Category Archives: Self Publishing

Amazon Allows Educators to Self Publish Textbooks

In September 2014, Amazon introduced a new branch of Kindle Digital Publishing with KDP Kids. Now, Amazon is taking self publishing a step further and allowing educators to self publish their own textbooks and lessons using the Kindle Digital Publishing platform.

Last week, Amazon introduced KDP EDU, which is designed to produce, publish, and promote textbooks and educational content to students around the world. According to Amazon, KDP EDU gives educators a new way to prepare and publish different types of educational content, from textbooks to complex visual information. Utilizing the Textbook Creator, educators will be able to publish textbooks, course notes, study guides, charts, graphs, and equations. The Textbook Creator also has special features built in for students such as a dictionary look-up, notebook, highlighting capabilities, and flashcards.

I think that this new platform is quite groundbreaking. The digital classroom has never been more prominent, whether at the primary or university level, and Amazon is allowing educators to provide students with educational content in a much more efficient way than before. Not only will students have more educational tools at their fingertips, but they will have this at a lower cost as well. Digital textbooks are much less expensive than their hardcover counterparts and the capabilities that KDP EDU has can enable a student to get the most out of their digital textbook. In terms of efficiency, students will not need to purchase or create hundreds of flashcards for classes and instead, they can use the built in features of these digital textbooks.

KDP EDU could also be used as a tutoring tool as well as an instructional tool. Educators may publish educational content over standardized tests, such as AP tests, or the ACT or SAT, and students all over the world would have access to it. Because digital books are cheaper, this would save students the money that a physical study guide would cost. If a student is struggling in math, they could search through the KDP EDU produced lessons in order to find a piece of educational content that may teach them what their teacher in the classroom cannot.

There are a few downsides to the KDP EDU platform and it’s not necessarily with the platform itself. The problem that I see is the probability of educators actually utilizing it, especially older professors at the university level. If a professor has been teaching the same material in the same way for years, it may be difficult for that professor to imagine converting all of their teaching tools to this new format. As a new generation of educators comes into the workforce, they may be more interested in utilizing these tools, but I’m not sure if established educators will. Another downside is that the program is exclusively in English. This means any type of foreign language courses or educational content would not be able to utilize this new platform. Although this may change with time, it is currently a downside.

Although I personally always preferred a physical textbook while I was in school, I think that KDP EDU is an incredible idea. Students from all over the globe will be able to access these materials and the Textbook Creator is making this educational content so much more interactive than coursework that is published on a Word document. I think that it’s a real possibility that other independent publishing platforms, such as NOOK Press, could formulate a similar program in the future.

Until next week,

Debbie

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Amazon Introduces KDP Kids

In 2007, Amazon revolutionized publishing with the launch of Kindle Direct Publishing. This new platform gave authors an opportunity to self publish their own works on one of the Internet’s most popular sites, Amazon.com. Independent authors have been incredibly successful through the KDP program and a growing number of those authors are popping up on New York Time’s Best Seller lists.

Seven years and a countless number of self published books later, Amazon is changing the publishing industry again.

Last week, Amazon launched KDP Kids, a new platform for authors to self publish children’s books. According to Amazon, KDP Kids gives authors a new way to prepare and publish illustrated and chapter books for children. Utilizing the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator, authors can bring the pages of their books to life with special effects, such as floating text and pop ups. Authors will also be able to utilize age and grade tools to help parents select the perfect books for their child.

This change is absolutely incredible. Because of their elaborate illustrations, children’s e-books are a bit more complicated to self publish than an e-book with only words. By adding this Kindle Kid’s Book Creator, Amazon has made creating children’s e-books much more simple. It is a real possibility that the Kindle bookstore will be flooded with a wave of new children’s books because of the convenience of this book creator.

With the addition of KDP Kids, the sales of children’s e-books could possibly increase. As of now, the children’s e-book market is a relatively small one. Digital Book World reported that children’s e-book sales made up only 11% of all children’s book sales in 2013. If more books are self published and introduced to the market, there is a potential for more sales. However, if there is an increase, I don’t think it will be a exponential one.

My only concern with KDP Kids is the age and grade tools. I really hope that Amazon has a team that specializes in children’s books and can approve the age and grade selections made by the author. An author who has never worked with children may not know what content would be suitable for each reading level. If there is a flood of children’s books self published through KDP Kids, sorting them out into the appropriate reading levels should be a huge priority for Amazon.

Although I am a bit of a book traditionalist, especially with children’s books, I think that KDP Kids is a great idea. Children are gaining more and more access to technology and having a large variety of age-appropriate books is incredibly important. I think that it’s a real possibility that other independent publishing platforms, such as NOOK Press, could take on a similar idea in the future.

Until next week,

Debbie

Can You Hear Me Now? Good!

It’s no secret that the realm of audiobooks has absolutely exploded. With audiobooks becoming more widely available, people are jumping at the chance to consume their entertainment through this new medium. Some readers enjoy listening to the audiobook as a simple accompaniment to the book, while others may listen to audiobooks as an alternative to reading.

Just as Amazon was revolutionary in making publishing an option for independent authors, Audible has made it possible for independent authors to record and produce audiobooks. Audible gives you the option to hire a voice actor to record your self published book, or gives you the opportunity to record it yourself. I have decided to produce and record my own audiobook and have begun to do a bit of research into this endeavor. Through my research, I have found invaluable advice and I would like to pass along my top five tips to all of you.

1. Be aware of your surroundings.

Your microphone has the capability to pick up on the smallest of sounds. Whether it’s a bird chirping outside or your stomach growling, you need to make sure that you are surrounded by silence. If you don’t live alone, you may want to record when other members of your household are away or asleep.

2. Take your time.

This is applicable to how much time you take recording and the speed in which you speak. Remember that you do not have to complete your entire audiobook in one sitting. Consider only recording one or two chapters a day so that you don’t exhaust your voice. Your audience will know if your voice is strained. Also, make sure you take your time reading your script. If you read too quickly, you may lose your listener. Try to keep the pace in which you speak consistent throughout the entire audiobook.

3. Stay hydrated.

When it comes to recording for an audiobook, your voice is your most important tool. You need to make sure that you stay hydrated so that your throat doesn’t become dry and scratchy.

4. Use proper equipment.

No matter how pleasant your voice sounds, you will need the proper equipment for that sound to come across clearly over the speakers. At the very least, you may want to invest in some sort of microphone so that you’re not using your computer microphone or cell phone to record your voice. I don’t think it’s necessary to spend thousands of dollars on recording equipment for your first audiobook, but a small investment into some equipment may pay off for you. Do a little research to see what would work best in your price range.

5. Know your genre.

If you’ve never released an audiobook before, I would highly recommend listening to samples of audiobooks in your specific genre. In nonfiction, how does the speaker present themselves? In fiction, how do the voice actors fluctuate their voices for the dialogue of different characters? It’s incredibly important to know what your audience is accustomed to because that is what they will expect from your audiobook. Doing a bit of research into your genre will also give you a good idea of pricing for your audiobook.

Although my advice is specifically for audiobooks, I think that this advice would also hold true for someone interested in beginning a podcast as well. I do hope that this advice helps some of you and if you have any other suggestions, please let me know!

Until next week,

Debbie

Team Amazon

For months, there has been a staunch debate between Amazon.com and Hachette Book Group. As many of you may know, Amazon is one of the largest online distributors, offering their customers incredibly low prices for just about any product imaginable. Hachette Book Group is a major publishing house based in New York City. These two companies came to a clash when Hachette decided that they wanted to charge higher prices for their authors’ e-books. Amazon is not pleased with their attempts to increase the price from $9.99 to possibly $11.99 or $12.99 for an e-book and the two companies have come to a crossroads.

There have been countless articles written on this debate. Publishing houses, authors, agents, and readers all seem to be picking a side in the Amazon-Hachette debate and it wasn’t something that I was going to even think about writing about. That is, until I received an email from Amazon a few days ago.

I was checking my email the other day and saw that I had an email from Amazon.com. It was titled “Important Kindle Request” so I, of course, opened it at once. As I began to read the letter, I discovered that they had sent out this email to all of their independent authors and inside was an open letter. It was quite lengthy, so I won’t go into all of the details. At the end of the letter, Amazon asked their independent authors to email Hachette in opposition of the potential price increase. Amazon also implored their authors to mention these points while conducting an email to the CEO of Hachette, Michael Pietsch:

– We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
– Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
– Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
– Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

If you would like to read the entire letter, it has also been posted online here.

Although I have yet to conduct an email, this letter really intrigued me. This debate has gone beyond the corporations and Amazon is actually recruiting the help of independent authors and readers to support their cause. I then began to think of this debate as a reader and a writer and have concluded that I am on Team Amazon in this debacle.

As a reader, I certainly don’t like the prospect of paying $12.99 for a single e-book. If you look at other best selling e-books, especially in the YA category, they are almost half this price. I would much rather get two books for that price than just one. For those of us on a budget, it would seem difficult to spend $12.99 on a single e-book when we could go pick up a paperback in the store for less. The pricing almost seems elitist and as a reader, I would be turned off by e-books if it were to become a trend.

As a writer, I don’t think it’s fair to charge that much either. I have independently published my own novel and know that the production costs of an e-book are virtually zero. You don’t pay for binding, production, or distribution. All of the formatting, editing, and cover art would have been done for the paperback or hard cover book anyway so there’s no extra cost there. It just seems crazy to me to expect readers to spend as much money or more money on an e-book as they would a physical book.

There have some who have debated that lowering e-book prices would equate to lower quality books. I don’t think this is the case at all, it would just make the books more accessible to more people. Hachette claims that they don’t plan on raising every book’s price, but I can’t help but wonder if this would start a trend. Sure it could start with just a small percentage of books being over the $9.99 mark but who is to stop any more from increasing? If Hachette is able to charge those prices, who is to stop other big publishing houses from charging those kind of prices? And would this affect the pricing of paperback or hardcover books as well?

I don’t like that prospect one bit. So, as a reader and a writer, I am on Team Amazon on this one.

Until next week,

Debbie

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Self Publishing

For those of you who may not know, self publishing is when an author takes it upon him/herself to publish a literary work independently. Traditional publishing is when an author works with an agent in order to sign a contract with a publishing company. The publishing company will then publish the author’s work for them.

I decided a few months ago that I wanted to self publish my first novel, State of Exception, for many reasons. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to go when it comes to publishing, but here is my list of the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of self publishing. These are based on my own experiences and if you’ve had similar or different experiences, feel free to add in the comments.

The Good

One of the main reasons that I decided to go down the self publishing route is because of the control that I get over my work. I get to keep all of the rights to my novel and make virtually every decision when it comes to the publishing process. Whether it’s the name of the book, how much it costs, or what the cover looks like, I get the power to make those choices. Through traditional publishing, that would simply not be the case.

Time and efficiency are also two huge reasons why I decided to go with self publishing. State of Exception is my first novel, so I am literally starting from the bottom and working my way up. If I were to try and publish traditionally, a lot of time would pass before my book ever saw publication. First, I would need to secure a literary agent before I could even think of getting the attention of publishing houses. It sometimes takes agents weeks to respond to a simple query letter, so I can only imagine how long it may take before they offer representation. If I were to get an agent, I would then have to wait for that agent to shop my novel around to publishing houses. Then, I’d have to wait through negotiations, edits, and any other changes by the publishing house before any sort of production begins on the novel. I’m not exactly sure how long all this could take, but I’m sure it can take at least a year. I’ve heard of people waiting years just to secure a literary agent. Call me impatient, but I am much happier with self publishing. I can have my content published whenever I am ready and I don’t have to go through so many people to get it published.

The Bad

One of the biggest downsides of self publishing is that it does have a bit of a stigma attached to it. Some people have criticized self published books, arguing that the content can’t be nearly as good as the content in a traditionally published book. I think that as more self published authors become more recognized, this stigma will begin to fade. Until then, the stigma is definitely a slight negative.

Another downfall of self publishing is that you are your own marketing team. When you publish an e-book on Kindle, Amazon doesn’t send out press releases about it. You will be the only one in charge of promoting your book. Besides your family and friends, nobody else will know that your book even exists. 

The Ugly

So. Much. Formatting.

I think my least favorite part about the self publishing process is the formatting for different platforms. It’s not impossible, but it is tedious.

For someone who is self publishing for the first time, like me, there is also a lot of research to be done. I have a BA in Journalism with a concentration in Professional Writing so I figured that I was totally prepared to self publish. Well, I was wrong. There were so many little things that I needed to educate myself about before I was ready to self publish.

Lastly, you may need to make a small investment into your self publishing career. The only things that I spent money on were securing a domain name and my ISBNs. Still, some people spend hundreds of dollars on cover art, formatting, etc. I would definitely do some research because it’s always a little ugly when unexpected costs come up.

 

Well there you have it. So far, I would say that my self publishing experience has been an overall positive one. I’m releasing State of Exception on digital platforms Friday, July 18 and I am excited to see how my opinions of self publishing may change once my novel is officially published.

Until next week,

Debbie