Kindle Unlimited, October, 2019

The Kindle Unlimited Per-Page Rate for October, 2019

$0.0047 is the Kindle Unlimited (KENP) per-page rate for October, 2019.

It’s nearly identical to the rate for September, 2019. (You need more decimal places to see a difference.)

September and October were about 7% better than July and August.

The KDP Select Global Fund reached a new high of $26 million.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Kindle Unlimited: What was the KENP rate for July, 2019?

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ FOR JULY, 2019

The KENP rate for pages read in Kindle Unlimited in July, 2019 was $0.00439.

It’s a small drop (roughly 5%) compared to June’s rate of $0.00464.

However, Amazon actually paid out more royalties overall in July than in June.

That’s because the KDP Select Global Fund rose from $24.9 million to a record $25.6 million.

Perhaps Amazon Prime Day had a small impact. If, for example, Amazon sold many Kindle ereaders, there may be new customers using their free month of Kindle Unlimited.

Whatever the reason, the per-page rate does tend to vary a bit, although it has been relatively stable for much of 2019.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read Rate for May, 2019

MAY, 2019 KINDLE UNLIMITED PER PAGE RATE

For May, 2019, the KENP per-page rate for pages read through Kindle Unlimited was $0.00466.

This is nearly identical to what it was in April, and is a small improvement over March.

In May, the KDP Select Global fund climbed up to $24.6 million.

The Global fund was $24.1 in April and $24.0 million in March.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

April 2019’s KENP per-page-read rate for Kindle Unlimited

KINDLE UNLIMITED: APRIL 2019’S PER-PAGE RATE

$0.004665 was the per-page rate for pages read through Kindle Unlimited in April of 2019.

This is an improvement over March’s rate of $0.00451.

$24.1 million was the KDP Select Global fund for April of 2019.

This was nearly identical to March’s figure of $24 million.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Kindle Now Has Scrolling Options

 

NOW YOU CAN READ A KINDLE EBOOK BY SCROLLING DOWNWARD

Some formatters used to say that a Kindle eBook is scrollable like a webpage.

But until now, that wasn’t quite right. You used to paginate your way through a Kindle eBook by advancing onto the next “page.”

But Kindle eBooks also weren’t like print books. When you changed the font size, line spacing, or read the book on a different device, the “pages” became significantly different.

However, now on supported devices it is possible to scroll down through a Kindle eBook just like you scroll through an article on a website online.

In the settings, look for the Continuous Scrolling option, shown below for my Kindle Fire.

If you’d rather paginate your way through the eBook, just disable the Continuous Scrolling option and it will function just like it always has.

This new feature is important to authors and publishers who use KDP for a couple of reasons.

Some readers will now scroll through your eBook, whether you like it or not.

So let’s give a little thought to how this may impact eBook design.

  • You want to add Space After to the last paragraph of a chapter (or section) that ordinarily precedes a page break. The page break is removed in Continuous Scrolling, so if you want to have space between the last paragraph of your chapter and the chapter heading that follows, you want to add Space Before to the last paragraph. Ideally, you should do this through paragraph styles or HTML. In HTML, create and apply a style definition that adds a bottom margin to the paragraph. If you’re using Word, create a body text paragraph that adds space after. I use a variety of paragraph styles that add space after: One is like the normal body paragraphs, one is for non-indented paragraphs, one is for the last point of a list, and another is for centered paragraphs. (By the way, since the Look Inside scrolls like a webpage, this is a handy tip to help create a little vertical separation in your Look Inside.)
  • With ordinary pagination, you could control page breaks and prevent information from showing on a screen sooner than you’d like (although some devices like Kindle for PC allow two pages to show on the screen at once). Suppose, for example, that you have an eTextbook with problems followed by answers or solutions. Ordinarily, you could place the answer or solution on the next “page” so that students could try it first, then check their work. However, if they scroll through the eBook now, they may stumble into the answers before reading the problems. Of course, once the student gets used to this, they can scroll more carefully if they don’t wish for this to happen. But it is something to consider as an author or publisher.
  • On the other hand, you can’t design your eBook with the assumption that everybody will scroll through it. Some readers will still be paginating like always.

Can you think of any other ways that this new scrolling feature may impact Kindle eBook design?

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

December, 2018 Kindle Unlimited Royalty for Pages Read

WHAT DID KINDLE UNLIMITED PAY PER PAGE FOR DECEMBER, 2018?

2018 closed out at $0.00487 per page with December’s Kindle Unlimited per page rate (KENP read).

This returns it to the values it had for September ($0.00488) and October ($0.00484).

Although it is a drop from November ($0.0052), the Kindle Unlimited per-page rate seldom clears half a penny per page. Based on its behavior for the past few years, the November amount is more of a sweet bonus than an expectation.

The per-page rate is still in the $0.0048’s, and has been at least at that level for 4 consecutive months, which is a relative high.

The KDP Select Global Fund for December, 2018 was $23.7 million. (It was $23.6 million for November and $23.5 million for October.)

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Kindle Book Update

BOOK UPDATES

One challenge with nonfiction books is keeping the content up-to-date.

As an example, I’m currently in the process of updating my self-publishing guides.

I just updated my Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon, Volume 1 (the Kindle edition is on sale on Black Friday, thru Cyber Monday). The others will be updated soon (and I’ll add a note to the description once they are).

As you may have heard, CreateSpace recently merged with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). As a result, I needed to update all of my self-publishing guides. A few of them mention CreateSpace over a hundred times, so it hasn’t been a ‘simple’ update.

I also noticed a few other things that needed updating, like mention of the CreateSpace eStore option (which is no longer available) and changes to Kindle Unlimited.

For a variety of reasons, I’ve updated dozens of my books over the years. A few of my books have required several updates.

It’s a great feature of self-publishing: Amazon makes it fairly quick and easy to keep your content up-to-date.

I have some tips for doing this.

  • Keep a list of the most recent filename for each of your books. If you spend the next few years publishing multiple books, this list will save you time finding your most recent files. Type the list on your computer, backup the file, and print out a hard copy, just in case. (You can find the name of your most recent content file at KDP, unless you originally published the book with CreateSpace, then you’re out of luck if your book has already transitioned to KDP. Don’t rely on Amazon to keep your file info.)
  • Store your most recent editable files (by that I mean your Word file, not your PDF or MOBI file) in multiple places, like on a computer and on a jump drive, just in case something happens to one of the files.
  • Amazon is generally pretty flexible in letting you simply revise the files of the existing book (paperback or Kindle), even if you have fairly extensive revisions. If your current edition is selling well, it makes sense to simply update the files. If you publish a new edition as a new book on your KDP bookshelf, your book will start over with sales rank, keyword relevance, customers also bought lists, reviews, etc. (though perhaps by request you can get reviews transferred, but I would ask beforehand, just to be sure).
  • If your current edition isn’t doing well (in terms of sales or reviews), then it may be better to start over with a new edition. You can simply unpublish your original edition. (Note that paperback editions remain on Amazon forever, just in case a previous customer wishes to resell a used copy.)
  • If the update is significant, mention it in your description. If the update may be a selling point (or if it may make what had been an outdated book into an updated book), mention it at the beginning of your description, like UPDATED IN NOVEMBER, 2018. You can even make a starburst (like the one you see on the picture for my article) to call attention to the update on your cover (my starburst was designed by Melissa Stevens at theillustratedauthor.net).
  • Some problems you may not wish to call attention to. Maybe you corrected a few little typos or mistakes, which nobody else has pointed out in reviews. If so, you probably wouldn’t want to mention this.
  • However, if a review is quite visible on your product page and calls attention to a problem that has since been fixed, you may wish to note this in the book description. (It’s generally much better to revise your description than to comment on the review directly.)
  • Think twice before revising categories or keywords. If any of your original categories or keywords have succeeded in establishing relevance at Amazon (note that you may not realize this if it has happened), revising your categories or keywords may lose this potentially valuable relevance. Maybe you have established some relevance and don’t realize its value: If you’re getting any sales now, changing categories or keywords comes with a risk. My advice is generally not to change these if you’re content with sales. If you’re not getting sales, then there really is no harm in trying, and in that case maybe new categories or keywords will help out.
  • Check your corrections carefully. It’s amazing how easy it is to introduce a new mistake when you’re making a few little corrections.
  • Getting the updated Kindle edition of a book doesn’t work the way we might expect. It generally doesn’t automatically update. Why not? Because customers would lose notes, highlights, and annotations, which could be really frustrating for some customers. If a customer sees that the new edition is available (or if the author wants to check out the latest edition), just buying the book again won’t solve the problem (not if it’s bought on the same account as the original): Amazon automatically finds the original version and delivers that (even if you remove the book from your device first). You can visit Manage Your Content and Devices from your Amazon account and check if there is an Update Available flag present: This lets you manually update the book. Under Preferences, you can also find an option for Automatic Book Updates. If you still don’t get the most updated version, you need to contact Amazon and ask them to “push” the latest version onto your device.
  • It may help to educate your customers. If you post information about your update on your blog, for example, you can tell customers how to get the latest edition of your Kindle eBook.
  • At KDP’s Contact Us option, there is an option to request to have Amazon notify customers of your book update. A message there indicates that this is generally reserved for major problems, like when some of the content was unreadable. But it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

How to Run a Kindle Giveaway—for Now (for Authors Who’ve Run a Giveaway in the Past)

Images from ShutterStock.

HOW TO RUN AN AMAZON GIVEAWAY FOR A KINDLE EBOOK

As I mentioned in my previous post, presently it seems like you can’t run an Amazon Giveaway for a Kindle eBook…

Because the place on the bottom of the Amazon product page where the Amazon Giveaway option is supposed to be has vanished for Kindle eBooks.

It’s still there for print books and many other products, but not for Kindle eBooks. It disappeared about a week ago.

However…

If you’ve run an Amazon Giveaway for a Kindle eBook in the past.

You can run another Amazon Giveaway for that same Kindle eBook now.

Here’s the “trick” you need:

  • Visit your Amazon Giveaways page (that shows all of your active and inactive giveaways).
  • I have this page bookmarked on my web browser; it comes in handy. Otherwise, visit your Orders, choose Digital Orders, and search for a previous giveaway. Then click the button to View/Manage Giveaways.
  • Find a giveaway for a Kindle eBook that you ran in the past.
  • Look for the gray rectangle labeled Copy this Giveaway.

I just did this and it worked for me. I already received an email stating that my giveaway is now live.

You can check it out here (and you can enter, if you have any interest in an astronomy book):

https://www.amazon.com/ga/p/8e5f16f09254a4b2#ts-dei

Copyright 2018

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

How Does Amazon.com Sales Rank Work?

AMAZON.COM SALES RANK

Amazon assigns a sales rank to every product that has sold at least one time.

The lower the number, the better the product is selling.

For example, a sales rank of 2500 is better than a sales rank of 375,000.

The product that sells the best in its category has a sales rank of 1.

CATEGORY RANKS

Amazon has different ranks for different types of products.

Books are ranked independently from sports equipment and video games, for example.

For a given type of product, there are also category ranks.

For example, a few Books categories include Romance, Children’s, and Science.

A great overall rank is more impressive than a category rank.

For example, a book has to sell quite frequently to rank 500 overall in Books, but can sell much less frequently and still rank 500 in Romance.

A good rank in a broad category is more impressive than a good rank in a subcategory.

For example, a book must sell frequently to rank 100 overall in Science, but can sell much less frequently and rank 100 in Biochemistry.

If a product has never sold, it won’t have a sales rank. (However, if the product was just released recently, there may be a significant delay before its first sale results in a sales rank.)

SALES RANK CHANGES

Amazon sales rank is dynamic.

It fluctuates up and down.

If you look at the sales rank of a product right now, it’s possible that the sales rank happens to be at an all-time low or high for that product.

The current value doesn’t necessarily tell you how well the product usually sells.

A book that usually sells a few copies per day might have an overall sales rank fluctuate between 20,000 and 500,000. Sometimes sales are steadier, sometimes the range is wider, depending on a variety of factors.

For example, during and after a promotion, a product is likely to have a better sales rank than normal. There are seasonal changes. If an author releases a new book, this sometimes helps the author’s other books a little.

There are many reasons that a product that usually sells well might temporarily have a worse rank than usual, or why a product that usually sells less frequently might suddenly have a much better sales rank than usual.

If you really want to judge how well a particular product is selling, monitor its sales rank multiple times over the course of a month.

REPORTING DELAYS

Although Amazon advertises that sales rank is updated hourly, this is not always the case.

It is often fairly up-to-date.

Actually, it’s amazing how well the millions of products are handled.

However, if you happen to purchase a product and expect to see a sudden change in the sales rank, don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t seem as responsive as you had hoped.

Also, a single sale may not have the impact that you expect (unless the rank was previously in the millions). For Kindle eBooks enrolled in KDP Select, there is an additional complication (discussed below).

There are occasionally significant delays. A delay might just happen to coincide when sales rank suddenly becomes important to you. It happens.

MAJOR SALES RANK FACTORS

There appear to be three main factors that affect a product’s sales rank.

  • Recent sales. This is the most important factor. How many copies have sold in the last 24 hours?
  • Sales history. This affects how quickly the sales rank number rises when a product doesn’t sell. A product that has sold frequently in the past has its sales rank climb very slowly when it suddenly stops selling. A product that has hardly ever sold has its sales rank quickly rise up into the millions if it doesn’t sell again soon.
  • Sales frequency. How well has the product sold on average in the past? It seems that Amazon added this factor to help limit the impact that short-term promotions have on sales rank.

What we know for sure. This is what Amazon states on the Amazon Seller Central help pages:

“Sales rank is calculated based on all-time sales of an ASIN/Product where recent sales are weighted more than older sales.”

DO REVIEWS AFFECT SALES RANK?

According to the Seller Central help pages:

“Sales rank is generated based on order data and product reviews are not taken into consideration.”

This suggests that customer reviews do not directly impact sales rank.

You can find many products with a large number of positive reviews with overall sales ranks in the millions, and you can find a few bestselling products with harsh one-star reviews with excellent sales ranks.

Therefore, if customer reviews do have any influence on sales rank, it evidently isn’t significant.

Indirectly, however, customer reviews can influence sales rank. How?

For example, if customer reviews happen to help or hurt a product’s sales, this change in sales frequency will surely affect sales rank.

Note that it’s the change in sales frequency, not the reviews themselves, that cause the significant change in sales rank.

Customer reviews often have virtually no impact on sales, in which case sales rank won’t be influenced by them.

KINDLE RANKS

Kindle eBooks have both ranks in Books and ranks in the Kindle Store, whereas print books only have ranks in Books.

For KDP Select books, Kindle Unlimited introduces a significant complication.

Here is the problem with Kindle Unlimited:

When a customer borrows the Kindle eBook, it counts much like a sale.

However, KDP doesn’t tell you how many times your eBook is borrowed.

KDP only tells you how many pages have been read, which isn’t the same.

If 100 pages are read, you don’t know if 1 customer read 100 pages or if 5 customers each read 20 pages.

If 100 pages read show in your reports today, you don’t know if it was from customers who borrowed your book today or last month.

Why does this matter? Here are a couple of examples.

A Kindle eBook that only sells a few times per week can rank just as well as a book that says a few times per day. How? By getting borrowed a few times per day.

A Kindle eBook’s sales rank might not improve much during a promotion where sales double. Why? Because you don’t know how the rate of borrowing compares to the sales, and you don’t know whether the book is being borrowed more or less during the promotion.

Interpreting the sales rank for a print book and a Kindle eBook is different for two reasons. One reason has to do with Kindle Unlimited, as we just discussed. Another reason is that Kindle eBooks sell much better in certain categories.

So if you’re trying to determine how many sales it takes per day to maintain a sales rank of a particular value, first decide whether you want to know the answer for a print book or a Kindle eBook.

For example, the number of daily sales needed to maintain an overall sales rank of 50,000 is different for a paperback than it is for a Kindle eBook.

For a Kindle eBook enrolled in KDP Select, the answer also depends on how many times per day the book is being borrowed in Kindle Unlimited.

FREE VERSUS PAID RANKS

Kindle eBooks have separate ranks for free books and paid books.

So if your Kindle eBook is free, the rank doesn’t mean the same thing.

There are two ways that this matters:

  • A perma-free book always has a free rank (unless you succeed in raising the price point).
  • A KDP Select free promo shows a temporary free rank, to be replaced with a paid sales rank after the promotion ends.

Unfortunately, when customers get the book for free, this doesn’t count toward the paid sales rank.

So although the free rank may look wonderful during the promotion, when it is replaced by the paid rank after the promotion, sales rank will probably have dropped due to lack of paid sales during the promotion.

However, if the free promo succeeds in generating interest in the book, this can lead to improved sales and eventually help the sales rank.

HOW MANY SALES ARE NEEDED TO MAINTAIN A GIVEN RANK?

That depends.

First, it’s different for every category, and it’s also different for subcategories.

So lets look at the overall sales rank just in Books, for example.

And lets consider just print books (not Kindle eBooks), since they are different.

The answer will still vary a bit. First, there are seasonal changes.

Second, tens of thousands of new books are published every day, and authors are getting better at marketing, so more books are selling.

A major difference comes with sales ranks in the millions. Since there are several million more print books than Kindle eBooks, a sales rank of 2,000,000 indicates a better seller in print than in Kindle, whereas sales ranks under a million probably indicate better sales for Kindle eBooks than print books.

Following are some rough estimates. Remember, these are for print books (not Kindle eBooks). Kindle eBooks work similarly, but the numbers are a little different (and complicated by Kindle Unlimited, which is why my example is for print books instead).

Remember also that it also depends on how well the book has sold in the past. Recent sales aren’t the only factor.

Plus, sales rank isn’t constant. When I indicate a sales rank of 30,000, it might fluctuate between 10,000 and 60,000.

These are overall in all of Books.

  • 100,000 equates to roughly 1 sale per day.
  • 30,000 equates to roughly 3 sales per day.
  • 5,000 equates to roughly 20 sales per day.
  • Ranks between 100,000 and 1,000,000 tend to fluctuate quite a bit, and are indicative of 1 sale every few days. But books that usually have a rank well above 1,000,000 will drop down to this range temporarily after a recent sale. The worse its historical rank, the faster it climbs.
  • Ranks between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 could mean a couple of different things. It could mean the book used to sell some, but has gone through a dry spell recently; if so, its sales rank will climb very slowly (or it will get a sale and return to a better level). It could happen when a book’s rank was above 2,000,000 but sold in the past few days; if so, its sales rank will climb very rapidly (unless it gets a new sale).
  • Ranks above 2,000,000 probably indicate not much recent activity. Note that there are books that sold fairly well in the past that now have ranks in the millions. In those cases, there just haven’t been any sales for a month or more. Books that rarely sell may have ranks well above 2,000,000 (I have seen 5,000,000, and this number will keep rising).
  • A book has a current steady point. For example, based on its combination of sales history and recent lack of sales, suppose that a book’s steady point is 3,500,000. If it suddenly sells, it will see life in the hundred thousands, and then it will rapidly climb back up to near its old steady point unless a new sales comes soon. Steady points in the low hundred thousands or in the ten thousands tend to be much less steady: Since those books have more frequent sales, any changes to the sales frequency can have a significant impact. With ranks in the millions, you can see huge drops down to the hundred thousands, but they tend to rise back up into their old millions quickly (unless the book stars to see more regular sales).
  • Ranks of 1000, 500, 100, or better can have wildly varying results. The number of sales needed to have an overall sales rank of 100 can be considerably different next month than it is now. I’m not going to quote these numbers since they can change dramatically (plus it’s not as easy to get a book to hold its rank in that range for a long period of time).

I’ve published several books, some in pen names, and can corroborate all of the numbers above (but please read all of my notes above before you try to interpret them too literally).

Note that these numbers will change significantly over time, beyond just the seasonal effects.

Back in 2008, a single paperback sale would cause the overall sales rank in Books to jump to about 50,000, but nowadays a single sale might bring the sales rank to 200,000. (Remember, it also depends significantly on the sales history of the book, not just the recent sale.)

Someday there may be 1,000,000 different books selling once per day on average, and then not all ranks in the millions will be indicative of books that aren’t selling.

Indeed, sales ranks are slipping to 1,000,000 faster than ever when a book doesn’t maintain its sales frequency.

If a newly published book doesn’t generate steady sales, it can plummet to the millions before the author realizes it.

MISPERCEPTIONS

It’s very easy to draw incorrect conclusions based on sales rank numbers.

One common mistake is to conclude that only 100,000 books sell once per day or more.

Wait. Isn’t that what I said in my list above? If an overall sales rank of 100,000 equates to roughly 1 sale per day, then why is it wrong to conclude that only 100,000 books sell once per day or more?

It’s because sales ranks change in time.

If you compare the top 100,000 books today to the top 100,000 books tomorrow or yesterday, there will be thousands of books that crossed this threshold.

Many books sell multiple copies per day when they are released, and then see sales drop off at some point.

Many books that usually only sell 1 copy every few days see a big boost during a short-term promotion.

Over the course of a month, there will be way more than 100,000 books that sold at least 30 copies for the month. That’s because sales ranks are constantly changing. Hundreds of thousands of books will average one sale per day for the month, even though their sales ranks will spend some time above (and below) the 100,000 mark.

Over the course of a year, there will be more than a million (1,000,000) books that sell at least 300 copies for the year (about 1 copy per day on average). A significant number of books sell their 300 copies over a very short period. Almost no books will sell exactly 1 copy per day all year long.

Here are a few more common mistakes that are made trying to interpret sales rank:

  • Forgetting that Kindle Unlimited borrows are very significant for Kindle eBooks in KDP Select.
  • Only looking at the current sales rank, and not looking at the history of sales or how the sales rank changes over time.
  • Looking at category or subcategory ranks, and comparing that number to overall ranks.

If a book has a sales rank of 50,000 right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a consistent seller. It probably means that there were a couple of recent sales, but without monitoring its rank over a longer period of time, you can’t really tell if it sells consistently or infrequently.

If a book has a sales rank of 700,000 right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it hasn’t sold well, especially if the book has been published for quite some time. It’s possible that the book sold a few times per day for weeks or even months, and then sales slowly declined. It’s also possible that the book sells once a week or so. Yet another possibility is that the book hardly ever sells, but had a sale in the past few days. Without monitoring the rank over a long period time or knowing the sales history, you can’t tell.

AUTHOR RANK

Amazon also keeps track of author rank in addition to sales rank.

How is author rank different from sales rank?

Author rank adds all of the sales of all of the editions of all of the author’s books (published in that same author name).

If an author publishes multiple books that sell regularly, all of these books help with author rank.

You can see your author rank by signing up for and logging into Amazon’s Author Central.

I pay more attention to my author rank (and my author rank in my pen names) than I do to sales rank.

One of my goals is to improve my average author rank each year.

If you’re at 100,000 now, strive to improve this to 50,000 next year. Try to come up with better ideas, strive to write better, and try to improve your marketing.

If you can get your average author rank down to about 10,000 or better, that’s pretty good.

If you can get your author rank for your name and for a pen name to both be significant, this gives you a little peace of mind: Not all of your eggs are in a single basket.

Just like sales rank, author rank can fluctuate significantly. It can also tail off over time or see sudden spikes. So you have to be careful about interpreting this number (as I mentioned with sales rank).

DO AMAZON GIVEAWAYS AFFECT SALES RANK?

According to the KDP help pages:

“Activities that may not be an accurate reflection of customer demand, including promotional Amazon Giveaway sales and purchases that are later returned, are not counted towards sales rank.”

This suggests that Amazon Giveaways do not affect sales rank.

If sometimes it seems to help, perhaps the effect is indirect. After all, one goal of the giveaways is to create exposure.

TIP FOR AUTHORS

Spend more time writing your books, some time marketing, and much less time monitoring your sales rank.

The new books that you publish and your marketing may help you improve your sales rank by netting more sales.

Simply staring at your sales ranks probably won’t make you feel better unless you get super lucky.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Copyright © 2018

Chris McMullen

Author of:

  • Kindle Formatting Magic (new release)
  • A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon (also part of a Boxed Set)
  • The Improve Your Math Fluency series of workbooks (algebra, fractions, arithmetic, trig, long division, and more)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

How to Preview Your Kindle eBook #pubtips

PREVIEWING YOUR KINDLE eBOOK

This is a thorough guide to help you preview your Kindle eBook.

Previewing is best done in several stages.

  1. Proofreading the text
  2. Initial preview for obvious issues
  3. Check the images
  4. Check any drop caps
  5. Click every hyperlink (including the table of contents and footnotes)
  6. Check any tables
  7. Scan the entire eBook for formatting issues
  8. Change the background color
  9. Adjust font size, typeface, line spacing, and device margins
  10. Adjust the orientation between portrait and landscape and scan several pages (or the whole eBook)
  11. Test the eBook out on various devices and apps
  12. Scan the eBook one last time before publishing
  13. Try to preview the Look Inside (see the last section of this article)
  14. Download the free sample after publishing
  15. Check the Look Inside once it becomes available
  16. Be your own first customer and scan the entire book
  17. If you publish any revisions, ask KDP to push the updated book onto your device, and check the revision

PROOFREADING

I do my initial proofread on printed paper before most of the formatting is applied. I like to get the text perfected as much as possible before I do most of the formatting.

It’s easier to make changes in the initial stages of formatting. Any text that I can revise before I have two separate editions (paperback and Kindle) means less work to do later. Also, it’s easier to make revisions before I introduce subtle formatting changes (like adding non-breaking spaces).

When the text is completely written, I print out the entire document at home. I read through that slowly, taking my time, putting annotations in the margins.

After I implement all of the revisions, after a good night’s sleep, with a fresh pair of eyes I check all of the revisions. I always catch a few mistakes in the corrections.

Next, I format the paperback version of the book and order a printed proof. When the printed proof arrives, I give it another careful proofread.

Once the Kindle edition is ready, I upload it to KDP and download the converted MOBI file onto my favorite device (either my Paperwhite or Kindle Fire HD, depending on the content) and read through it again.

Re-read the first chapter again with fresh eyes.

Don’t forget to proofread your book description just as carefully as you proofread the book itself.

If you need proofreading help, you can hire a proofreader. But remember, it’s still your responsibility. Your name is on the book.

Word’s spellcheck and Grammarly can help to some extent, but they aren’t foolproof. Text-to-speech software can help, too, but again it isn’t foolproof.

Also consider possible editing that goes beyond simple proofreading. A careful proofread is a minimum, but isn’t always sufficient.

THE ONLINE PREVIEWER

The downloadable previewer is more reliable than the convenient online previewer.

However, there are usually a few obvious mistakes, and it’s convenient to first use the online previewer to catch those obvious mistakes before going to the trouble of using the downloadable previewer.

Open the Kindle eBook with the online previewer and scroll through the beginning of the eBook looking for obvious problems.

Once you’ve corrected the obvious problems starting at the beginning, you should move onto the downloadable previewer.

THE DOWNLOADABLE PREVIEWER

Kindle Previewer 3 (the downloadable previewer) has recently been updated to include some helpful features, like Auto Advance or the option to quickly check every image or link.

Download your MOBI file. If necessary, also download the Kindle Previewer.

  • Adjust the dropdown menu to Images. This makes it convenient to quickly check every picture in your eBook.
  • Adjust the dropdown menu to Drop Caps.
  • Adjust the dropdown menu to Links. Click on every external hyperlink, internal hyperlink, table of contents entry, and footnote to ensure that it works properly.
  • Adjust the dropdown menu to Tables.
  • Make any necessary corrections and then return to the downloadable previewer with the revised MOBI file.
  • Enable the Auto Advance feature. I prefer a slow speed. Check the formatting carefully (the next section has a checklist). Occasionally, you will need to back up a few pages and check them again. Don’t let yourself get caught in a daze where you’re not really paying attention.
  • Adjust the background color to white, then to sepia, then to green.
  • Adjust font size, typeface, line spacing, and device margins. The font size and typeface of your body text should change as you adjust these features (unless you have a rare fixed-format eBook, like a fully illustrated children’s book).
  • Adjust the orientation between portrait and landscape.
  • Try the different devices that the previewer mimics. Even better, sideload your MOBI file onto a few actual devices (there is a section regarding this later in this article).

Note: This article continues after the following pictures.

FORMATTING CHECKLIST

Here are a variety of issues that you should check for when previewing your Kindle eBook.

  • Double cover. Scroll back as far as you can and make sure the cover doesn’t show twice.
  • Indentations. Are they consistent? Are any missing? Do you see any unexpected indentations?
  • Camera icons. These represent missing pictures. If you see a camera icon, there is at least one picture that won’t display in your actual eBook.
  • Image quality. Look for image size, drop shadows (dark lines on at least one edge), aspect ratio, blurriness, pixilation, red-eye, poor scan quality, missing details, hard to read text, and spellcheck marks in text of screenshots.
  • Customer settings. Make sure that your body text changes font size when customers adjust this setting. Also make sure that the size of your body text is consistent throughout your eBook. Similarly, check that your body text changes when customers adjust the typeface and line spacing.
  • Drop caps. Do they look good across all devices? Do they look good when customers adjust display settings (like line spacing and font size)?
  • Background. Adjust the background color from white to black, sepia, and green (where available). Check that the text, pictures, drop caps, and tables look fine across all of the available backgrounds.
  • Line breaks. Do you see any unexpected line breaks? If so, toggle between portrait and landscape and adjust the font size to make sure it’s a persistent issue (and not just a Kindle justification issue).
  • Page breaks. Do you see any unexpected page breaks? For intentional page breaks, if you vary the display settings, sometimes you will see a great deal of white space wasted before the page break. In those cases, ask yourself if it’s a necessary risk or if it could be avoided (for a chapter heading, it’s necessary, and in some other cases, it may also be semi-necessary).
  • Blank pages. Do you see any blank pages?
  • Alignment. Check the horizontal alignment throughout your eBook (center, justified, or left), including headings and pictures, too.
  • Vertical spacing. Is the line spacing consistent throughout your eBook (most Kindle eBooks should have single line spacing from the publishing side, which can be adjusted from the customer side)? Is the space between paragraphs consistent (for most books, most body text should have no space between them in a Kindle eBook)? Check the space between headings and body text, or between pictures and body text (for example) carefully.
  • Content check. Do you see any missing or duplicated text?
  • Formatting. Check boldface, italics, and underlining. Is any missing? Do you see any that wasn’t supposed to be there?
  • Links. Click on every link in your table of contents, footnote, external hyperlink, and internal hyperlink. Does it work as expected?
  • Special symbols. Do they show up on every device that you can preview? Beware that nonstandard symbols may work in available previews, but not display on some older devices.
  • Tables. Do they display properly? The previewers are not as reliable as testing on actual devices, and older Kindle Fires and older Kindle eReaders are more susceptible to problems with tables.
  • Lists. Do bullet points or numbered lists display satisfactorily? There are some inherent challenges with lists, and some features like negative indents or multi-level indents may result in big problems on older devices.
  • Orientation. Switch between portrait and landscape mode.
  • Devices. Test your eBook out on a variety of devices. The previewers mimic some devices, and there are numerous Kindle reading apps for PC’s, Mac’s, tablets, cell phones, etc.
  • Fancy formatting. If you applied any fancy formatting, check that it works properly on all devices, and beware that it may be problematic on older devices.
  • Equations. Note that Word’s built-in equation editor is problematic for Kindle formatting. It’s better to format each equation as a picture.
  • Spelling/grammar. Ordinarily, Word’s spelling and grammar marks shouldn’t show in your Kindle eBook, but in rare cases I have come across this. (They are easy to find and remove if you work with HTML.)
  • Page numbers. If you insert page numbers with Word’s Insert Page Number tool, these shouldn’t show in your Kindle eBook. If you see page numbers in your Kindle eBook, perhaps you typed them manually in your Word document (in which case you need to remove them). (If you have a fixed-format book like a fully illustrated children’s book, with a proper fixed format page numbers are okay.)
  • Comparison. Spend some time browsing through Kindle eBooks (are at least their Look Insides or free samples) and compare their formatting to your formatting.

ACTUAL DEVICES AND KINDLE APPS

The same MOBI file that you used with the downloadable previewer can be used to preview your eBook on an actual Kindle device, and also for Kindle reading apps with non-iOS devices.

How did you write and format your eBook? If you used a PC, you can use the Kindle for PC reading app. Similarly, if you used a Mac, Android tablet, or just about any other device, there is a Kindle reading app that you can use to preview your book for that device.

Therefore, there must be at least one electronic device that you already own which you can use to preview your Kindle eBook.

For iOS devices, you will need to export the AZK file from the downloadable previewer. Install the iOS Kindle reading app on your iOS device, close the reading app, open iTunes, and add the AZK file to the reading app (click on the picture of the device near the top left of iTunes).

The AZK file will probably surprise you. Worry less about indentations, alignment, and heading sizes with the AZK file, and focus more on readability and complete content.

Next turn to family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Who owns an actual Kindle device? They might not mind you putting your book on their device: If they get to read your book for free and you get to preview your book on their device, that might be a fair trade.

Since neither the online nor downloadable previewers show your book exactly how it will look across every possible device (especially older eReaders, but even older generation Fires), it’s helpful if you can test your eBook out on multiple devices.

Unfortunately, a few subtle features can be different in the actual published book than they appear when you preview your MOBI file on an actual device or app. It happens. That’s why it’s wise to be your own first customer after you publish and quickly check everything once again.

Note that Kindle reading apps by default show your Kindle eBook in a narrow column that mimics the Kindle Fire (see below). When a customer attempts to make this wider, it may turn into two or three narrow columns, not really getting wider. A customer has to select single column format to be able to make it one column so as not to waste much of the display area. Realize that some customers will read with the default settings, and some customers may not be aware of how to adjust these settings. Thus, even if a customer has a device with a relatively square aspect ratio (compared to Kindle Fire), like an iPad, the customer might still see pictures on a narrow column.

PREVIEWING THE LOOK INSIDE

Amazon KDP doesn’t offer a proper preview of how the actual Look Inside will look.

However, the Look Inside depicts as a scrollable webpage, whereas Kindle devices and apps show it paginated (in a semi-reflowable format).

The Look Inside doesn’t consist of pages, so it doesn’t respect page breaks.

The Look Inside also interprets the instructions for your Kindle eBook a bit differently than the way it displays on actual devices or apps.

Which file format did you upload to KDP? If you uploaded a Word DOC or DOCX file, open your file in Word and change View to Web Layout. This will show you how your Word document looks as a scrollable webpage, which will at least help mimic the scrollable nature of the Look Inside. Sometimes, this reveals missing space between the last paragraph of a chapter and the chapter heading that follows, for example (creating a paragraph style that adds Spacing After for the last paragraph of each chapter can help with this).

If you uploaded a HTML file (or if you used HTML at some stage during your formatting process), you can view it with a web browser. (But don’t edit your HTML file or save your HTML file that way. Notepad, Notepad++, and Sigil may be used for working with HTML for your eBook, but some HTML editors are not Kindle friendly.) Again, you can check how it scrolls and make sure there are no vertical spacing issues.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Copyright © 2018

Chris McMullen

Author of:

  • Kindle Formatting Magic (just published)
  • A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon (also part of a Boxed Set)
  • The Improve Your Math Fluency series of workbooks (algebra, fractions, arithmetic, trig, long division, and more)

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