After months of thinking about publishing my book, Pajama School, in a digital format for Kindle, I finally buckled down and figured out what I needed to do to make it happen. The process was simple, but a bit time-consuming. First off, you have to set up an account with Amazon’s Digital Text Platform. Why this is not integrated into the Amazon Advantage accounts I have no idea, but Amazon seems to specialize in disjointed confusion…
Once the account is set up, just navigate to the “Bookshelf” and click the button to “Add a new title.” The uploading process is very intuitive. I ended up uploading my book file as a pdf, then I downloaded it as an html file and spent several hours cleaning up the code in Dreamweaver before re-uploading it. There may be a faster way to do this, but since I didn’t already have any of my book in an html format, this was the most convenient. Once it is uploaded, it takes about 24 hours to publish it and make it live and available for purchase on Amazon.com.
I’m not into reading books on a digital reader yet, so I’m not sure how important it is to make a book available in this market. However, it’s always valuable to explore something new and expand your knowledge in a new area. So, if you are considering publishing a book to Kindle, I’d encourage you to give it a try. It’s pretty painless, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to make your book available in as many venues and formats as possible!
While doing some research into Anderson Merchandisers, the company that supplies books, CDs, DVDs and more to Walmarts, Sam’s Clubs, and military bases all across the country and around the world, I came across this fascinating article: Entrepreneur Seeks New Channels as Media Goes Digital.
The company was founded in 1917 by Clyde Anderson when, in the wake of his father’s accidental death, he started a small newsstand in a makeshift shed. The fledgling venture grew to become Anderson Companies, one of the nation’s largest family-owned enterprises. I thought this statement was rather humorous and reflective of a true entrepreneurial spirit:
“Anderson says he doesn’t know how many companies the family owns currently, but estimates they’ve bought, sold and kept at least 150.”
Based on the article, current CEO and President, Charlie Anderson, is obviously a creative, forward-thinking business owner. Consider this statement related to the music industry:
“I do not see a music industry supported by 99-cents single downloads,’ he says. ‘That may still be around, but that will just be one revenue stream. We have to come up with many more.”
Articles like this inspire me to keep looking ahead, developing new ideas, and pursuing fresh opportunities. You have to be in touch with where things are at in the market, where things are headed, and how to create new ways of doing business that will appeal to consumers. That requires lots of “high level thinking”:
“Charlie is spending a vast amount of his time figuring out what the next generation of Anderson Media looks like…Charlie thinks at a high level, as does the rest of the family. He doesn’t think about little ideas, he is about big game-changing ideas.”
If we aim to be producers and culture-changers, we have to be willing to take the time to think and plan and try new things. This is both thrilling and scary! I am still learning more all the time about what works and what doesn’t (usually from plenteous mistakes!) in various business pursuits. But it sure is a fun adventure – and it’s great to be able to learn from those who have traveled the entrepreneurial path for many years!
After getting Pajama School accepted and viewable on Google Books, I wanted to give their Co-Branded search feature a try. I had a few difficulties. First because there had previously been a version of my book listed at Google Books, but it was not the one with the preview available, so the search always returned nothing since that was the book being referenced by the search. Second, because once I had this resolved, I didn’t realize you had to manually change the code to point to the ISBN for the specific book for which you wanted to set up the search capability. I thought this was coded automatically and couldn’t figure out why the search kept taking me to some book on Lutheranism… Anyway…I’m happy to say that everything now appears to be working properly and you can search the content of my book for any word you like! 🙂
As I mentioned in my last post, it took me a little longer than I expected to finalize the process of getting Pajama School up and running at Google Books. It turns out that the file upload must not have been successful the first time, but once all the files were uploaded the remainder of the process only took about a week. So, feel free to click on over and get a preview of Pajama School on Google Books! 🙂
If you want to make a book available on Google Books, sign up on the Google Books Partner Program homepage. It actually took me forever to find this page because I kept trying to figure out how to add my book from the regular Google Books homepage but could never find the right link. I don’t usually consider myself navigationally-challenged, but the various twists and turns you have to take to find the right programs and portals for some of these book-related sites (ahem…Amazon…) is dizzying!
I was a little hesitant to upload my book to Google Books because I was afraid that it would cut into sales if people could easily view the book on-line. However, you can actually specify what percentage of the book content you want to have made available in the preview so that it will give people an idea of what the book is like, but they won’t be able to read the whole thing. Plus, having Pajama School on Google Books allows all of the content to be factored into searches and will return the book in relevant search results. I will also be able to place a search box on my website to allow interested readers to search for particular words or phrases in the book. A very nice feature. Still working out a few kinks on that one, though!
Also…if you just love the design (cover and interior) of my book and want to hire some professionals to do design work for you (which I highly recommend!), be sure to check out the links to these gifted graphic designers on this post. As you can see, hiring high quality, professional designers to do your book pays for itself over and over again when you can easily upload and make your book available through channels like Google Books.
After jumping through several hoops, I am excited to report that Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate is now part of the Search Inside The Book (SITB) program at Amazon.com. The process is slightly more complicated than you would expect, but once I understood the steps to take, it was relatively seamless:
1. Go to Amazon Seller Central and sign up for an account. Because of some of the verbiage, I was hesitant to do this because I thought I might end up having to pay some additional fees. After a brief exchange with the customer service rep, though, I was assured that this was indeed the appropriate procedure for uploading the files and no additional fees would be incurred.
2. Look for the Search Inside The Book category on the left hand side of the page and click on PDF and cover upload.
3. Carefully review all the guidelines for naming and uploading files and prepare the files on your end accordingly. I created a separate folder for Amazon amongst my book files on my computer so that I could keep these files separate and readily accessible.
4. Zip all the files and upload them via the uploader on the Seller Central site.
5. Click the submit button and wait and watch to see when the Search Inside The Book feature becomes active on your book page. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly this process was completed (especially considering that I’ve been waiting for several weeks for a similar process over at Google Books – I’ll have to let you know once that one is up and running!).
All of my research indicated that one of the biggest drawbacks to self-publishing is lack of access to distribution channels. I’m not totally convinced that this is true…yet. I think marketing on a small non-existent budget could at least tie for that designation. However, while I have experienced pretty favorable reception as an independent publishing company, it is a LOT of work! I have been in touch with several distributors who are interested in carrying my book, Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate, but I haven’t decided for sure yet what route I’m going to take. As in most things, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to working with a distributor.
One of the things that was still a little fuzzy in my mind was the difference between a distributor and a wholesaler. This article, Understanding the Distribution Channels, was incredibly helpful in sorting out the differences. One of the major advantages to having a distributor is that they handle some of the supply-side marketing. (This is in contrast to marketing to the consumer. The distributor works with bookstores and wholesalers to convince them to stock your book.) Not to mention that some bookstores and wholesalers will only purchase books through a distributor.
At this point, I don’t see any way to get my book listed with Ingram if I don’t use a distributor. As far as I can tell, Borders also only works through a distributor. I am in the process of getting it listed with Baker and Taylor, though, and am in the final stages of establishing an account with Barnes and Noble. And of course, Pajama School has been listed with Amazon.com since prior to its official release. Other than that, I have a number of local stores and libraries carrying it, but I still have a lot of work to do as far as contacting other independent bookstores outside the local area.
It’s really kind of mind-numbing trying to keep track of everything that needs to be done and then following up after initial contacts have been made. This is an area that I have really neglected. Once I check something off my to-do list, I tend to just move forward and forget what’s been done or what follow-up might be required. Definitely a glitch in my system…except for that my system right now is more of a non-system – more like chaotic randomness, perhaps. I keep telling myself that I need to do a better job of organizing all of these different facets of the wonderful world of self-publishing, but for the moment my brain is trapped in the world of distribution…
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