Category Archives: General

What we do

website-headerWe work for authors & publishers to convert their books to high quality ready-to-sell digital versions, suitable for publishing directly (allowing you to retain 100% of the profit for life, get paid directly, avoid monthly fees, and retain full control for the life of your book) to the major marketplaces. You only pay a small affordable one-time fee, we provide the file formats and all the training to assist you in uploading your titles, allowing you to become the digital publisher. This means you get paid directly by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Google, and any other marketplace you choose to setup accounts with. This means you will never be hassled with an annual fee (or service account fee). There won’t be any middle man taking a percentage of YOUR royalties. You retain complete control which is essential to succeed in the world of eBooks!

I highly recommend you begin by reviewing our initial consultation page. It answers many of the initial questions we receive from new clients.

We are a FULL SERVICE author/publisher services firm, offering a value proposition that has been tuned to the needs of hundreds of authors & publishers we’ve had the pleasure to work with since 2009.  All of our work on a work-for-hire basis, meaning you retain all of the rights to your work (as it should be!).  The majority of work comes through referrals and repeat business from past clients, so we must be doing something right!  In addition to eBook formatting & layout, we provide:

Pay only for the services you need.
Most conversions are completed within 7-14 days (turn around will depend on our backlog at the time of your order and the complexity of your title).

In addition to the services we provide, at no additional cost, you will also receive:

  • Over 3 hours of video tutorials to assist you with marketplace setup, optimization, and marketing.
  • 60 days of post-sale support through our Pixels To Profit website.
  • A copy of our ePub Template and with access to over 50 tutorials ($37 value).
  • 24/7 Access to our ever expanding customer support portal

Unlike the large volume conversion shops, we are not satisfied until you are. You won’t be stuck with an eBook that doesn’t reflect how you the author intended it to look. You get to proof your eBook before it’s published and our conversions are guaranteed to be 100% compatible with the major eBook marketplaces.  Before a converted file is delivered to you, we test it on each device and always allow ample time to do a thorough review so you don’t have to.  If there’s ever a problem with the file, we’ll fix it for free.

Our pricing varies depending on the complexity of the book and the file type provided.  You can submit a bid request here.

You can also book a complimentary 15 minute consultation (please schedule your day/time a minimum of 24 hours in advance).

Wondering whether or not you should signup for KDP Select?

Dear Authors,

I received several emails shortly after Amazon announced the KDP Select program in early 2012. Everyone was asking me what I thought they should do. I honestly couldn’t answer because I didn’t know the answer! But today, I can. I received an email from a past client that validates how incredibly powerful the KDP Select program can be! Keep in mind this is a first book, she published it herself (with our help) and is just about to finish her 1 week KDP promotion of offering her Kindle book at a $0.00 price on Amazon (which you get to do only if you sign up for KDP Select). As of today (3/5/12), in the short time it’s been up (since 3/1/12), she’s had over 30,000 downloads and The Eighth Sea is currently ranked #1 in the historical fiction category and #5 Overall (Free) Kindle books (whoa!). She’s even outselling Charles Dickens! Time will tell whether or not the explosion in exposure will translate into sales, it’s her only book. And she’ll be putting a price back on her book on 3/8/12).

But based on Nancy’s experience – I would give an enthusiastic thumbs up on the KDP Select program.  If you are a talented author, as Nancy is, you can see how much of a boost the KDP Select program gives.  I would not be surprised if she gets calls from NYC literary agents and major publishers.  Not bad for a first time author who just published her first book on Amazon 3 months ago!

You can learn more about the KDP Select Campaigns we run for our clients here. We’ve created over 20 number 1 Amazon bestsellers in the past 6 months alone!

Two titles that have broken into the Kindle top 5000!

I wanted to send out a quick update… this unusual to say the least, but two of the books I just finished converting to Kindle are now among the top .5% of all Kindle books sold. In other words, they’ve broken into the coveted top 5000 spot I often speak of.  This equates to a huge amount of visibility (& profit) to both the authors. Congrats!!

The two titles I am very proud to have worked on are and just published to Kindle that are among the top .5%:

As of today (2/29/12) – here are their rankings respectively:

I often tell authors – if you have a single goal, it should be to break into the top .5% of Kindle books. The rewards will be reflected on your commissions report and you’ll be hooked to doing it again.

Best Selling Kindle Books in 2011 that were Self-Published

Another example of how much Amazon an Kindle are transforming the traditional publishing industry, and how accessible publishing is now; 20% of the top 10 best selling Kindle books of 2011 were self-published!

Back in May of 2011, Darcie Chan (a former Coloradoan) self-published her only novel she had written 5 years ago that was rejected by over a dozen publishers.  There is a great article in the Wall Street Journal on her rise to the top, in it they state “…book publishers are losing ground to independent authors and watching their powerful status as literary gatekeepers wither.

Also on the best seller list was The Abbey by Chris Culver, another self-published author.

Wondering which Kindle books are the hot sellers right now? Check out the running Top Seller list here. Interesting to note, that given it’s the start of a new year – Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog is currently in the Top 10.

FYI, I’m hosting a weekly Q&A session through the end of February. The first one is this coming Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 4PM MST. While they are intended to be general Q&A (since I get a lot of the same questions on a daily basis), I plan to spend a portion of the time analyzing and discussing the strategies and tactics these and other best selling authors are using to become top sellers in this new evolving era of digital publishing.  Hope you can join us!

An ebook conversion primer

Dear author friends (& soon-to-be authors),

I want to share a less fortunate situation I see some authors getting themselves into. If you let another company publish your eBook under their account, you are going to be at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to succeeding in the era of eBooks. If you let another company publish your eBook under their account, you are not actually self-publishing. True self-publishing means you as the author are the publisher. You work directly with the marketplaces that sell your book, you buy directly from the printers who print your books. The beauty of self-publishing is that you retain 100% of your profits and purchase your books at the lowest possible price (no markup, no middle man).

Here’s WHY you should avoid letting anyone else publish your work under their accounts on the major eBook marketplaces:

If you ever want to setup the title under your own account (after it’s already been setup on another account), you will lose your ranking and reviews. This is because the marketplaces can’t simply transfer a title from one account to another. Instead, the title would have to be unpublished under the old account, and then setup as a new title on the new account. Amazon won’t transfer the reviews to your new listing and you have to start over working your way back up the sales rankings (which does take into account your cumulative sales).

If you want to participate in programs like KDP select – you need to be able to ‘unpublish’ your work on all the other marketplaces you might setup on (only for the duration you choose to participate in KDP Select). This is easy to do if you are the account holder, but impossible to do if you are not. This is one of the many reasons I’m not a fan of the shotgun approach of publishing your eBook in every marketplace under the sun.

One of the keys to being a successful eBook author is in being able to fine tune your listing. This entails updating your description, trying different keywords, changing categories, testing different price points, etc.. All which requires that you have direct access to make these tweaks whenever you want.

I’m not going to call out any of these companies by name, but the bottom line is that there are many different business models out there, and you need to be fully informed before you enter into an engagement. Some companies are charging an annual fee as well as fees anytime you want to update your listings. None of the marketplaces I recommend you publish to charge any fees whatsoever (they don’t have to because they get a % of every sale). Bottom line is that you should be self-publishing your eBook. Which means you as the author/publisher get paid directly by Amazon, BN, Apple, Google, Kobo, or any other reputable marketplace that sells your eBook.

What if your book has already been published in print with a traditional publisher?

If so, there’s a chance the contract you have with your publisher makes no mention of eBooks. If that’s the case, then it would be in your best interest to self-publish your eBook edition before the publisher does. If you wait, and the publisher will likely eventually publish it as an eBook on your behalf, and you will not have any easy time republishing it under your own account. Amazon won’t allow a title to be published as eBook more than once. If this as occurred, as I mentioned above – the only option is that you convince your publisher to unpublish the eBook so you can publish it under your own account. Your ability to do this will vary depending on the contract you have in place with your existing publisher. But many of the contracts were written long before eBooks existed, so there’s a good chance you own the rights to do this yourself. But if you hesitate too long, and the publisher does publish your eBook, you may be hard pressed to get the rights to self-publish it. Please note: Every contract and situation will be different, and by no means am I providing any legal advice whatsoever – you need to protect yourself and be sure you aren’t violating any terms with your existing publisher. You should try to get a letter from the publisher that they are rescinding any rights of the eBook edition. Amazon may ask you to provide written proof that you have the rights if they see the print edition was published under a different publisher. I’ve worked with many authors who had no problem getting the publisher to furnish this document. Sometimes all you have to do is ask!

Wondering what work is involved to properly do an ebook conversion?

For the purposes of this article, consider the following: epub refers to any format of epublishing – whether it be mobi for Kindle,  epub for iPad, or epub for any other device.  Incidentally: a mobi file is built on the same foundation of epub file – just a few minor tweaks are required by the Kindle. Both are compressed files that take up little space.  The eReader expands (ie. unzips) the files every time you open a new eBook on your eReader.

While there are very few rules in print layout (other than margins and printer’s requirements which vary), there are many rules in epub layout. Epub is built on HTML standards because all eReaders are essentially stripped down web browsers programmed to display html pages. Thus, some knowledge of html is helpful to get predictable results.

There’s generally a 12 step process involved in doing an ebook conversion, no matter what techniques or tools you use, and at a fundamental level, they all involve the following steps.

Depending on the book and type of file provided, some of these steps may be eliminated, thus the time it takes (& thus the price to do the work) to do a proper ebook conversion will always vary if there’s a proof stage involved.  I mention this because the high volume, low cost conversion shops won’t give the author a digital proof – you will be stuck with whatever they produce for you.   An attention to detail (& understanding of the language of the book you are converting) is paramount.

Here’s the process we go through when we receive a new book file from an author to convert it to a ready-to-publish digital file format. Following a brief consultation with the author regarding possible layout and sequence changes to improve the ebook reader’s experience, we:

1. Strip out any headers/footers/endnotes/footnotes
2. Extract all the raw text from the file (usually a pdf or word doc)
3. Reformat all the content using html to mirror the styles in print (ie. bold, italic, font size, underlines, titles, etc..)
4. Recreate bulleted lists & numbered lists (to be html compatible)
5. Reinsert & hyperlink all endnotes/footnotes
6. Recreate tables or clip them as images from a PDF version
7. Create a metadata file that provides eReaders with information about the book, publisher, & author
8. Format the cover (to fit the full screen of an eReader)
9. Clip & reinsert images or forms (sometimes images will have to be reformatted)
10. Create a hyperlinked table of contents to each chapter and accessible in the navigation function of the eReader
11. Convert html to the epub & mobi formats and validate the file with the ePub checker.
12. Test on each device and make any necessary corrections and deliver a ready-to-publish file to the author.

After the file is delivered, we provide step-by-step tutorials to help the author/publisher upload their books to each of the major marketplaces.

There are variety of tools that can be used to work through the process, and those of us who do this work will favor tools we are comfortable with.

Having an understanding of how html works will help you understand why something looks the way it does on an eReader. Just as a webpage will look different on different browsers, an ebook file (remember, it’s essentially a webpage) will look different on different eReaders.  The best thing we can do is stick with the basic rules of html that are compatible with all ebook readers.

Many authors hire us after they’ve already spent many frustrating hours trying to get their book looking they way they intended it to.  And the vast majority of our business is through referrals, which is why we make sure every author is pleased with the results we produce for them.

Just like anything else, the final result will reflect the experience of the person doing to work.   Because your ebook will be a permanent edition of your book that will never go out of print (and outlive all of us), you owe it to your future readers to have it done right.  When I think about the lifetime royalties that’ll be earned from an authors ebook, spending a little extra to have it done right seems like a smart investment.

If you do want to do this work yourself, you should at least consider using our template. It has been refined through the process of literally hundreds of conversions and testing with each device. I guarantee you’ll get much better results than you would without it.  One of the most recent examples of someone who used our template to create a truly beautiful ebook is Will Craig, who published Date with Destiny: Living the Hero’s Journey on Kindle.

Want to earn an extra 5-8% for every ebook you sell on Amazon, BN, Apple, or Google?

Are leaving money on the table with your ebooks?

Become a BN affiliate at Linkshare.com and earn an extra 6% on every nook book sale!

Sign up for the affiliate programs offered by the major ebook marketplaces and earn a extra % of every sale you refer (especially if you are linking to the marketplaces from your own site or Facebook page which I recommend).

All the major marketplaces now offer affiliate programs for authors, publishers, and anyone else who refers a sale (allowing you a way to provide your readers an incentive).  Click on the links below to sign up today and earn more profit from your ebooks!

Did you know that Kindle Expert also has an affiliate program?  You can earn $25 for any client you refer who hires us to help them with their ebook conversion.  To sign up and learn more visit our affiliate page.

Three indispensable tools for getting your writing done

Now that publishing is no longer a barrier for many of us, it’s worth looking at ways to remove a common barrier that still exists: writing.  Here are some techniques and tools I personally use to help me get words out of my head and closer to being published.  If you have any others you’ve personally found to work well for yourself, please share them in the comments sections below.

1. Get a distraction free word processor. My personal favorite is also free (for the PC) – Zen Edit. On the mac, there are similar program such as WriteRoom & OmmWriter (ipad/mac).

2. Play background sound to focus your mind and inspire you. I love Pandora.  When I’m writing or blogging, I almost always have it running.  Two stations I’d suggest you create for some awe inspiring ‘atmospheric’ music comes from the bands: Manual & Hammock.  For years, I’ve used a brilliant little app called Chatter Blocker to keep my mind on task.  A cool thing you can do with Chatter Blocker is create your own loops.

3. Begin by outlining and gathering thoughts. One key to creating great non-fiction lies in the table of contents.  So be sure you are writing from an outline.  Visual outlining is easily done with any of the many mind mapping tools you can find online.  Be sure you get one that allows you to export the mind map into an outline, and use that as your table of contents.

Here’s a few other tools I use on a regular basis to help me keep my writings organized and into a space where I won’t ever lose them:

  • Use Simplenote to never lose another idea. I use simplenote in combination with ZenEdit.  I begin by writing in ZenEdit, and then always save my work to Simplenote.  You can use tagging within Simplenote to organize your writing. I find that my mind often wanders, and simplenote has been a great tool for me to put those on the back burner for now and get back to the topic I’m writing about. The biggest reason I’m such a big fan of Simplenote is because of the seamless integration with the ipad (even when the ipad is offline).
  • Stay organized and expand your ideas with index cards. There’s a few virtual index card apps out there, but one that’s been out longer than most is Super Note Card. If you’ve attended any of my workshops, you might be familiar with my 4-up sheet & 8-up sheet brainstorming techniques.  SuperNoteCard is a great tool to expand them further.
  • Keep your files safe and secure. One of the common problems new (& sometimes old) authors fall into is in losing their files or getting revisions of their work mixed up.  Like millions of others, I’ve discovered dropbox – and now it’s a technology I feel I can’t live without.

Hope this helps you focus on your writing which is one of the most important things you can do!  My #1 suggestion is that you find a few tools that work for you and stick to them.  Complexity quickly becomes a real issue as you try to add that latest new tool to your arsenal.  And while it’s very tempting because we are always looking for a quicker/better way… resist them and stick with what you already know.

Amazon is on the verge of breaking 1 million titles on Kindle!

Screenshot taken on 7/18/11

You probably don’t watch these #’s as closely as I do, but I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that Amazon is about to break 1 million titles (ebooks) in the Kindle store.  Are you one the early adopters who’ve managed to get your own book on the Kindle platform? If so, I bet like a lot of us, you are selling more Kindle books than you are in print.  Over 1000 new titles are uploaded everyday to Amazon, therefore, I predict that Amazon will break the 1 million ebooks threshold before the end of this month.

To help celebrate this milestone, we are offering $30 off on our mobi & epub conversion services until there are 1 million titles available for sale at Amazon.  You’ll also receive a comp pass to our next Amazon optimization webinar ($47 value) when you hire us to do your conversion. Mention this deal when you contact us and we’ll knock our fee down by $30, which will make your rate only $299 in most cases (that includes both mobi & epub versions).

There’s never been a better time to jump on board as I’m certain a lot more attention will be on the Kindle once they break a million ebooks, and when they do, be sure your book is available!  We’re here to help, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

PS: We now offer ebook cover services, as I’ve vetted some extremely talented graphic designers who are eagerly awaiting more work.  Check out some of the recent work at: http://www.kindleexpert.com/covers/

PPS: I also offer a great option for you Do-It-Yourselfer’s – There’s now a template in Microsoft Word or Open Office that allows you to do your own ebook conversions using tools you are already familiar with.  The file can be uploaded directly to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and I show how a small tweak allows you to create an epub version that you can also upload to Apple, and every other marketplace accepting ePubs.  Using our template will cut your time in HALF as it’s been optimized through the process of over 100 conversions (& literally hundreds of hours of trial & error). It comes with the same level of support from us that many of you have already come to know and love.

Putting your book & ebook sales on Autopilot (Part 1 of a two part webinar)

I am very grateful for the opportunity to address the National Speakers Association last week, and I’ll be giving Part 2 next month that will dive deeper into the marketing side of what we do at 50 Interviews.  Hope you enjoy it and I welcome your feedback. FYI, it’s about an hour long. You can hear the audio and the slides advance automatically when you hit the ‘play’ button:

Putting your book & ebook sales on Autopilot

Our next AuthorSwap begins May 3rd and I hope you can join us (you’ll be glad you did)!

When you die, make sure your book doesn't die too. Your eBook will outlive you and never go 'out of print.'

I’ve been having some interesting conversations with a few of you lately, and I felt compelled to share.

Have you considered what happens when an author dies?  What happens to their book and who gets the royalties?  Is there a way for an author to insure that the royalties for his/her book will go to his heirs after he/she dies?

The issue with many authors who only have print versions of their book and handle the distribution directly is that sadly when they die, unless someone in the family steps in to pick up the ball, the book dies too.  There’s few things in this world as sad as the dreaded ‘out of print’ or ‘currently unavailable’ listing on Amazon (especially when the listing has positive reviews!):

The evolution and availability of eBooks change this scenario. In fact, eBooks will most definitely outlive the author, and likely every generation of that author that follows.  Unless there is some unforeseen catastrophic event that wipes out every server, every backup, and eliminates the marketplaces that makes your title available, consider that an ebook will quite literally never die!

Since you see now that your book in digital form will live on indefinitely, isn’t it important to you as the author make sure that it’s the absolute best representation of you, the author?  Take the time & make the investment to insure your ebook is set it correctly and that royalties flow directly to a bank account your survivors will have access to.

It’s unlikely that big 5 marketplaces for eBooks (Amazon, BN, Apple, Sony, & Google) are going out of business anytime soon. Considering that many of my clients are generating $40-50/month in profit from their book sales, the return over the long haul from these marketplaces is significant.  Wouldn’t you like to be sure those monthly payments are getting paid to those you love the most after you pass on?

You can hire KindleExpert.com to assist you with your digital layout & conversion.  Our value extends far beyond just providing you with properly formatted files. We stand behind every conversion until the author is pleased with the result. You get step-by-step tutorials that show you how to publish directly to each marketplace. Every client also receives a personalized marketing map that reveals proven strategies to help gain you greater visibility and sell more ebooks.  They are the same strategies we are using at 50 Interviews to generate over $500/month in profit from our Kindle sales alone.