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How to Self-Publish on Kindle

How to self-publish your book for Amazon’s Kindle. Go through the process step-by-step. Publishing your novel or how-to book for the Kindle is a lot easier than you might think. If you are able to create a simple cover and Word document, then you can get started for free. Find out how…

Do you have a book that hasn’t found a home with that special publisher and that you think would be perfect to self-publish on Amazon’s Kindle? I have several books that the rights are reverting back to me after being with traditional publishers for a number of years. I’ve wondered what to do with these books. They are fiction and are still current, but many of the small presses do not want to re-publish a book that has already been in print in the past.

I decided to dust off one of my favorites this week, The Lipstick Diaries, and publish it on Kindle. When I started, I had no clue what I was doing. Although I’ve owned e-readers in the past, I do not even own a Kindle. However, you don’t need a Kindle to read these Kindle-formatted books online. Amazon provides software that will let you read them on your computer.

First, Edit. Then, Edit Some More

edit

Ask a trusted friend to edit your work.

I was fortunate to have an edited version of the book to work from. While I’m certain that it still is not perfect, as I’ve yet to come across a published book-length work that doesn’t have at least one small error, it is a pretty clean copy that I feel confident putting my name behind.

Even though it was an edited copy, I went through it one more time. If I hadn’t already had an edited copy, I would have called in some favors from those who I know are good at grammar and spelling. I would also have a couple of friends who are particularly good with plot and characterization go over the book and offer suggestions.

Formatting Tips

After hours of research, my knowledge of HTML coding kicked in and I realized I didn’t need to go through and do a ton of coding to get my manuscript in the right format so it would look good on Kindle. In fact, I could easily edit what I already has in MS Word (my writing software of choice) and convert into HTML filtered. Here are a few things to keep in mind on the formatting:

  • Headers and footers don’t transfer properly, so leave them out.
  • Page numbers don’t work well with Kindle.
  • Avoid strange fonts and characters.
  • Keep it simple. Use bold, italics, font sizes and simple graphics.

How to Set Up Your Kindle Book in Word

  1. Cover – You can include an image of your book cover on the first page, if you’d like. Many publishers use grayscale to make sure it converts properly and to keep the file size smaller.
  2. Title Page – This simply lists the title and author name. Center it on the page and click on “Insert”/”Page Break”.
  3. You will want to insert the page break at the end of every section and at the end of chapters to keep things from running together and have a final copy that is neat and looks good on the Kindle.
  4. Copyright Page – This lists who owns the copyright (typically you), the year and that all rights are reserved. You can also list contact information if you’d like. Just be careful about what you put out to the general public.
  5. Dedications/Acknowledgements Page – This is where you thank everyone that helped you or inspired you in some way.
  6. Table of Contents, Preface, Introduction, etc.
  7. Body of the book – Remember to put a page break at the end of each chapter.
  8. About the Author – At the end of the book, you’ll want to list information about yourself and perhaps include a photo.
  9. Appendixes and Index, if desired.

Once you have the book set up the way you’d like, save as Web Page, filtered.

Create an Eye-Catching Cover

the-lipstick-diaries-soardIt took me some time to find an image I wanted to use. My original cover for this book was from some pictures I took and had the rights to. I thought about using that image again, but ultimately decided I wanted the Kindle version to stand out from the original version published a few years back. I created a new cover that I actually quite love. It is posted to the left. ——>

Some things I learned while playing around with this cover:

  • Keep the lettering as large as you can or it will be difficult to see on the thumbnail.
  • Keep some blank space at the bottom right as a little Kindle emblem will go there automatically from Amazon and cover your name. Anyone good with graphic arts can create a cover for you.
  • Make sure the size is at least 500 x 800 pixels. My original cover was smaller and Amazon wouldn’t let me upload it.
  • If you are not techie at all, find an image you love and use Kindle’s cover creator.

Set Up Your Amazon Independent Publishing Account

Before you upload a title, you’ll need a publisher account through Amazon. Don’t worry, there is no charge to get started.

  • Go to Amazon.com and scroll to the bottom of the page.
  • Click on the link that says “Independently Publish With Us.”
  • When that page loads, click on the link that says “Kindle Books/Get Started.” You will also see info for CreateSpace. This is an excellent option to offer a print version of your book, but for now, stick with Kindle. You can always add paper later on if the book is popular.
  • Be certain you have a bank account or method of payment on file. You can also choose to be paid with a check, but you will have to accrue $100 before you’re paid instead of only $10 at a time.
  • Make sure all other information is on file, from your social security number to your address. Incorrect info can delay your payments.

Once all this information is in place and confirmed, you will be taken to a page where you can begin the publishing process.

Upload and Publish Your First Book

Once you have your payment information and personal account info in place, when you click on that Kindle/Get Started link, you will be taken to the main page of your publishing account. Click on the yellow button (see it to the left) that says “Add New Title. Here you will add details about your book, such as contributors, title, how much you want to sell the book for, upload the book and the cover and decide whether or not to enroll in KDP Select. I am still experimenting with KDP Select to see if it is worthwhile for my books. If you have experience with it, feel free to comment below. I will come back and update with a hub when I have more info on this topic. Essentially, KDP is like a lending library where you get a share of the profits when your book is read. However, I chose no on this book because it limited where else I could publish it and a few other things for 90 days.

Once you click the button to publish your book, it can take a few hours before it is available. Mine was ready by the next morning and I could start announcing it.

Final Thoughts on Pricing

If you are a New York Times best-selling author with a huge fan base and a publicity army, then you can probably charge a little more for your book. Of course, if you were a NYT best-selling author, you probably wouldn’t be reading this hub. My advice is to start off small and see what the response is to your book. I want to reach more readers and increase my fan base, so I set my initial price at .99. I also chose the 35% royalty plan, because it costs me nothing upfront. While the 70% plan sounds good, I didn’t completely understand the information about charges for megabytes, so I wanted to try that out with a shorter non-fiction book rather than a longer fiction novel. Choose the plan that is best for you and the price you think the book will sell for.

Resources

Amazon offers guides and resources on the publisher’s portion of their site. These tips are useful for resolution of book covers, sizing issues, formatting problems you might encounter and many other topics. If you still do not understand something, please feel free to post a comment in the section below and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

About

Lori Soard has worked online designing websites, writing, editing and promoting clients since 1997. Through Promo Warriors, she's consulted with over 100 clients to help them figure out what online presence works best for them. In addition to helping people learn how to start their own businesses, she writes feel-good books about the way love and the world should be.