10 Mistakes I Made as a Successful First Time Kindle Author (So You Don’t Have To)

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 11/04/21 •  18 min read

Over the last two years one of the biggest trends I’ve seen, is people having success self-publishing books on Kindle. I have friends that are making 5 figures monthly, by building their small publishing empire.

There’s a good chance you’ve been interested in writing a book of your own, so I enlisted Noam Lightstone to share with you his experience, and in particular share his 10 biggest Kindle mistakes that he made when publishing his first book.

If you’re thinking of writing a book for Kindle, or even if you already have, take some time and read through this to ensure you set yourself up for the best chance of success!

Take it away, Noam!

I have always been a writer, ever since I was a kid. And even in school, the formatting, teasing out, and creation of a 400 page thesis got me going. Well, OK it also drove me a bit crazy but you can’t have the good without the bad…

So I decided to write my first book, Mastery Of The Mind, back in September for my blog, Light Way Of Thinking. My hope was that I’d sell only one copy and eventually, make $100 a month. If I did that I’d be floored.

The results were FAR beyond my expectations:

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 7.23.24 AM

Breaching top 1000 of ALL books in Kindle store, dual #1 bestseller status in two categories, and also breaching top 20 books in Self-Help. 

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 7.23.46 AM

Being #10 in Self-Help category – beating out heavy weights Stephen Covey, Eckart Tolle, and Dale Carnegie.


Launch And First Month Stats:

You can check out the book here

But after taking months to write the book and delaying my publishing for so long (ah the fears of the entrepreneur!), when I look back I realize I made A LOT of mistakes.

There are great guides around that go into the mechanics of writing a book for Amazon and the Kindle Store. They cover topics like keyword research, category selection and so on. Some great posts sit here at Location Rebel by Dave and Tristan King. I’ll also share some more resources at the end of the article.

But what I wanted to detail here in this article are the things I didn’t do so well. These are things I will improve on for my next book.

My hope that if you choose to write a book and/or publish it with Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing, you will be saved hours of stress and tears from my mistakes and I give you action steps to address each mistake so you can tackle them as you write..

So here they are:

1) My Biggest Kindle Mistake: Not Writing My Book in Scrivener from the Start

My friend had told me about Scrivener and I think he first heard about it from Tim Ferriss. It’s an alternative you should use compared to Word. Why? Word for large documents is slow, unruly, and can crash. Also, your book file can become corrupt – Say goodbye to all your hard work if you don’t have a back up! I’m not kidding. Hours of writing can disappear.

I know Sean had this happen to his website, but it can happen for books too!

Scrivener is made for screenplays and large amounts of text.

I simply started writing with it but didn’t really know how to use the program. Sure, making chapters and sections is great, but it’s actually much more powerful.

You can automatically add in with a few keystrokes:

So not only did I waste time on formatting which the software can do automatically… But I exported a Word version to my editor, who made comments/changes to it, which I then had to transcribe BACK into Scrivener, where I had to manually enter in carriage returns and everything.

Going back, I would have kept everything localized in Scrivener and saved myself hours of annoyance and stress. Scrivener also immensely helped when formatting the book for submission to Amazon’s Createspace program, which helps you turn your e-books into paperbacks with a few clicks.

Scrivener can even automatically export a very nicely formatted version off for direct Kindle publishing (MOBI file), whereas in Word I believe you must use code to do so. I don’t think I even have to go into why formatting a 100-150 page book with code to get everything to look right can just downright suck.

ACTION STEP: Buy a license for Scrivener and download it now.

Scrivener costs about $50 or less, but for the time it saves in formatting, outsourcing, and hair pulling… it’s worth it. Grab it from the Literature and Latte site (I don’t make any money off this link, I just think it’s an awesome program).

2) Don’t use tables in the book if possible.

Kindle sucks for displaying tables. They get messed up, jumbled, and split on to different pages… especially on mobiles.

If I would include a table now in a book, I’d probably use an image instead unless the table was extremely simple. Or better yet, I’d just use plain text if at all possible.

Clear writing is good writing, and nothing kills a book like jumbled, unruly text.

ACTION STEP: Preview or Remove All Tables

If you insist on using tables in your book, preview ALL tables in your book on multiple platforms to ensure that everything is OK. Or even better, remove all the tables in your book and use plain text, or consider using actual images of tables instead (screenshots from a word processor).

Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

3) Ask people who get your advanced copies to SAY that they got advanced copies if/when they submit reviews.

“Get advanced copies” is all over the Kindle blogosphere as advice. It makes sense – One of the first things I personally look for (and I’m sure you do too) when purchasing new stuff is what other people have said about it.

Social proof works.

But what NEEDS to be done, especially as a first-time author, is making sure that these people EXPLICITLY SAY IN THEIR REVIEWS THAT THEY GOT ADVANCED COPIES.

After sending out around 200 copies around 2 months before release, I got a lot of great, positive reviews during my launch.

But I didn’t ask people to note that they got these copies in advance.

A day after release, it looked like 10-12 people bought my 200+ page book, read it, did exercises that could take weeks to do, and said that the book really helped them in their lives.

…And what happened is a lot of people called my reviews fake.

I responded to one of these comments, and people seemed to get the idea/it didn’t seem to affect sales much. People even responded saying “Thanks for clarifying!”, but who knows.

It caused a HUGE amount of stress for me.

I don’t blame people for calling me out, I’d call BS as well. There’s a lot of crap in the Kindle store these days so people now act as watchdogs and are very careful about fake things floating around – they want people to be aware. This is good, but again, it can really hurt you if you don’t address it.

It’s quite possible even now that people don’t read the reviews and see my responses, passing my book up. They just see “Fake Reviews”, say “**** it”, and move on.

So save yourself the stress – send out your advanced copies, but make sure people say in their reviews that the copies were sent way before publication.

Tons of authors send out advanced copies and there’s nothing wrong with it, you just need to be honest with your potential buyers.

ACTION STEP: Email everyone who received an advance copy, and TELL them to state that they received it early in their review.

When sending out advanced copies to friends, family, and your mailing list, EXPLICITLY write in your e-mail and bring people’s attention to the fact that they should mention that they got an advanced copy of the book before the publication date in their reviews.

This is an entirely preventable problem that I learned the hard way.

4) The first week after publishing will consist of 12+ hour days. Get comfy.

I didn’t expect to be so busy after publishing my book.

In fact, I think a lot of location independent entrepreneurs mis-judge the amount of work that goes into a product launch. I actually wrote a report for you on 5 ways you can relieve your stress and power up your progress, especially as you travel the world. You can grab that at the end of the article if you’re interested!

I thought it’d be just clicking the “Save and Publish” button, and waiting to see sales come in. Sure, I was partly obsessive and excited (who wouldn’t be??) and I did have some setup to do as a first-time author, but there’s a lot of work that goes around publishing.

You should expect to be:

I didn’t realize all this would come at once, but it happens and you will be super busy. Expect it, and don’t plan any parties during this time… until after release when you can celebrate :).

ACTION STEP: Expect the work, stock up on Ramen noodles.

Also: Make sure you’re on top of your productivity game and have a good system so you don’t burn out.

5) Know the International rules for Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange

Submitting your Kindle book for direct translation into an audiobook using Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) service is ONLY available to residents of US/UK. Make sure you enter proper tax info to save yourself money!

I wasted A LOT of time contemplating doing an ACX version of my book.

Is the royalty deal worth it?

Can I make a better product somewhere else for cheaper?

Is it OK being locked in for 7 years?

…Only to read later upon trying to sign up that ACX is only available to residents of the US/UK. That leaves me as a Canadian, out. Knowing this beforehand would have saved me hours of deliberation and research.

Along with that, Amazon withholds tax unless you prove your country will tax you/enter this as tax info. For Canadians, enter the non-US tax number in Amazon as your SIN (social insurance number). You will see Amazon report that it now holds 0% of earnings.

You should be aware that if you are outside of the US, Amazon can withhold 30%+ of all revenue on your book sales unless you enter in your tax information correctly. Check you country’s rules and workarounds through Google.


kindle mistakes

How to get to the Tax Information section so you can enter you tax info for your KDP account.

6) Hire an editor… and no, your friends and/or family don’t count.

OK, not a mistake I made but I was close to making it. It’s so important I had to include it in this list. I was contemplating if hiring an editor was really worth the money.

I’m a good writer”, I said. “Do I really need to shell out $150-200 for an editor?”.

He caught so many mistakes that without a doubt now, I know it was totally worth it. Upon seeing his revisions I was SHOCKED at how many typos and errors I thought I had went over.

Many people advocate passing your manuscript to your friends and family. I mean, free crowdsourcing, right?

But I’m sorry, they don’t count. Not only are they probably super busy, but they’re inherently biased.


7) Don’t write the book you just feel like writing. 

Just because you want to write about taming monkeys doesn’t mean people will buy it.

Do market research and testing to find out what is trending and selling. Cross-check that with what you are passionate about and have knowledge in. Find something that is on both lists.

At first, I began writing Mastery Of The Mind because it was something I wanted to write. But, I also knew it could help a lot of people. Along the way and through some research, I tailored the content after seeing more of what people wanted and were buying on the Amazon store.

Combine passion with market demand. You can write the book you want to write out of thin air when you are super famous ;).


  1. Make a list of everything you are passionate about. What do you know about? What could you write for ages and ages about? Is it music, self-improvement, cooking, chicken farming?
  2. Search the Amazon Kindle store bestsellers list here, finding the category on the left side of the page that most suits some each your ideas you’d like to look into.
  3. Look for any patterns or trends: common themes among books, words, colours, imagery… ANYTHING.
  4. See if you can correlate anything on the two lists-this might not be as easy or direct as you think. For example: There was a trend of a lot of habit books and step-by-step guides when I published. Habits are part of my book, but I made sure to push that part in my sales description. Some people include things like this in their book title or sub-title as well to really draw attention to it or use specific keywords.

8) For Your Time, Write a Shorter Book.

I like to write a lot.

But writing a lot doesn’t mean that it’s good or necessary. Concise writing is better if it gets the job done. As they say in copywriting, write the shortest amount you can to persuasively get the information across. I might have spent hours on pages for nothing if the book didn’t really succeed.

As a test of getting into the Kindle world, I’d recommend someone write a shorter book first to learn how KDP works, play around with the details in the store, and get a feel for the environment. Then, you could write larger ones later.

Steve Scott, a machine at producing Kindle books, said in one of his articles (paraphrasing) that he doesn’t understand why people want to write such large books. Not only can you diversify your portfolio of books and increase sales by splitting them up, but large books can be daunting for people to read. They are more likely to grab something short.

So first, start with a short book and consider always trying to keep it reasonably short. Your first book might be 50-100 pages. Your subsequent books might run 100-150 pages.


  1. Decide the rough topic of your book via step/mistake #7.
  2. Set a time goal (write 30 minutes a day) or a word count goal (500 word a day) and stick to it to write your book.
  3. Aim for a sub 100 page book. Or, if your book becomes large, try thinking about how you could split it into a series.

9) Expect the haters. Not everyone is going to like you or your book.

While I knew not everyone would like my book, my ego definitely got bruised when I started seeing some hate flying my way.

My baby of 8+ months was ripped to shreds by some people who didn’t even read it.

…Exactly, do you see the problem?

Constructive or pointed criticism, e.g., such as commenting on the content, is one thing. But if you don’t read my book, I’m going to laugh at you. Some people just like to make noise on the internet.

But even the well-formed criticism does sting a bit.

You’d love for your work to be loved by everyone, but that just doesn’t happen with art – and even non-fiction books are art.

Some people will love what you stand for and what you do. Some people will think you are pompous and annoying, and that’s just life.


10) It’s hard work and yes it’s money, but have fun with it.

As an anxiety-prone type-A personality, I love achievement, goals, success, etc. I also want to be successful ASAP. in my business and for everything to go well.

In fact, sometimes you might ask yourself – does becoming a location independent entrepreneur cause more stress and anxiety than it solves while you’re sitting in an office cubicle?

One mistake I always get caught up in for many areas of my life, is remembering to have fun and be happy while I’m chasing down the next thing.

Creating something from nothing is crazy.

Making money for my thoughts is awesome.

Helping thousands of people is great.

Seeing my success cascade (with guest posts like this, increased e-mail sign ups, and more) is really inspiring.

As Steve Jobs said:

People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing and it’s totally true. And the reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t, any rational person would give up. It’s really hard. And you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up.

Everything Is A Learning Process – Don’t Expect Perfection

For me, I had an amazing book release. But if you click here and check out the store now, you can see that my ranking has dropped. I still make sales, but nothing like I did before.

This is part of the learning process for me: OK, I can launch well. I’m beside myself with the results. Now, how do I work on sustaining those sales? What can I learn for the next book? How can I improve?

According to every mentor or friend I have who are doing well in Kindle, the best way to increase sales on ALL books is to write a new book…, and it’s extremely difficult to keep sales as high as they were in the first few months (unless you’re someone like Tony Robbins…).

But hey, for a first-time book, I’m pretty much beside myself still because of the results.

Now, time to get back to writing!

As you try to build your kindle business or any business, make money, go travel, explore in life… Yes set your goals, celebrate the victories, keep trying to fix issues…

…but also just enjoy the process of learning.

It’s SO hard as a type-A personality to realize this at times, especially when you are just itching to quit that 9-5 and become a nomad, but trust me: Having fun in whatever you’re doing, seeing the small successes, and learning will mean a whole lot more on your death bed compared to frowning, being super serious, and trying to force something to work.

Good luck! And have questions about launching your first book on Kindle? Ask away in the comments! I’ll do my best to respond to every single question.

Here are more self-publishing articles if you’re looking to write a book of your own.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Location Rebel. We'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

54 comments on "10 Mistakes I Made as a Successful First Time Kindle Author (So You Don’t Have To)"

  1. Steve O says:

    I enjoyed your review, and, have been wondering how to self publish.

    As one of those people who have been told for years that “you should write a book”

    I think I may have finally been shown the way, so thanks!

    Steve O

    1. Go for it Steve! Glad you liked it.

  2. John Schnettgoecke says:

    Hey Noam,

    Good stuff, my friend. I’m launching my first book at the end of this month, and I’m currently looking for an editor. Anyone you’d recommend?


    1. Hey John, congrats!

      Absolutely. E-mail me at: [email protected] and I’ll forward you my contact.

  3. Hammo says:

    Very timely advice, thank-you.

    My big take away is – 8) For Your Time, Write a Shorter Book.

    When I started making claims I’ll be writing a book I was thinking 250-300 pages, but then took a step back and thought it needs to be smaller so I get experience with the process.

    You have confirmed this is the right path. Thank-you.

    1. Yeah Hammo I just wrote and wrote but honestly as a test and learning process I would definitely recommend the smaller approach.

      Publishing a book is no light task and keeping it small will make it a whole lot easier :).

  4. Sandy says:

    What you really require to become one of the kindle author ? I means I was trying to register there but they have different plans what to chose ?

    1. Hey Sandy not sure what you mean. For me, it was a simple sign up process and there were no “plans”… Becoming an author is free.

      Can you explain more or clarify what choices you see?

  5. mdy says:

    Thanks for this. Fascinating read.

    I have a question about how to work with an editor when your editor does not use Scrivener. Your post suggests that there’s a way to still keep everything in Scrivener. Do you have specific advice on how to make that happen? Or should I ask the editor to buy a copy of Scrivener as well?

    1. You’re welcome :).

      Honestly I would buy my editor a license (it’s only $50) and either cancel it once they are done, or keep the editor on long term. But again, that’s just because of the nightmare I endured going back and forth between Word and Scrivener.

      For the small amount of money, you gain back hours of time, and save yourself hours of stress. Worth it IMO.

      You can export from Scrivener to Word and back again, but the formatting will get messed up for sure. Keep everything in Scrivener.

      1. mdy says:

        Gotcha. And yes, considering how much time I would lose if I had to reformat a large-ish document, I agree that paying $50 for a license is the way to go. The hurdle, IMHO, will be convincing the editor to invest the two hours or so needed to complete the Scrivener tutorial! hehe! 🙂 Thanks again and will give this suggestion some more thought. Cheers!

  6. Steve O says:

    As an introducing author I am most interested in keeping the interest of the reader and inspiring the reader to purchase additional copies for their loved and significant others, not unlike Don Miguel Ruiz.

    Is this formula unusual, or is Ruiz following a tried and true method, that should not be ignored?

    I have only purchased hard copy books and never anything 21st century.

    Is writing for tablet consumption the same, or is this an entirely different formula?

    It should be said that, I won’t be bothered by failure, provided I am on the right path.

  7. Noam you rocked this post, really insightful outsourcing tips especially! As entrepreneurs we often end up thinking we have to do everything ourselves, a lot of things we need to leave to specialists and just focus on our strengths. Will bookmark this as I’m thinking of publishing some content via Kindle early 2016.

    1. Thanks for the big ups Seb :). Good luck with publishing, let me know how it goes!

  8. I’m not familiar with Don Miguel Ruiz so you’ll have to forgive me on not commenting on that.

    But – a book is a book is a book. Most hard copy books are now available in e-book form as well.

    I LOVE the feeling of paper, but with constant travel, I can’t carry around books all the time. An e-reader was one of the best purchases I made in the past little while.

    So if you want to write, just write. There are tips and tricks for the Kindle store specifically, but writing is writing.

  9. James Mackie says:


    I’m really quite frustrated that my country isn’t listed as one that I can use to register as a writer so I feel marginalized yet again. Cheques never work here, as my parents once sent me a cheque from the UK but I couldn’t cash it because Chile works on a different banking system.
    I see this as yet another block to my progress and wonder if there is any other way I can proceed as I have always wanted to write a book but never got round to it. If there is any help you can offer then I would be grateful.

    1. Hey James!

      I list my permanent address as being in Canada, though I currently live in Vietnam and am moving to Thailand soon.

      Here’s a way around it. My friend told me about this and I think Tim Ferriss mentioned it in 4HWW:

      Before leaving a Canada I assigned a Power of Attorney (POA). Basically what this does is it allows someone else you appoint on your behalf to make decisions for you. You decide which decisions. E.g. health related, in case of death, monetary, property, etc. I gave my Dad all rights because I trust him and wanted all my bases covered, and as my POA, he’s going to be depositing my first cheque for Createspace amounts. He’s allowed to do this.

      Just Googled. In the UK, it’s called Lasting Power of Attorney (https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/overview).

      So you can either then set up a transfer between your Chile and UK bank accounts, or keep withdrawing from the UK bank overseas. You might face some bank charges, but it’s small compared to getting no money!

      If you register your permanent address as in UK, all Kindle sales will be directly transferred via EFT (electronically) directly into your bank account.

      Hope these tips help you out! Maybe it’s not the most elegant system avoiding fees and stuff, but you get your money with not too much hassle :).

  10. Great points! Glad to see these on my way to releasing my first book. I think using an editor is a controversial one.

    I have read both sides of the coin. I think you have to make sure they don’t change the tone at all. People will look past a few typos.

    1. James Ranson says:

      I’m an editor, so clearly I’m biased on this question, but it strikes me that the issue of keeping the author’s tone is really a question of the quality of your editor. Bad editors will change an author’s tone because they don’t know how to improve the text without doing so. Quality editors know how to edit for clarity or concision, for instance, without losing the author’s personal voice. Moreover, you can hire someone just to proofread for typos if you don’t want them to touch your actual content or language.

      Also, I disagree that people will overlook typos. Other authors have written here and elsewhere about how having typos got them bad reviews.

      But yes, it’s an individual decision. You certainly don’t HAVE to hire an editor if you think the cost outweighs the benefit. It’s up to you. 🙂

      1. I would have to agree with James and he answered well :).

        I should specify the type of editor I used was more copyediting versus content shifting/voice changing. He re-arranged some stuff and made suggestions sure, but he was mostly checking for flow, grammar, and spelling editors.

        People pay for a product and expect something good. I think 1-2 typos isn’t a big deal, but once they start to add up, if I bought the book, I’d say “Come on man, I expect a good product”.

  11. James Ranson says:

    Great article, Noam! As an editor myself, I especially appreciate the suggestion to hire one. 🙂

    I have one objection, though: your comment on price. 0.3 cents per word is $60 for a 20,000-word book. That works out to something like $3/hour at most for the editor. Are there editors willing to work for that little? Sure, lots. You may even find some very skilled ones who are, and it sounds like you did for your book. But the best editors out there won’t work for $3/hour or less, they’ll work for $30/hour or more.

    For the most part, with editing (as with anything) you get what you pay for. I’ve worked with several clients who got cheap editors first, hated the results, and had to hire me (at a higher rate) to fix everything the cheapies messed up or left out. Low price isn’t a guarantee of high quality.

    I’d like to suggest that rather than looking for a low price point, authors look for the best editor they can afford. If they’re bootstrapping and only have $100 or $200 in their editing budget, that’s fine, but if they have more, they won’t be wasting it to hire a higher-level editor.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience! I work with a lot of self-published authors, so it was great to hear from another successful one. 🙂

    1. Hey again, James, and thanks!

      Great points, perhaps I got lucky :p. I got my editor through a referral thanks to Mr. Steve Scott (http://www.stevescottsite.com/).

      But while you can get some discrepancies on either end of the spectrum (you pay a lot and get crap, you pay less and get amazing quality), I definitely agree on not skimping out, and you usually do get what you pay for.

      Yeah on a bootstrapped budget it’s always hard to decide what to pay for…

      Personally, I’d say focus all money on creating a great product (editing, cover, copywriting perhaps, etc.) and not, say on marketing campaigns. Marketing is good, but if you use Amazon, they can do a lot for you… I had almost no mailing list and I did OK, but if I had a really really crappy product, nobody would buy it.

      1. James Ranson says:

        I totally agree. One of my favorite quotes is by Srinivas Rao: “You can’t hide shitty art behind great marketing.” Obvs marketing has its place, and I partner with a really good marketing guy when my clients want help in that area, but I only work with clients who already know they want to create masterpieces. 🙂

        Thanks again!

  12. Great post Noam. Kindle books are a venture I’d like to start working on the next few months. You’ve given some great resources for me to continue researching before I jump into creation.



    1. Thanks Alex! Best of luck and keep me posted on the journey!

  13. k80jones says:

    Great article, thank you for your insights. Do you have any reccomendations for software that would format a photo heavy ebook? I am working on a guide to home fermenting and want to include photos and reciparees. I am worried that formatting is gonna get ugly!

    1. Sean says:

      To clarify are you still thinking about an ebook distributed through the Kindle store?

  14. K80jones says:

    Yes. I am planning to self publish for kindle.

  15. Hmm my book wasn’t photo heavy at all, but I don’t see why Scrivener shouldn’t be able to handle it.

    Are you just saying there will be a lot of photos, or you have some sort of special layout in mind you want handled?

  16. K80jones says:

    I don’t have the layout totally figured out. When I read reviews of similar books one of the biggest complaints was not having a visual reference so users could see what the product would look like in each step. Some sections won’t be a thoroughly illustrated as the basic “how to” section. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

    1. Like I said, I didn’t really have to worry too much about image formatting in my book. It doesn’t sound like you’re sure exactly of what you need/might want the software to do – Do you think you might be anticipating problems even though they might not even end up being issues? That’d be a source of worry for no reason…

      Also I can’t really comment much because I’m not sure of your specific question.

      I would either really define the layout well, and perhaps ask the Scrivener team if it’s possible to lay things out as you are thinking, or address the problem if it becomes an issue. But again, Scrivener is quite powerful, so it should be able to handle whatever you throw at it.

  17. K80jones says:

    Thank you for your response. This is my first book so I am definitely stressing the small stuff!
    Scrivener looks like a great tool for getting organized. For books with illustrations and images Fixed Formatting seems to be the way to go. It keeps your images locked in place with the text.
    Great article!

  18. MStokely says:

    That Steve Jobs quote was epic. Thanks, I think we all need to keep hearing about how hard this is and to fight for our books and our writing. You guys also convinced me to try Scrivener. BTW, for those posting the text of their books to Amazon Kindle…..I actually enjoyed posting a plain HTML file to Kindle. It was super clean, easy, and much easier than all other formats. Does Scrivener export in clean HTML? Word does but it creates a mess of code. Its horrible!

    On writing the book you feel like writing…..I think the advice should be the opposite. Write what you have a passion for. Otherwise, if you are writing to just make money, and scanning the web for places to make a dime, you have sold yourself to the devil. Might as well go pick a career that does that makes big money. Writing should be for the passionate, those who love to write and have a story to tell. Success will follow. Otherwise, its just a con game and you are conning yourself and your readers. Thats just my two cents.

    Otherwise, great advice and very helpful.

    1. Haha well you can call me Sean I guess ;).

      I can’t say if Scrivener exports clean HTML, but it definitely does seem to do a pretty good job of WYSIWYG when exporting directly as a .MOBI file.

      Like I said in the article, you need a mix. If you do NO market research and just write/create a product, you could waste hours, months, or even years of your life. There’s a give and take. Hence the whole concept of surveying your customers, readers, etc. and/or pre-selling.

      So you find out what people want or need and marry that with something you’re passionate about. For example, a lot of my readers have problems being avoidant in their relationships and being afraid of intimacy. It’s a subject I’m passionate about because I deal with it as well, and have had to get over it. So, I’m writing a book on it. Get it :)?

      But I agree if you purely write/create just to make money, I think you’ll become pretty depressed.

  19. Peter says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips, that’s a lot of helps for new and old book authors. I found the 3rd point regarding advanced copies for reviews to be the most helpful.

    It’s pity that Kindle format still can’t handle tables well. Hope they can have the issue fixed.

    1. No worries Peter, glad you got something out of it! Yeah, I’m staying away from tables as much as possible for future books, it’s just not worth the hassle to get them displaying properly across all platforms (mobile, Kindle, on Mac/PC, etc.).

  20. Des says:

    Thanks for writing this Noam, what a time saver this could be!
    I personally wasn’t going to bother to try and finish my book but this has given me a new found enthusiasm to break through the noise and to crack on and get it finished. Some great pointers for a newbie like me. Well done.

    1. No problem Des, keep going!!

  21. Robert B. says:

    Hi Noam, this was a fantastic read. I’m primarily interested in writing fiction, and most of your advice seems geared toward non-fiction writers. Is there any advice you can offer specifically for self-publishing fiction? Or another resource you could point me to? Once again, thanks!

    1. Hey Robert!

      Yeah I’m 100% a non-fiction writer so all my processes, systems, and thinking is geared towards that.

      While lots of this still applies to you, e.g. researching trends in the marketplace that work (say, vampire novels :p), writing a shorter book first as an experiment, etc., I’m unfortunately not aware of any resources off hand geared towards fiction specifically.

  22. Anne says:

    Hi Noam,
    Great article!
    I write self-help books, how to books and fiction.
    I am going to take your advice and write with Scrivner on Windows 10 and wondered if you have heard of any issues. I have been using Word, but have heard of it crashing and losing files.
    Also does your copy editor edit in Scrivner? Could I have contact info for your editor?

    Who do you recommend for ebook cover design for kindle that’s affordable? I am a retired artist, but want to make sure the cover is done right.

    I want to use pen names for my privacy and to be more diverse and marketable. Do you have any tips regarding pen names?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hey Anne, thanks a lot!

      Nope can’t say I have. I used to use it on Windows 7 but now I’m on Mac (and never going back :p).

      When I asked him to I had transferred in to Word (as I wrote above), then back to Scrivner (baaad use of time). I don’t want to give his contact info out here just out of respect and privacy, but feel free to send me an e-mail: noam [at] lightwayofthinking [dot] com, and I’ll be more than happy to give it to you. 🙂

      Same with the cover designer.

      Couldn’t help you with pen names. I made the decision early on to write under my real name (yes, Noam Lightstone ISN’T fake), so never looked into that.

  23. Kayleigh says:

    Hi Noam!

    Thanks for this encouraging article! I definitely feel my excitement around publishing with Kindle coming back. I had published a cookbook series back in 2013 but out of intense fear of “being seen” I avoided marketing at all and let them waste away in cyberspace. I still get small deposits in my bank account every month from it and I’ve written three novels since then, but nothing I consider publishable (yet). But reading this article really reawakened what I feel like has been a long dream, running a real book publishing business on kindle. I guess I should read Mastery of Mind. It sounds like you know the fears I am dealing with, so maybe your book will help me take the leap.
    Thanks for putting your work out there, in spite of the mistakes and difficulties!

    1. Hey Kayleigh no problem. 🙂

      Yeah you might not be EXACTLY where you want to be (I’m not either), but once you get that first book out there and get that first sale, confidence shoots through the roof and you KNOW you can figure this out.

      Some people NEVER do ANYTHING and just always wish they had.

      …And I would not object to you checking out the book. 😉

      Good luck!!

  24. Nicole says:

    Great article Noam, very informative. I launch my first book in about a month and some of the mistakes I made showed up here-great steer!

    1. No problem, Nicole. Hope the launch goes well!

  25. Kerry Hart says:

    Thanks for lots of great info, Noam. I’ve been wanting to publish on Kindle for a long time but kept getting overwhelmed about all that can go wrong. You’ve helped greatly w/ that. My other problem I’ve searched and searched for an answer to, unsuccessfully, is this: my first novel was published the old-fashioned way, pre-Kindle, by a small but good publishing house in Chicago. It’s one out of print– I own all remaining copies & the copyrights. It was sold in bookstores nationwide & in Canada, and on Amazon. So… To publish it on Kindle, do I need to re-type the whole manuscript (256 pps in book form)? Of course I will if I have to, but if I don’t… I’d love to have that time to finish the book I’m writing now and start on a new one. Any ideas what people in my position do? Thanks!


    1. You don’t have to…

      You can pay someone on Upwork a small fee to do it while you focus on the more important things ;).

  26. Wendy says:

    I am SO glad I found this article! Very thoughtful, honest, and useful info. I’m inspired (and terrified) to try self-publishing, and now I feel like it’s demystified and I have a better grip on it.


    1. Wendy says:

      P.S. I’m an editor, so I naturally agree 100% with saying that writers must get an objective, professional editor to go over their manuscript. It’s very difficult to see the mistakes you make in your own writing. (It’s especially true for editors who are also writers, annoyingly.)

  27. Ashley says:

    I really appreciated this post. I have been a ball of nerves trying to get things going. This information really helped me a lot. Thank you!

  28. Nikki says:

    Hello there!

    Would you happen to have a step by step list where you detail what your process was before publishing? I don’t know much about promoting or the details of adding artwork, etc. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks !

    (If this was addressed in the comments above my apologies.)

  29. Archie H says:

    Thank you Noam for some very useful information. I’ve been working on my first book for a while. This article inspires me to continue. Thanks again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *