on March 28, 2013
This is my review of The Kindle Publishing Bible. DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. It's also a long review because I want to articulate the points so that I can be as clear in my opinion as possible.
For this review, I will use excerpts from the text in certain places to illustrate points. I will endeavor to keep these quotations as short as possible to keep from revealing much of the content.
Overall, I would say that there are some useful nuggets of information for those completely new to self-publishing on the Kindle platform. However, there is some advice that, as presented, does need to be mentioned as potentially damaging to new authors. What is and what is not potentially damaging and the implications are a matter of opinion, but those things are for the customer (you) to decide. I merely present the other side of the argument and allow you to make a decision.
Judging the title of the book with the blurb vs. the content of the book, I cannot match them together. The title excites my expectations. When I see the word "Bible" in a book's title, I expect one of two things: a holy text or the end-all, be-all guide on the subject--the ultimate source to which there is no equal. And "Bible" indicates that the book should be useful to people of all levels of experience in the given subject. This book is geared toward very new people with no idea of how to proceed, but once they get some movement on their titles, the few bits of useful information are obsolete.
The author spends a great deal of time early in the book on titling and presentation of your book, and while I agree that titles must grab reader attention, they should--more importantly--reflect the book in hand in an accurate, appropriate way. This book may have sold less copies as, "Basic Strategies for Newbies in Self-Publishing," but it would've been a much more appropriate title.
On to the potentially damaging bits:
At one point, the author discusses a concept known as Frictionless Blogging, and further, Frictionless Publishing. Basically, frictionless blogging is submitting content to make it visible to the public in order to motivate yourself; you don't want people seeing unedited content, so you force yourself to improve the live document quickly. The author discusses publishing said unedited content at $0.99, then racing through the editing process because the live book needs the work.
From the book: "For frictionless publishing, I write the book, finish the chapters and then post it on Kindle with minimal or no editing immediately for 99 cents. At this stage, the book is definitely worth at least 99 cents so I know that anyone who reads it will get a lot of value out of it and will NOT be disappointed in their investment."
I would recommend that most people not follow this piece of advice. I'm sure that some authors are capable of producing flawless (or near perfect) content on the first pass, but the overwhelming and vast majority of writers are not. The last clause states, "and will NOT be disappointed in their investment," but I think you'll find the opposite to be true; people get angry about paying for unedited material. Even downloading and reading free books results in reader backlash if they feel like their time has been wasted, the book isn't properly edited, it has lots of mistakes, and so on.
I was a bit disappointed with Chapter 6: How to Get More Reviews (the ethical way) and How to Handle Bad Reviews. I actually expected to skim the chapter while looking for things that I didn't already know, but the chapter was quite short. Two methods are discussed: asking people you know to review the book (with a disclosure of their relationship to you) and using the 1000 Top Reviewer list. No mention was made of advanced reader copy giveaway programs. No mention of book bloggers. No mention of dealing with small, local, or internet media sources who review books. Nothing about blog hops/tours, guest blogging, publicity (other than one page about getting reviewers), the pros and cons of social media, having your own blog, newsletter, or anything else. Thus, I was a little shocked when I saw "Bible" appear in the title.
From the book: "Some authors will tell you it's unethical to ask your friends, family and colleagues to review your books. That's bogus! It's only unethical when positive reviews are paid for or given in return for something else, or when reviews are made without disclosing the relationship between the author and the reviewer."
Yes, it's better if a reviewer discloses any relationship with the author, but it's better to have completely third party reviewers. In the opinion of most authors I've talked with and myself, readers with a close relationship with the author should be actively discouraged from reviewing. Reviewers with a financial interest or personal interest in the book (friends, family, editors, cover artists, collaborators, proofreaders, or anyone else connected to the book) may be violating conditions of use agreements by reviewing the book on a public marketplace/website. Some could be in violation of FTC regulations for non-disclosure of financial interest in the product or, in some instances, the law itself. Aside from all of that, reviews from unbiased third parties will always be the strongest recommendations, and that should be where you put your focus.
Unbiased third party reviewers who do not receive compensation are always ethical sources of reviews and always legal.
Kindle Select is mentioned as one of the keys to success, but spending any time in author communities will bring you to the quick realization that the KDP Select program isn't as useful for authors as it once was. Some are still seeing success with the program, but like all other programs, strategies, tactics, or whatever name you want to use, a few are going to succeed exceedingly well, some are going to do well, many will do okay, and most will see little or no result. The same holds true with advertising, marketing, publicity, standing on the street side waving books in the air, and any other sales strategy out there. And I hate to put such a focus on scrutinizing the KDP Select program as part of this review, but it's the one given the most focus as the key to success in this book.
The author doesn't discuss building a readership at all beyond writing more material/books (yes, that's important), KDP Select (your results may vary), and gaining reviews quickly (yes, that's important, too, but take care in how you do it). Also important is organizing and connecting with your readership. Building an email list, Twitter following, Facebook fan page, or fan website/forum are ways to engage readers and let them know about new releases. These methods aren't discussed in this book; instead, there is a link inside the book which is for the author's How To Make Money With Twitter ebook. (It's linked to a sign-up-here-to-receive-your-free-ebook style website, the type which collect emails for further marketing by the list owner.)
I glanced at the 3-star reviews prior to writing mine, and I agree with their assessments, also.
Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to recommend this book to anyone looking to get into publishing. I feel that there are more comprehensive sources available which offer a better value for the cost. In its present form, I believe you could gain equal or better value from reading free blogs on self-publishing and marketing books. At 108 pages (PDF), 6 of the pages are front matter, and 21 of those pages in the back are bonus material included from other books by the author or links to videos/blogs.
That leaves 80 pages of material that, in many cases, can be found on the internet for free, are a bit dated, or are, in my sole opinion, potentially dangerous for authors. I cannot advise anyone to spend the $5.97 list price for the title.
And it is unfortunate. I feel bad about writing this review. I don't like writing negative reviews for books. I don't like getting a book for free, especially at the request of the author to review the title, and have to give out a review like this.
As an author, I know what it's like to get a less than stellar review. It hurts. That's probably part of the reason I'm even discussing it here. I debated for days on whether I should even post this review, but in the end, I decided to do so. Given the number of positive reviews this title has received and the lack of mentioning of the points in my review (at length, anyway), I decided to share my opinions and hopefully steer those who would've been unhappy with the book in a different direction.