Are you like me? I resisted self-publishing for years. I thought self-publishing was like giving up. I thought it wouldn’t mean that I had “made it” or become “successful.” And honestly, I was just too afraid to try because I didn’t know how! I thought it would be like website design, which I know (from my blogging experience) kills my happiness and creativity.
When I did get brave enough to start Googling “How to self-publish,” I got completely overwhelmed with my search results and didn’t go any further. When I Googled again, more seriously than before, I was underwhelmed with the complete lack of truly helpful information out there. I thought, “Writers are the ones doing this, so why is no one writing anything helpful?”
So I decided to write some posts of my own to help other people like me who just want to get their book out there! There are a ton of ways to self-publish, but Amazon seemed the most straight-forward and farthest reaching without hiring a marketing team. Here it is, fellow writers! Here’s how to self-publish with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for both Kindle and paperback!
1. Go to KDP.amazon.com and set up your account.
Just sign in with your existing Amazon.com information.
2. Click on +Paperback.
When you sign in, you’ll be taken to your “Bookshelf” Page, where you can click on +Kindle or +Paperback. We’ll do paperback first (because we all want to feel that book in our hands ASAP!).
3. Fill in your book’s details.
This is where it starts getting real! If you don’t know all the answers yet, don’t worry! You can always save your progress and come back to it later. Not sure what Amazon is asking for? Click on the blue words beside each section to find out more. The information you will need is:
- Language in which the book is written
- Book title and subtitle, if applicable
- Series (mine is the “Lost and Found” series)
- Edition number (this will be “1” unless you have published this work elsewhere)
- Author (that’s you!) and Contributors (if you are co-writing with others)
- Description (I use the same text that will be on the back cover of my book)
- Publishing rights (is this your own work or is it in the public domain?)
- Keywords (use words that are not in your title or description because those words will already be considered keywords for searches; the more keywords you have, the more your book will pop up when people search these terms)
- Categories (choose two; this will be where your book is located on Amazon’s “shelves”)
- Adult content (does your book includes scenes that are not suitable for readers under the age of 18?)
Don’t forget to click “Save and Continue” at the bottom of the page!
Below are examples from my book, Friendship Lost and Found.
4. Fill in your book’s content.
This is the section where your book will become a reality! You’ll get your FREE ISBN from Amazon, choose your book’s size, create a cover, and, of course, upload your book for printing!
Simply click on “Assign me a free KDP ISBN. My ISBN for this book is below!
II. Publication Date
This is the date your book was first published. It cannot be in the future, and it cannot be changed after you click “Publish” at the end of the process. I always choose the current date.
III. Print Options
This is the size, look, paper options, etc. for your book. Don’t be afraid to pull out your ruler to get an idea of the physical sizes. Feel free to measure your favorite books to see what size they are!
IV. Upload Your Manuscript
Simply upload your document! I write my books in Scrivener, which easily converts to PDF, Word, ePub, Mobi, etc. My experience with the KDP process is that Word documents upload best. This step can take several minutes, so feel free to do something else while you wait. I folded a mountain of laundry while I waited for my manuscript to upload.
PRO TIP: Does your manuscript include a title page, copyright page, dedication, and blank page to make sure your book looks like a real book? Don’t forget to check! Take a look at other books to see what front matter and back matter should be included!
V. Create Your Cover
I like to create my cover art in the Canva app, then fill in the back cover material in Amazon’s Cover Creator. Here are some screen shots to show you the process:
A. Choose one of their many cover options.
B. Select an appropriate color scheme.
C. Upload your author photo and create your bio.
My author photo is the same as my blog and social media profile picture. Consistency is important, so choose a photo and write a bio that you want for all your books. These things can change over time, but as an example, all the books in my Lost and Found series have the same photo and author bio on the back.
The book synopsis on the back is the same as my description in the paperback details section. Tip: Keep notes on your computer so you can simply copy and paste this information consistently. You will also need this information for Goodreads and your Author Profile on Amazon!
Coming soon: How to Add Your Book to Goodreads
VI. Preview Your Book: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP
This is the difference between looking professional and looking like an amateur. I know it’s frustrating, but it’s worth it! Just think about how you’ll feel when a reader points out typos and obvious mistakes on a review or even directly to you. Take a few minutes, and make sure it’s right! I can pretty much guarantee there will be inconsistencies and things you’ll want to correct on your original document before clicking “publish.”
But the best part is that you can fix mistakes and re-upload your document as many times as you need to so it will be correct! You can always leave and come back to it later if you get frustrated. Just click “Save as Draft” at the bottom, and it will still be there waiting for you when you’re ready to come back to it.
VII. Review Your Book Summary
Make a note of your page count and printing cost.
5. Set Your Pricing
You can publish your book on Amazon for FREE, but let’s be real, they’re in it to make money, and so are you! Amazon allows authors to make an unbelievable 60% royalty on their paperbacks (in traditional publishing, authors are lucky to get just 3%!), and they make the other 40%. Amazon is one of the largest booksellers in the entire world, this percentage is good for them and for you!
All my Lost and Found books are $8.99, because I felt like that was a fair price for a novella (around 25,000-30,000 words. I asked friends, and some said they’d go higher, while others said they’d prefer a dollor or two less. I went with the middle, and it seems to be working well! I have a series of novels (around 90,000 words) coming out starting next year, so those will be more like $14.99 to start, since printing costs will be more, and the books will be longer.
So, do a little research, ask some friends, think about how much you would be willing to pay for some random person’s book you might be interested in, and make your choice from there!
Coming soon: 10 Reasons to Consider Self-publishing with Amazon
6. Order a Printed Proof
This is up to you, but I can tell you as a career writer and professional proofreader, you will catch more typos and silly mistakes on a hardcopy than you will on your computer. I can also tell you that you cannot effectively proofread your own work. The brain is an interesting organ. Because you wrote it, your brain knows what you meant to write. Your eyes will catch some mitakes, but not all. I highly recommend hiring a professional proofreader (Don’t know one? Ask a former English teacher!) and ordering a hardcopy to proofread.
You won’t regret it, but you will have to pay for the cost of printing, plus shipping. Sorry, Amazon Prime does not apply to author copies or printed proofs!
7. Click “Publish Your Paperback Book”
You did it! In 72 hours or less (in my experience, it’s usually 24 hours or less), you will be a published author with an actual paperback book! Woohoo!
Coming soon: How I’m Publishing 8 Books in 5 Months
Convert to Kindle
When you finish the paperback process, you’ll be prompted to create a Kindle edition! I highly recommend this, as you will make a 70% royalty, and there’s no printing cost!
1. Review Your Book’s Details
I know, I know, that was a lot of steps for the paperback! But rest assured, you won’t have to double your work for the Kindle edition! Your original book information will be saved and populated for the Kindle process already.
2. Upload Kindle Content and Cover
You will have to upload your document again, but it goes quickly!
3. Preview Your E-book
Here again, this is the difference between pro and rookie!
Pro tip: Click on “Book Details” to get back to the previous page.
4. Set Your Pricing
With Kindle, there is no printing cost, so you can actually make more money here than with a paperback. I always select the 70% royalty (because, why would anyone choose 35%?). My Lost and Found Kindle editions are all $4.99, and I make $3.46 per book! Set your own price!
5. Publish Your Kindle
Again, it will take up to 72 hours for your Kindle to be available, but it’s usually far less than that!
Want more tips and writing how-tos? Check out my Writing and Publishing Resources Page!
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