Publishing a book through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing turned out to be both easier and harder than I thought.
After tearing my hair out at first, I discovered Amazon's template for a 5-by-8-inch paperback. I also noticed a lengthy guide and a long video tutorial, but I can never sit through those. So whenever I had a question, I hit the chat button and got a live person. They didn't always know the answer but kept me moving right along, encouraging me to skip design elements I didn't need. Besides texting, I could have talked on the phone or emailed them. Each time, they were available within seconds.
I'm working on a historical novella for a retired professor of Korean studies. Though I got paid to edit it, I threw in the publishing part for free. For an earlier book, the professor paid a guy thousands of dollars to get it published on Amazon, but she could have found an expert to do it for much less by searching the phrase "Format Your Book, Ready for Upload to Amazon KDP Print." At PeoplePerHour, for example, "Chris M" will do it for $130. I might hire him if I run into a snag. He gets great reviews.
So far, the trickiest part has been getting the jacket cover right. You can click to have Amazon create one for you, but you may not like the results any more than I did. To upload your own cover images, you'll need one for the front, one for the spine and one for the back. After using a free template I found by searching for "Design Free Book Covers Online, Adobe Express," I asked a friend to stitch my three images together for me using Photoshop Elements. I also used a free online calculator to figure out the width of the spine.
The KDP publishing process is cheap and you get to keep 70% of the royalties you earn. For ebooks, you can select your own sale price, anywhere from $3 to $10. For e-delivery, it's 15 cents per megabyte. For paperbacks, Amazon prints on demand and subtracts the printing cost from your royalties. For a paperback with premium color, for example, it's 85 cents per book and 7 cents for each additional page over 828. You can order a proof version of the paperback for $11.
FUN ON THE PLANE
For the first time in years, I watched a movie on the plane, listened to music and enjoyed some silence while reading a book. Anker's Q30 headset, $80 on Amazon, literally put me on cloud nine.
The Q30's noise-canceling technology claims to filter out 95% of low-frequency ambient sound. Though I could still hear conversations, the hum of the engine was so reduced that it didn't interfere with my listening pleasure. The movie music sounded wonderful and the dialogue was clear. When I took off the headset for an instant, I couldn't believe how loud the engine was. But the Q30 is so comfortable I left it on until I landed.
DEATH BY BATTERY
You've probably seen those scary lithium ion battery warnings on packages containing electronics. Are they necessary?
In a test by theVerge, experts from the iFixit repair franchise stabbed a near-empty battery in an iPhone 12 Pro Max until it gave out a tiny puff of smoke and a few sparks. After trying the experiment on a full battery, they got a fiery explosion. The lesson: Discharge your electronics before you ship them.
The new Tron action figure has your face and voice and costs $90. But to get it, you have to go to Walt Disney World's new Tron Lightcycle/Run attraction, which opens April 4.
Once your face is scanned, your action figure will display a holographic version of your face as its face. You also get to record six lines of dialogue. It all goes onto a memory card that can be swapped into another toy. And unlike Hasbro's 3-D printed $60 Selfie Series figurines, your action figure will be ready 60 minutes after the 20-minute customization process.
TACKLING GOOGLE DRIVE
I subscribe to Google One for $20 a year, which gives me 100 gigabytes worth of storage space. How is it possible that I'm already two-thirds full?
To find out, I went to drive.google.com and clicked "Storage." It lists the biggest space hogs at the top. To get rid of junk, all I had to do was click on a file, then click the trash can icon or tap the delete key. I also use the free "Google Drive for Desktop," which keeps everything in sync on my computer.
GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS
I have friends who cashed in on the internet in its early days by buying domain names and reselling them. If you can think of one that hasn't been taken yet, or is available for cheap, you might be able to hit pay dirt, too.
Voice.com was sold for $30 million in 2019, according to Hostinger, a web-hosting provider. NFTs.com sold for $15 million in 2022. Tesla.com went for $11 million in 2014. Fund.com went for $12 million in 2008.
"Flying Boat Electric Candela." Search that phrase to see a remarkable hydrofoil boat, the C-8 from Candela. It uses 80% less energy than traditional boats.
Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at email@example.com.