Indie Publishing for the Raw Beginner
So, how many of you have finished a book or short story, and gotten cold feet?
This is a primer just for you. It’s based on MS Word, and publishing an ebook on Amazon.com’s KDP system. If you’re on a different system, you’ll need to hunt for the equivalent commands.
Then . . .
Got Beta Readers? They say go? Excellent. Now find a grammar nazi and turn them loose on it.
You will need a cover. Think 2000 x 3000 px .jpg
You will need a blurb, to entice readers to give it a try. Don’t how? Start here: https://madgeniusclub.com/2017/10/15/blurb-clinic/
I work in MS Word, and upload my manuscripts in .Doc or .Docx . Some people like more control, but I don’t do fancy embellishments or drop caps, so this works fine for me.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. But if you don’t know how to use that “Styles” thing up there on the tool bar? Find out, because you’ll need it for the Active Table of Contents. Make the main body of your story “Normal” style. Chapter titles “Heading 1.” Subtitles “Heading 2.” I make scene break markers “Heading 3” just because it makes it easy for me to find them while writing and editing.
Everything but Title and Chapter headings is the same font, same size
All the chapter titles start on a new page (control enter for a hard page break, please) and are the same size/font.
All the chapter titles are the same style. And make it “Heading 1”. Make subtitles “Heading 2” and so on. Trust me, you’ll see how handy this is when we get to the Table of Contents.
One or two blank lines under the chapter title to the start of the writing. Whatever looks best to you . . . but it needs to be the same for every chapter. Ditto, the space above the chapter title, if any.
The legal page. Grab a couple of books and flange up something along those lines. If you are only publishing an ebook on Amazon, you do not need an ISBN.
Back matter. You know, the stuff at the back of the book. Have you got another book that will be coming out soon? A snippet is a good idea. Author Bio, if you want, and an active link list of all your other books, once you’ve got other books.
The Active Table of Contents for an ebook. You need the active TOC so when readers click on “Chapter Five: The Elopement” and it takes them right there. How do you do that? Dead easy. Get yourself a blank page after that legal page up there. Click on the “References” tab at the top blue tool bar. Far left, click on “Table of Contents” Ignore all the automatic stuff and go to the bottom of the menu. Click on “Custom table of Contents.” Uncheck the “Show Page Numbers” box and pick how many levels of chapter and subchapters you want in the TOC. Click on OK. Look it over. You can remove a few things you don’t want there, or remove it and do it all over again.
Right, now it’s really, really done.
And it’s time to publish.
The KDP Process
Use the same user name and password as for your Amazon purchasing, or not. Whatever. https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
Oh, and they’ll want a bank account number, so they can send you money every month. Your SS# so they can tell the IRS how much you made. They will mail you a W2 to file with your taxes.
So, on to the three page submission form.
It starts out pretty easy.
Leave blank anything that you don’t have, like subtitles and contributors.
Then just paste that blurb in.
Then it gets nasty.
Then I go back up to the Keywords and think of what might work. This is something you might also want to research ahead of time. There are lists . . . https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200652170
Unless you are specifically writing for children, totally ignore the age range stuff.
Unless you think you can whip up a lot of interest with a pre-order, I’d skip this too, and just publish the thing.
Click the Save and Continue.
[The site didn’t want to show me page two until I’d done page one (sigh) so I went back and grabbed a shot of my most recent. Sorry, but there’s not much change from the blank.]
Now the big one. Upload your manuscript. Yes, the version with all the typos fixed, the legal page, the Active Table of Contents. (Don’t ask me often I sent the wrong file, because I’m not telling.)
It takes a few minutes, depending on file size. Go get a drink, kick back. Once it’s uploaded, it has to be processed.
While it’s chewing away at that, upload your cover.
And when they are both processed, do take a look through the online previewer. Tedious as all get out, just clicking through and spotting all the chapters that don’t start on a new page and things like that. Keep notes. Ditto that list of misspelled words. Some of them (hey, I write SF, I have a lot of weird names) are okay, other ones, make note of.
Then go back to your manuscript, fix them, and upload it again.
Rinse and repeat as needed, till it’s right.
Publisher type name if you’ve got one. If you don’t, your name will be listed as the publisher.
Click Save and Continue . . .
I, personally, like to have my books on KULL. As a mostly unknown author, I need those frequent readers to try me. So yes to being on Kindle Select, which doesn’t show here, but would have if it had let me get to the blank page two.
If you want to “go wide” and publish on multiple platforms, then, say no to Select.
Territories. Unless you have a reason not to, go for worldwide.
Royalties and Pricing. 35% for less than $2.99. I sell my short stories for $0.99. *Personal preferences here* Once a story get up over 15K, and definitely over 20K, I jump to $2.99 and 70%. Over 40K $3.99. Over 60K $4.99 the first year then drop to $3.99. Over 80K stays at $4.99.
Your mileage may vary, and I’m not known for consistency or remembering when somethings been up for a year.
Lending. Why not, but it’s locked anyway.
Read what you’re agreeing to.
PUSH THE BUTTON!
Nothing to it. Really.