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I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 35 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 11/30/2023

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Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 10:28 PM Pacific


  03:15 PM

Part 3 of a series about what I did to self-publish an ebook and then a paperback version of it.

I mentioned earlier that I published using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). To do that, you create a KDP project in Kindle Create (KC), as I covered in Part 2. You create one project for your Kindle ebook. If you want, you can create additional projects for other formats, which I'll get to in Part 4.

To get through the KDP publish process, you need to create and decide on a few things. Here's what I cover in this entry.

The book description

You must provide the text that Amazon uses on their site to describe your book, up to 4000 characters. It's probably a good idea to have that text ready to go when you start your KDP project. Here's where the description text shows up in Amazon:

ISBN

All books can have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). (I could call this an ISBN number, which would be a redundant acronym phrase, as covered in my book, haha.) In the US, you can buy ISBNs from Bowker at $125 a pop or $295 for 10. Because each edition of your book—including ebook vs print—uses a different ISBN, the package deal seems like it could be useful.

Amazon says that Kindle books are not required to have an ISBN. Because I really wasn't sure what to do, I skipped the ISBN for my Kindle edition. For other formats, like paperback, Amazon will give you a free ISBN, and that's what I did for the print edition.

Important point: if you want your book to be available anyplace other than through Amazon, you must provide your own ISBNs. If I were doing this all over, I'd probably buy my ISBNs independently so that I could use them as I wanted.

You can read more about how ISBNs work and whether and how to get them in Publishing: Everything the Indie Author Needs to Know about ISBNs for Self-published Books.

Cover art

Even though you're publishing an ebook, you need to have cover art. The cover appears in your Amazon listing and in readers' Kindle libraries. Ideally, you'd probably hire a professional for your cover art. (I didn't, and it shows.) KDP wants you to upload a .tif or .jpg file that's (ideally) 2560 pixels high by 1,600 pixels wide. There's a page on the KDP site that provides some more details about cover art specification.

I got help from one of our art- and tech-savvy kids. I created the speech-bubble word cloud on wordcloud.com and exported that, and then Art Kid imported that into Canva.com and we did the rest there and then exported a high-quality JPEG file. (She was taking my lead, so the amateur-ish nature of the cover is not to be blamed on anyone but me.)

Anyway, have your cover art ready to go when you start your KDP project.

Configure KDP for publishing the ebook

When you've got your manuscript and other prerequisites sorted out, you go to the KDP site and sign in with your Amazon credentials. Then click the big yellow Create button to begin your project. This starts a multi-page configuration process.

You upload your cover art and content on the second page. For the text, you upload the .kpf file that you created with Kindle Create.

After you've uploaded the manuscript, you can preview the book. Even though you might have previewed the book in Kindle Create, KDP really wants you to preview the book during the configuration process. Launch the previewer and have a look. If you want to make changes, you go back to Kindle Create (or all the way back to your Word doc), make the change, and then re-upload the .kpf file. When you're happy with the book, then—gulp—click the accept button.

Keywords and categories

You can specify up to 7 keywords that describe your book. This is basically SEO-lite, I guess? I used the keywords language, vocabulary, and linguistics.

You also have to enter "browse categories" based on the existing categories that Amazon uses on its site. Because my book was about language, I ended up using these two categories:

Nonfiction > Language Arts & Disciplines > Linguistics > General
Nonfiction > Language Arts & Disciplines > General

I admit that I don't understand how the categories that KDP was offering map to categories I see on the Amazon site itself. That said, you do have to pick two from the categories they offer, so one does one's best.

Pricing

The last page of the KDP configuration is about sales and pricing: where to sell the book, how to sell it, and what to charge for it. This is confusing, because they give you a range of prices and royalties, and unless you've already studied up, you might not know how your choices here affect the availability of your book. I chose $9.99 because I got the sense that that's what Amazon was trying to get me to do. :)

Ready? Go

After you've finished the KDP configuration, you click Publish Your Kindle ebook, and you're done. Within a pretty short time (a day? less?), your book will be live on Amazon as a Kindle book and you can tell all your friends.

Up next, Part 4: Formatting and publishing the paperback

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