Are you self-isolating and have some extra free time on your hands? Have you ever wanted to write a book, and get it published, but you don’t know how? Amazon makes it quite easy to self-publish a book these days.
I learned a lot when I published Hotel Sweet Home last year, and a number of people have asked me about my experience. This post is the first in a series to help others learn how to self-publish a book on Amazon. Please ask questions in the Comments section, or via my Contact page, because my final post will be a Q&A where I will answer all your questions.
Following are the main steps to publish a book on Amazon. Amazon provides a great site to help walk you through the most of these steps in more detail: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200635650.
1. Write your manuscript in Microsoft Word.
Brain storm your topics or plot line. Don’t worry about your title or table of contents at the beginning – those will likely change over and over. Just start writing or gathering your information. Feel free to skip around, as some days you may be motivated to write about different topics or sections than other days. It will all come together at the end.
Consider your audience and selling points up front. Make sure your book is going to cover all the areas in which your readers may be interested.
Write in a separate space from everything and everyone. It’s important to be free from distractions.
Find what inspires you. A nice walk or a drive can possibly resolve any writer’s block episodes. I used Siri on my iPhone to take notes when ideas came to me. Some people use music or other soothing sounds for inspiration.
Use no or few images because the larger your file size, the less money you’ll earn from your Amazon book sales.
Consider downloading Grammarly, which catches the majority of common spelling and grammatical mistakes, and can offer helpful word choice alternatives.
2. Ask an editor or proofreader to review your manuscript.
Believe me, no matter how many times you proofread your own book, you’ll never see the mistakes that a professional editor or proofreader will find. You may want to ask several people to review your book if they’re willing. While you’re in these final stages of creating your manuscript, you may want to consider starting any marketing campaigns. Tips for that will be covered in my next blog post.
3. Upload your Word document into Kindle Create.
Use the Kindle Create app to create a Table of Contents and to format your book. Save your book in the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) format. This process can take several hours and days, so make sure your book has no mistakes before this final step. If you edit your source Word document, you’ll need to re-import it and re-do all the formatting.
4. Create your book cover.
You have 3 choices for a cover page: a.) Amazon can automatically create a cover page for you; b.) you can create your own using Kindle Cover Creator; or c.) you can hire a professional artist to create one. Unless you’re an artist whose already proficient creating illustrations, creating your own cover is a lengthy process to learn, and you (or others!) may not be happy with the results.
Hiring an artist is the recommended route since a great book cover design is often the reason a reader decides to purchase a book. If you’re looking for a quality, creative, talented, communicative illustrator, I highly recommend the artist I used: Theresa Johnson.
5. Import your Kindle manuscript.
Use Amazon’s KDP website to upload it as both (or either) an ebook and a physical book. Amazon offers print-on-demand service, meaning that your physical book is printed as soon someone orders it. Therefore, maintaining an inventory is not required, and you’ll never run out of stock. You’ll also need to:
Upload your book cover. (See step 4).
Specify the price of your book. Make sure you do your research first so you know what a reasonable price is. Check Amazon for the price of other similar books.
Specify keywords and a description. These are key to readers finding and gaining interest in your book, so make sure you allot plenty of time to create this.
6. Wait… then Celebrate!
Once you have uploaded your manuscript, you’ll need to wait a few days for Amazon to review your book to make sure it meets their formatting guidelines. If there are any errors, you’ll be notified to fix them, and you can try again. When there are no errors, your book(s) will be marked as “Live” and you can view it as a product on Amazon. Congratulations! You can pat yourself on the back for a huge accomplishment. You’ve published a book!