by Bob Tinsley
When last we talked we went through getting the cover for your ebook and all the front matter. And you’re still not ready to upload it to Amazon.
First you’ll need to write the ad copy for your book. Amazon calls it the “book description”. That’s the copy that goes in the listing of your book telling everybody what a wonderful, sexy book you’ve written. Go look at some on Amazon to get an idea of what works.
Now comes the hard part. What? You thought the cover was hard? Just you wait.
In what format does your literary treasure reside? If you said Microsoft Word you’re halfway home. If it is in Final Draft, Scrivener, CeltX, Fountain or any of the other myriad of proprietary formats, the first thing you have to do is generate a Word file and make sure that it looks the way you want it to.
At least that’s the way I go about it. If you are a CSS or HTML wizard you might be better off going with those formats. Since I don’t even know what CSS and HTML mean, I stick with Word.
In my experience after having uploaded 10 of my ebooks to Amazon, a Word file will give you an end product that looks the most like what you have been seeing on your computer screen.
Only one caveat: DON’T use tabs. Tabs do not translate well. You need to replace all the tabs with enough spaces to make the format look right. It sucks, but there you are.
Now I have only brushed the surface here. Do this and you’ll get a vanilla ebook. If you want to get fancier (and spend about ten times the amount of time you’ve used up to now) there are more books about formatting for Kindle than you can shake a stick at. Believe me, I’ve tried. I got tired.
Search for “Kindle formatting” on Amazon and you come up with 351 books that will tell you everything you need to know about the subject. I wish you luck. Maybe, one day, I’ll get brave enough to delve into that particular tar pit.
Or you could hire someone to do it for you.
You’ve now got your formatted Word file – or whatever – and your cover illustration in JPEG format (ideally 2500 pixels high with a 1.6 aspect ratio, height to width). It’s time to upload everything and let the gremlins churn out your ebook.
Kindle Direct Publishing is the website.If you have an Amazon account (and who doesn’t?) you can sign in with that. You’ll be taken to a dashboard, and among the things you’ll see there is a yellowish button labeled “Add new title”.
When you click that button you’ll be taken to a page that leads you by the hand through every step to get your cover uploaded, your book uploaded, putting in your description, claiming your rights, deciding whether you want DRM (a big NO, at least for me) and setting your price. Then it will ask if you are ready to publish. Press “yes”, and you’re on your way. It will take, they say, approximately 12 hours for your listing to go live.
It’s all pretty easy these days.
One thing. When you upload your Word file you will be confronted with the Whirling Circle of Death and the message “converting”. Once that is done, you will be asked if you want to preview your book. Say “yes”. This occurs at the bottom of the first of two pages. At this point you will see a mostly accurate resprentation of what your ebook will look like on a Kindle device.
If it doesn’t look the way you want it to, don’t despair – too much. You can fix it. Just save what you’ve done so far, get out of the browser, and spend whatever time you need to tweak your file.
Sign back in to KDP, and you will be taken to your “Bookshelf” page. You will see a line item with the title of your book. Click the selection box on the left, click the “Actions” button just above, and select “Edit book details”. You will be taken back to the page where you uploaded your file and given the chance to replace the file.
Everything will be fine this time, and you’re home free. Break out the bubbly, light a cigar and wait for the sales to come rolling in.
Um, no. This ain’t the Field of Dreams, buddy. Just ’cause you built it don’t mean they’re gonna come.
Now comes the really ugly part: marketing. I’m still figuring that one out.