The Amazon Announcement
Amazon’s big announcement in September created quite a splash in the world of children’s writers. Amazon launched Kindle Kids’ Book Creator, which is positioned as a true game changer for children’s writers across the world. Amazon’s new release is a free tool that is designed to help children’s writers create, publish and market illustrated and chapter books in Kindle Stores worldwide.
“Authors want to focus on telling great stories and we want to help them do that. No one should have to be a computer programmer to create a beautiful, illustrated Kindle book for kids. Kindle Kids’ Book Creator makes it easy.” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle.
This new self-publishing tool is a part of Amazon strategy to maintain its dominant control over the indie author market. Amazon hopes to reach out to the authors of children’s books and bring them within the ambit of Amazon publishing industry. Previously Amazon had launched their Kindle Comic Creator application for the indie author community and Kindle Kids’ Book Creator is seen as a companion to that publishing tool.
Decoding Amazon’s Kindle Kids’ Book Creator
The big question for all children’s writers and authors is this – What’s in it for me? Well, these are some of the interesting features of the newly launched publishing software.
· It is free and easy to use; upload a PDF file and the output is a standard Kindle file (.mobi file).
· It allows for import of artwork from popular formats, including jpg, pdf, tiff, png, ppm.
· It has interesting features for the content, including Kindle text pop-ups.
· It allows for use of category, age and grade filters that allows you to target the right audience.
· It allows for book preview on Kindle devices before publishing.
· It ensures book access on all popular devices including computers, tablets and smartphones.
· It gives the author access to Amazon’s powerful marketing system.
Since Kindle Kids Book creator is free and easy to use software, it increases the avenues available to self-publishing children’s writers. Amazon makes money on the sale of the created e-books, not on the e-book creation process. The software gives you the option of creating in landscape mode for traditional picture books and portrait mode for other categories of children’s books (easy readers, middle grade and young adult). This option is extremely convenient if you have created a book with double page spread illustrations. The use of text pop-ups allows for interesting additions to the content and makes for a comfortable reading experience even on small devices.
Some authors love it
It’s still early days but there are plenty of children’s authors out there who have given the Kindle Kids Book Creator the thumbs up. There is near unanimity about the software having an easy, hassle-free design which makes for a quick and simple learning curve.
Among the early birds is children’s author Niki Alling who recommends it highly, “The new Kindle Kids’ Book Creator is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I was able to create fun pop-ups with ease. I have plans to upgrade my existing children’s books with this new tool, and to use it with future books.”
Children’s author and illustrator Michele Lynn Seigfried says: “As a self-published author, doing all the work myself and being no technical expert, I found this so easy to use. It will definitely save me time and money when I publish my future books.”
But watch out for…….
But there are also many cautionary voices amidst the children’s authors. And there is some feedback about some of the less user-friendly features.
· A Single Platform Product is the greatest drawback of Amazon’s Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. The only output possible with this software is a .mobi file. This restricts the upload of the book to KDP, the Amazon platform and excludes it from the other popular platforms like iBook, Nook, Smashwords that require an ePUB file. After all the efforts a children’s writer puts into creating an e-book, the end-product is limited to a single platform; which is a bit of a let-down by Amazon.
· There is some disappointment about the limited layout and formatting tools. The text interactivity (pop-ups) is very basic and auto orientation is not available (locked to portrait and landscape mode). The images are auto-resized without input and so it is not possible to select your own image resolution.
· Another major problem on Amazon is the delivery cost, a fee that is based on the file size of the eBook. This makes it difficult to price illustrated eBooks at the lower end of the spectrum since a well-illustrated eBook tends to have a larger file size. For an eBook to be competitive, the price has to substantially lower than the print book, a strategy that is difficult to implement with high delivery costs.
· Creating Illustrations for the Kindle illustrated books is not something the software addresses. So unless you are an author and illustrator, you will still need to a professional illustrator to complete your illustrated eBook and bring it out on Amazon. But this is just a minor hiccup since it is not too difficult to get low-cost illustrations without compromising on the quality of the illustrations. So you can complete the illustrated version of your book project without going bankrupt.
Getting started with Kindle Kids’ Book Creator
The design of Kindle Kids’ Book Creator is extremely user-friendly which makes its usage simple and intuitive. The software can be downloaded from the Amazon site and there is a handy little tutorial on the site which gives you a quick run through. Once you have a basic idea of what to expect, you can give it a whirl, using the menu to guide you through. In case of any roadblocks, just browse online for help. The writing communities online are awash with tutorials, advice, tips and problem resolutions for the novice self-publishing children’s author. With practice and experience, you should have no problem in using Kindle Kids’ Book Creator for all your future eBook projects.