How to Publish to Amazon Kindle

self-pubFirst of all, this blog post assumes you have completed a manuscript, formatted in the method Amazon requires, have a book cover image, have written your blurb, and have thought through things like copyright and ISBN. If you haven’t you are NOT ready to publish. You may want to check out our articles on those various toics. If you have done those things, then this is the article for you.

Today we’re going to walk you through the steps to self-publish an eBook with Amazon Kindle (which is super easy).

  1. Go to http://kdp.amazon.com
  2. Login with your regular Amazon login (so you get paid under your legal name – don’t worry if you’re using a different pen name)
  3. Click the “Create New Title” button
  4. KDP Select
    1. This is an option where you do NOT load it at other eBook retailers or distributors for 90 days. See below for more info.
  5. Enter the book details (Amazon is very good about providing definitions for each) including:
    1. Book Name
    2. Book Subtitle (if any)
    3. Series Name (if any)
    4. Series Volume – the number of this book within the series (if any)
    5. Edition Number – if this is a republishing (if any)
    6. Publisher – leave blank for self-publishing
    7. Description – the book blurb
    8. Book Contributors – I recommend only the author (you) – this is where you put your pen name
    9. Language – leave as English
    10. ISBN (if any)
  6. Verify Publishing Rights
    1. If this is a work of fiction from your own hand which you can copyright, then you are selecting “This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights.”
  7. Target Your Book
    1. Categories – you only get two from a predefined list. Yours will likely fall under Fiction and then a subcategory
    2. Age Range – I have heard that this can pull you out of search results. However if you write romance with steamy scenes or erotica, I personally suggest you use it. But that’s from the POV of a mother. 🙂
    3. U.S. Grade – Only use this if you’re writing children’s books
    4. Search keywords – You get up to 7, and they can be phrases rather than single words. See below for more info.
  8. Book Release Option
    1. Select either immediately or pick a date within 90 days
    2. If you pick a date, your book goes on preorder. There are lots of articles about using preorder. My suggestion is putting it on preorder at a lower price for 2-4 weeks prior to release, but not sooner.
  9. Book Cover
    1. Upload the JPG of your final book cover (see our lesson on book covers)
  10. Upload Your Book File
    1. Digital Rights Management
      1. Read the description carefully and decide for yourself which you’d prefer to do. This one is total personal preference.
    2. Pre-Order
      1. If you select a future date, you can state whether this version you are uploading is draft or final. You are REQUIRED to upload something, even if it’s not finished.
      2. You will want to select draft until you really have uploaded your final copy.
    3. Upload
      1. Open your final formatted Word document of your book (see our lesson on formatting
      2. Save as > Web Page, Filtered
      3. Upload the web page filtered version of the file
      4. Use the online tool provided to check your book in multiple Kindle formats to make sure it looks good
  11. Click “Save and Continue”
  12. Verify Your Publishing Territories
    1. Unless you have a specific reason not to publish in a specific country, select “Worldwide”
  13. Select Pricing
    1. Select a Royalty %
      1. if your book is $2.99 and up, select 70%
      2. if it’s under that price, you have to select 35%
    2. Enter a Price under “Amazon.com” and let the other territories automatically calculate based on conversion rates
  14. Kindle Matchbook
    1. Checking this option will allow people who buy a print copy to get a free eBook copy.
    2. Personal preference here, but my opinion is, they paid for your book already (and a lot more than just the ebook version) so go ahead and check this option to give it to them.
  15. Kindle Book Lending
    1. Check this option if you want Kindle users to be able to lend their kindle copy to friends for a period of up to 14 days each.
    2. Another personal preference, but my theory is they are helping you find new readers who might purchase your other books.
  16. Check the “Terms and Conditions” box
  17. Click the “Save and Publish” button

 

It typically takes about 24 hours to publish once you click the button. Here are a few more things to consider…

KDP Select

Primarily you would choose to do this because of the marketing related tools you get with it, and the potential to earn more $ with Kindle Pages. At this time, my personal opinion is the free days aren’t worth it, but the Amazon ads are. For the first 90 days. Then turn it off and publish at other retailers.

Keywords

Some would argue that keywords are one of the most important things you can enter to help get your book noticed. You can enter full phrases as a single keyword. You get up to 7 keywords.

One method to find keywords is to go on Amazon into the Kindle books section and drill down in the categories on the side. For example, under Paranormal Romance you’ll find things like werewolves & shapeshifters. So you might make that a keyword if your book falls under it.

However, the best keyword advice I’ve found, I found here: https://kindlepreneur.com/kindle-keywords-fiction-author-strategy/

Pricing

There are tons of strategies on setting eBook pricing. Smashwords does an entire presentation on it. This, again is personal preference. I suggest you do your research, look at other similar books (genre and length) by self-pub’d authors, and debate the royalties implications. (IF you price under $2.99 you can only get 35% royalty. Above $2.99 and you get 70%).

Your Book Link

Once your book publishes, when you go to kdp.amazon.com and look at the book in the dashboard, a string of number and letters will show up under the title. Those are your ASIN. The direct link to your book will be:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/ASIN (the ASIN # goes there)

Does Size Matter?

doessizematterFor self-publication purposes, it’s important to know a few technical aspects of what you’ll require from your book cover designer in order to be able to upload the cover to the eBook retailer and distributor sites and/or Print-On-Demand (POD) sites you choose to publish through.

Every retailer/distributor/POD is a little different. They will post their requirements or recommendations on line. For the 3 that we focus on in this post, here’s what you need to know:

Amazon (retailer):

Amazon suggests a ratio which is skinnier than most eBooks, which then makes your book cover look odd when in a line up with other covers. Their suggestion is not a requirement. As long as it’s 2500 pixels or more long, you’re good. We suggest the following:

  • Type: JPG
  • Color: RGB (most images are in this)
  • Size: 3000 (high) x 2000 (wide) pixels

If it’s a white background, a 1-pixel, dark border needs to be added to the edges so that you can tell where the book cover starts/stops when shown on a white background (like Amazon web pages).

Smashwords (distributor):

Smashwords cover image requirement is that the image be over 1400 pixels on the short side (width). Their recommendation is 1600 px wide. In addition it has to be under 20MB, and they also prefer JPG.

The 3000×2000 image made for Amazon also works for Smashwords.

Create Space (POD):

Because POD is print, we now have to worry about the spine and the back of the cover as well. eBooks, we only care about the front of the cover.

You have two options with this.

Option 1

A cover designer can do a design for print that is a full wrap (includes front, spine, an back of the cover).  This option typically means more $. In addition, your cover designer will need details such as the size of the book and the number of pages to help determine the size of the spine.

Option 2

The easier/cheaper option is to use the front cover design only! Yup. You heard me right.

Create Space has an awesome cover designer tool which comes with several options. Select the SPRUCE design, which allows for a single image on the front cover. You then enter the text for the spine and back cover, and select a solid color for the spine and back cover and text.

Social Media:

You’ll also want a few different sizes for social media and to give reviewers.

You’ll want a JPG in the following sizes:

  • 750 x 500 pixels
  • 300 x 200 pixels

You could also do a 150 pixel size, but honestly, most social media resizes to the smaller dimensions easily for you.

 

ISBN, Copyright, & Pen Names

isbn-copyright-pennamePart of publishing a book is understanding and making a few decisions about the legal-related items. CAVEAT…we are NOT lawyers. So please make sure to do separate, thorough research into each of these aspects of publishing. The purpose of this article is to get you started with the basics (as we understand them).

ISBNs

ISBN – or international standard book number – is a 13-digit # assigned to a book which is used internationally by libraries and booksellers to identify a book, the specific edition, author, and publisher. Which means…you guessed it…you will likely have multiple ISBNs for what you think of as a single book.  Off the bat, you’ll have an ISBN for the eBook, and a different ISBN for the print book. If you ever republish, then you get new ISBNs.

ISBN is NOT related to copyrighting. ISBNs are controlled by Boker (https://www.myidentifiers.com). You can purchase a single ISBN, or a block of them. You then use the Boker website to assign those ISBNs to books as needed. It’s not cheap to purchase.

When you’re ready to publish, go back on the Boker website and fill out a form assigning one of your numbers to a specific book. Once an ISBN is assigned it can never be reused or repurposed.

Currently (as of December 2016) an ISBN is optional for eBooks. The reason being how many versions (EPUB, MOBI, PDF on various retailers or distributors) there can be. In addition, some retailers or distributors will assign one of their ISBNs for you. Our suggestion is:

  1. Use a purchased ISBN for Amazon Kindle eBook upload
  2. Use a FREE Smashwords ISBN for all other eBooks
  3. Use a FREE CreateSpace ISBN for your print book

Just make sure you are changing the ISBN listed on the copyright page in the copy you upload at each of those sites to match the ISBN for that version.

Copyright

Copyright is a form of protection for intellectual property. It covers both published and unpublished works. Essentially, the second you put pen to paper, you are copyrighted. The date is typically associated with  when you finish OR when you publish (go with the later date of the two).

Technically, you do not have to apply for copyright from any authority. However, we do recommend that you do, because, were you to get into a legal battle, it’s a bit easier to prove you’re the owner of a work if you officially registered the copyright. You can do so at: http://www.copyright.gov/ .

A couple things to note:

  • Copyrights aren’t the same as Trademarks which are more about protecting a brand.
  • You CAN get sued for improper use of Trademarks. Most publishers will either eliminate named brands (say soda instead of Coke, say fairy tale princess instead of Disney princess) or will use the copyright page to list all trademarks mentioned in the book.
  • Please take the time to look into what copyright does and doesn’t cover.
  • Copyright doesn’t necessarily apply outside the U.S. In general, most countries try to honor copyrights, but not all do, and how they do may differ.

The biggest issue in this area for self-published authors is pirate site which publish a copy of your eBook and sell it without explicit permission from you, and sharing ZERO of the profit with you. When you find your book on these sites, you can ask to have them removed, but often that does little. Most of the time, there’s little recourse. Sorry!

Pen Names

A pen name is a made up name used by writers, usually to protect their identity, or sometimes for branding purposes. The use of a pen name is a personal choice and one made for a ton of different reasons. Here is a good website with a list of questions to consider when thinking about your pen name: http://www.writing-world.com/business/pen.shtml

If you do decide to write under a pen name, here are a few things to know:

  • There is no place to officially register a pen name
  • When registering copyright or ISBN, there is a place to enter your pen name
  • When uploading books for publication, you enter your pen name as the author name
  • At most writing conventions, workshops, groups, etc. you will go by your pen name, so think about having to answer to it in person.

What’s the “Matter”?

whatsthematterA book–regardless of ebook or print–is divided into three main sections.

  1. Front Matter
  2. Body of the Book
  3. Back Matter

Until you publish, you concentrate primarily on the body of the book–the manuscript, which becomes the body of the book. When you’re getting ready to publish is when  you get to start worrying about the front and back matter.

You will find that different publishers (traditional and indie) are very consistent with certain elements. For example, the title page is always front matter. But publishers are also inconsistent with certain elements. For example, the author’s acknowledgments might show up in the front matter OR the back matter.

As a self-published author, when deciding what to include in your front/back matter, we recommend you open up a couple of the print books and eBooks in your genre, from several different publishers, and see how they do it (what they  include, what order, etc.). Decide what you like best and borrow with pride.

To get you started we have a quick list with recommendations for both. Let’s examine the different elements that you could put in the front and back matter below.

FRONT MATTER

Title Page

Should include the title of the book, subtitle (if any), series name (if any), and author’s name. Some traditional publishers include the publishing house on this page.

Excerpt

A short (one page) excerpt from the book. Make it one which will hook a reader. Often placed before the title page.

Praise for the Author

Include early praise from ARC readers if you have it. Or, include praise for any similar books such as the same genre or series. Also, a good page to include any awards or other accolades.

Copyright Page

Tecnically the only elements required are the copyright symbol, your pen name, and the year. However, publishers may also include things like disclaimers, cover designer, editor, ISBN #, and more.

Dedication

Could just be a name, or you might write a paragraph. Author’s perogative.

Table of Contents

Self-explanatory.

Other

There are other elements which are more common to non-fiction, but we wanted to list them for your information:

  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Forward
  • Preface
  • Introduction

BACK MATTER

Author Acknowledgements

Your chance to thank all those folks who helped and supported you through the process.

Author Biography

Info about you, the author. Usually a good place to include links to where to follow you. Remember to type them out so they show properly in the print version!

Marketing Blurb

A blurb hyping up your next book. A list of available books. A list of where to follow you. You name it.

Excerpts from Upcoming Titles

If you’ve got an excerpt available for an upcoming release–especially for the same series–always good to include!

Other

There are other mostly marketing related things you can put in the back, which I wanted to list for your information:

  • Call to Post a Review
  • Call to sign up for your newsletter
  • Call to connect with the author via social media
  • Book Club Questions

 

Introduction to Print Book Self-Publishing

You wrote a book and now you are thinking about self-publishing, but don’t know what steps to take. First, it’s important to understand what self-publishing means and what options are available to you.

When self-publishing a book, you can publish it to eBook, to print-on-demand, or both. Last week we talked about eBooks. Today we’ll focus on self-publishing in Print.

Benefits of Self-Publishing a Print Book

Tablet computer and pile books on the background of the fireplacWhile eBooks make up the majority of self-published authors’ sales, the industry continues to beat us over the head with one simple fact: print publishing is not dead. A good portion of readers still prefer print. So, from a logical standpoint, having a print option available will help you reach more readers.

In addition, print books are useful marketing tools. Giving away signed print copies of your books is a common options for all authors. Having print copies for contests, for reviewers who only read print, or for conventions and book signing opportunities is also handy.

Plus, there’s the simple satisfaction of holding a copy of YOUR BOOK in your hand.

Print Book Options

You have two options when it comes to getting your book in print:

1. Traditional Press

Traditional presses still exist to help you print and distribute your books. In fact, most small presses out there use traditional presses rather than option 2 below. Traditional presses hold inventory, and work through bookstores. They can be cheaper per copy than print-on-demand. However, you have to commit to a minimum print run (1000 copies or more). This means a hefty up-front cost which you may never recoup if those print copies don’t sell.

2. Print-On-Demand

Print-on-Demand is just that. They hold no inventory. They only print a copy when one is ordered. This means zero up-front cost and no inventory to sell in order to recoup your investment. However, most bookstores don’t bother stocking print-on-demand books.

When deciding between these two options, you should consider the reasons you want/need a print book, the monetary investment you are willing to make, the pros and cons with both options.

Print-On-Demand Options

The majority of self-published authors go with the  Print-On-Demand option for various reasons. So, when going with POD, who do you publish with?

There are several companies out there you can use. We recommend CreateSpace which is a division of Amazon. Your print book will sell on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (website only). Just remember, as POD, your book will not be in bookstores.

Another option we’ve seen recommended is also publishing through Ingram Spark, a major wholesaler in the U.S. Ingram does not sell through Amazon, however, independent bookstores might be more inclined to work with Ingram to stock your book in their stores, potentially allowing you to reach more readers.

Formatting for Publication

Once you are ready to publish your written (and hopefully well edited) book, it’s time to format the content to get it ready to publish via the press or POD solution(s) you’ve selected.

The traditional press will format for you. But the POD companies will require you format your own book before uploading to them. (Note: Many do offer the service for a charge.) Each company has their own “rules” about how to format (tabs, spacing, font size, etc.) and even about what types of files to upload (.doc, .docx, .pdf, etc.).

The good news is, each POD company provides detailed formatting instructions. Many provide online tutorials. And most also provide an online tool so you can view your book page-by-page to check and make sure it’s perfect before you ever print a letter.

Print book formatting is much more complicated than eBook, because the eBook devices (like Kindles and Nooks) do a lot of the work for you. But with print books, you have to ensure every single detail on each page looks good. In addition, you have to set up details like page numbering (but not on things like title pages), mirrored margins, justification, the headers at the tops of the pages, and so on. Formatting for print requires some advanced working knowledge of Word.

If your book is straight text with no images, the formatting piece is fairly straight forward. However, if you have images (like a children’s book or a non-fiction book), the formatting gets even more complicated, and you may want to consider getting help.

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The below topics were also discussed in the eBook Publishing post as they apply to both and we’ve adjusted the information slightly to be specific to Print books…

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LEGALITIES

We are not lawyers, so this is NOT legal advice. Make sure you research all legal advice about your books thoroughly.

Your Rights

When you self-publish a book–eBook or print–regardless of retailer or distributor or print company you use, you retain ALL rights to that book. That means, if a traditional publisher comes knocking, you still have the right to “unpublish” your self-published work, and sign a contract to publish with that publisher. At that point, read your contract, because your rights change.

HOWEVER–because print copies of your original work now exist in the world, online distributors like Amazon will continue to offer the print version on their websites for those instances of used book sales. They will “unpublish” the book so that no new copies will be printed, but old copies they still must account for. Many traditional publishers won’t like this. Just be aware of the potential impact!

Copyrighting / Licensing

Your book is considered copyrighted as soon as you write it. You don’t have to put the copyright symbol on it. However, you definitely want to register your copyright as this makes it public record.

You can register your copyright through copyright.gov.

While we’re on the topic, beware of any copyright infringement issues you may have with your own work–both text and images. Make sure you have the right to publish everything in that book. This is an entire topic by itself.

More Info on Copyrighting

ISBNs

An ISBN is required for print books. However, most POD companies give you the option of using an ISBN they have already purchased.

If you’re US-based, you can buy  ISBNs through MyIdentifiers.com. Unfortunately, this is an expensive process for a block of ISBNs.

GATHER YOUR INFORMATION

check

Once your book is edited and the content is formatted for whichever option you will publish through, there is still some additional info you want to have at the ready for when you go to publish that book. Make sure you have the following:

  • Book Title
  • Book Subtitle (if any)
  • Series Title (if any), & Volume #
  • Edition # (if any – this is if you have multiple versions out there)
  • Publisher (if any, for self leave it blank unless directed otherwise)
  • Description (this is your book blurb)
  • Contributors (typically just the author, although you can put the editor, cover designer, graphic artist in if you wish)
  • Language
  • ISBN # (see above info)
  • Public Domain OR you hold the publishing rights (original work created by you)
  • Categories (differs by retailer and distributor – usually there’s a selection)
  • Age and/or Grade (optional, and not on all retailer or distributor sites)
  • Keywords (common search terms you think people would use to find your book)
  • Book File (formatted to the POD specifications, and checked a thousand times)
  • Book Cover File (also formatted to the retailer or distributor specifications – cover image sizes/types are fairly standard)
  • Pricing (your royalty % may differ depending on the price you choose)
  • Distribution (options will depend on the POD company you choose)

ONE-STOP-SHOP VS. FREELANCERS VS. DIY

Finally, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with information, let’s talk about how to get all this done–whether you do it yourself (DIY), contract a couple of freelancers (like Authors On A Dime) to help you, or go with a full-service option.

Publishing an eBook is a multi-staged process:

  • Write the book
  • Edit the content of the book (plot, conflict, character development, etc.)
  • Edit the grammar (make it as clean as possible)
  • Design a book cover
  • Take Care of Legalities (copyright, ISBN, licensing, etc.)
  • Format the book for publication
  • Convert the book to Print-On-Demand format
  • Publish the book with POD companies

Depending on your experience and skill sets, you may do all these steps yourself or you may get help.

100% Free – Do It Yourself (DIY): In today’s world of self-publishing, the process to actually publish a Print book is “FREE” and relatively easy. The POD company(s) you publish with get a percentage of each Print book sold as their “fee” for allowing you to publish through them and for printing each copy. But beyond that, you don’t pay to publish.

Free/Paid Combo – Freelance Services:  You may want help with various other aspects, like the editing or book cover, or, especially for print, the formatting. There are tons of freelancers (like Authors On A Dime) out there who can help you with different aspects of self-publishing as needed. From editing, to formatting, to publishing, to marketing, there’s help available for everything.

100% Paid – Full Service: There are several full-service vendors out there who not only publish your book, but have people to help with editing, creating the cover etc. They do this for an up-front fee. Just a heads up, the fee can be very pricey. In addition, some POD companies also offer editing, formatting, and publishing services for a fee.

Pro und Contra, gut und schlecht, ja und nein

Which to choose? 

At the very least, almost every self-publishing book and article out there will recommend you get help with editing and with the book cover. But the actual publishing–formatting, uploading (converting) can be done by you, the author, for free. And we highly recommend taking advantage of that option.

That, however, is easier done with eBook than with print because of the additional formatting needs. If you are not an advanced Word user, we recommend you add formatting to your “get outside help with this” list.

Do you need help with editing or book cover, and for print, the formatting? For the average author, the answer is absolutely. As Authors On A Dime offers those services, obviously we recommend using freelancers to help  you with those steps. Going with freelancers:

  • Allows you to pick and choose which services you truly need.
  • Allows you to select a freelancer who YOU think will do the best work for your vision.
  • Will most likely save you quite a bit of money (vs. full-service) as well as time (vs. 100% DIY).

Our advice is to look at your skills and ALL the options before you decide on where you need help and who the best provider might be for that help.

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?

Feel free to ask in the comments or contact Authors On A Dime directly. We’re happy to talk to you about any of this!🙂 Don’t forget to check out our full range of helpful self-publishing services!

We also regularly run a workshop on this topic: Get Started Self-Publishing! Check our workshops for the next opportunity!

 

Service Spotlight: Formatting for POD

welcome-open-for-business-shop-neon-light-signFormatting to publish an eBook is relatively easy, particularly if the book is text-only. You don’t have to worry about things like mirrored margins, how the pages are breaking, how the text is spacing out, orphan lines, etc. But with Print-On-Demand (POD) books, you have to check for all those things, and more!

Authors On A Dime offers a few different packages to help you get your self-published book print ready. Let’s look at the service options:

Formatting your content to self-publish a Print-on-Demand book includes the below formatting for Amazon Create Space:

  • Creating/formatting front matter as requested
    • Title Page
    • Dedication
    • Copyright Page
    • Table of Contents
  • Formatting manuscript content
    • Mirrored page format with margins
    • Chapter breaks
    • Chapter headers
    • Proper indentation and space between paragraphs/lines
    • Font size/style
    • Page titles (author’s name on even pages, book title on odd pages)
    • Page numbers
  • Creating/formatting back matter as requested
    • About the Author
    • Letter from the Author

You will be provided one document ready to upload in CreateSpace.

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The basic formatting package (see pricing below) includes all of the above. In addition, you can add formatting for other more complicated elements, including pictures, tables, and additional front or back matter pages. Those elements are added on an “as requested” basis for the additional pricing listed below.

PRICING

  • Basic Formatting Package / 1-250 page manuscript ($40/book)
  • Basic Formatting Package / 251-500 page manuscript ($75/book)
  • Basic Formatting Package / 501+ page manuscript (Custom Quote)
  • Additional Front or Back Matter Pages ($5/page)
  • Formatting Tables ($25/5 tables)
  • Formatting Images – $50/book (up to 5 images, more will require a custom quote)

TRY OUT THE SERVICE: You may “try out” this service by having us format 1 chapter for FREE–Basic Package level.  (Free 1 time only.)

PACKAGE DEAL: The eBook formatted version of your manuscript will be 1/2 price (on the basic package) if ordered at the same time as the Print-on-Demand formatting.

*Page count based on double spaced, Times New Roman, 12pt font, with standard margins.

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*To request other services, in addition to publishing services, click the “Request Services” link in the menu.

 

*We are not a publisher. We are authors helping other authors. Formatting for eBook is based on the guidelines provided by Create Space. We do not guarantee sales.

Introduction to eBook Self-Publishing

self-pubYou wrote a book and now you are thinking about self-publishing, but don’t know what steps to take. First, it’s important to understand what self-publishing means and what options are available to you.

When self-publishing a book, you can publish it to eBook, to print-on-demand, or both. Today we’ll focus on self-publishing an eBook. Next week we’ll talk about print.

Benefits of Self-Publishing an eBook

There are many benefits to self-publishing vs. going the traditional publishing route.

  • You are in control of all aspects including publication date and pricing.
  • You retain all rights, and can publish at any online retailer you wish.
  • You earn a larger piece of the pie (higher royalty %).
  • Implementing changes is easy and quick.

In addition, thanks to technology, self-publishing an eBook is a relatively easy, low tech option. There are tools and online services which help you format your finished book and upload it to retailers like Amazon where anyone can buy a copy of your work.

As always, there are pros and cons to both sides. For a deeper look, check out this article from Writer’s Digest.

So what do you need to know before jumping into self-publishing an eBook? Let’s dig into how this world works!

What is an eBook Retailer?

eBook Retailers are those companies which sell eBooks online. These include stores like:

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Barnes & Noble Nook
  • Kobo
  • Apple iBooks
  • Google Play
  • There are many more eBook retailers. Some are even genre specific.

As an author, you have the ability to sell your work on these online stores. For this service, a retailer collects a small fee–typically a % of your sales.

*Note we said SELL eBooks. Beware of pirate sites which give away unlicensed eBooks for free. The author never sees a penny for their hard work thanks to these sharks. Be careful as there are also sites which highlight when an eBook is being offered for free or a discount. But they will always point back to legitimate retailers.

What is an eBook Distributor?

depositphotos_21584609_s-2015eBook Distributors are 3rd party companies (a.k.a. middlemen) who push your eBook out to many (if not all) eBook retailers for you. Distributors for books include:

  • Smashwords
  • BookBaby
  • Draft2Digital
  • And many more…research them well before choosing.

The difference between a distributor and a retailer is that you upload one single formatted version of your book at one online site. The distributor then takes that one copy and formats it appropriately for each of the individual retailers (most of whom have different formatting rules), and then publishes for you. In addition, they will track your sales, gather the payments from all the retailers, and send you one check.

For this service, a distributor collects a small fee–typically a % of your sales. Remember, the retailer still takes a % of your sales too, so this is additional money out of your pocket. However, the convenience of the service may be well worth considering.

Opt In Exclusivity Programs

Publishing with retailers is non-exclusive. In other words, you can publish anywhere you want, and aren’t just limited to that one retailer.

Some retailers have exclusive programs you can opt in to joining. An example is KDP Select for Amazon. In exchange for publishing your eBook exclusively with that retailer for a predetermined amount of time (like 3 months), you get access to certain additional services from them, usually marketing driven.

If you do opt in for a program like this, just remember you may NOT publish that eBook anywhere else (retailers OR distributors) for the length of the agreement.

Formatting for Publishing

Once you are ready to publish your written (and hopefully well edited) book, it’s time to format the content to get it ready to publish via the retailers and/or distributor you have selected.

Nearly every retailer and distributor will require you format your own book before uploading to them. Each retailer has their own “rules” about how to format (tabs, spacing, font size, etc.) and even about what types of files to upload (.doc, .docx, .pdf, etc.). In addition, books can render differently on devices. For example, you only upload one file to Amazon for Kindle eBooks, however, they have many different types of Kindles, and what looks good on one may look off on another.

The good news is, each retailer and distributor provides detailed formatting instructions. Many provide online tutorials. Also, if you go with a distributor, you only have to format once before uploading. They’ll do the rest of the work for you to make your book look good at each retailer.

If your book is straight text with no images, the formatting piece is fairly straight forward and easy DIY. However, if you have images (like a children’s book or a non-fiction book), the formatting gets more complicated, and you may want to consider getting help.

Converting to eBook Files

End-to-EndFormatting your book appropriately doesn’t make it readable on eReader devices like Kindle and Nook. The file needs to be converted to an appropriate file type.

The most commonly used file types for eBooks are:

  • EPUB – The most common file type for eBooks.
  • MOBI – File type preferred for Amazon Kindle devices.
  • PDF – Can be read on most devices, but does not convert nearly as well and can be difficult to read.

In general, you do NOT convert your book to the eBook file type. You simply upload a word document (in most cases), formatted to the retailer’s or distributor’s specifications. They do the work behind the scenes to convert your book to the appropriate file type(s).

In the past, retailers have NOT provided authors the eBook file itself. This can be problematic if you are trying to send your book to reviewers who want an EPUB or MOBI version which allows them to read the book on their eReader device.

Consequently, software and online tools such as Calibre, Sigil, and Scrivener sprang up which will help you convert your book to one of the standard eBook file types. With Word, you can also save the file as a PDF, however, the formatting doesn’t always render well in the conversion, so be sure to check.

In the last year or so, some retailers, like Amazon, have started providing the eBook file upon request. But not all do this yet.

The good news…rather than converting the file yourself, most distributors–like Smashwords–DO provide your converted book in all the various eBook file types. Again, they do the work for you in exchange for a % of your sales.

Legalities

We are not lawyers, so this is NOT legal advice. Make sure you research all legal advice about your books thoroughly.

Your Rights

When you self-publish an eBook, regardless of retailer or distributor, you retain ALL rights to that book. That means, if a traditional publisher comes knocking, you still have the right to “unpublish” your self-published work, and sign a contract to publish with that publisher. At that point, read your contract, because your rights change.

Copyrighting / Licensing

Your book is considered copyrighted as soon as you write it. You don’t have to put the copyright symbol on it. However, you definitely want to register your copyright as this makes it public record.

You can register your copyright through copyright.gov.

While we’re on the topic, beware of any copyright infringement issues you may have with your own work–both text and images. Make sure you have the right to publish everything in that book. This is an entire topic by itself.

More Info on Copyrighting

ISBNs

An ISBN is NOT required for eBooks to be sold through most retailers. However, some retailers and distributors do require one, therefore, it’s a good idea to have one so you don’t limit yourself.

Some retailers and distributors (like Smashwords) will assign an ISBN for you, but that ISBN is only valid for the version of the book uploaded through them.

If you’re US-based, you can buy through MyIdentifiers.com. Unfortunately, this is an expensive process for a block of ISBNs.

Gather Your Information

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Once your book is edited and the content is formatted for whichever retailer(s) and/or distributor you will publish through, there is still some additional info you want to have at the ready for when you go to publish that book. Make sure you have the following:

  • Book Title
  • Book Subtitle (if any)
  • Series Title (if any), & Volume #
  • Edition # (if any – this is if you have multiple versions out there)
  • Publisher (if any, for self leave it blank unless directed otherwise)
  • Description (this is your book blurb)
  • Contributors (typically just the author, although you can put the editor, cover designer, graphic artist in if you wish)
  • Language
  • ISBN # (see above info)
  • Public Domain OR you hold the publishing rights (original work created by you)
  • Categories (differs by retailer and distributor – usually there’s a selection)
  • Age and/or Grade (optional, and not on all retailer or distributor sites)
  • Keywords (common search terms you think people would use to find your book)
  • Book File (formatted to the retailer or distributor specifications)
  • Book Cover File (also formatted to the retailer or distributor specifications – cover image sizes/types are fairly standard)
  • Pricing (your royalty % may differ depending on the price you choose)
  • Distribution (a single country, several countries, or worldwide where a given retailer is set up?)
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM) – yes or no. More info…

One-Stop-Shop vs. Freelancers vs. DIY

Finally, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with information, let’s talk about how to get all this done–whether you do it yourself (DIY), contract a couple of freelancers (like Authors On A Dime) to help you, or go with a full-service option.

Publishing an eBook is a multi-staged process:

  • Write the book
  • Edit the content of the book (plot, conflict, character development, etc.)
  • Edit the grammar (make it as clean as possible)
  • Design a book cover
  • Take Care of Legalities (copyright, ISBN, licensing, etc.)
  • Format the book for publication
  • Convert the book to eBook format
  • Publish the book with online retailers

Depending on your experience and skill sets, you may do all these steps yourself or you may get help.

100% Free – Do It Yourself (DIY): In today’s world of self-publishing, the process to actually publish an eBook (put the book up on retail sites like Amazon) is “FREE” and relatively easy. The retailers you publish with get a percentage of each eBook sold as their “fee” for allowing you to publish through them. But beyond that, you don’t pay to publish.

Free/Paid Combo – Freelance Services:  You may want help with various other aspects, like the editing or book cover. There are tons of freelancers (like Authors On A Dime) out there who can help you with different aspects of self-publishing as needed. From editing, to formatting, to publishing, to marketing, there’s help available for everything.

100% Paid – Full Service: There are several full-service vendors out there who not only publish your book, but have people to help with editing, creating the cover etc. They do this for an up-front fee. Just a heads up, the fee can be very pricey. In addition, some retailers or distributors also offer editing, formatting, and publishing services.

Pro und Contra, gut und schlecht, ja und nein

Which to choose? 

At the very least, almost every self-publishing book and article out there will recommend you get help with editing and with the book cover. But the actual publishing–formatting, uploading (converting)–through retailers and/or a distributor can be done by you, the author, for free. And we highly recommend taking advantage of that option.

Do you need help with editing or book cover? For the average author, the answer is absolutely. As Authors On A Dime offers those services, obviously we recommend using freelancers to help  you with those steps. Going with freelancers:

  • Allows you to pick and choose which services you truly need.
  • Aallows you to select a freelancer who YOU think will do the best work for your vision.
  • Will most likely save you quite a bit of money (vs. full-service) as well as time (vs. 100% DIY).

Our advice is to look at your skills and ALL the options before you decide on where you need help and who the best provider might be for that help.

Still Have Questions?

Feel free to ask in the comments or contact Authors On A Dime directly. We’re happy to talk to you about any of this! 🙂 Don’t forget to check out our full range of helpful self-publishing services!

We also have a workshop coming up in October: Get Started Self-Publishing! Sign up now!