I've recently engaged in a few emails back and forth with my master teacher from graduate school. She was interested and proud that I had written two books, but also unsure of how this whole process works.
It's a similar reaction to others I've received. Trust me when I say that listing two Amazon bestsellers on your teaching resume (or any career resume I assume) is impressive to most interviewers and employers.
This impressiveness to others fits really well through the lens of Cal Newport's failed simulation effect, which he explains as, "Accomplishments that are hard to explain can be much more impressive than accomplishments that are simply hard to do".
Amazon is very easy to use. It is all self-published material. If you have a word document, you can publish a book by uploading the file to Kindle Direct Publishing and the next day it will be available for purchase. With Kindle there are different royalty programs that break down essentially like this:
Kindle Direct Publishing has book cover generators that you can use or upload a cover image yourself. I have simply used their generators, but more savvy and sophisticated self-publishers who actually make their living this way usually hire a cover designer to make the cover art and then upload it.
Again, the more savvy writers also usually hire an editor; I simply read my books multiple times and have my wife, father, and mother read through them as well. I am sure there are still typos. Mine were not professionally edited, but you can always hire an editor before you choose to upload them. This simply costs money, but is easy to do.
My approach with self-publishing is to write. publish. repeat. I will just keep iterating this process over the years and pricing my books in the $2.99 to $9.99 price range to get the 70% royalty. I hope that after 10 years, and 10-20 books, I will be earning a small side income that supplements my career and can be used for fun purchases like travel flights to new places. Maybe at some point, I will even hire an editor.
The book Choose Yourself is a great example of what can be accomplished in the world of self-publishing when hiring professional everything - editor, artwork, distribution lists, etc.
Lastly, Amazon also works with CreateSpace and Audible, which are the subsidiary companies that allow you to print paperback books with on demand shipping and audio books respectively. I did both of these for the first book I wrote Language, Learning, and Life, but not the second because it was only 32 pages and I felt it wasn't worth it.
I did get almost as many purchases for the Audible audio book as I did paperback and Kindle versions of the book, so it can definitely be worth it. Both of these options have lower royalties which makes complete sense as the cost to produce the paperback is much higher than Kindle and the Audible book was professionally recorded by a voice actor whom I split the royalty with 50/50.
Turning Them into Bestsellers
"Okay," you say, "writing and publishing the books doesn't seem that hard after all, but that doesn't mean mine will be bestsellers."
Amazon has Top 100 Bestseller lists for hundreds of categories. You just need to poke around on their website and look at the number of books in each category. Some categories have under 100 books. If you publish a book and label it with one of those categories, it is automatically an Amazon Top 100 Bestseller after the first customer purchase.
As an example, when I say that I am a bestselling author, I do not mean that I sat on top of the New York Times list for 52 weeks. I mean that my 32 page self-edited and self-published "book" reached #2 in Amazon's Top 100 Bestseller for Kindle in Non-formal Education category after selling about 15 books in the first 24 hours (it has sold more since, but the numbers are not staggering).
You can see how this small pond is much easier to succeed in. This success, while small, pushes me to try my hand in a bigger pond the next time and slowly leap frog my way up while learning a practicing to make the best product I can.
So that is how the process works. If you previously failed to simulate how I (or potentially you) could write a bestselling book, now you know. The result, I am sure, is that my impressiveness just dropped. I'm okay with that.
I'd much rather help to eliminate the failed simulation, which is an illusion, than walk around pretending to be more impressive than I am.
Some proof before I leave!