A lot of people ask me how to publish ebooks on Amazon. Why ask me? There are plenty of sites that explain how. Some do a fantastic job explaining. Some do a good job. Some do a terrible job. Some do worse than terrible jobs. Some are written in Klingon.
I am no expert, but I have published all my books on my own. So here’s my advice. For what it’s worth. I’ll do it in short sentences. Terse sentences. And I mean terse in an extremely polite way (i.e., Hemingwayesque, clipped, short, brief, succinct). I assume you are using Microsoft Word. If not, look elsewhere for your formatting help. Follow my advice at your own risk.
- Write a good book. Please don’t write a bad book. There are way too many bad books in this world.
- Finish your first draft.
- Celebrate! Quickly return to reality. Your hard work has just begun.
- Put your book away in a drawer. The word ‘drawer’ is a metaphor for a folder on your hard drive. The word ‘drawer’ can also mean a drawer in a desk or a cupboard. I have heard that the word ‘drawer’ can also mean your underwear if you are British. The Americans defeated the British in 1776 in order to not have to speak like that.
- Ignore your book for a minimum of one month.
- Go back and read your book. If you are human you will find problems. Don’t be shocked by how many problems you find.
- Edit your book. Fix things.
- Repeat Steps 4-7 several times. Several times means at least 5 or 20 times.
- Hire a professional copy editor to edit your book. Your mom is not your editor. Your sister is not your editor. Hire someone mean. Agree to a contract. 50% money up front and 50% on completion is normal. You get what you pay for.
- Get your book back from the editor. It should be done in Track Changes. It should hopefully be covered in literal or metaphorical red ink. Read through carefully and humbly. Make sure you understand all the corrections. Accept the Track Changes that you agree with. If you hired a real editor then you will accept most, of not all.
- Finish paying your editor.
- Find 6 to 10 very mean people who like reading. And by reading I do not mean the TV Guide or magazines or text messages. If you are a masochist or into statistics find more than 6 to 10. Do not rely on your spouse to critique your book. Unless your spouse is very very mean. If your spouse is very very mean, be careful. Hide the steak knives.
- Beg the 6 to 10 mean people to read your book. Beg them to viciously critique what they don’t like in your book. Beg them to metaphorically stomp on your book.
- Wait anxiously.
- You might want to start work on your Awesome Cover around this time. See Your Awesome Cover section below.
- Check your email.
- Start writing another book. See Step 1.
- Check your email and find 6 to 10 emails from the mean people in Step 8. Experience a jolt of adrenaline.
- Read the emails. Cringe. Weep, perhaps. Wail, but do not gnash your teeth. This will wear down your enamel. Swallow your pride. If you did gnash your teeth you will also swallow tiny bits of enamel.
- Look for common threads in the critiques. Weigh them carefully. Try to weigh them as a reader. Try to forget you are the author. Accept the critiques if they improve your story. Be humble. You are not Tolstoy or Dickens or Snooki. Snooki will sell more books than you. Accept the fact that life is not fair. What kind of name is Snooki anyway? Reject any crazy critiques such as Why Isn’t This Book Written in Klingon or My Cat Hates Your Plot. However, if one of the crazy critiques is I Am Hiding In Your Closet Right Now, get out of your house immediately and call 911.
- Incorporate the critiques that improve your story.
- Hire the copy editor again if Step 21 resulted in significant changes. Tell copy editor where the main changes are to save money.
- Review new changes.
- Accept that your book will never be perfect.
- Take a deep breath.
- It’s time to format your book for Kindle.
- Open your book file in Microsoft Word.
- Put your title on the first page. Put your name below the title. Do a hard return. Put a page break after it.
- Put your copyright text on the next page. Go look at other books for copyright inspiration. Do a hard return. Put a page break after it.
- Put list of your other books on the next page. Do a hard return. Put a page break after it.
- Put your title again on the next page. Do a hard return. Put a page break after it.
- Do NOT put page numbers in your book. Do NOT put headers or footers in your book. Avoid using more than two hard returns in a row. Trust me. The Kindle does not like any of this stuff.
- Put a page break after the end of each chapter.
- Save your book file.
- Hydrate regularly. Proper hydration means water. Proper hydration does not mean alcohol, soda, or coffee.
- Select your entire manuscript. This means choose Edit. Then choose Select All.
- Choose Format. Choose Paragraph.
- Select LEFT in the Alignment box.
- Select BODY TEXT in the Outline Level box.
- Select 0” in the Left box.
- Select 0” in the Right box.
- Select 0pt in the Before box.
- Select 0pt in the After box.
- Select FIRST LINE in the Special box.
- Select 0.3” in the By box.
- Select SINGLE in the Line Space box.
- Leave the At box empty.
- Leave the Don’t Add Space Yadda Yadda box empty.
- Click OK.
- Go back and center text that needs centering. This means title, your name, and book list in Steps 28-31.
- Add Author Note and Author Bio if you like at the end of your book. Read Louis L’Amour’s if you are confused. Be envious of his Author Bio.
- Save your file.
- What’s that? Yes, you are correct. I have said nothing about a Table of Contents. I don’t like them in ebooks. They look silly.
- You are halfway there. Wherever there is.
- Save your file as an html file.
- Save it where you can find it. Give it a nice name. Like Bob. Or YourBookTitle_Kindle.
- Zip your brand-new html file PLUS the folder that appeared when you saved your original document as the html file. Boy. That was a long sentence. Give the zip file a nice name. Like Montezuma. Etc.
- Is your cover image done? See Your Awesome Cover section below.
- If so, you are ready to publish.
- If not, you are not. See Your Awesome Cover Section below.
- If you have cold feet, put on wool socks.
- Go to https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin
- Register. If you buy stuff on Amazon, you can use that account.
- Are you now registered and signed in?
- Make sure your Account is all filled out. You will have to enter your Social Security number. Don’t panic. You must choose either bank transfer or paper check for your payments. This is assuming your book sells. Bank transfer is cool. And faster.
- Click on Bookshelf. This is found at the top left side of your screen.
- Click on Add New Title.
- Type in the name of your book in box labeled BOOK NAME.
- Check little square box below if your book is part of a series. If not, ignore and skip to Description.
- Enter series title if part of series.
- Enter volume number if part of series.
- Type in nifty description in Description box. Read lots of other book descriptions before doing this. Read good ones. Ones that sell crazy numbers. Think carefully. Use active verbs. Vigorous language. If your book is a fantasy, do not put lots of weird names in the description. Weird names make people’s eyes glaze.
- Click Add Contributors and add your name as author.
- Select language that book is written in. Klingon is not an option. If you wrote your book in Klingon, please don’t blow me up with photon torpedoes.
- Ignore publication date. Amazon will do it for you.
- Verify your publishing rights. Click the second circle. If you are publishing public domain work, I am not impressed. Leave that stuff to the ghosts.
- Time to add Categories. Think carefully. This is one way people find your book. Be honest. If you write serious Fantasy, for example, do not choose Humor like certain unnamed people have done, such as George R. R. Martin. Boy. That was another long sentence. You get three categories.
- Add seven keywords. Keywords help readers search for books. If your book is about snails, use snails as a keyword. If is about Irish snails, use Ireland also. Does that make sense? If your book is about Irish snails who steal cheese from banks while listening to Rod Stewart and crank-calling the Queen of England’s corgis, then your keywords could be: snails, Ireland, cheese, bank robbery, Rod Stewart, corgis, Queen of England. That was another long sentence. If that is your plot then you have issues.
- Upload your awesome book cover.
- Select digital rights management. I advise selecting Do Not Enable Digital Rights Management. That allows a buyer to put your file on any device he wants. He can also give it away. Who cares? It’s good publicity. You need publicity. Trust me.
- Upload your book file.
- Open the previewer and make sure your book looks good. Take the time to click through every page. Every page. You’ve come this far. Don’t rush.
- If something is wrong with the book in the previewer, fix it. This might mean returning to your original document. This might mean having to resave your html file and rezipping. Always remember to rezip. You don’t want some stranger telling you, hey, rezip. Take your time. Don’t rush.
- When you are happy with the previewer, click Save and Continue. Or Save as a Draft. You can always come back later.
- Time to feast your eyes on the Money page. Money! The love of money is the root of all evil.
- Choose Royalty Option. Your book must be at least $2.99 to select 70%. You get 30% for anything less than $2.99. What is your book worth? Do you want to sell one gold-plated book for $50,000 or 50,000 books for $2.99?
- Put in a price for Amazon.com.
- Put in a price for the rest of the countries. I would advise setting them fixed to the US price. That means you click the little boxes next to all of the non-US countries.
- Click the little square box at bottom confirming rights.
- Click Save and Publish or Save for Later.
- You’re done.
- Don’t panic. Always pack a towel.
- You can always go back and change things. By change things, I do not mean take back what you said to the little freckle-faced girl in third grade. By change things, I mean, you can fix your book file or anything else. Actually, maybe you can track down that little girl and apologize. It’s never too late.
- If you are still confused or something did not work out, email me.
- What? I didn’t say about KDP Select? Fine. KDP Select is an Amazon program. It runs in blocks of 90 days. It has pros and cons. Pros: if you join you can schedule your book to go free for any consecutive or non-consecutive five days during each 90 day period. Also, people who belong to Amazon Prime can borrow your book for a fee. The fee is not the same every month. Usually it is around 2 dollars. Cons: you may not sell your book on any other site except for Amazon while enrolled in KDP Select. Jeff Bezos will have the legal right to name your first child.
YOUR AWESOME COVER OF AWESOMENESS
- Every book has a cover. Every rose has a thorn. Where is Axl Rose these days? Is he still wearing his bandanna?
- Your book needs a cover.
- Hire a professional cover designer. You are not a professional cover designer. You might find someone good and cheap on a site like DeviantArt.com. Or you might not. You can find covers for as cheap as 25 bucks or on up to around 1500 bucks for real hotshots. There is good stuff in between. Hunt around. You get what you pay for. Good covers and good blurbs sell books.
- Make sure your contract covers all necessary rights for you to use the cover for ebook, print, promotion, web, etc. For payment, 50% up front and 50% on satisfactory completion is a standard contract. Do NOT agree to 100% up front.
- If you graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, ignore the previous steps and hire yourself.
- Covers need to look good small. This is because Amazon will display them sometimes as thumbnails. Look at your own thumbnails. They are small, aren’t they? Unless you are a giant. If you are a giant I hope you are a non-violent vegetarian giant.
- Covers also need to look good big. This is because it will show up big on your main Amazon selling page.
- Quite a conundrum, eh?
- Make darn sure your title is legible in the thumbnail size. Go to any Amazon book page and look at the horizontal row of Also Bought covers. Or go to any of the Bestseller List pages and look at the covers. Those are thumbnail sizes.
- Your final cover file should be a jpg or a tiff.
- Your final cover file size should be 2500 pixels tall and 1562 pixels wide. That is the maximum. Go for the maximum. It might be more expensive if you have to purchase higher rez stock images. It’s worth it. It will be more usable and scalable.
- Your final cover file should be RGB. Not CMYK. However, you will need a CMYK version for your paperback, but that is another topic.
6 thoughts on “Christopher’s Succint Explanation of How to Publish on Amazon KDP”
4. Putting the book into a drawer always refers to rigid box-like things, not soft cloth underclothing. That would be drawerS. They always come in pairs. But we’ll let you off the hook for not knowing that on account of the 1776 thing.
35. I don’t understand what pouring water on your manuscript is supposed to accomplish.
36.-49. That all translates to ‘left align, first line 0.3″ indent, single-space”, correct? So, no right-margin justification? Does Kindle do that automatically?
53. Is the lack of table of content just your personal taste, or is that some kind of Amazon rule?
57. Is the zipping mandatory? If so, I guess I’ll have to learn how to do it (the digital kind; I already know about the regular).
79. I want to read the book about the cheese-stealing Irish corgi snails.
81. I didn’t know you could deselect DRM. That’s great.
86. The love of money is *a* root of *many kinds of* evil.
109. You rock. I’m sure one could find all that info on the Amazon page, but it’s much more fun to read from a frood who knows where his towel is. Thank you.
The TOC is totally a personal taste thing. All those pages of vertical numbers just look kinda silly to me.
Yeah, the zip thing is mandatory if you’re uploading an html file. The conversion is way cleaner if you do html versus just uploading a Word doc.
Ah, good point about the drawer vs the drawers. That changes everything.
I don’t know much (actually, I don’t know anything) about html; I guess I’ll have to learn.
You didn’t say about the right-justification – do you never do that?
Oh, good point. Seems to be neither a right or wrong thing. Some big books use it, some don’t.
I would have answered the request in exactly the same manner. Great minds think alike.
We are always happy to oblige.