Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How I did it

In case you saw the article in the Inquirer and needed to know how to self-publish on Amazon, here's a quick rundown of how I did it:

1. I finished the manuscript.
Fairy Tale Fail was in revision mode for a year. Eventually I got it to a "final" draft.

2. I sent it to an editor.
I asked a friend who worked as an actual editor to review the manuscript for me. Her feedback covered grammar points and also the substance of the story, which every manuscript needs, I think.

3. I created an account with Amazon's Kindle Digital Publishing site.
Anyone can set one up. Just go to

4. I formatted my own edited manuscript into the Kindle format.
Amazon's KDP site provides a formatting guide. It will take some trial and error, if you, like me, formatted your draft to look like it's printed on paper. E-readers offer a more flexible reading experience for people, allowing them to change the font or the line spacing at will, so I had to learn not to force my font and spacing and margins on them. It took me a while to get used to this, but now I write drafts in a Kindle-ready format.

5. I asked people to design a cover and edit the book description.
Again I asked for help from people who could do this better. A friend who is into photography provided the photo based on the concept, and my husband laid out the "cover." (Tip: Make sure your name, or the book's title, is visible even when it's thumbnail size.) He also rewrote my description, as I couldn't get it down to a short and punchy paragraph.

6. I set the price for it.
Amazon will let you set any price you want for your work. But if you want to be bought, you'll have to check out what people who would buy your book are buying, and how much they're paying for similar stuff. Because of this, I had to change my price a few weeks after I first published, and offered my early buyers my next book for free. The price change led to an increase in sales that more than made up for it, I think.

The pricing issue is tricky because Amazon adds a $2 surcharge to purchases made with Philippine-based accounts. So automatically, the people I thought were my main audience had to pay more for the book.

7. Once it was published, I made sure certain people knew it was out there.
Admittedly I haven't marketed Fairy Tale Fail as well as I could have. There are lots of tools other indie authors have been using that I haven't even tried. But I did join forums for indie authors, spruced up my blog, set up a Twitter account and Facebook page, and told my friends and a book blogger about the book. This initial push is important because first the book needs to be bought. Once it's bought, it'll have an Amazon sales ranking, and then it starts becoming part of Amazon's recommendation feature. Which was the turning point, I think, and compensates for the lack of marketing on my part.

And that's it! Follow these steps and you'll find yourself at the end of it an indie author/publisher. :)

OK, so these steps may make it seem a bit too simple. It's not. It's work, and if you've poured your heart into your manuscript already then you may feel too exhausted to even think of starting this. But notice that most of these steps -- if not all, if you're super-talented -- can be done by you. All these tools are there and waiting, you just need to be ready with that manuscript already.

Full disclosure: A company I am part of now helps authors publish digitally. But I make sure that authors we work with know that they can do this on their own, so this post is nothing new.


  1. Hi Mina, I'm planning to self-publish on Amazon and I would like to ask for your help regarding tax matters. Kindly explain your actual experience regarding this matter. Thank you. :)

    1. The US government deducts from your earnings. You can also file paperwork to have them deduct less. How you report it here sa Pinas depends on how you report your other income sources, I guess. You'll need an expert opinion (and I'm not an expert).

    2. Thanks a lot Mina! :)

  2. Thanks a lot Mina! :)