Recently, I’ve been playing around with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in an effort to “practice” publishing so I’ll be ready when I finally have a novel written. I’m a hands-on learner, so I figured the best way to practice would be to just do it. So, I pulled together some random poems and other materials I already had on hand and got to work.
Of course, there is a multitude of ways to publish your own work, but Kindle seemed like the simplest place to start. After trying it for myself the first time, I have a hard time imagining that it could get any easier than this.
The hardest part – for me – was the cover design. However, if you are design-impaired like I am, even you can create your own simple cover within the KDP system. With their free cover templates, all you really need is a good image. Yes, getting your image to just the right size can be a pain. But, it does get easier once you have practiced a few times and gotten an idea of the system’s requirements.
I used a KDP template for the cover of my poetry collection, and I was happy with the results. Yes, it is probably obvious that it is a template design, but I’m okay with that for this particular project. This is a starter piece. I didn’t put a huge amount of effort into it. However, I will likely hire someone to design the cover of my first novel when I’m ready to publish it. This is one of those situations where you will need to weigh the costs against the benefits and make the decision for yourself when the time comes.
Anyway, I have prepared a quick list of the items you should have at hand before you embark on publishing via KDP. If you are fully prepared before you start, you can publish a book in less than ten minutes. In fact, you may be ready to publish something right now and not even know it. Here’s my list:
- A complete, formatted manuscript: This is the most important item, of course. Make sure you do your research in advance to learn the proper formatting for an eBook. It’s not as difficult as it may seem. Personally, I think the best way to research formatting is to purchase a couple of mainstream eBooks and see how they do it. Then copy their formatting. (Actually, I have a lot more to say on this topic, so I think I might write a follow-up post exploring what I’ve learned about formatting so far. Stay tuned for more on that.)
- A cover image: If you have the talent and the know-how (or the money to pay someone who does,) then go ahead and design your own cover in advance. If not, then just choose a plain image (or forgo the image, as KDP has non-image templates available) and design your cover during the upload process. Just keep in mind that you will need a JPeg image that is at least 1000 pixels on the longest side.
- Book description: KDP will ask you to include a book description during the upload process. Put some thought into your description, as this is likely the first thing potential readers will see. This is your chance to sell your novel, so get it right.
- Keywords: Think about what keywords and key phrases your intended audience might use when searching for a book like yours. Don’t try to sell to everyone. Let’s face it. Not everyone wants to read erotic horror or Christian romance. So, focus on the readers who will actually want to read your particular novel. Do not waste your time on generic keywords designed to draw readers who will ultimately opt not to buy simply because they do not enjoy your genre.
- ISBN: No, wait. You don’t need that. I mean, honestly, it’s a personal decision. I personally don’t think you should worry about purchasing ISBN numbers in the early stages of publishing. Do you know how expensive those things are? Yes, you will need them eventually if you want to publish print editions and sell them in bookstores. However, if you are just getting your feet wet with KDP, I think you should wait. Once you have established yourself with your first couple of eBooks, then you might consider purchasing a block of ISBN’s, which seems to be the cheapest way to go. You can always come back and add an ISBN to your eBook later. I only bring this up because I think it would be a shame if the only thing holding you back from slapping your book up on KDP today is the fact that you wrongly believe you need to buy an ISBN number first. Amazon’s free ASIN’s are sufficient for you to pull your books into GoodReads. What more could a beginner need?
That’s pretty much it, folks. If you have those first four items covered, then you are ready to publish. If it just occurred to you that you are more ready to publish than you thought you were, then I want to offer up a challenge: Go try out this whole Kindle Direct Publishing thing, and then come back here and post a link to your new eBook so we can buy it.
Even if you don’t have a novel ready yet, I bet you have some short stories or poems or something that you could use for practice. By the way, here’s a link to buy my book of poems. It’s only $.99. And if you don’t mind, could you also take a moment to post a review on Amazon? Thanks in advance for your support. Happy publishing.