Skip to main content

Publishing on Kindle - A Tutorial

In keeping with our August theme of  "Back to School",  I thought I would offer some tips for those wanting to learn more about publishing and marketing e-books.

This post is not going to be about how to format a book for the Kindle and other reading devices. Nor is it going to go into the details of editing and design and cover art - although all three are important and an author would be wise to make sure all three are professionally done. There are a number of resources available to take an author through those processes.  

The ABCs of e-book format conversion: Easy Calibre tips for the Kindle, Sony and Nook By John Schember    

How to Publish Your Own Amazon Kindle Ebook By Tony Bradley, PCWorld

Or you can go directly to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which also has information about CreateSpace for self-pubbing books in trade paperback. 

For Barnes and Noble, their publishing arm is PubIt, and there are easy directions for formatting and uploading content, once you find the right pages.  Like Amazon, the site is not easy to navigate if you want to do something other than buy a product. 

And for those who would like to use a third-party to handle all the formatting, there is always Smashwords. They format the book and make it available for all electronic reading devices.

What I would like to focus on today is the importance of ratings on Amazon and how they translate into sales.

Under the picture of the cover art on the Amazon sale page for a book, there is a listing for: Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought  and under that are book covers. The more books that your book is compared to, the higher your visibility because your book will show up on the pages for those other books.

Then you have Editorial Review, Product Information, and Customer Reviews. Here again, the more reviews you have the higher your rating. Hopefully the reviews will be positive and give you three or more stars, but even the one-star reviews count. 

Next is More About the Author, which I like to click over to as I love meeting other authors. If you set up and update a page on Author Central, that will keep readers interested, and interested readers tell other readers about this new author they just discovered.

That is followed by: What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?  On my page for One Small Victory, I was thrilled to see books there by Dana Stabenow.  If your book is listed along with some "name" authors, that can help push sales, as fans of those book are apt to buy yours.

Next is Popular Highlights where passages that people have highlighted while reading your book are noted.  If people are taking the time to highlight some things they like, that can influence a casual browser to take another look at your book.

Then comes Tags Customers Associate with This Product. These are keywords that are usually put in by the author first. For my book I put in, fiction, romance, mystery, gangs, literature, romantic suspense, hard-boiled, female sleuth, grief, kindle, cheap kindle books, backlist e-books, family, drugs, suspense. That way when  folks do a search for a book dealing with any of these topics, my book title will be listed among others. Customers are encouraged to check the boxes next to the tags they consider relevant or enter their own tags. Tagging helps bring your book to the attention of people searching for a book to read on a particular topic or in a specific genre. For instance, if they are looking for a romantic suspense and your book has been tagged romantic suspense by 150 readers, it will probably come up in a search.

Kindle does not do any promotion of books on the request of authors, but they do offer tips on how to promote your book.  Here is a direct link to their page on merchandising.

One person from Kindle support responded to my request for help with this post:

You can increase the visibility of your book(s) in the Kindle Store by adding additional "Search Keywords" to your titles. "Search Keywords" may be updated at the title level in your KDP account, and we recommend choosing up to five keywords that relate to content of your book.  Try to avoid using vague keywords. For example, a book titled "America's National Parks" may gain visibility with the keywords "Yellowstone" and "Grand Teton", but not "Parks."

Word of mouth still is the best way to sell books, but people need to be able to find your book to start recommending it. Rankings and rating help increase your visibility on a site like Amazon, so it is important to do what we can to increase the rating of our books. If anyone has tips they would like to offer on merchandising,  please do share with us.

Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest book is Open Season, which has gotten nice reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly. One Small Victory, is a top seller in the mystery bestseller list at the Amazon Kindle store. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. She will stop playing with her horse and work, honest.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Wonderful info! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Thanks for stopping by, E.J. and research paper writer. Love the video you have posted on your blog, E.J. Everyone needs to click over to his blog and watch the video.

  3. Thanks for this, Maryann - so many of us are entering the world of indie-publishing, and making our books more visible to readers is probably 90% of the game.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  4. Maryann: You spoke of the importance of "Customers who bought this item also bought"--do authors have any control over what is placed there? I had always assumed it was generated by sales comparisons.

  5. Kathryn, you are right about the "Customers who bought this also bought" section. The author has no control over what is there. I just mentioned it because what books are listed there on your product page can influence readers.

    The bottom line for all of this merchandising and promoting is creating buzz and word-of-mouth. A writer can affect that by some promo strategies, but buzz only takes one so far. That has to be backed up with good writing and well-produced books.

  6. Just found this blog via Twitter. Looks very useful - will be bookmarking it for future reference.
    Grace x

  7. Grace glad you came by and found the post helpful. We do try to bring good content for writers who are on this crazy journey of writing and publishing and promoting.


Post a Comment

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. If a glitch is preventing you from commenting, visit our Facebook page and drop your wise words there: Blood-Red Pencil on Facebook