Blog to Book Project–Examining the Drawbacks to Self-Publishing on Amazon

There are a number of excellent self-publishing platforms out there, but Amazon is by far the largest. Although no one knows for sure, many experts estimate that there are currently 6 million eBooks and a total of 48.5 million books available for sale on Amazon. Amazon has cornered the market on approximately 40% of the self-published eBook market. This overreading vastness can be both a blessing and a bane.

Amazon has made it easy to self-publish. However, Amazon also sets the price you can sell at. If you notice, most eBooks listed on Amazon that are not written by authors like Toni Morrison or Stephen King are under $5. As an author, you get only pennies for books read through KOLL and Kindle Unlimited.

On the other hand, forcing you to keep your eBook price low can work to your advantage. As an unknown author, readers may be more apt to take a chance on your book at bargain prices than they would if they had to shell out more than $10 to get their hands on it.

Print book prices are also set by Amazon. You can not offer your book for a price lower than what Amazon decrees, which sometimes prices your book far outside of the average person’s book budget. Which in turn, encourages readers to enroll in Kindle Unlimited where they can read an unlimited number of books for a set price while you get shafted on royalties.

With the sheer number of books that are available on Amazon, your contribution to the literary world may get overlooked. Amazon offers to help you out through paid advertisements, but it may not be worth the money you invest in them, especially if you are just starting out. You’d do better to devote more time on marketing strategies outside of Amazon even if you are redirecting potential readers to your book listing on Amazon. We’ll talk about ways you can do that in the course too.

As you can see, publishing on Amazon can be a writer’s dream-come-true or nightmare.

Blog to Book Project — Discussion Questions

If you think your book would be something a class or book club would enjoy discussing, consider adding a section with open-ended questions in the back matter.  This part might be called Discussion Questions or Book Club Guide or any number of imaginative monikers.

The questions might talk about the theme, historical significance, character development or symbology. Don’t be hesitant to pose questions about controversial themes. The idea is to provoke further thought and meaningful conversation. 

Make sure the questions you include can be answered either through something the reader can find in the text or with a bit of research. Other questions can be expressed opinions. 

Try to include a good mix of the following:

  • Why…..?
  • How would you explain….?
  • What is the importance of ….?
  • What is the meaning of …?
  • Compare….
  • Contrast …
  • What is the difference between…?
  • What is the similarity between…?
  • What are the causes of …? 
  • What are the results of …?
  • What connection is there between…?

You can divide the questions by chapter however try to keep them in the same order as the topics appear in the text. You can choose to number the questions if you like.

Designing discussion questions is a great way to put yourself into your reader’s shoes. Is there something that should be explained more or is unclear in your book? Now’s the time to go back and edit it.

Assignment: Even if you don’t plan on including this section, take the time to create at least 20 questions that would be useful in leading a thought-provoking discussion about your book. Are there things you need to change? 

Blog to Book Project — Genealogy or List of Characters

Although most often found in fiction books, you may also want to include a List of Characters in your blog to book project if it would be hard for the reader to keep track of the people and relationships in your story without a guide. You can organize the list by order of appearance or family groups or overlapping relationships, whichever would be most useful for the reader.

You can eliminate some of the confusion in your book by using the same nicknames or given names throughout the story. Don’t call the neighbor Fred in one chapter and Mr. Miller in the next. Be consistent. 

It might be useful to include a genealogy in some situations especially if there is something unique about the family tree that pertains to the story. For instance, the main characters might be cousins twice removed that had met at a family reunion as children and reconnected as adults. Instead of going through the intricacies in the text, a mere mention with reference to the genealogy at the beginning of the book might suffice. 

There are many free templates available online to help you create an attractive genealogy to include in your book. 

Assignment: Create a List of Characters or Geneology for your book. Review your book to make sure you are consistent in name-use.

Blog to Book Project — Conclusion or Epilogue

An epilogue is found mostly in fiction books. This is a short section that concludes the end of the story. It might take place immediately after the events of the story or there could be a leap of years or decades. It can also be used to segue into another series of events that are covered in a sequel to the book.

In a non-fiction book, this section could be called the Conclusion. A conclusion wraps up any loose ends the book doesn’t address. It might talk about what happened to the people mentioned in the book later or if the events in the book predated or caused other historically significant occurrences.

Both an epilogue and conclusion are written as if they were part of the book. If the point of view is different than that of the main text, then this section is properly termed an Afterword. 

The Conclusion or Epilogue should only be a page or two. If you can’t wrap things up properly at that point, either continue in a sequel or go back to the main book and add more chapters. 

Assignment: Write the Conclusion of your book. Is everything summed up nicely? Are loose ends tied off? Will there be another book that continues the story? This would be the place to mention that. 

Blog to Book Project — List of Contributors

If anyone contributed to your book, this is also where their information would be listed under the heading entitled List of Contributors. 

This section is not the same as the acknowledgments page although you are acknowledging the contributions of these people. It is more than a simple thank you

The List of Contributors includes relevant biographical information, like membership in certain organizations, current position demonstrating expertise in an area, academic affiliations or published works.

Contributors are listed in alphabetical order by last name but written in standard order. So Henry S. Pingleton is not written Pingleton, Henry S. but as Henry S. Pingleton and comes before Johnny Quimby and after Yori Oliver.

You might include editors, translators, publishers, agents, professional proofreaders, or professors in this section. Librarians and research assistants deserve their due as well. Don’t feel as if you have to include every publication each contributor wrote in this list. Instead, include the one or two most relevant to your book topic. 

Assignment: Consider whether you need a formal List of Contributors or can get by with the more formal Acknowledgements.

Blog to Book Project — Bibliography

A bibliography can also be called works cited, resources, sources or references. Whichever name you choose, this is a list of books, articles, web sites or other sources that have been consulted in the creation of the book. A bibliography can be alphabetized or organized by theme, topic, or order of appearance.

A bibliography provides credibility to your non-fiction (or occasionally fiction) book. It shows that you didn’t just pull this information out of the air. It also gives readers a place to start if they want to do more research on their own. 

An annotated bibliography gives additional publishing information about the article or book, a text description of the source, and how it is relevant to the book. 

For each article, excerpt or book used in your book you should list the title, subtitle, author, publisher or website, year and page number. This information is listed in MLA or APA style. Whichever source you choose, you need to be consistent in using it for every entry. Print and online sources are written slightly differently. 

Bibliography entries are typically formatted using a hanging indent. The first line of the citation is not indented, but if the entry continues to a second or even third line, those are indented. Formatting in this way makes the list easier to skim. 

In MLA, a print book is cited:

Last name of the author, First name of the author. Book Title in Italics. City of the publisher: Publisher, Year Published. 100-102. Print.

If the book was accessed online citation is made this way:

Last name of the author, First name of the author. Book Title in Italics. City of the publisher: Publisher, Year Published. Website Title in Italics.  Web. Day Month Year accessed.

If you are citing a website: 

Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Article Title in Quotes.” Website Title in Italics. Publisher of Website, Day Month Year article was published. Web. Day Month Year accessed. <URL>.

In APA, a print book is cited: 

Last name of author, F. M. (Year Published) Book Title in Italics. City, State: Publisher.

If the book was accessed online citation is made this way:

Last name of author, F. M. (Year Published) Book Title in Italics. Retrieved from http://

If you are citing a website: 

Last name of author, F. M. (Year, Month Date Published) ArticleTitle in Italics. Retrieved from http://

If you need help formatting your MLA or APA citation for your bibliography, EasyBib has a tool to assist you that you can access here.

Assignment: Create your bibliography.

Blog to Book Project — Indexing

If your book is any kind of reference book, including cookbooks, you may wish to include an index. An index is an alphabetized list of terms which provides the page number or links to the words in the main text. 

Unless you are indexing a proper noun, the index entry begins with a lower-case letter. If the entry is an acronym or abbreviation, spell it out in parentheses. 

Try to use concrete nouns as index entries and be as specific as possible. For instance, in a book about herbal remedies, chamomile is a better entry than herbs with flowers

When you want to cross-reference an entry with another use See also and list the alternate entry. Therefore after the entry chamomile, you might have See also herbs for sleep which lets the reader know that additional information about chamomile can be found under the entry herbs for sleep. 

After the entry name, list the page numbers that the term can be found. Use a comma to separate the entry name and page numbers.Page numbers should be separated by commas and listed in numerical order. If you are including a page range, use a hyphen between the first and last page. 

chamomile, 12, 36, 58-60. See also herbs for sleep

You can include tables and images in your indexing. To let the reader know that the page number refers to an image or table rather than text, then use italics or bold to differentiate the number. Make sure to include a note at the beginning of the index to the effect that “Page numbers in italics refer to images.” 

If you have more specific terms under a general heading, indent the sub-categories. 

Front and back matter do not need to be included in an index. Indexing is primarily for the main body of text in your book. 

The index should be the very last writing you do for your book. You should wait to create an index until after you’ve done your final proofreading and editing. The reason for this is that changes in the text of your book will impact the index page numbers or links. 

If you are not sure whether your book needs an index or not, then check other books similar to yours. Do any of them have indexes? Does it benefit the reader? How is it set up? What types of terms are included? 

Also ask yourself if you have about 20 primary subjects worth indexing in your book or not. If you don’t, you probably don’t need an index at all. 

The American Society for Indexing has an excellent resource about indexing that you can download here. You can find detailed instructions on how to create an index using Microsoft Word here. Pressbooks also gives instructions on how to set up an index with their platform here

Assignment: Decide if your book needs an index. 

Blog to Book Project — Permissions or Credits

If you needed to get permission to include song lyrics, poems, images, quotations or even entire chapters, this is the section where an author gives credit where credit is due. Format the permission list in either MLA or APA style with the addition of what image or information is being referenced. Credits can be listed in alphabetical order or in order of appearance. 

Works that are classified as public domain do not need permission to be reprinted. Examples of public domain material include general information, materials created and published by the U.S. government, expired copyrighted material or those that never had copyright. 

You should assume that any work published in the United States first published after 1923 has a current copyright. 

Prior to publication, you should have already obtained permission from the copyright holder by sending that person or company a written request for permission to reprint that material. You can usually find the owner and where to contact that person or company in the copyright notice section. 

When you ask permission, you need to be specific about which rights you need and where the work will be reproduced. Consider:  

  • Are you requesting exclusive rights to reproduce the creative work?
  • How long are your requesting permission to use it?
  • Is there a territory limitation?
  • Is the copyright owner asking for monetary recompense for its use?

Exclusive rights mean that the creative work under discussion is only to be used by you in your book. Non-exclusive rights allow the copyright owner to grant permission for use to other individuals or companies. 

Permission can be granted for a limited time or for all perpetuity. Be clear on how long you expect to require permission to use the copyrighted item.

Sometimes permission can only be granted within certain geographic regions. Be sure to be specific where the image will be reproduced. 

Often the copyright owner will request payment for use. The final amount may be negotiable. As a self-published author, you will have to decide how much you are willing to pay for the privilege. 

If this seems like too much work, then simply don’t use copyrighted material. Instead, use your own work. If you need an image for your cover, design it yourself using a photo or formats found on Canva. Or you can use work that is available under the Creative Commons license which is free for public use.

Assignment: Verify that you do not need any permissions for any image or text in your book. If you do, set about obtaining the required permission.

Blog to Book Project — Other Books by the Author

If you have other books, this is the page where you want to promote them. Other Books by the Author is basically a second page to your About the Author bio. 

You can make a simple list of titles or you can include a very brief synopsis for each. If you use a pen name, you should include those books under the heading “Written as A. Penname.”

For digital books, you should make clickable links that take the reader to your book on Amazon or to each book’s landing page on your website. Print books don’t have clickability so make sure you write out the full title of the book so that readers can search for your book on their own. 

If you have a book that is comparable in theme to the current book or if you have a sequel, you could include a sample chapter as well. A sample chapter will whet readers’ appetites and leaving them hungry for more, which they can get by purchasing the entire book from the link you have conveniently placed at the end of the sample chapter. 

The sample chapter should be short. It doesn’t even have to be the entire first chapter of the book you are featuring. A page or two, with a cliffhanger ending works best. 

Assignment: Set up your Other Books by the Author page. Be sure to add new titles as you publish them and update older books with the new information.