: Llist provided by SFWA.  With money like that I will use to pay the entry fees for submitting the same short story to multiple writing contests. At my first glance, I noticed that short story contests have an entry fee anywhere from $10-$40, but you usually get a magazine subscription or something as part of it. If my short story wins… then the prize money will be money in my pocket, plus bragging rights for me! The prize money for winning a contest is usually $250 – $1,000. That’s not why I’m doing this, but it would be a nice bonus.

That’s my plan anyways. We will see how well it is executed. Though, I think this is the path to success that any new author of fiction should take.