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Quick Guide to eBook Publishing with Amazon KDP – Part 4

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If you’re publishing your first eBook with Amazon KDP, this five part series is designed to give you a few hints and tips, as well as some links to other sources of help. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here, Part 2 is here, and Part 3 is here.

Part 4: Uploading your eBook to Amazon KDP

OK, so you now have your perfected manuscript correctly formatted, and your super front cover which looks good not only in full size, but also as a thumbnail. Now comes the exciting part – uploading it all to KDP.

First, you need to go to https://kdp.amazon.com/ (There’s a cute little video on this page which tells you all about publishing via KDP.) If you already have an Amazon account, you should be able to create a KDP account and sign in with your usual details. This then takes you to a page with tabs for “Bookshelf”, “Reports”, “Community” and “KDP Select”.

The “Bookshelf” is where you create your new eBook, and where the information for this book is then stored. In the future, as you write and upload more books, you’ll add to your Bookshelf.

Before you go any further, I recommend you buy a copy of Sally Jenkins’ eBook Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners – it’s £1.99 and will take you through the process step by step. I found it incredibly helpful for my first eBook. Without Sally’s straightforward explanations, I would probably have wasted hours trying to work it all out for myself, particularly the financial aspects which you need to complete in detail for the first upload. (This includes your author/publisher information, and payment, banking and tax details so that Amazon can pay you any royalty monies owing – these are paid two months in arrears.) Subsequent eBooks are always more straightforward since you don’t have to complete all this information afresh each time.

Briefly then, in your “Bookshelf” you click to create a new eBook title. You then need to fill in all the details for the book, including the language it’s written in, the title, author etc. Next you’ll be asked to provide the book’s description – the blurb which will appear on the book’s Amazon page. This is really important and you need to take time to create something which will engage a potential reader’s attention, and make them want to click and download your book. This is surprisingly tricky, and it’s probably best to draft it offline and cut and paste it into the description box.

Next come the keywords and categories. These are also extremely important to enable potential readers to search for and find your book from the kazillions which are now available. You can have up to seven key words or phrases – and it’s important to spend time thinking about these. Put yourself in the mind of a potential reader. Imagine how you would search for a book. Think about what you would type into the search bar. Try searching for other similar books to yours.

You’ll be asked to select two categories in which you wish your eBook to be displayed. Think of these as akin to the areas or shelves in a physical bookshop where your book should be found. Try to be as specific as Amazon’s sub-sections will allow. (This is easier if your book falls into a clearly defined genre.)

Next you need to upload the manuscript file and the cover. When you upload the text, the upload process will check for spelling errors and inform you if it thinks there’s something wrong – you can then check and either amend or choose to ignore the issues raised. (I assume fantasy books always generate lots of “errors” as they are more likely to contain names or words which Amazon’s text checker will not recognise.)

At this stage you can use the previewer to check how your eBook will appear in an e-reader. It’s amazing how the odd formatting problem may still appear. If this happens, go back and amend your manuscript file, and upload again.

One of the important things you have to decide is whether or not you tick to join “KDP Select”. The plus side of Select is that anyone who is a member of Kindle Unlimited can download and read your eBook for free, and you’ll receive a (tiny) income per page read, and (arguably of more benefit) you may gain more reviews from this wider readership. The downside to Select is that it demands you publish exclusively with Amazon. This means you cannot market your book through Kobo or any other platform. If you tick to join Select, this is for a 90 day period. Once the 90 days is up, you can review the situation and decide if you’d like to continue.

Whether you decide to stick with Select or not, you need to choose your royalty plan and set up your pricing strategy. You will be asked to choose your primary marketplace (for me, this is Amazon.co.uk), set the price for this marketplace and then Amazon will automatically generate the prices for the other territories.

Now comes the exciting moment when you hit the button: Publish Your Kindle eBook. Whoop! Amazon says it can take up to 72 hours for your book to go live, but usually it’s much quicker than this. You will receive an email when the process is complete.

So there you go – now you’re a published author! But don’t go thinking your work is done. Read the final part of this series next week to find out what you should be doing post-publication.

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Quick Guide to eBook Publishing with Amazon KDP – Part 2

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This quick guide is a five part series to help you if you’re publishing your first eBook with Amazon KDP. If you missed Part 1, you can pop back to read it here. Part 2 is below:

Part 2: Formatting

Once you are happy that your eBook manuscript is complete and error-free, you need to turn your attention to formatting. I’m not going to go into the mechanics of this in great detail as Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, has written a free style guide which is available for your Kindle or as a PDF here. I would thoroughly recommend that you get hold of a copy of this book as it’s comprehensive and will really help with your first time formatting.

Briefly, the idea is that you strip out any of the usual formatting used by your word processing software – and for the sake of argument, I’ll assume you’re using Word to create your eBook. You might not have thought much about the standard built-in formatting, as Word tends to use it without you really noticing, but when you’re attempting to format text for an eBook it can cause some real problems. For instance, if you are writing fiction, it’s usual to indent the first line of each new paragraph (the exception being the first paragraph at the beginning of a new chapter, or after a scene break – if you want to check this, take a look at any traditionally published novel to see how they’ve done it). Most of us use the “Tab” key on our keyboards to create this indent. When formatting your manuscript for upload, you need to get rid of any Tab-key indents, or additional Spacebar spaces, or Return-key line spaces and instead use the “Styles” menu in Word to add specific styles to your manuscript. You’ll need a standard paragraph style, as well as at least one heading style for chapter titles etc. The Smashwords guide will give you more detail (in fact, it will give you too much detail – but you can select the useful bits depending on your specific project).

One of the most important things to understand at the outset is that you are not formatting a book in the way you would for print. There is no such thing as a page. Anyone reading your eBook can do so on an e-reader, or their phone, or their tablet, or their PC. As a result, every “page” will be different according to the size of font, screen etc. This means that you are attempting to create a seamless stream of text which can accommodate any size of screen. You can use page breaks so that a new chapter shows clearly after a break, but it is extremely difficult to deal with something which needs specific formatting, such as poetry.

Another really useful thing explained in Mark Coker’s eBook is the use of hyperlinks. These are links within the text which allow the reader to navigate through the book. For instance, if your eBook is a collection of short stories, you can use hyperlinks to enable your readers to click on a story title in the contents page and go straight to that story rather than having to read every story from the beginning of the book to the end. You can also use hyperlinks at the end of every story to enable the reader to go straight back to the contents page. This is also useful in a non-fiction eBook which may not necessarily be read in a linear fashion – hyperlinks mean the reader can select the next topic they are interested in without having to scroll through large chunks of text.

Once you’ve formatted your text, email it to your Kindle, and check that the text, chapter headings and page breaks look correct, and that any internal hyperlinks work. You will usually find a heading which has centred when you wanted it left justified, or vice versa, or a random space generated by an undetected return-key! Go back and amend the original document, and email it to your Kindle again. Complete until the text looks exactly as you want it, and now you have a correctly formatted version of the contents of your eBook.

Next week in Part 3 I’ll talk about another very important step in the eBook creation process…

Cover Reveal – Short Story Competitions: A Writer’s Guide to Success

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I’m always over-optimistic about the amount of writing I’ll get done over the Christmas holidays. It seems glorious at the outset – a luxurious festive week stretching out before you. Granted, there’ll be visits to family and friends, and you know there’ll be a bit of over-indulgence, some time devoted to lounging in front of the telly, but surely there’ll be loads of time left over for writing, right?

So often, the answer is no, but this year, I’ve been making a concerted effort to use the time effectively getting my latest project finished – my first non-fiction eBook, Short Story Competitions: A Writer’s Guide to Success.

And of course, you guys have helped me by voting on your favourite cover design. Each of the three sample covers got plenty of votes (so a big thank you to Shar at Landofawes for creating all three). In the end though, one was ahead by a sizeable margin. I decided to make a few tweaks to this design, but you’ll recognise it as being not too dissimilar to the original. So this is the final cover design:

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The book has been released in time for New Year – so if perhaps you’ve been frustrated with your recent writing progress, or you’re just starting out and want 2018 to be the year you see success as a short story competition entrant, you might find the book a good place to start.

The book is available at Amazon here – and I’ll be posting about the book, and about New Year’s Resolutions, here on the blog, and also on my Facebook page over the remainder of the festive season. I hope you can join me for a celebratory glass of virtual bubbly over the next few days, to find out more about the book and get inspired for 2018! 😉