So you’ve written a book, huh? I bet you never thought you’d get there, am I right? And now, the obvious next step is to hit publish and then cross your fingers that there’s a you-like hole in the literary world just waiting to eat up your words and make you famous. Or at least rich (though both would be nice). You need to know how to market an ebook on Amazon – and there’s a lot to know.
So you’re ready to bring your masterpiece to the masses – except you don’t know where on earth to begin when it comes to how to publish an ebook…
I’ve put this guide together on a blogging pal’s suggestion after finally releasing my own ebook about breastfeeding. I hope it helps you to become the next J. K. Rowling. (Just don’t forget me when you’ve made it, okay?)
I’m going to go out on a limb and presume your book is complete, proofread, and edited… Here’s the next thing you need to decide:
Are you planning to release your book, do a little promo and hope for the best? Or are you prepared to put the legwork in here and ensure your book is released on Amazon into the category that will enable the best leverage?
It sounds like a no-brainer; but, following much research and discovering a fantastic resource to walk one through the process (including purchasing access to a platform which allows you to research keywords in different categories on Amazon – yawn) – I discovered just how involved and convoluted a process option two is. And I chose to take the lazy route. I’m not endorsing that, I’m simply asking you to make your choice.
Okay, if you’re ready to put in the hard (read tiresome) work, this is where you’ll find everything you need to know about giving your book the best possible chance at success: How to Get an eBook to #1 on Amazon.
…And if not, or if you’ve completed the steps in the above post, then you’ll be ready to Actually. Hit. Publish!
It felt a bit like giving birth to me: the trepidation of putting your labour of love out into the world; the blood, sweat and tears you have – and will continue to – put into that process; the fear of failure; the sheer excitement of the potential.
Enough of the analogies, these are the steps you need to take in order to get your book into the Kindle store…
How to Publish an eBook in the Kindle Store
Completing Your Profile
One of the hoops you’ll have to jump through before you can proceed is completing your tax information. I’m lucky my mother is my accountant, otherwise I’d have been stumped at this point. I recommend having someone who knows about this stuff to assist you so you don’t inadvertently land yourself in hot water, or end up paying tax on your royalties unnecessarily.
Once your profile is up to date, you can move on to the the exciting bit. To make things as simple as possible, you’ll be uploading your book as a Word document. The great news is that having a Mac does not pose a problem here, because you can very easily export a Pages document in Word format. However…
Creating a Table of Contents
Before we begin formatting, you will need to decide whether your book requires a working table of contents. For fiction, it’s less necessary; for non-fiction I’d personally say it’s a pretty essential tool if you want your ebook to look pro. If you do decide you need one, you’ll require access to Microsoft Word for that part of the process I’m afraid, which essentially means a Windows machine (who’d have thunk there’d be something Apple cannot compete with?!). If not, you may proceed to the bullet points below.
Okay, so we’ve established you need a table of contents. But unless you’re a uni student this is probably not something you’ve ever had to create before, right? I hadn’t – but luckily it turned out to be relatively simple. The option is under ‘Insert’ and ‘Reference’, but if you feel the need for step by step guidance, you can find exactly that here: How to Create a Table of Contents in Word.
Note that you’ll definitely want to check through the table that’s created as it will very likely require some editing. You’ll be able to tidy it up, take out anything that’s irrelevant, and generally ensure it’s working in the way you want. I’ll be honest, I found it a bit fiddly and ended up having to do this two or three times until I was completely happy with the way it looked. Remember – you want it to be perfect if your finished product is to be polished.
Optimising Your Word Doc
You can upload your Word document to be directly converted into Kindle’s MOBI format – but there are a couple of things you need to do to ‘prepare’ your book first. That probably sounds daunting, but I promise it’s easy as pie. Here we go:
- Remove all headers and footers;
- Remove any tabs used to mark new paragraphs. If you wish to retain the indentations, the proper way to do so is using the ‘Paragraph’ dialogue box, located under the ‘Home’ tab.
- For a professional finish, create your front matter, even if it’s only your book title and name (though it could also include copyright details/dedications, etc;
- Use appropriate headings for your title and chapters (as in, these should not be enlarged ‘Body Text’ – instead use ‘Title’, ‘Header One’, etc);
- To prevent them from running together, insert page breaks at the end of each chapter;
- Insert any images – do not copy and paste;
- Finally, you have the choice to save as an html document – or not. I uploaded as a Word doc and it was fine, but I understand that heavily formatted Word files will be better converted to MOBI as an html file. Either way, you have the opportunity to review the conversion before choosing to publish, so you can always try Word and if it doesn’t work well then it can be revised at this stage.
Remember that editing your book after publication is as simple as following these steps again and uploading your new document – so don’t panic!
Okay, ready? Let’s do this!
Uploading a Word Document to the Kindle Store in 10 Simple Steps
- Go to the Kindle Direct Publishing site and sign in with your Amazon account details. This will take you to your ‘bookshelf’, which will be empty initially – but by the end of this process your first published book will appear here!
- Click ‘Add a New Title’.
- You will first be prompted to choose whether to enrol your title in the KDP Select scheme. This is where you agree to make your book exclusively available to Kindle for at least 90 days, during which time your book will be placed in their Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, so that Amazon Prime members can ‘borrow’ it – don’t worry, you will be paid each time this happens. Check out more about how KDP Select works for peace of mind.
- Complete all the boxes on the page, being mindful that this is all information which will either help or hinder the sales of your book! Some of it may seem a little intimidating, but every piece of required information is explained if you click the ‘What’s this’ text alongside the box.
- One of the most important boxes to complete is the ‘About’ section. You have 4000 characters to sell your masterpiece, and you should treat this with the same reverence you do the ‘About Me’ page on your blog, or the equivalent on your CV.
- Another vastly important section is ‘Categories’. If you want to utilise this to its absolute best advantage, go back to the start of this post and follow the guidelines I linked to at Ok Dork. If you don’t have the time to invest in this now, you can always come back to it at a later date.
- Next up is uploading the cover for your book. I used PicMonkey to create mine and was pretty happy with the result. You can upload in JPEG format, so that’s all straight forward enough.
- You’ll now be asked to choose whether to enable Digital Rights Management (DRM) which is essentially a way of providing some protection against unauthorised distribution of your book. If you’re unsure whether to tick that box or not, here’s a post about the topic to help you decide: The Pros and Cons of DRM.
- It’s time. We’re about to upload your actual book! Click ‘Browse for Book’ and locate your prized file. Take a deep breath and then CLICK ‘UPLOAD BOOK’!
- Once your book has completed upload, you can preview it to ensure the conversion is as you would hope. You may have to repeat some of these steps several times until you’re happy with the MOBI formatting.
Rights and Pricing
Finally you can select your rights and pricing choices. I recommend reading through KDP’s guide to educate yourself on their options. Essentially, the royalties available are either 35% for a book priced at a minimum of £0.99 (depending on file size), or 70% for a book priced at a minimum of £2.99.
That’s it – how to publish an ebook! You’re ready to go. Now the
fun hard work begins – promotion.
How to Market An eBook On Amazon
If you’re a blogger, you’re already one step ahead of most: utilise the platform you’ve built to shout about your achievement and entice potential buyers. Of course, there’s always the possibility of offering short-term discounts or freebies – which is a whole other post. Which I’m probably not going to write. But if it’s something you’d like to research, you can check out the pros and cons here:
What Happened When I Gave My Book Away for Free (link for this article appears to be broken, so I’ve removed it. By all means try copy/pasting it into your browser: http://timgrahl.com/free-book-giveaway-kindle-select/)
How to Launch a Book – KDP Select Free Book Promotion (sorry guys – annoyingly, this one too: http://marketingeasystreet.com/how-to-launch-book.php. Maybe they’re both big shot authors now, which is encouraging at least.)
If you have any questions feel free to drop them in the comments or email me and I’ll do my best to help you out.
All that remains is for me to wish you heaps of luck with your journey as a published author – congratulations!
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