"Look at this," my sister-in-law Annie said, showing me her Kindle, the $299 wireless reading device from Amazon. It looked like a giant cell phone with a big readable screen. "I don't need to sync it up with a computer," she said, "because it connects to Amazon.com. I just look for the digital version of books I want, and they appear on my Kindle in moments after I select them. I love this thing."
"But why?" I wanted to know. "I like real books. They don't need batteries, and I can carry one anywhere. And I don't need to spend three-hundred dollars for a special reader."
"Try carrying twenty-five books at any given time, then you'll see. This can also get the full text and pictures of newspapers and magazines. And everything for the Kindle is far less expensive than the printed versions. " She's a voracious reader and constantly traveling for ThinkQuality, the consulting company she started after she left the Pentagon. I could see how the Kindle worked for her.
A few days after she showed me, I noticed someone outside the Los Angeles Museum of Art reading on a Kindle under the shade of a tree, and I knew this was a device to be reckoned with. Even so, as an author, until this week, I'd been so caught up in marketing my printed books that I didn't get back to thoughts of Kindle versions.
This last weekend, my cousin had a link on his Facebook page that made my jaw drop. I was taken to an article that said how author Boyd Morrison had self-published his novel The Ark -- not in any printed version but only for the Kindle, where it became a bestseller. Then Simon and Schuster acquired the rights, and it will be a printed hardback book, out next summer. I decided to master uploading to Amazon for the Kindle that very day.
I wrote my friend Henry about this, and he directed me to an article he wrote about Morrison that explained even more.
It took me a chunk of an afternoon to learn better how to turn my books into perfect versions for the Kindle. Two months ago was my first try. I'd assumed, wrongly, that the Kindle version of any book looked just like the printed version-same fonts, same page breaks, same overall book design.
Thus, I tried uploading the PDF file of one of my books, which the book designer had painstakingly created. What I saw onscreen, though, was messed up. The huge initial cap at the start of each story was a small letter on its own line. Some paragraphs were indented, others not. The table of contents were helter skelter, and what did page numbers matter when there were no pages? Also, what appeared on a page in Kindle depended on the font size selected by the Kindle reader.
This weekend, I realized the converter much preferred an HTML version. Thus, I brought up the Microsoft Word versions of my books, saved them as web pages (which puts in HTML coding) and uploaded those files. It worked. I needed to delete the tables of contents and rewrite them without page numbers. I also had to replace the formally large initial caps at the start of each story with regular letters.
If you want to create a Kindle version for your book, start with Kindle's sign-in page for its Digital Text Platform. Once you have an account, add your book, and each screen that comes up will help you put in all the right information.
In Henry's article, titled "A Kindle Success Story: How to Promote a Kindle Ebook," I learned that Morrison made his book, The Ark, inexpensive. After all, no one had heard of him, and he wanted to pull people in. Thus I made my two short story collections inexpensive for Kindle. The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea is only $1.99, and Months and Seasons, just $2.99.
Morrison went onto the Kindleboards often, which is where one can write about Kindle books to the Kindle community. Before long, he had an entire Kindle Book Club devoted to his book, where he'd answer questions. The Book Bazaar section of Kindleboards is the best place to introduce a book, I've learned, so I went there and learned to use Kindle Link Maker to create HTML code for one's book covers. It works well.
I also saw there's a way to insert YouTube videos, which allowed me to insert short professionall produced videos of my books.
If you're curious, click on this link to see how my introduction to my books look for Kindle:
In short, today's book marketing needs to consider the Kindle community. How any of this works, I can tell you in a matter of weeks. It's a big experiment for me.
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