How to publish your book on Kindle

Wondering how to publish your book on Kindle? Wonder no more, because in this post I’ll be breaking it down for you in easy steps.

So, you’ve finally finished writing and editing your novel. Congratulations! Time to pop the bubbles and celebrate what many aspiring authors don’t ever even manage to do. But if you think the hard parts over, think again. You now have to make the all-important decision as to whether you’re going to go the traditional publishing route or self-publish.

I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of both options in future posts, but right now I’m going to focus on those considering going the DIY route and self-publishing. I’m of course talking about how to publish your book on Kindle. Not sure where to begin? Don’t panic, here’s a handy guide to the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) experience.

1. Preparing your book

When wondering how to publish your book on Kindle, it’s vital you prepare your book so you can easily upload it to the Kindle store.

Format your book for Kindle

Your manuscript is probably currently saved as a Word document, which is good news since it’s one of the format’s KDP supports. So all you have to do is upload it, right? Wrong!

Although you can technically upload as is, I highly recommend reformatting for the best possible reading experience. This can be a tedious task, so make yourself a cup of tea and get comfortable.

If your book isn’t already in Word (.doc or .docx) format, I suggest converting it because Word is the best consumer-level tool for easy formatting. If you don’t have access to Word, Google Docs is your next best bet.

I’d also recommend you format your book for Kindle using Word’s default styles. Don’t worry about the fonts Word uses, as Kindle will ignore these anyway and apply its own typeface.

Clean up your word document

To start, select all the text in your document (Ctrl+A) and on the Home tab, in the Style group, click Normal. Now all of your text should be the same size and colour, but bold and italicised text should remain intact.

Did you manually indent your paragraphs by pressing tab? If so, you’re going to have to go through and delete all the tabs before continuing. Kindle will automatically indent each paragraph itself.

Recent versions of Word will show paragraphs by a line space, so make sure there are no indents and a single line space between each paragraph. Again, Kindle will reformat this to indented paragraphs. If there is no line space between two paragraphs, place your cursor before the first word of the second paragraph, click backspace and then return – this should fix the problem. If there’s a double space, delete it.

Consider hierarchy

Before the next step of how to publish your book on Kindle, think about how many levels of headings you have. It’s important to keep the hierarchy of your headings consistent, so make a note before completing this step.

Now go through and update all the headings and subheadings starting at Heading 2 for the chapter titles (even if your chapter titles are just ‘Chapter 1’ or ‘I’). While you’re going through, insert a page break directly after the paragraph before each chapter heading. To insert a page break in Word, click ‘Insert’ at the top menu bar and select ‘Page Break’.

If you have subheadings within your chapters, highlight these and click Heading 3 and so on. Word should automatically add additional heading styles, so you shouldn’t run out. But for the average novel, 3 heading styles should be enough.

Front matter and back matter

If you haven’t already, insert a title page at the beginning of your book. The Title of your book will be Heading 1, and keep the author name Normal. Directly after, insert a page break and centre the text.

Next up on how to publish your book on Kindle, you should have your copyright page. Keep all the text on this page in your usual style and centre it. Insert a page break after this. You may also want to have a dedication page. Keep this text standard, centred, and again, insert a page break directly after the dedication.

Similarly prepare the final pages of your book, known as back matter, before saving the completed document in a safe place ready to be uploaded to the KDP website.

And you’re done! Well, with formatting your book anyway. Next, we’ll need to prepare your Kindle ebook’s front cover.

2. Kindle front cover design

If you’ve had a cover designed already, great! Just make sure you have it in JPEG format 2820 by 4500 pixels, and you’re good to go.

If you haven’t got your front cover yet, I recommend getting one designed professionally. This is the first impression potential customers will get, so make sure it’s a positive one. It doesn’t take a design critic to know a bad design when they see one, and this will make the viewer assume the content is equally bad, if not worse. Graphic designers know how to make your book stand out in a good way and compete with all the other thousands of titles listed on Amazon.

Once you’ve found a graphic designer, request your cover in JPEG format 2820 by 4500 pixels. Kindle also supports tiff files, but JPEG will be easier for you to sign off without special software to preview it. It will also be suitable for sharing on your social media. Once you’re happy with it, save it in the same folder as your book’s .docx document.

3. Create an Amazon KDP Account

To publish on Kindle, you’ll need to set up an Amazon KDP account. I suggest signing up using your real name rather than an author ‘nom de plume’ you may have, as this will keep your royalties easily accessible via a personal bank account under your name.

Once you’ve set up your account, log in, and you’ll see your KDP Bookshelf. It will be empty at this point, but once you’ve got your titles up and running, you will see them all here.

4. Upload your book to Amazon KDP

Once you’re logged into your KDP account, click “publish a book” and you’ll be taken to the setup wizard. Here you’ll be able to add the information you see when viewing your book on the Amazon website or in the Kindle app.

Complete the form

The fields are self-explanatory, so this shouldn’t take you long.

In the ‘Book Name’, give the title of your book and nothing else. If it’s part of a series, fill in the field below.

Here’s a template if you need help writing your book’s description:

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist’s quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist’s goal].

Note that when you add a contributor to the book, their name will be displayed on the Amazon front end. So you’ll probably want to keep it to just the author and refrain from crediting editors, photographers, illustrators and anybody else who may have helped make the book a reality. Keep that for the back matter of your book.

You can leave the ISBN field blank. To self-publish your book on Kindle, an ISBN isn’t necessary, nor do I recommend it.

Targeting your Kindle book’s customers

You’ll be able to choose in which two Amazon categories your book will appear, as well as seven keywords to describe it. This section is vital if you want your book to be found in the right places of Amazon, so think hard and don’t leave anything blank.

Upload your book and its cover

Once you’ve populated the form with the title of your book, author name and a short description, you’re ready to upload the Word document we prepared earlier.

You’ll be required to tick a box to verify your publishing rights. If you wrote the book, then tick away. But be aware that if you have posted an excerpt from your book anywhere online, you may receive an email from Amazon asking you to confirm again that you own the copyright.

It’s also worth knowing that if you spot a typo or grammatical mistake in your Kindle book and want to correct it, you can upload the amended word document at any time and within 24 hours it should be live. In that time, the existing ebook will still be available to download.

Now you can upload your cover. Providing you have the cover in JPEG format, this step should be a breeze.

Once this page is complete, click next and you will be taken to a page where you can target your customers.

5. Name your Price

Next up you’ll be able to decide on the price of your ebook on each Amazon store. Do some research into how much your book should cost based on length and the competition in that category.

If you price your book between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon will reward you 70% royalty for each sale. There are other conditions, but that’s the main one to take into consideration. If you sell your book for under $2.99 (or over $9.99) however, you will only get 35% royalty.

Once you’ve decided, enter that price and continue. You should know that Amazon may change the price slightly depending on promotions and general competition, but it should not change by more than a few cents.

All done

So, there we have it. You now know how to publish your book on Kindle. If you’ve followed the steps above, your book should now be published on Kindle, and it should be live within 24 hours, excluding weekends. Now get promoting and hopefully you’ll see those sales pour in!

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