Lessons Learned from Publishing My First Kindle eBook and Productizing Knowledge

It has been almost a month since I published my first ebook on the Kindle platform. It has been a really interesting experience and I wanted to post a few of my initial thoughts. Overall, I think it’s a really interesting experience and I’m likely to try to write another one sometime in the near future.

First, I just wanted to provide a bit of context on the book. Over the past few years I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people in the conference and events business about how to scale and how to get started. I realized that I ended up telling everyone the same set of tips and lessons learned from my experience. So rather than repeating that conversation and limiting myself to the folks in my network, I thought it would be an interesting experience to “productize” those conversations into something that would be accessible to more people. One of my New Year’s resolutions for the year was to try to take some of the content I find myself repeating regularly and write it down. It was too much for a blog, so doing it as an ebook seemed to make more sense. Here are a few interesting things I’ve learned thus far:

1. Publishing on the Kindle platform is extraordinarily easy – The production process for the book was really easy. I wrote the entire book in Google Docs and then exported it to Word. I had a copy editor review the final version and had the cover art done on Crowdspring. It took me about 8 weeks to produce the book (it’s about 60 pages double-spaced in Microsoft Word) and another week or so for review and editing. I didn’t need any special software or tools – I was able to upload the Word document to Kindle and it converted with very minimal edits. I was surprised how easy it was to go from Word doc to ebook.

2. I enrolled in Kindle Select and I find it fascinating – My goal in writing the book was not to make money but rather to learn more about what it’s like to publish on Kindle. I decided I’d go all in and enroll the book in the Kindle Select Fund program via Kindle Direct Publishing. The deal is pretty simple – Amazon gives you 5 days of promotion during a 90-day window and a share of the pot of Kindle Lending Library fees based on how many lends / shares your book receives. The catch is that you cannot publish the book on any other platform, including your own hosted blog or store. I’m not sure this is the right long term strategy for every publisher – I’m seeing 90 sales for every lend / borrow thus far. I think it’s a pretty clever move by Amazon to focus on getting amateurs like me focused on publishing exclusively for Kindle.

3. As a web stats junkie, I’m totally in the dark about what’s driving sales in the Kindle store – My one big surprise about selling an ebook via Kindle has been the total opacity of what drives sales. I don’t have anything like a dashboard that tells me how people are finding my book (search, social shares, recommendations from related texts, etc), how often people are visiting the page and not buying, or anything that gives me a sense for traffic. True, I get royalty and sales data, but that’s a small part of the picture. I’d really like to know more about how people are finding my book.

This hardly merits a bullet, but I think many ebook buyers are price sensitive. Every time I drop my price, I sell more units and total revenue goes up. I’d be curious to see how having a hardback / paperback version of the book would impact price sensitivity.

If you’ve published on Kindle and have thoughts on your experience, I’d love to hear from you. As always, comments are open.

You can see the book live on Amazon here.

Follow me on Twitter – I’m @chudson

  • Congrats man! That’s awesome. 

  • Sounds WAY easier than publishing to Apple… I am in the middle of it now with our Gluten Free Passover Cookbook.  Takes like a week for approval from Apple for the honor, then a week to do ePUB conversion (which they could have suggested when you applies one week back!).  then … well I dont know what happens next, still waiting for the EPUB.  will let you know!

    also, I recommend DIGGYPOD for printing books.  CHEAPEST on the internet and easiest to deal with from what I can tell.

    Ben Katz
    GlutenFreeMatzo.com and then some “Payments” stuff

  • Thanks for sharing Charles. I’m saving this for when I productize some of my own repeat content. On the list of 2012 deliverables.