Setting up as a self-published author on Amazon (Part 3)

Intro and disclaimer: I am a UK-based writer. I signed up to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service during September 2012 with an aim to publish a selection of stories on Kindle and Kindle apps. These posts are aimed to describe the process I went through and shouldn’t be considered professional advice. This is the internet after all. Still, I hope you find it of use. Okay, let’s get stuck in.

Part 3 – Publishing an eBook via Amazon KDP

In part 2 I discussed how register for Amazon’s KDP service. Now I’ll go through the process of publishing an eBook.

For this recipe you should ideally have two ingredients: a finished and correctly formatted piece of work of which you are proud as punch, and a reasonably high-def cover image to stick on the front. (You can let Amazon apply a generic cover if you do not have one of your own. Your astonishing masterwork, however, will have to come from you.) (Unless you are Alexandre Dumas.)

By “correctly formatted” I mean that your book should conform to certain standards. eBook readers work best with consistent, well-formatted text because it is the reader that dictates the layout, not the author. Mark Z. Danielewski’s “House of Leaves” just won’t work here, unfortunately. In short: 1) you’ll need Microsoft Word or OpenOffice to create the text of your book; 2) you shouldn’t use umpteen spaces to “tab in” the start of paragraphs and dialogue, and 3) similarly you shouldn’t use umpteen carriage returns to demarcate a new chapter.

If you haven’t done so already I would download and read Smashwords’ Style Guide, because a book that conforms to the rules laid out there should also work pretty well on a Kindle. (And if not you’ll be 90% of the way there.) Amazon’s own guide is good (and shorter) if you only plan on releasing stuff on Kindle.

Leave a comment if you’d like a walkthrough of how I created my template in Microsoft Word.

Once you have your book correctly formatted you will need to save it as a Filtered Web Page. If your book contains images you will have to perform an additional step in creating a ZIP folder that contains both the webpage copy of your book and the image files. (If that sounds like gobbledegook see Amazon’s guide for more details.)

You are now ready to rock n’ roll. Go to the Bookshelf in your KDP dashboard and hit the Add New Title button. The process for publishing an eBook is spread over two pages, where you will be asked to complete assorted information about your book and how much you would like to charge.

Page 1: Section 1: You will be asked to provide all the pertinent information about your book: Title, Edition (used if you update your book with new content), blurb, book contributors (this is where you input the name of the author(s) – pseudonyms are allowed), language, publication date (if applicable), publisher (ditto) and ISBN (ditto). (Note: You don’t need an ISBN as Amazon will allocate an ASIN to your eBook.)

Page 1: Section 2: Here you declare that you own your book, or that the work is in the public domain.

Page 1: Section 3: Here you can define up to two predefined categories (e.g. Horror and Thriller) and seven free-text keywords that can help readers search for your book.

Page 1: Section 4: This is where you will upload your book cover. Images need to be big: at least 1000 pixels down the longest side and 1.6 times longer than they are wide. My cover for “The Buskers’ Union“, for example, was 1000 pixels wide by 1600 tall, which seemed to work well. Amazon recommends creating a cover that is 2500 pixels tall (1560 wide) for better quality. If you do not have a cover image then Amazon will create one for you. (You can always update your book with a different cover image later.)

Page 1: Section 5: This is where you can upload your book to Amazon and, combined with your cover image, have it all converted it into a single MOBI file. It is here where you can dictate any DRM options. (Sorry, I haven’t explored this area as I’m not a fan of DRM.)

Page 1: Section 6: The final section of this page is by far the coolest. Here, once Amazon has completed the conversion process, you can download a copy of your eBook! While the MOBI file you download may not be recognised by your computer, Amazon do provide links to download a Kindle simulator for both Windows and Mac. The simulator is very good as you can see how your eBook will appear not only on all generations of the Kindle but also the apps for iPad and iPhone. An online preview of your eBook is also provided in this section if you’d rather not download software.

Hitting the Save and Continue button will move onto the next, much shorter page. Alternatively you can save a draft if you’d like to spend time checking the eBook for formatting errors prior to publishing. (A wise move.)

Page 2: Section 7 – This is where you declare the geographic rights you possess for your work. You can select Worldwide rights (default) or individually select territories.

Page 2: Section 8 – Here you define the prices for your eBook. Anything $2.99 or over will grant you 70% royalties, which is very nice. Anything below that, down to $0.99, will attract 35% royalties instead. You can define individual prices for each Amazon Marketplace (US, UK, Germany, France etc) or have them all linked to the dollar price to save a lot of farting about.

Page 2: Section 9 – This is a simple tick box that lets you opt in your eBook for Kindle Book Lending.

Hitting Save and Publish on this page will start the publishing process and return you to your bookshelf. Your eBook should be listed as “In Review”, which means that it is working its way through Amazon’s assorted sausage machines. It says you should expect your eBook to appear between 24 and 48 hours, though in my experience “The Buskers’ Union” was “Live” in 8.

Now all you need to do is wait for the eBook to appear on Amazon, crack open the Vino Collapso and pat yourself on the back. You’re an author now! Congratulations!

Coming next in part 4: About Amazon’s Author Central.

Final note: If you see anything that is incorrect in any of these pages please let me know. It’s not my intention to misinform!

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