Thursday, February 25, 2010

Smash your Way onto Kindle

This time last year, hardly anyone had heard of Kindle, a new grayscale, mobile reading application for electronic books. Originally released in 2007 by Amazon, this hardware became available internationally in October of 2009. By the end of the year, Amazon estimated that they had sold 1.5 million units of the original Kindle 1, as well as the newer version, the Kindle 2, priced at $299 US. For the first time ever, sales of e-books exceeded those of books in print on Christmas Day of 2009.

Americans who have their books in print on Amazon can apply for Kindle directly through the company. Then they can easily upload their book in the form of the PDF. This is a cinch compared to what the global community has to go through because at the moment, Amazon only accepts Kindle applications from people living in the U.S. That's hard to understand from an international company, but I think they've applied this restriction because Amazon is paying royalties directly through American bank accounts. So if you are an American author, just log into Amazon and apply for your Kindle account. Then transfer your book and Amazon does all the dirty work. You just sit back and collect the money.

International authors can use to publish, promote and distribute their books. Since they pay a higher percent of royalties, Americans may also consider using this free website to convert material. The downside to Smashwords is that they require a very specific type of formatting in order to make your book presentable to upload. That's because Smashwords goes beyond Kindle; they recognize that people are also downloading e-books and reading them on other apps like the Apple iPhone/iPod Touch, the Sony Reader, the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile Smartphone, Palm Treo, etc.

Personally, I found the formatting process to be complicated, but the technical support was fantastic. First, the company has a free style glide that takes the reader step-by-step through the formatting process. Second, a real live person answers e-mail if you write and talk about your distress! In fact, I formatted my hip replacement book on New Year's Eve day and actually received a response from one of the heads of the company. He bent over backwards to help me out and get my book going.

In addition, Smashwords has a list of low-cost people to hire if you'd rather sit through a root canal than reformat tab and paragraph indents. Finally, Smashwords will take your newly formatted e-book and put it on the Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo (formerly Shortcovers), so you have a greater distribution with them than through Amazon alone.

With technology changing so quickly, we want to keep up with current trends. It's also important to multi-stream our income and have our books in a variety of formats. E-books used to be tedious because they had to be read on a desktop or laptop, but those days are long gone. A Kindle reader can hold up to 1500 non-illustrated books-- make sure that yours is one of them.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of Be Your Own Editor. Visit her at Buy Be Your Own Editor directly through me by hitting the Contact Me button or sending an e-mail to sigridmac at Or simplifiy your life and get it on PayPal.

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