How to publish on Kindle
Since I posted about publishing the author’s cut of my first book, Please, on Kindle, I’ve had quite a few messages asking me how I did it. Seems there are a lot of other writers interested in the same thing. So here’s a quick guide for you. I’ll post things in greater detail if there’s interest. If you have any questions, just ask them in the comments.
1) First, make sure you own the e-rights to the book or story or whatever. The rights for Please reverted back to me a little while ago, and I didn’t do anything with them because I was thinking about finding another print publisher in the future. But then I stumbled across a few blogs detailing people’s experiences with self-pubbing on Kindle, and I thought I’d give it a try. But you can’t do it if you’ve sold the rights to your publisher. Hopefully, they’re already publishing it for you on Kindle if they’ve got the rights.
2) Make sure you have an Amazon account. You’ll need this to access the Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard. If you buy books online, you probably have an Amazon account already.
3) Find a cover image. I assumed that when I got back the rights for Please that rights to the cover art weren’t included. So I bought the cover photo for the Kindle edition from istockphoto, a Canadian company. The image was one of their more expensive ones — I think it cost me around $80 — but I felt it was perfect for the book. You’ll want a simple, strong image. The Kindle covers are almost always viewed as thumbnails, so you want something clear and bold. I added the title and author name in Pages, then exported the whole thing as a JPG. Simple. I probably could have done something fancier with the text, but I like the simplicity of it. This process should work just as well in Word.
4) Get an ISBN for the ebook. You can do this for free in Canada through the Canadian ISBN Service System. You cannot use your print edition ISBN for the ebook.
5) Now go to the Kindle Direct Publishing page for everything else you need to know:
In short, what you need to do is strip your document of all but the most basic formatting — take out the tabs and indents, make the doc single spaced, things like that. The reason is it’s going to get converted into an HMTL file. The simpler your file, the smoother this will go. You can get as fancy as you like in HTML, but the Kindle has its own style settings, so there’s not much point.
If you’re not comfortable doing this, there are services you can use for reasonable fees, or there’s a pretty easy walk-through guide at the free service Smashwords. But it’s not that hard, although there’s an inevitable trial-and-error period.
Once you’ve done the reformatting and conversion to HTML, you’ll either use Mobipocket Creator to convert it to a Kindle file if you’re a Windows user or Calibre if you’re a Mac user. Both are free downloads.
Then download the Kindle previewer to test it out. This is important. I didn’t know there was a downloadable previewer at first, so I was using the previewer on the KDP website, which is fine for a short story but not a great way to proof a book over a few days.
6) When you have a file that works, upload it to Kindle, set your world rights and your price, enter your ISBN, and your descriptive copy, and hit Publish. Wait a day or two for the file to become live, and then start compulsively checking your sales.
Note that the writers making serious money at this tend to be in the mystery, paranormal or fantasy genres. There’s not a lot of “literary fiction” writers getting rich or even sci-fi ones from what I can tell. So why don’t you be the first?