Amazon have made the process of self-publishing incredibly easy. No more messing around, no more complicated hoops to jump through. Once you get this process down, the steps from manuscript to published and selling to the world are simple, easy and few.

1. Sign in to your shiny new Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account here http://kdp.amazon.com

This will take you to the KDP Dashboard – Amazon call it the BookShelf. This is where you will add new books, adminstrate previously published books, organize your KDP promotions, and of course publish new titles.


2. To add your first book hit Create New Title

Beside the Create New Title button you will see a Checklist of required resources to complete a new book set up.

These are:

  1. Book Content. KDP will accept several file types here: Word (DOC / DOCX), HTML, Mobi or ePub. Other posts will go over how to create a properly formatted book ready for upload, but rest assured it is not difficult, and there are some excellent tools available that make the process painless. I generally upload a .mobi file, but for many a simple properly formatted Word file is the easiest choice.
  2. Book Cover Image. Your cover is an important element of your book’s eventual visibility and success. The ideal size of your cover art must have a height/width ratio of at least 8:5 (1.6). In pixels, this means the shortest side should be at least 625 pixels, and the longest side should be at least 1000 pixels. To ensure the best quality for your image, particularly on high definition devices, the longest side of the image should be 2500 pixels. For most of my covers I work with 1563 x 2500 pixels, 72 DPI. The best format to save your cover in for upload to KDP is jpeg.
  3. Title, Description, Keywords and Categories. These are the textual elements of your book. Other posts will discuss the best practices for each of these in detail. Right now, we just want to just pin the practical nuts’n’bolts of setting up your new book

3. Enroll in KDP Select or Not?

KDP Select is a program that Amazon has devised to encourage self-publishing authors to commit the digital versions of their book to exclusivity on the Kindle platform. The KDP Select program offers significant benefits for authors such as promotional opportunities, the ability to earn directly from the Kindle Unlimited subscriber platform, and a tendency for Amazon to favor it’s loyal subjects. 🙂

The call is really yours, but having your books in the Select program, especially in the early stages, can be a real help.

Over half of my income, especially from fiction titles, does not arise from direct sales. Instead I get paid through the KDP Select Global fund for each page that a person reads from any of my books. It is a tiny, tiny amount per page read, but with upwards of a million pagereads per month it quickly adds up.

Unless you are particularly wanting to offer wider oportunities for your readers to buy on numerous platforms I would defintely recommend jumping on board. The commitment is for a rolling 90 day period, during which you commit to publish digital editions of your book exclusively on Kindle. You are free to step out of the program any time you want, but if a book is already enrolled you are bound to wait until the 90 day commitment is complete before publishing your book elsewhere.


4. YOUR BOOK ESSENTIALS

First we will input all of the necessary information about your new book title. Everything from the title itself to the author and ISBN are covered off here. Don’t worry though, it literally takes just a few minutes if you already have the info at hand.

4.1 Add Your Book Title, Subtitle, Series & Publisher Information

Every element of your book set up is important, but the two key elements that are foremost will be the book title and the book cover. These are the first thing your potential readers will see when browsing the Amazon shelves so they are worth taking time to craft well.

  1. Book Name: We will head over to the Dept of Awesome in other posts where we will talk about crafting winning titles. For now, let’s just call this new bestseller, ‘My Awesome Book Title’
  2. Subtitle: This is not required but can be very helpful to further inform your readership about the book they are about to browse and buy, and is a great place to respectfully sneak in some keywords to help your book’s visibility.
  3. Series: If your book is part of a series (crafting a series is a great idea because it often leads to buy-through from one book to the next) you can specify the series name and number here. Amazon will connect these books in the Amazon store so again you get a visibility boost for your other books.
  4. Edition Number: New edition of an older book? Here’s where you let people know.
  5. Publisher (optional): Essentially your book will be published by Amazon Digital Services, but you can extend your branding and message here if you want to add a Publisher name to your listing. I have a number of publisher names for different genres and niches I provide books for.

4.2 Create Your Book Description

A book description is another important part of the bait that will hook your reader to press the buy button. The best practices for book descriptions vary across genres and across fiction and non-fiction. In other lessons we will talk about the best way to create superlative descriptions. Right now I have enrolled the prolific writer and long time favorite of lazy tutorial creators, Lorem Ipsum, to craft this one on my behalf.

4.3 Add Your Author Name and Other Contributors

You will add the Author here of course. This can be any pen name you choose. You are free to have as many pen names as you want under one KDP account.

You can also add other contributors here should you need to such as illustrators, co-authors (you just add as another Author), etc etc.

Once you have added them hit save and move on to the next part of the set up process.

4.4 Insert Your ISBN (optional)

An ISBN is a unique identifier for this particular edition of your book. You can either purchase your own ISBNs and assign them here, or you can allow Amazon to assign a free ISBN. For simplicity, I generally just go for the free ISBN, but again the choce is yours.

Leave this blank if you want Amazon to assign a free ISBN to your new book.

4.5 Verify Your Publishing Rights

Assuming this is your own original work, choose the option that says so and move on. Public Domain titles have certain requirments and cannot be enrolled in KDP Select. I have published Public Domain titles at times, with additional illustrations and original content added, but I am assuming that generally you will be publishing a book that is your own work.

NOTE: Don’t rip anyone off and plagiarise – you will be found out and may get your KDP account banned. Not a good idea.


5. TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE

It is not enough to just throw your book out there and hope for the best. Aiming at your target market begins right now in your book set up, where you let Amazon know what Categories and keywords are relevant to your target readers.

5.1 Choose Categories

Your book will be written with a certain readership in mind. This is where you hone in on that potential reader by assigning two categories for your book. At a top level this will be either Fiction or Non-Fiction after which you drill down to the most appopriate specific sub-categories for your books. Sub categories are going to be much easier to rank and gain visibility in than the higher level more general categories so it is worth carefully choosing your categories here.

It is also worth noting a couple of things. You can change your categories at a later date, and there are also deeper subcategories that do not appear in this Bookshelf set up. Contacting KDP Support asking for your book to be placed in a specific category is the only way to get your book placed in certain specific sub-categories, but their support is great and easy to reach.

5.2 Age Range and Reading Level?

Are you targeting a specific age or reader range? This is particularly useful if you are writing and publishing children’s books. Again, it is a way to encourage Amazon to place and promote your books to a very specific audience.

In the Kindle Store, age ranges help readers find books that suit a child’s reading level. For books in Juvenile categories, Amazon recommends adding a specific age range. You can select an age range from Baby to 18+ years old.

5.3 Add your 7 Keywords

The KDP set up then allows you to put up to seven keywords to hep readers find your books. I suggest that you use all of them, and try to think what kind of things people may be typing into the search box in Amazon to dicover the kinds of books you are selling. If I were writing a book about the paleo diet for example I might use keywords like paleo diet cookbook, paleo diet for beginners, step-by-step paleo diet etc…


6. Publish Your Book Now or Set Up For Pre-Order

There are varied thoughts on the value of setting a book up on pre-order. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice to say I am not a big fan. Pre-order lets you offer customers the option to pre-order your book as much as 90 days before the release date. On your book’s release date, customers who pre-ordered your book will automatically have it delivered to their Kindle. All of your final files must be locked and loaded ready to go a number of days before the due date, and failure to do so will disqualify you from using the Pre-order option in future.

Most times however, you will be ready to publish and choose the ‘I am ready to release my book now’ option.


7. YOUR BOOK FILES

This is where your actual cover and book files are uploaded. One of the great things about digital self-publishing is the fact you can upload a new file at any time. If a few mistakes are found (trust me, they will be), replacing your uploaded file with a corrected version takes no more than a few minutes.

7.1 Uploading Your Cover

A great cover for your book, one that immediately appeals to your market, and looks good as a thumbnail (because this is how your potential reader will first see your book) is a key (possibly the key) to getting people to click through and check out your book.

The subject is too important to cover here in this practcal walkthrough (other lessons from the Dept of Awesome will dive deep into cover creation).

Your cover will need to be at least 2500 pixels high, saved as a 72dpi jpeg and ready to upload. I generally create my covers 1563 x 2500 pixels.

There is also the option to use the Amazon Book Cover Creator, which allows you to choose a background image, add your text and save right in the dashboard. This is not an option I have ever used, but it is a possibility if you do not have any other way to create a cover. In other articles I go over some great ways to rock it with your covers.

PS: Just for the record, I am not suggesting that the book cover I just created here in the last 2 minutes is a great example of a cover by the way, I am just using it for the sake of this tutorial.

7.2 Finally, Upload Your Actual Book File

You can apply Digital Rights Management to your file or not. I never do. DRM (Digital Rights Management) is intended to inhibit unauthorized distribution of the Kindle file of your book. Some authors want to encourage readers to share their work, and choose not to have DRM applied to their book. Once you publish your book, you cannot change its DRM setting.

Then browse for your book file (it may be Word, mobi or epub) and upload to the system.

KDP will convert the file there and then and do a quick spell check, letting you know if it flags any potential typos. I personally like this last little check and it has alerted me to a few minor errors that had passed my radar in the editing and proofing process.

7.3 Preview Your Book

Once the upload and conversion process has finished (it just takes a couple of minutes) you have the opportunity to check your book using the Online Previewer or downlaod the mobi file to view on your Kindle or in the Kindle app on your laptop. I strongly recommend that you do this, just to check that everything looks and works as you expect it to.


8. Save and Continue or Save As Draft

Ok, we now have everything in place. You can either save as a draft and return to it later, or continue to the next step, where you will decide where you want to distribute your book, and how much you want to charge. I will cover the distribution options that are available to you in the next lesson.

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