In a recent post, I went through all the steps that a self-publisher makes when publishing. I knew at the time that I was leaving something out, but I couldn’t think of what it was. Then, when I realized that the print version of my book was available, but the Kindle version wasn’t there. Doh!
This is a very important addendum, because Kindle is HUGE. I’ve been fairly happy and successful with my book sales, and 90% of the money I’ve made has come from Kindle. This is not commentary on the death of print or anything like that, but if you’re distributing online, your customers are probably buying e-books. And as e-books go, the Kindle is the 500-pound gorilla in the room.
So, how do you get your book set up on Kindle? You use KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing, at kdp.amazon.com. If you don’t already have an amazon account, you may need to create one. Once you get to the “Bookshelf”, click on “Add a new book”. Here you will see a form with the same kind of details that you filled out on CreateSpace (Title, Description, Book cover, etc). When you get to the “Upload your book file”, you need to stop and put some serious work in.
As I said before, Kindle is going to be a huge part of your sales, so you need to be absolutely certain that it looks as good as it possibly can. This means formatting, and of course, Kindle uses a different type of formatting than everyone else.
I’d spent a day in LyX formatting my book to make the PDF version look it’s absolute best, because that was the one I used for print. I was really glad to see that the KDP would take my PDF file, but nearly cried when I saw that they cut out all formatting information in that version. In the preview, my book looked atrocious. So I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and went looking for the best way to present my book in Kindle.
The good news is that the format that works best for Kindle is HTML. For some people, this is going to be hard, because they haven’t had to restructure a web page. If, however, you’ve spent some time online, manipulating HTML tags, you’ll find this pretty straightforward. You insert double <br/> tags at the end of paragraphs, you change the header style for chapter headings, and it comes together pretty easily.
Special note: Amazon has a couple of specialized tags that they made just for this format. You can find that here. The most useful of those is <mbp:pagebreak /> . This one will, obviously, insert a page break. This is very useful for separating the title page from the contents, or separating a new chapter from the old.
Another formatting note: If you’re looking at a 75,000-word manuscript and saying, “Wait, I have to put breaks on every paragraph? No way!”, let me recommend Notepad++. It’s a notepad program developed for programmers, but it’s entirely accessible to regular users as well. The reason I mention that tool is that it has a very good find-and-replace function.
This is how to change every linefeed in your manuscript to a <br/>. You hit CTRL-F, the dialog pops up. You choose the “replace” tab, and then click on “Extended” search mode. This will get it to look for non-printing characters. Then, in the “find what” textfield, you write “\r\n”. This is DOS-text programmer speak for “newline”. In the “replace with” textfield, write “<br/>\r\n” then hit the “Replace All” button. In seconds, it will tag your entire manuscript with HTML newlines.
But I’ve digressed. Let’s assume you’ve finished your formatting and uploaded the book to Amazon. At that point, the preview is hugely useful. I had to bounce back and forth between notepad and Amazon, uploading over and over again, to get that preview just right. But as you know, the effect is worth it. You want your best possible work out there.
Once that’s done, you fill in the “Rights and Pricing” page. The rights are pretty direct. The pricing is one of those things that’s a personal choice, and no one price fits all. I have one book that I’ve priced everywhere from $4.99 USD to $0.99 USD, and experimented with several others. Right now, one of my books is $4.99, while the other is $0.99, just because that’s where they fit best.
Once you’ve filled that out, you’re pretty much done. Click “Save and Publish”, and then just sit back and wait for the money to roll in. It’ll take a day or so for the Kindle version to show up on Amazon.
When it does, though, be ready to start your marketing. Shout it from the hilltops, and give copies to all the reviewers who read your genre. Because at that point, marketing is all you need to do.
Well, there is one other thing. . . you have to go write the next book!