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How to Self Publish on Kindle in Three Easy Steps

If you’ve decided to self-publish your novel, book or short story, 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 daunting, but it’s 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 has 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 major 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 accurate figure is 60% or as high as 85%, Amazon is the biggest market by a long way.

KDP is also easy to use, and that makes selling stories on Amazon relatively easy.

Self publish on Kindle: Step 1 – Your Book

Whether you want to publish a novel, book or short story on Amazon, the process is the same. First you’ll need to sign up for Amazon’s KDP programme 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)

We can leave these other items 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, and can legally sell your story on Amazon, 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 directly 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 document to Amazon’s Kindle-specific HTML format yourself before uploading. I found the easiest solution was to use Komodo Edit to convert the formatted manuscript into Kindle specific html. Komodo Edit is here.

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 Amazon’s 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 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 unlikely 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, you just find a photo, make it the right size and add the book’s title and your name to it. I go over 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 for sale 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 Amazon 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 selling 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 sell a paperback on Amazon and, like KDP, it’s 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 Veronika for free, click here.

Self publish on Kindle: Agree? Disagree?

If you’d like to discuss the process of self-publishing novels and short stories on Amazon, please email me. Otherwise, please feel free to share the article using the buttons below.