How a self-publisher publishes: part 2

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 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!

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  1. JohnG (No Relation) says:

    Yeah.. I’m still working on that whole “write the book part.”

    But this will be very useful information, someday. Maybe.

  2. Brand,

    Thank you so much for this post! I appreciate that you got down into some of the details. I’ve used some HTML trickery with find and replace in notepad to make some of my word docs single spaced for Smashwords submissions, but I never knew about “\r\n” that is very helpful – thanks!

    I’m probably naïve with this question, but could you humor me?  Is there a reason that a double is better than putting each paragraph between and or is it just an easier/better way with Find & Replace tools to make universal formatting changes to your manuscript? If you save from Word as “Web Page, Filtered (*.htm; *.html)” then it automatically puts your paragraphs between tags and you can open the doc in Notepad and use Find and Replace to delete the rest of the extraneous stuff Word adds from there. I was just curious if it’s better to have your paragraphs between tags so you can do more with them like indent your paragraphs using CSS or something.

    When I heard the news that The Hidden Institute was out I couldn’t find it available as a Kindle eBook on – and I was pretty sure that was the biggest sales generator, so I wondered what was going on 🙂 Glad to see it’s up and I hope it’s doing well for you. I’d love to see a post about why you chose the price point it’s listed at, but that might be too long of a post for you to spend time on, and we’d all rather have you spending your time writing the next book if that’s the case, so I’ll understand if that’s an undertaking you don’t want to get into. Thanks again for taking the time to share all this great stuff! You Rock!

  3. Woah, looks like the HTML for line breaks didn’t make it into my comment – so where I say “Is there a reason that a double is better…” I meant “Is there a reason that a double HTML line break is better.” 🙂

  4. The double <br/> thing may just be because I’m old school HTML. Some people prefer paragraph tags, but I just never needed it, unless I was formatting the paragraph.

    And regarding the “Save from Word” option: I would recommend that you build a small HTML page by hand, then import it into Word, then tell Word to save it. Chances are, your webpage will be about ten times larger than it would by hand, with hundreds of unnecessary formatting tags strewn about. It’s not really their fault, they gain stability through compartmentalizing their code. But at the same time, it’s incredibly inefficient. Just my $0.02

  5. Thanks Brand! Yeah, when I save from word I delete all the extra crap they put in there with Find & Replace. I’m probably old school in that I prefer single returned indented paragraphs like in a paperback book for paragraph format, but hey it’s all preference. Great post and thanks again for sharing!