I’m Kate Harper and I write articles for the Kindle. I recently published a 43 page booklet called “How to Publish and Sell Your Article on the Kindle: 12 Steps for Short Documents.” I’ve found that most people don’t realize you can publish and sell articles and short documents on the Kindle.
1. How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?
It was actually an accident. I was helping a girlfriend convert her book for the Kindle but before I posted it, I wanted to experiment on something small, so I pulled a travel article I’d written off my computer and posted it. I never really thought anyone would find it or even buy it. Once orders trickled in, I took this publishing idea for articles very seriously. I immediately re edited it and added more content. I also clearly described it as “an article” on the Kindle store. I now sell about 300-400 articles a month. If it weren’t for my friend who wanted to publish her book, I would have never discovered there was a market for articles.
2. What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?
I publish through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I like having control of the entire process and prefer not to go through a third party. And since I am comfortable with formatting and doing the legwork, it’s been easy for me. I’ve heard very mixed reviews about going through third parties. For articles, it’s really not necessary.
3. What avenues have you taken to market the book? Have you gotten reviews, interviews, TV, print media coverage?
In my first article I never sought out any advertising at all and it really sold itself. As sales grew, so did the rankings. It was like a snowball effect. Now on my seventh article, I’m actually reaching out to communities who are interested in the subject matter, which is: How to write a sell articles for the Kindle. There are several things that are very different when publishing an article, compared to a book. For example, writers should really avoid putting any front matter in the article (book cover, TOC, dedication, etc) since it takes up too much free sample space (for potential buyers/readers). I’m a very avid article buyer too, so I can see things from both points of view. There’s nothing worse than downloading a free sample of an article and the writer has included so many pages of front matter, so I can’t even get to the sample content. That’s a lost sale for sure.
4. What drove you to write this particular book?
I found I was helping a lot of kindle writers on the forums, and they were always so thankful when I offered a suggestion that helped. This made me realize “hey! I actually am quite good at this!” I laugh as I say this. After publishing 7 articles, I’ve learned so much and most of all, it really pains me when I see writers on forums paying good money to someone for something that isn’t really that hard to do yourself. So I started offering links to free online booklets that would take them through the process of creating Tables of Contents and Making a book cover.
5. Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?
I’m really in the non-fiction reference category.
6. Who are your greatest writing influences?
I admire poets the best because they are able to consolidate big thoughts into short sentences. I find that really difficult and yet very admirable.
7. What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?
I dive in like I’m going on a camping trip. I call it the “art cave.” I wait until I have three or four days free with no appointments. I also try to shut off my email.
8. Would you self-publish again?
Absolutely! I am currently working on a book for the first time (instead of an article) on the greeting card business, an industry I’ve worked in for over twenty years.
9. Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?
In my experiences of talking with writers, I find most people are still wedded to the old model of publishing and have a lot of fear in self-publishing. I keep telling them: If you publish it on a Kindle and change your mind tomorrow, you can always take it down. It’s not that big of a deal. I think people feel they’ve “thrown in the towel” by self-publishing, but actually it’s the opposite. They are allowing people to read their work. Why hide it in a drawer and wait around for a publisher (who are struggling financially anyway) to make your life happen?
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Kate Harper is a product designer who is inspired by the merging of art and technology and is active in the new media, art licensing and DIY community. She is also interested in functional websites, web based mobile apps, creating street art maps, and collaborating with indie artists on how to bring their vision into the marketplace.