Friday, June 14, 2024

BLOG | Making your dream come true, publish your book for free

It is still being debated who among many intellectuals first wrote the very popular quote, “Everyone has a book in them…” Regardless the origin, I believe in this. Each of us has a funny, inspiring, or informative story to tell. You may have a good idea about how to improve life for many, a special skill that will empower others, a view about the future that will make a difference.  There are many other reasons.

What has stopped people from writing books then? One, it requires focus and time. I didn’t get focus until I retired. And even then, I found the impetus only when I encountered dire situations that gave me the time. The first travel book, Carolina : Cruising to an American Dream, was born during a six-week separation from Bill. The second travel book, Cruising Past Seventy. It’s Not only about Outer Journeys. It’s Also about Inner Ones, was born while we were all trapped inside our homes during the coronavirus lockdowns.

But I think there is another even more compelling reason. It requires money to get the book inside us off to a publishable format, off the press, on to the bookshelves, and to the hands of readers. The traditional way to publish is quite unreachable to many. Your idea must be previously not thought of and you must be a celebrity who can pull readers in droves. Self-publishing has produced another way but it also required a couple of thousands of dollars. My first book was done this way. It is good I was able to recoup my investment.

You will be very happy to know that there is a way that is now available absolutely free! It is called direct publishing. And Amazon’s Kindle has made it happen. This is how I produced my new travel book. Offered by Amazon, Kindle’s precursor was CreateSpace but that was difficult to use. That has since been moved into Kindle Direct Publishing which is surprisingly relatively easy to use, although it still requires some tech-savviness and attention to detail. But, as I realized, even ordinary mortals can do it.

You can create both the ebook and the paperback using three steps:

  1. Setting up the details
  2. Creating the book which includes uploading the manuscript and creating the cover
  3. Pricing the book

The first step includes the addition of the title, the author and other contributors, the book description, the publishing rights, the searchable keywords, and the ISBN, the unique book number. In the second step, the manuscript for the ebook can be input in MS Word, HTML, RTF, Text and GIF, JPEG and PNG formats. Thankfully, there are many tools offered during this creative process. For the paperback, it must be in PDF. The third step takes you into the decisions on royalty, pricing, and territories.

After you have created the book in the section called Bookshelf, there are three other sections that will help you. “Marketing” lets you create your Author Page using Author Central and offers other ways to promote your book for free. “Reports” helps you track all your sales (quantity and dollars earned) by title and by date. Finally, “Community” helps you learn the ins and outs of KDP. There is even a KDP University that offers free courses and webinars.

So, what is the catch? No, it is not that your book can only be read in a Kindle Reader. KDP offers free Kindle apps that can be downloaded to a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop which then becomes your reader. The catch is that to gain the maximum benefit of all the KDP features, your book will become exclusively sold in Amazon and Kindle. The bigger catch is that many people still prefer paperbacks and shipping costs from a central location like the US is costly, especially during the time of Covid.

This may not be as bad as it sounds since Amazon dominates 80% of the ebook market and especially if your major market is the US anyway. Besides, KDP also has, since CreateSpace has moved to it, a print on demand feature that is cost-competitive. For example, I was able to price the print version of my second travel book, with all its 346 pages, at just $8.99 which already includes a small royalty. It is a more reasonable price compared to the minimum price of $16.95 I was mandated to use for my first book.

My experience with KDP has been excellent. Since I do not worry anymore about recovering any cost, I can now write as many books as I have in my mind. The second part of the quotation, however, says “…but in most cases, that’s where it should stay.” What do you think about the next books lurking in my mind: “How to Find Your Lifetime Partner on the Net” or “Veggies beyond Salads?” Should these just stay in my mind, as the popular quote says? How about you? What book is inside you? That, probably, should not just stay in your mind!

The author had a distinguished career in Philippine business before migrating to the US in 2004. She was former president and CEO of BayanTrade, managing director of SAP Philippines, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, general manager of MegaLink, and vice president of the Development Academy of the Philippines. She also worked for tech firms Andersen Consulting, IBM, and NCR. Now based in the US with her husband Bill Colborn, she published her first travel book “Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream” in 2015.


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