Hi again. Today I thought I’d have a look at the basics you confront when you decide to publish on Kindle. That’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Here. You’ll need to create an account and then you can follow the easy basics, to the Bookshelf to Create a New Title. Click through and you are under way.
Do not panic. You won’t accidentally publish. There are several steps to go through.
Now I’m not about to tell you how to fill in each box. Most are self explanatory and each box comes with a link to some well written help. At the bottom of the page you can save and continue or save as a draft anyway so nibble away if you are unsure. Of course, there are lots of online articles about the pros and cons of the choices you may have to make. I’ve always found an answer. So far.
Let me tell you about some of the pitfalls and pratfalls I’ve encountered.
Behind your Bookshelf are three sections. In this post I’ll look at Your Book and in the next post the issue of pricing.
1. KDP Select. Do you chose it, don’t you? Up to you really. Lots of opinions out there. I didn’t to start with and now have. Not sure it’s made much difference to me.
2. Description. The thing people read to see if they want to go on. I call it the blurb but someone used that to describe a reviewer’s comments which you put on the cover. Maybe it means both things. You need to get this as right as you can. Obv.
3. Contributors. I give a shout out to the editor(s) and the cover designer here. You should too and anyone else involved in getting your book to this point. It isn’t the same as a dedication though. It’s not the ‘To Mum’ sort of stuff here. Unless she’s the edit… Oh you know what I mean.
4. ISBN. I didn’t bother for book one and won’t for this one. Only really needed for the POD.
5. Target your book. You’ll need categories and key words. Again a lot of helpful stuff around genre on the web for you to read, much better than I can explain it for your type of book.
6. Your cover. Read the guidelines. You may well find the pixels for your piccy are wrong. They were for my first book. In the end I downloaded an app called ‘Paint’ which was free. When I opened the picture here, I could change the pixels to meet the KDP requirements. I’m sure there are loads of other ways. This time I made sure my designer knew the requirements so he developed the picture to suit.
7. And finally your book. The first bit is fine; you browse and open the Word or other document – you can do it from a pdf and all sorts. It’ll take a few minutes to convert. Kindle will tell you if they find incompatibilities and spelling errors. There are useful guidelines here in formatting and so on. I have a Windows based laptop and I’ve read people who use a Mac can be driven batty at this stage. Soz but, really, it’s your fault for buying the marketing hype; get a decent machine not an image. It does no harm to look at the guidelines while you’re editing and before you upload. Indeed if you are having the book edited and your editor isn’t au fait with Kindle ask them to have a look at the formatting guidelines. They don’t say much but it may help.
Right, so you’ve uploaded your book and you will want to look at what it will look like on a Kindle. There are two previewers: on line and downloadable. The on line always fails on my laptop – takes too long so I go with downloadable. Maybe this is where you Mac users can thumb your nose at me!
First up click to download the viewer: different ones for Mac or Windows. Once you have that installed you need to download the book preview file. I then save it in My Documents. You’ll see you now have a .mobi file. You can send this to someone, a beta reader perhaps to install on their Kindle and review it. That is a big plus at this stage. Go back in the previewer that you downloaded a moment ago and you need to ‘open book’. You should find your masterpiece laid out as you would if you have installed it on a kindle.
Phew. Perfect eh? Probably not. At my first time of asking I confronted the following:
1. I had no table of contents. Because Kindle wipes your page numbers when you convert from Word, you need a ToC with hyperlinks. I’ll pick that up below.
2. For some reason some pages seemed to end half way down. I could only eradicate that by breaking up long paragraphs. In fact that was a good discipline and one I have avoided since.
3. I realised I had to go through each page thoroughly. I found two page breaks that hadn’t been inserted correctly; only in Kindle did the error manifest itself.
But generally it looked ok and, and this is the tingly bit, for the first time I looked on my work as a book, a real book. Not a private set of thoughts. Suddenly it all became clear: I was about to be an Author.
PS. Table of Contents. It really is easy. I can’t do better than offer you this. It worked for me.
PPS. I was reminded today of one final check. If you haven’t done this yet, and if you have do it again: read your book out loud. Ben mentioned continuity in his editors’s top five picks. This is easily the best way to find continuity issues that have slipped under your radar.
I still cannot make my mind up between self-publishing and traditional but I read this anyway and am sure it’ll help many struggling writers out there (and potentially me one day…)
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I agonised for a bit but self publishing suits my own needs best.