A friend recently asked me how one went about self publishing a book on Amazon, and I thought it might be of interest to others too, so here is my overview.
First of all, lets look at publishing a print book:
Amazon owns an on-line publisher called Create Space, who do the actual publishing. They are an on-demand publisher, meaning that they will only print a book when it is ordered, which keep costs to a minimum.
Once you have a manuscript to publish the process is fairly straightforward, and you can find on-line help at each step of the way, and/or join a user’s forum to get other advice/help. The process looks something like this:
1. Open a Create Space Account at https://www.createspace.com
2. Create a new “project” – this will be your book when it is published.
3. You get to select the sort of book, size paper, what the price is, and so on. You can also choose where to publish – e.g. Amazon.com (mainly used by US people) Amazon.co.uk (the British site) and all the other countries that Amazon publish in. Personally, I publish on as many sites as possible!
4. Upload your book. The site recognizes different file formats, but I have found that Word or PDF work best for me, and my preferred format is a PDF.
5. After you upload, the system does a format check and lets you know if it finds any obvious issues. This process will pick up things like the words being bigger than the page and basic stuff like that, but not more complex formatting. At this stage you can look at it online to see if it basically “works” in a technical sense.
6. If the system or you spot any formatting issues, go back and correct them in the original, and go through 4 & 5 again.
7. Add in your book cover, and any book cover notes.
8. Once you are happy with the basic formatting, submit the file. Create Space then says it will check the file to make sure it’s ready for publication, and let you know when it’s ready for review. In my experience it takes a day or so for this stage to be completed.
9. You will get an email saying the book is ready, and you can either download or order a proof copy (being old-fashioned, I like to get a paper copy to be reviewed, but you can also download it for screen reading if that works for you/your editor).
10. Review, make changes and repeat from step 4 until you are sure that this is as good as it gets, and then confirm on the system that you are happy with the book, and make the file available for publishing.
11. It is then automatically published in Amazon, which takes a day or two to populate across all the different sites
12. At that time (or later) you can also get Create Space to create a file for the book to be published as an e-book, and it links you to Kindle Direct to publish there – see instructions below.
But what about e-books?
If you want to publish JUST an e-book on Amazon, then you can go straight to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). If you are publishing from Create space, the formatting for KDP is done for you in the steps above.
Either way, here is how to publish an e-book on Amazon.
1. Go you KDP https://kdp.amazon.com/, and complete the information that it requires (you can link this account to your normal Amazon account which makes it a lot easier), and upload your book file and cover.
2. You are then able to review what the book will look like in different e-readers.
3. The system does not make you review the book at all (not even the formatting), but to publish without any review is asking for problems, so check it for formatting, style, content and errors. As a practical matter, when I’ve uploaded from Create Space I’m fairly sure the formatting will be OK, and as I’ve already had it edited that should not need doing, but even so I still check it, even if the check is quite quick
4. When happy, you publish and it’s out on the Amazon sites almost instantly.
Of course, publishing the book is the easy part, getting your book seen is something else!