My First Kindle Book
Understanding Social Media – A Simple Simon Guide
Well, DO YOU BELIEVE IT? I have finally got my Kindle book finished and launched it on Amazon Kindle.
I started this project nearly 2 years ago and many times I nearly gave up.
I would say that it has taken blood, sweat and tears but I would be lying. It has however, taken a lot of time, effort and money to get it published.
It has been very frustrating at times and it has been a huge learning experience for me. There have been quite a few mistakes made getting to this point which is always the case with a new project.
The time to get it done was down to lack of focus and was my own doing and here are my thoughts if you are interested and a few pointers that might want to avoid if you decide to write and publish your own books.
Also, I am going to be giving the book away for FREE (normally $7.99) in the next week or so, in the hope that those that download it will provide me with an honest review and feedback.
I just have to workout and learn how to setup a decent marketing campaign to get the book ranking and which of the free book distribution services I am best to use. There are so many and I don’t know to start off with yet.
I have signed up for KDP select already, which may have been a mistake based on comments from other authors!
If you want to be notified of when the Kindle Free promotion goes live then you can either sign up on the Simple Simon’s website page here.
- How it All started
- How I Came up with the Idea for Social Media for Business
- My Process
- The Next Step – Format and Content
- The Cover
- Editing and Proofreading
- Converting to Kindle and Uploading to Amazon
- Mistakes Made
- What I would do Different
- Whats Next
How it All Started – The Story So Far
I have written and presented a lot of high level training courses in the past, on everything from advanced sales training techniques and marketing strategies to one on database programming and another on thermodynamics! (don’t ask) So, writing a book should be simple, right? Wrong. It has been so much harder than I thought it would be.
A lot of the issues were my own doing. I did not give this to one of my team members to oversee and I dealt with everything myself.
This in itself was a big mistake, as I have ADD and my lack of attention to detail and my wavering concentration meant any deadlines set were doomed to failure from the start and I should have known better.
Another reason it has taken so much time is the fear that the book is not good enough. I think the success of the series (more about that later) is dependent on this one being well received and getting good reviews.
Another thought, which is probably closer to the truth, is that it is just another excuse for my ongoing procrastination and failure to give it the priority it needed.
The Idea and How it Came About
The basic idea was always to create a series of books and came up with the name ‘Simple Simon’. It has a fleeting resemblance to the “Dummies” which was intended.
I spent a long time creating an avatar for Simon which really helped me understand more about who I wanted to target with the books as well as the format and style for the book.
The concept of the series came about because I thought, if I can make a few good books that people like and find helpful and informative, then it would become recognisable and, when people saw it they would know what they were getting. Each one helping to market the other.
To be honest I was hoping to come up with more ‘Evergreen’ ideas than I did. A lot of the themes and topics that I came up with are going to need regular tweaking and additions. The one that got the most feedback and interest was Social Media which is how the first title came about. Already, it could do with an update. Snapchat is not covered in the book in any detail and yet this is fast becoming a very popular site. Especially now that instagram has started selling advertising and changed the algorithm
This is the Avatar I wrote for Simon.
Don’t be fooled into thinking he is a fool; Simple Simon is a really smart guy. He is usually busy, works hard, and doesn’t like to waste his time. Simon is a business owner or manager.
He wants and needs to be informed, but is not looking for long winded, step-by-step tutorials, but more of a synopsis, overview or summary of a topic or particular subject.
He likes to keep things simple where he can and doesn’t require an in-depth understanding of the topic in question.
Preferably, he wants and needs to know enough to be able to discuss these subjects in an intelligent and knowledgeable way with his team, business partners and colleagues.
I wanted to have a recognisable format that readers could dip in and out of, or read just the sections that they were interested in or wanted to learn about. A sort of reference book.
It was not going to be an in depth, ‘how to’ book, I have already got another accompanying series in mind, which will be a basic, take you by the hand, step by step, action plan to setup and get started on each of the different mediums that are covered in the Simple Simon guide.
The key to the success, in my opinion, is to make sure the first one is good enough to make them pick-up another in the series without thinking too hard about it, knowing that the format is clear and concise and that it will give them the information they want or need in a familiar format.
I started by researching what was in demand, although, if I was honest I did not do as much as I could or probably should have.
I decided on Social Media for Business as, from my extensive, ok, limited research, it was clear that many business owners do not understand the importance value of social media in their marketing strategy.
A Recent example
A recent example was from a very good friend of mine who has recently brought his eldest son in with a view to taking over the family business so he can retire. Tony, my friend, is an ‘old-school’ sales and marketing man who took over the business 25 years ago from his Father, and although he has had a website and a basic FB page for many years, it has never made a major contribution to his sales numbers.
He sells a range of pressure washers, steam cleaners, commercial cleaning equipment and chemicals. Business has been tough over the last few years and his usual marketing methods were nowhere near as effective and, his older customers were not as loyal as they used to be moving over to the internet to search out the best deals.
Michael, his son, redesigned the Facebook page, setup a twitter and instagram account and started a posting news. Images and articles relevant to their business. He has grown sales more than 25% in less than 6 months, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds all because he understands social media and his Dad does not.
The Next Step – Format and Content
The next step was to work out a format that could be repeated in other niches and topics. I spent a great deal of time moulding this structure before beginning writing the content for this very first kindle masterpiece.
It did not take long to realise that there was a lot of work to be done researching the numbers and then putting it all in some semblance of order.
I created the headings and titles for the each chapter and then started to fill it in. The book started to take shape but it was taking up a lot of time and so I made the decision to find a ghost writer. I went to a number of forums and author related websites and found Daniel, we spoke at length and he understood what I was trying to achieve and I liked him. He was British but travelled a lot working from his laptop. A great way to live your life I think. We agreed on a price, I paid him a deposit and he got started.
As other projects took over my focus, it took quite a while for me to get back to him with my opinions on each phase which he sent to me as he completed it. He was also travelling so some of the chapters took a little longer, not that I was unhappy as I was aware of his lifestyle and prepared to accept a slight delay.
Bringing Daniel onboard turned out to be the right decision. He was very methodical in his approach which is a much better method than my scattergun or zig, zag approach.
He was also much better at research than me (I have no patience) and came up with some great facts and figures that I think helps the reader understand and consolidate the importance of social media for their business.
It was a collaborative effort, as I knew what I wanted as far as the tone and the look and the feel and, for the most part, Daniel got it spot on which was great. I think the time it took for me to check each section and come back to him with edits or changes frustrated him at times, although he was too polite to say anything. We will soon see when I approach him to do the next book in the series whether he wants to repeat the experience.
The next one will be a lot quicker though. I am committed to making this a process which can be followed and run to a tighter deadline.
I think that if this series is to be successful, then I need to get out a number of books in a timely and regular manner. Not just to keep up the momentum, which is really important I think, but also, if this is to be a financial success, it needs to bring in a reasonable return and sizeable income, which it won’t happen with one book every 2 years.
Once he had completed the book, I read it a number of times and then gave it to my wife and kids to read.
I kept finding more things to add or edit and I also had read numerous posts and articles on publishing a book regarding the importance of having the book edited. As you can probably tell from this article. My grammar and punctuation leaves a lot to be desired. Also, you get word blindness when it comes to something you have spent so much time writing and reading. You put in missing words and miss punctuation errors, especially if you don’t know that they are errors 😉 I therefore decided to get the book edited professionally.
Editing and Proofreading
This turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. I started looking for editors and found that there is such a wide range of prices and I did not know which way to go. The book was over 28,000 words and some services were looking for £1,200 ($1,800) which I thought was a bit steep and more than I had paid to have the book written.
I then read an article by Andy Williams of http://ezseonews.com who is one of the most knowledgeable SEO guys out there. I have read his stuff and bought most of his courses and books over the years and I highly recommend you taking a look at his site and signing up for his newsletter. The article was about the importance of editing and mentioned a friend of his, another Andy, who lives in Asia and offered an editing service at a very reasonable price.
I contacted Andy who was unable to take on my work as he was too busy at that point but put me in touch with another guy he knew. He was a nice guy and very conscientious but there is a BUT. We started off using MS word but as the draft edits were sent across it got messy so we quickly moved to google docs which is brilliant for this type of thing.
He spent a lot of time making a huge number of edits. His was quite critical of the author (me and Daniel). It took some time to complete the edits. When I passed it to Daniel for his comments he was not happy. Looking back I understand why and also have to agree. A lot of the edits although, they made sense, were just superficial and simply rewording of a sentence or paragraph that read perfectly well in the first place and were not needed at all. He had made a lot of unnecessary edits and Daniel, then spent time going over the whole book and pointing out grammatical errors that the editor had made. That was a lesson learnt. I think Daniel was a bit insulted which, of course, was never my intention. I had the book edited because I thought it was the right thing to do but did not take into account the ability of the person doing the editing. As I already stated my grammar is far from perfect so, for me it was a shot in the dark.
Next I had the book proofread by some of my team members and also sent out the script to some people in groups and forums that I am a member of. A few of them were kind enough to take the time go over the book and come back to me, pointing out a few little errors but overall the book came back with the all clear. (I bet there are still a few little mistakes that got through the net!)
The Cover – Trials and Tribulations
I had a nightmare with the cover and still not sure I have what I want. My problem is that, whilst I know something is right once I see it, I am really bad at design and have great difficulty in describing what I want or need.
I went to fiverr and found a few gigs that I thought would be ok. I had already spent some time writing down the brief to explain what was looking for. Basically, it was a series called simple simon guides and I wanted the cover to stand out and be recognisable as a Simple Simon Guide with the rest of the title for each topic woven into it. I also sent the avatar so they would get an idea of our target market. There were a number of attempts and we finally ended up with this version 5.
After reading yet another article about the importance of a great book cover, I knew this one was not right, so on the advice of a very successful author, whose opinion I value and trust, I went to a company who specialise in a range of services for authors.
Their preferred method is to be given carte-blanche on the design based on a brief. I sent the brief to them and within a few days I got back a design. I was really disappointed. They had used a graphic which, I later found out was a stock image, that had absolutely no relevance to social media at all.
I sent my feedback and some of the icons were changed but it was still not right. I was not too happy by this time and let them know that I did not think that much thought or effort was going into the design and no notice of the brief had been taken. I got a reply reminding me that I had signed a contract agreeing that the design would be left to them but, they would make a few changes in the interest of good relations.
The final cover was sent across and still not happy with it, I sent it to another designer who had done some work for me before and she made a few changes and I then ended up with the current cover which although I am still not 100% happy with it has to be said it is a World apart from my first attempt. This is the cover I ended up with:
Bun Fight – DON’T DO IT.
After about a week I came across another book cover using the same graphic as mine. This really p**s*d me off as I thought for the money I paid (Just under $200) I naively, expected it to be unique. I got no response to my emails (although, that was my fault, they were in an archived folder somehow which I did not see)
I then saw their services being promoted on a FB page and took umbrage and, much to my embarrassment now, posted my thoughts in no uncertain terms on their service. A bun fight ensued with the owner, the secretary and one of the partners.
When I came to my senses, I removed all the comments and wrote to them and apologised, as this is not something I would normally do EVER.
If I have something to say, I always go straight to the source and never like to wash dirty laundry in public. It is childish, I see it all the time and never understand the vitriol and venom that people use on forums and Social Media. I was not abusive but, even so, my comments were unnecessary.
There is no need for it. Life is too short for all that crap. We need to get on with our lives and not stress about what, at the end of the day are trivial things.
I don’t know why I did it, and I am very sorry that I did. Maybe I was frustrated at the fact I could not get something that matched with whatever is in my head and that is not their fault.
Whilst I am not 100% happy with the cover I ended up with, it is so much better than the first incarnation and I have seen the work they have done for others and they have done do some fantastic book covers.
Converting to Kindle and Uploading
Some time ago, I had bought a service called Kinstant Formatter. It is an online MS word to kindle conversion service.
I logged in and went to upload my draft only to discover that the ‘points’ which is the currency they use to pay for the conversions of your documents into the kindle format had ran out.
They only last a year! I had taken a lot longer than that to get to this stage. I contacted their support and explained that I had bought the membership, unaware that they had a time limit and I had not used any of them. They were great, they agreed to give me back 50 points. Result! I now have 49 more books to write so I best get my arse in gear and get producing.
I was really pleased with their customer service as, when he pointed it out, it is clearly marked. I had just not read it properly. Although, I still wonder why they would expire if not used. If you don’t use the resource there is no cost, so why put a time limit on them? Mind you, it is his business and he is free to run it as he chooses.
I then uploaded the word document and a few mouse clicks later, I had my kindle book all formatted and ready to go. I highly recommend the Kinstant Formatter service if you are going to produce a lot of book. If, like me, it takes you 2 years to produce one book and you think you won’t use 100 points in a year, then you can use Calibre, which is a free e-book manager which will also convert your book ready for kindle, or another great product for helping organise your writing and help format and convert your kindle book is Scrivenor.
Scrivenor do offer a free trial but it only costs $45 which is really great value. It helps to keep you organised throughout the whole process. There is a learning curve with it but if you stick with it, it will pay dividends. You can find more information from their website www.literatureandlatte.com
Uploading To Amazon
Logging into my account and uploading the book was easy peasy, lemon squeezy. It is time consuming to setup your account in the first instance, but the actual process of uploading the book is simple and only takes a few minutes if you prepare the title and description in advance. I used an edited version of my introduction for the description and on the advice of an experienced kindle author, I added h1 and h2 tags to the description and a call to action at the bottom.
You first upload the manuscript in the epub format, provided by kinstant formatter in my case, followed by the cover, a title and a description together with a few more details and it was done.
The hardest thing was completing the amazon tax forms which includes your bank details and tax or National Insurance number. I am in the UK so just said no to everything :-). I then had to edit all of the currencies for each Country that Amazon sells in. You have to go into each one individually and select that what currency that you want to sell. You also pick a base currency. Amazon then converts your sales price into the various other currencies.
I chose dollars rather than Pounds. Not sure why?
I then created my author page, added my details and there I was a verified, published author with my mugshot on display. Yee Haaa 🙂
Mistakes I made
I made a string of mistakes so far.
- Not taking on a project manager to oversee the process
- Not employing a writer from the start
- Allowing it to run on and not setting deadlines to get the book published. – It is so easy to lose momentum and it made it difficult for me, the writer, editor and all concerned. You really do need to focus and get it done in a short a time as possible.
- Not doing more due diligence when looking for an editor.
- Lack of a plan – I should have written out a plan adding each and every task to trello and adding a timescale to it.
- Trying to do the cover on the cheap. I will use 99designs next time. This is because artists compete for the work and create a load of samples to choose from and this suits my way of working and my poor design skills. Hopefully, I will see something that catches my eye and fits whatever it is in the depths of my brain that I am thinking of.
- I don’t think I should have enrolled in the KDP Select service straight off. I think this was a mistake but it is done now so I have to make the most of it. It is only 90 days so maybe I will pull it out but I need to learn and understand more about the pros and cons before I decide.
What I would do Different?
- I will plan the whole thing out in great detail and outsource of much of the work as soon as possible.
- I will set firm deadlines.
- I will wait until Andy (the recommended editor) is available to do the work.
- I won’t argue with anyone. Well I will try my best.
Well, the next stage is to learn how to market and launch the book to improve the rankings. This is the key to a successful book, and I have a lot to learn, as I do not have a clue yet. I need to work out which kindle marketing websites and free book offers to use and what are the best paid service.
I am also about to get the book on createspace so that people can get a printed copy of the book.
I need to get started on the next one which I already have an outline for. Again, I have not done enough market research but I am confident there is a demand for it.
If you have any questions or have any feedback or advice, let me know. I appreciate all the help I can get and am happy to answer any questions that you might have.
You can check my book and buy it on Amazon
I will be running a FREE promotion for 3 days where you will be able to download the book for free, gratis, nothing, nada.. You get the picture.. 🙂
Onward and upwards.