A Beginner’s (Idiot’s) Guide to Publishing Kindle Books on Amazon

Shirley Ford – January 26th 2013

You have written your novel, you have joined the ranks of authors and now it is time to publish on Amazon. Easy? Well it is for subsequent publications. But for your first time, it can be quite daunting. You are definitely out of your comfort zone.

If you haven’t already got an Amazon account, then sign up. This is the only way you will be able to access your book’s details. Then on the front page of Amazon, scroll right down to the bottom of the page and find ‘self publish with us’ click on that and away you go.

BEFORE you go any further, make sure you have your book correctly formatted, i.e. right and left justified. Single spacing. No extra spacing between paragraphs. Paragraph indent set at 1.27cm. Page breaks at end of chapters. If you don’t do these, the pages will be all over the place once it is loaded onto a Kindle! Also remove any headers, footers and page numbers.

Have some idea in your head how much you want to charge for your book. When you get to the pricing and royalties section, there are guidelines, but it is a good idea to begin with a low asking price. You will not make so much money, but on the other hand, no-one has heard of you, so will not be inclined to pay a lot.

The other information to have to hand (this is what caught me out!) is your IBAN – your International Bank Account Number, and your BIC – International Bank Number. Not ever needing to supply international numbers before, I had no idea where to find these numbers. I googled IBAN & BIC and discovered that both numbers could be found on my bank statements. Obvious when you know isn’t it?

Lastly, make sure you have written a synopsis.

Once you have all this information, you are ready to go.

Once in Kindle Direct Publishing, you will be asked to enter the title of your book on your bookshelf. Then you move on to your book’s details and whether it is part of a series. Next paste and copy your book’s synopsis. Make it as exciting as you can. You will be asked to select which language you are publishing in.

The next section is about verifying your rights as the author of the book. You have two choices, a) This is a public domain work, or b) This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights. You need to select b) otherwise, anybody can use parts of your book.

Underneath you will see a section asking for contributors – this is you, unless someone else has co-written the book or supplied photos. (I know this has caught out a few people.)

The next section covers which customers you wish to target with your book. You are allowed to add up to seven categories, i.e. for a romantic novel, it could be romance, love, intrigue etc.

Now the exciting bit! – Upload your book cover. The optimal size should be at least 1000 pixels by 1600 pixels and saved as a JPEG image. Next, upload your book details, which should be in word.doc (not docx) format. Amazon will convert your files. It may take a minute or so.

Next section is Digital Restrictions, you are offered a choice of either enabling or do not enable. You need to click Enable digital rights management, so your book does not get pirated.

At this stage, you can preview your book, to see how it will look on a Kindle. If you discover any problems, go back to your original document and correct, then upload again. Once you are happy, click ‘Save and Continue’ and move on to the Mark Your Territories section. Here, as you own the rights, click on Worldwide Rights – all territories.

Next section is Royalties and Pricing. You have two choices 35% and 70%. Whichever you select changes what you can charge for your book. At 35% you can charge as little as £0.77 or $0.99 and for 70% it is £1.49 and $1.99. From what I have read about pricing, alternate between the two lowest prices. i.e. try it at £1.49 before running a free promo, and at other times sell it at £0.77. If you wish to choose how much you charge in pounds, do not tick the box, which says it will be based on US price. For the 10 remaining countries, it is easier to tick the boxes and allow the price to be based on US dollars.

After Section 9 there are two boxes left to tick. One is to allow lending. If you tick this box you will receive income if someone borrows your book.

The most important box of all to tick is the last one which says ‘By clicking Save and Publish below you confirm etc etc. Tick this box otherwise your book won’t get published, it will sit in ‘Draft’ and you will wonder what you have done wrong. Which a couple of people I know have done.

That’s it – Publish Your Book! Within 12 – 48 hours, you will see your book on Amazon.

The other section to check on is KDP Select – If you sign up for this, you will agreeing to not sell your books anywhere else for 90 days. This is a rolling contract, one in which the responsibility is yours if you wish to opt out. Amazon will not remind you! During this 90 day period you can offer your book for free for a total of 5 days. Recommended again to new authors who need to get their book ‘out there’. You don’t make any money. But hopefully hundreds, sometimes thousands will download and read your book. Don’t pick 5 consecutive days, the ideal suggested is 1×2 days and 1×3 days with a few weeks in between. Keep it random otherwise, customers may pick up on when your book will be free.

At any stage, after publishing, you can go back and change things. All you need to do is sign in to your account. You will see an ‘Actions’ button above your book title. Click on the box at the side of your title, then the drop down arrow on ‘Actions’ and it comes up with a choice of sections for you to go to. Make your alterations, i.e. errors found in story, changing pricing or choosing KDP select free days. Your book will not be offered for sale during this period, but you will receive an email from Amazon as soon as it is back up and for sale again.

This part couldn’t be easier and quite necessary for someone like me, with the amount of punctuation errors I found in my first book. All the information you read on independent publishing suggests you pay for your book to be edited, but that becomes expensive and if you don’t sell many books, it can be years before you recoup your costs. It is a difficult one. For my last book, I relied on 3 different people to proofread it, each one spotting different errors. I found this to be very helpful.

For any subsequent books, all the hard work has been done. All you have to do is add the new title, upload your new cover, synopsis and story.

The most difficult part starts now. And it really is difficult. Letting people know you have a book published. I have taken at least the last six months seeking out ways of promoting both my books. I tweet, I sign up to people’s blogs. I have started a blog of my own. I have a website. I make contacts wherever I can; I review other writer’s work. Self-promotion does not sit easily with me. It is something I have never done, but I am gradually getting there. It takes a lot of time and energy, but I hope in the end it will be worth it.


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