The Minimal Effort Guide to Self-Publishing on Amazon

Since I managed to muddle through the process myself, I decided to put together a “how to” guide to help others along the process.


Step 1: Setup a Kindle Direct Publishing Account

Go to https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

Click Sign up.

If you have an Amazon account already and want to use your Amazon email and password for Kindle Direct Publishing, you can login to it at this point to speed things up. If you don’t? Just click the gray Create your KDP account button and enter a login email and password.

You will see a notification at the top about your account information being incomplete. Click the blue Update Now link.

Choose your country from the list.

A name and address panel will show. Fill it in.

Then, scroll down and fill in your banking information.

Finally, click on the yellow Complete Tax Information button.

A new screen will come up. Fill it in with your tax information.

That’s it! Your publisher’s account is now setup! πŸ™‚


Step 2: Format Your Book

Make sure that the first page of your story is tagged with a Title style. In Google docs, you do it like so…

In Word, you use the Title style like this:

Then, make sure that you have page breaks at the end of every chapter. For the chapter headers, you also need to choose the correct formatting or it won’t convert to a Kindle book properly. Use the Heading 1 style setting in Google Docs…

In Word, use Heading 1 like this:

As long as you use those formatting types for the book title and chapter headings, it is incredibly quick and easy to convert to Kindle format. It will automatically detect your book title and chapters and will do pretty much everything for you.


Step 3: Convert to Kindle publishing format

Go to this site and download Kindle Create from Amazon.

Install the app. Once it’s done installing, open it and click New Project From File.

Select the Choose File button and select the Word document that your book is saved in.

If your book is in Google docs, then download it to Word format first, so that you can select it in Kindle create.

Kindle create will automatically convert your document to Kindle format. Once you click continue a couple of times, it will show a list of your chapter headings. If you formatted them as I showed above, they should all be there. Just click Accept Selected.

Scroll through and make sure everything looks okay. If it does, then choose File/Publish from the menu. If it doesn’t, you can try to edit within the tool, but it’s a pain. It may be easier to adjust in your Google doc or Word doc, then re-import.

This will save a KPF file where you choose to put it. We will use this later, but for now, we’ll move on to creating a cover.


Step 4: Create a Cover Image

If you’re like me, you’ll just go to a stock photo site like pexels.com or pixabay.com, download a free high-resolution stock photo and use MS Paint or Office to change the dimensions to 1800 pixels wide by 2700 pixels tall and add text. Keep in mind that you need to be a little more careful with recognizable photos of people. Make sure that the photo includes a model release form. If you choose a photo without a recognizable person on it, there is no need for a release.

If you’re more talented and can actually do artistic stuff, you probably know more than I do about this already. Just make sure the photo is the dimension that I show about with 300 DPI. Those are the requirements for Amazon physical 6″x9″ print editions.

Below is an example of what I did with Microsoft office photo tools and a stock photo. Mind you, this is this only one that came out even halfway decent, but it shows that even someone who barely knows what she’s doing can pull it off…

If you want something really good, you’re probably best off finding an artist or buying a cover.

You can actually choose stock photos and type text within the Amazon publishing tools as well, but it’s more difficult and frankly doesn’t even look as good as something created with MS Paint.


Step 5: Submit Your eBook on Kindle Direct Publishing

Click on + Kindle eBook.

Choose the language, add a title, and a series if you plan to have more than one book in the series. The other options aren’t really necessary.

Enter your name or pseudonym into the Author fields. If others contributed to your book, you can choose from the options under Contributors and add their names as well. The Description field is what will appear on your Amazon store page. As long as the work that you’re publishing is yours, then under Publishing Rights, select that you own the copyright and hold the rights.

Under Keywords, fill in every blank. You want to maximize the number of searches that your book will come up under, so fill in everything there! For Categories, choose the Kindle categories you want your book to show under. In Age and Grade Range, you can choose appropriate audiences for your books, either by age or, um, grade level. Kinda self-explanatory… πŸ™‚

Under Pre-order, either choose to release your book now or set it to be released on a certain date and allow pre-orders leading up to it. I chose a pre-order in this example, mainly to force myself to actually edit my book for release. πŸ™‚

Press the Save and Continue button to move on to the next screen. Then, under Manuscript, choose No for Digital Rights Management. It’s designed to prevent people from copying and pasting your text, but it’s useless. If they really want it, they will get your text anyway. It just makes things a nuisance for the literature students who will be quoting your book to write papers about it. You know they’re going to be assigned your book to read, along with Dostoevsky and Shakespeare, because it’s that good. πŸ˜‰

If you’re ready to publish, upload the KPF file that you created using Kindle Create above. If not, choose No to upload later.

Under Kindle eBook Cover, find the cover that you created.

You can preview what your book will look like, by clicking the Launch Previewer button. It isn’t necessary to create an ISBN number for the eBook. We will create that with the physical print edition in the next step.

Press Save and Continue in orange at the bottom of this page to move on to pricing. If you want to do KDP Select, which enrolls your book in Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Online Lending Library, you will be paid for pages read. Basically, Amazon takes 35% of all the money they receive from Kindle Unlimited and divide it by the total number of pages read, then multiply by the number of your pages read. It’s up to you whether you think it’s worth it. It will likely expand your reader base, however, because people who have Kindle devices and Kindle Unlimited service will be able to read your book at no additional cost–but you will still be paid.

Territories is used for distribution rights in different countries. The simplest is simply to select worldwide rights as shown below.

Royalty and Pricing allows you to choose between 35% and 70% royalty programs. The 35% is far simpler, and allows simple commissions that apply in the same way in every country. Also, you are not charged delivery costs and can set any price down to $0.99 for your book, unlike the 70% model. This document from Amazon describes the differences. I’ve gone with the simple 35% model for all of my books, since I have a large number of international readers.

For the price, just type in what you want to charge people for your book. Be aware that you can’t made your book part of Kindle book deals or use the 70% commission model if you charge less than $2.99.

If you want to allow people to lend your book to others for up to two weeks, check the box below. Then, click the orange Publish Your Kindle eBook. Amazon takes up to 3 days to review and actually list your book. In my experience, it usually takes 2 days.


Step 6: Setup Physical Printing for Your Book

Now that you’re back to the main KDP page, click the + Paperback button.

The first page is identical to the first page of the eBook version above, so nothing new there. Just fill everything in the same way you did for the eBook, then hit the orange Save and Continue button at the bottom.

For Print ISBN, choose Get a free KDP ISBN. Just leave Publication Date blank. It will auto populate.

For the Print Options settings, use the options that I chose below. Using other settings can make it much more complicated. Trust me. πŸ˜‰

For Manuscript, just upload the file that you created for the eBook with Kindle Create as I instructed above. As long as you use the options in the screen shot above for a 6×9″ print, your KPF file will work perfectly for the print version as well.

For Book Cover, choose to use Cover Creator and click the Launch Cover Creator button.

Once it comes up, choose a layout. Use the first one (the default). It will work with the eBook cover dimensions that I had you choose above. Other layouts are more complex.

Once that’s chosen, you will move to the Style and Edit tab. Click on the front cover on the right to bring up a menu. On the menu, choose Choose a New Cover Image, then upload the same 1800×2700 pixel picture you used for the eBook cover above.

Next, click on the following areas to create the back cover. In area 1, upload a photo of yourself. In area 2, type a blurb about yourself. In area 3, type in the product description that you created for the Amazon page that describes your book. The spine will automatically populate with your author name and book title, though you can click to edit it if you want to.

When you’re finished, click the Preview button. This is required in the print version.

If something looks off, go back and fix it. If it looks okay, then click Save & Submit.


Now, it’s just a matter of setting the price and the book is submitted for eBook and print!

Territories is the same as eBook. You can choose specific countries or simply all. Pricing & Royalty is slightly different for print. Expanded distribution allows bookstores, online retailers, libraries, and academic institutions to order copies of your book at a discounted wholesale price. Choose if you’d like. As you can see in my screen shot, it takes a hefty ding out of your royalties unless you really crank up the price. When you’re done entering the price, click Publish Your Paperback book. Copies will be printed on demand, though you can order blocks of up to 99 author copies at cost from the main screen once your book has been approved in 2-3 days.


Step 7: Setup Your Amazon Author Page

This step is optional, but if you want an Amazon author page, this will set it up. First, go to:

https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/home

Log in with your KDP account login, then click the Author Page tab at the top. Add a biography and photo as shown below in the yellow highlighted areas.

Once your book has been published, you will be able to select it by clicking the Books tab and choosing the orange Add more books button.

This brings up the following menu. Type your author first and last name as well as book title, and it should come up. Click the orange This is my book button on the books that are yours. There will be separate entries for your eBook and print book versions, so make sure you claim both of them.

In a few minutes, your books will begin to show under your author profile on Amazon.

And that’s it, folks! You’re now an eBook and print book publisher. Congrats! πŸ™‚

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