So you’re thinking of self-publishing? Jump into my how-to series…
- Part 1: My Eight-Year Journey
- Part 2: Tradtional vs. Self-Publishing
- Part 3: A Word About Editing
- Part 4: Cover Images
- Part 5: What the Heck is an ISBN?
Your manuscript is clean, you have a cover image, you know all about ISBNs, it’s finally time for the big post, the one you’ve all been waiting for – I feel a drum roll would be in order here – how to publish on Kindle!
Amazon Kindle sales make up 95 percent of my total sales. It’s where the people are, where your work will be discovered and picked up. If you publish nowhere else, publish on Kindle. The process is extremely easy, as you will soon see. The writing is the hard part, and by this point, that’s all done!
Kindle requires your document in HTML format, but before you convert, you will need to make sure it looks exactly as you want it to appear on an ereader. That means no headers, no footers, no page numbering, no page breaks. An ebook is a free-flowing document, so get rid of all that stuff. Next, check your font sizes. Because ereaders usually have medium to small screens, it’s a good idea to keep your fonts between 12 and 16 points. Next, make sure you have your title, author name, copyright date and cover image credits centered at the beginning of your document, and add any content you want included at the end, like contact info, links and teasers for your next great work. (Back of the book content could be a post all its own!)
One last step I take before converting is to delete all my formatting and start over with a clean slate. This is not absolutely necessary, but it’s wise, especially if you’ve created your document in Word, which is notorious for troublesome automatic formatting. These changes Word makes in your document usually go undetected, but they can lead to skipped spaces, odd spacing, and all sorts of weird issues once your manuscript hits an ereader. These are hard to track down (I’m speaking here from experience!). To save lots of headaches later, I always start fresh. The whole process takes me about half an hour, and it assures me a much higher quality product when I’m done.
Optional: To delete your formatting, copy your entire document (Ctrl + A) and paste it into a plain text program such as Microsoft Notepad, then re-paste it into a new Word document. (All my instruction will assume a Word document, because that’s all I’ve ever worked in.) Then you can go back through and add chapter headings, bolds, centers, italics, and any other necessary tweaks.
This is also a good time to get rid of tabs and replace them with automatic indentations. This is not necessary for Kindle, so you may skip it if you’d like, but if you plan to also make your ebook available on Smashwords, you’ll end up having to do it anyway, and this is the best time. (Lots more about Smashwords next week.) If you do choose to replace tabs, you’ll want to do it before you tweak your centered text, because the indentation will override it and you’ll have to center again.
Optional: The easiest way to delete tabs is to use the “replace” tool in the “editing” toolbar. Type ^t into the “find” line (the carrot symbol is above the 6) and leave the “replace” line blank. This will delete all your tabs instantly. Now to indent automatically, highlight your entire document (ctrl+A) and open the “paragraph” toolbar. Under the “indents and spacing” subheading, look for the “indentations” section and find the drop box below “special.” Choose “first line.” You’ll notice a 0.5 appears in the “by” drop box next door. You can set this for as deep or shallow an indentation as you’d like. I like to use 0.3. Every first line of every paragraph is now indented.
Your manuscript is now ready to convert to HTML. First, save your manuscript for good measure. Next, save it again using “save as” and chose HTML (or “Web Page”) from the “Save as type” drop down box (located under the “File name” box). Voila! You have an HTML document ready to upload to Kindle.
Now the fun part. Head over to the Kindle Direct Publishing website, set up an account, and follow the easy-to-follow instruction. Keep in mind your cover image will need to be ready in JPEG or TIFF format. And your royalty rate will depend on the price you choose for your ebook. (This is another topic worthy of a whole separate post, but the facts in short are: You cannot price below .99. Any book priced between .99 and 2.98 will only gain you 35% royalties. Books priced from 2.99 and up will get you a 70% royalty rate.)
You’re ready! Go for it! Your new ebook will usually appear on Amazon’s website within twelve hours. Congratulations, new author!!