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How to Self Publish on Kindle in Three Easy Steps

If you’ve decided to self-publish your book, then the easiest way is to self publish on Kindle and Amazon’s website using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

I know the idea of self-publishing can seem a bit daunting, but it is quite straightforward really. And it’s so easy that you’d have to be crazy to pay someone to do it for you!

I’m a commercially published author now, but I understand the frustrations of trying to break into conventional publishing, because it took me ten years to get my big break.  Before I got my publishing deal, I self-published a short story called Veronika, using KDP, with modest success – it has been in the Amazon top 50. Self publishing does have the advantage of getting your work out there, which can lead to attracting attention and sales.

So, I’ve been through the process of self-publishing on Kindle and learnt a few things. Now, I can share my tips, so you don’t make the same mistakes!

Why Self Publish on Kindle?

Amazon’s two main competitors, Apple and Barnes & Noble, both claim to have gained a 20+% market share of the eBook market, leaving Amazon with something like 60%. But surveys of self-published authors have shown that Amazon’s share of self-published eBook sales is much higher – more like 80-85%.

Whether the true figure is 60% or as high as 85%, Amazon is the biggest market by a long way, and KDP makes the process of self publishing on Kindle relatively easy.

Self publish on Kindle: Step 1 – Your Book

First you’ll need to sign up for KDP  here.

Then you start by clicking  Add a Title.  The important options to fill in are:

  1. Book name
  2. Description (up to 4,000 characters – use it to sell your book to the reader)
  3. Book contributors (you as the author)
  4. Categories (whichever genres you are writing in)
  5. Search keywords (up to 7, add the themes of the novel, don’t duplicate the categories)

These other items can just be left blank/default: Subtitle, Series, Edition Number, Publisher, Language,Publication Date, ISBN.

Verify Your Publishing Rights

As you are self-publishing your own work, and so you have copyright, select This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights.

Convert your book to Kindle format

KDP accepts three main formats:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx)
  • Ebook Formats (Html, Mobi, Epub)
  • Adobe PDF

It is possible to send Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF documents direct to KDP, but the formatting is far from ideal if you do.

If you want a really professional looking book then you should convert your book to Kindle’s HTML format yourself before uploading. I found the easiest solution was to convert the formatted manuscript into Kindle specific html. How to do this will be the subject of a separate article.

But, as we’re doing things the easy way for now, I suggest you just upload the manuscript and let Amazon reformat it for Kindle.

Use Kindle Previewer

If you have created an HTML format file then you can use Kindle Previewer, a downloadable Kindle emulator, to check  how your book will look on various types of Kindle . What I found was that without careful tweaking, my book looked good on one type of Kindle but not on others. Kindle Previewer allows you to quickly switch between Kindle versions and see how the book will look on each type.

Kindle Previewer is available here .

Upload Your Book File

Once you’re happy with the format, you can upload the file to KDP. The only option is Digital Rights Management.  This is your choice. Choose Enable if you want to make it harder for people to copy your book, or Do Not Enable if you prefer to make your book available without restrictions.

After you’ve uploaded, there’s an online previewer to check the text still looks right.

How to Self Publish on Kindle

Self publish on Kindle: Step 2 – Cover Photo

There are two options, design your own cover or use the template-based Cover Creator. I recommend designing your own cover. The book cover is critical to attracting readers and a template based design is less likely to stand out from the crowd. The picture above shows what the cover I designed for Veronika  looks like on the Kindle.

Designing your own cover doesn’t have to be difficult. At the simplest, it’s just a question of finding a photo, making it the right size and adding the book’s title and your name to it. I go over the process of designing a cover in How to make a book cover .

Find a Cover Photo

There are two options: use an original photo or artwork of your own or download one from an image library. The cheapest and easiest option is to use your own photo.

Make the Cover Photo the Right Size and Add the Title

You’ll need some image editing software to make the cover the right size and to add the title and your name as the author. The free and easy to use image editing programs I recommend are iPiccy and Pixlr.

iPiccy is  here  and Pixlr is  here.

Use the image editor to crop the photo so it is 1,563 x 2,500 pixels, as in the diagram below:

Self Publish on Kindle - Kindle Cover Size

The cover should also be in colour, despite the fact the most common Kindles only display black and white. This is because the Kindle Fire and the Kindle app on iPhone, Windows etc. can display colour.

Both iPiccy and Pixlr have a variety of free to use fonts.  Experiment with a few different ones until you find one you like.

Upload the Cover

This is simply a matter of clicking Browse for Image… selecting the cover you’ve designed and then clicking Upload Image.

Design a cover using the Cover Creator

Alternatively, if you just want a simple cover, use the Cover Creator.

Self publish on Kindle: Step 3 – Rights and Pricing

Verify Your Publishing Territories

Select  Worldwide rights – all territories. Your book will then appear on all the different Amazon sites around the world.

Choose Your Royalty

I suggest you set your price so that you receive the 70% Royalty – which means a minimum of $2.99 / £1.49  after that it’s up to you.

You can set prices worldwide automatically, based on the US price, or customise your prices for different territories. It might be worth setting prices manually to exploit psychological price points like £1.99.

Self publish on Kindle: Final Step – Publish!

Now just click Save and Publish.

That’s it. In a couple of hours your book will be on all the Amazon stores around the world.

See – I told you it was easy to self publish on Kindle!

Pretty soon perhaps your book will be in the Amazon best-seller chart too!

Veronika - a short story by Graeme Shimmin 47th most popular on Amazon

Extra Step: Publish a paperback too!

You’ve done most of the work already, so why not produce a paperback too? It’s much more satisfying to hold your book in your hands and it gives you much more credibility as an author. Also, you can give your parents a copy of a paperback!

Amazon’s Createspace is the easiest way to self-publish a paperback and it’s also completely free.

See self publish on Createspace the easy way  for my step-by-step explanation and tips.

Want to read Veronika?

To read the opening of Veronica for free click here .

Alternatively, for similar short stories you can sign up for my  monthly free story.

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