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How to Self-Publish an eBook on Amazon

Updated on January 1, 2014

One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, once said "too many people want to have written." As a freelance writer, I'm often told that people want to be published authors. The only way, of course, to become an author is to write. It's to write in volumes, and to never stop improving yourself.

Typewriter no more--all an author needs today is Microsoft Word.
Typewriter no more--all an author needs today is Microsoft Word. | Source

Everyone Has a Story

The beauty of self-publishing is that your books can be any length--and any price--that you want them to be.

Publishing is Dead: Long Live Publishing!

Traditional publishing has become increasingly closed off to the average author. The major names in the industry are brand names that are ghost written by a multitude of writers, backed by large publishing houses. It's virtually impossible to get anything published unless you have large tomes of serial work, and this has shut the door for many experimental writers or writers that simply have a good story to tell.

For this reason, Amazon.com self-publishing has become incredibly popular. Self-publishing is not a fad. Amazon.com's Kindle device has almost single-handedly awakened an incredible love of the written word in the new generation, and Amazon.com's publishing platform is bringing many fantastic new authors to light every day.

Preparing Your Manuscript

All you really need to do today is to write a story. You can start with a story of any size, but it should usually be in .doc (not .docx) format. A simple word document will get you on your way to being a novelist.

There are many ways to structure a novel, but I personally believe in the following format:

Title Page

Copyright Information

Contents

Body

About the Author

Remember that self-publishing is not like traditional publishing. You have absolute freedom. Including links to your personal website and blog is not only acceptable, it's encouraged.

Sample Manuscript

The Rise and Fall of Yoga Pants

Megatron Authordude


Follow this author online:

www.awesomewebsiteforauthor.com


-----------------------------------

The Rise and Fall of Yoga Pants

Copyright © 2014 Megatron Authordude

Electronically published on December 31, 2013.

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This book is licensed for personal enjoyment only. If you would like to share this book, please purchase a copy on Amazon.com. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, please purchase a copy.


-----------------------------------

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Aren't They Really Just Spandex?

Chapter Two: But They Are Sooo Cute.

-----------------------------------

[Body of book]

Have you ever wanted to be both cold, and oddly exposed, while still completely wearing pants?

-----------------------------------

About the Author

Megatron Authordude is a 53 foot high sentient car. Follow him at: http://www.crazyauthorwebsite.notreal.com/

When asking for a book cover, think about how you want your book to be pictured in the minds of the reader. What would interest you?

Get the Perfect Book Cover

Once you've created your manuscript, it's time to find a book cover. There are many websites that you can purchase a book cover from. I prefer Fiverr, because the covers are $5 and are quite good. You never want to release a book without a professionally done book cover; the covers sell.

Write a Fantastic Description

One thing I've noticed that many self-published novels lack is a compelling description. It's extremely important for you to get a good description of your book--even if you have to purchase it from someone else while your book is being edited. It can be difficult to sell yourself. Most book writers, especially famous ones, don't write their own book descriptions. A media company often does it for them.

Have you ever published a story?

See results

Determine Your Pricing

You'll find a lot of different answers regarding pricing on the web, and different authors find that different pricing works for them. On Amazon, you'll see that pricing something above $2.99 entitles you to get 70 percent of your revenue while pricing something below this gives you only 30 percent. You may be tempted to price higher, but you also need to consider what people will be willing to spend.

Print publishing is going the way of the dinosaur, but that's actually good news for most writers.
Print publishing is going the way of the dinosaur, but that's actually good news for most writers. | Source

Rough Pricing Chart

Book Length
Price
Under 5,000 Words
Free
5,000 - 20,000 Words
$0.99
20,000 - 50,000 Words
$1.99
50,000 - 100,000 Words
$2.99
100,000 Words+
$3.99 - $4.99

Why Price Things Free?

Free stories get you a lot of exposure on the Amazon platform. Many authors swear by publishing short, free stories.

Upload it to Amazon.com

You may be surprised to find that actually publishing the book is the easiest part. All you need to do is sign up for the Kindle Direct Publishing website, upload your manuscript, upload your cover and you're good to go. However, there are a few options that you'll need to consider, the most important of which is the KDP Select program.

KDP Select

If you agree to publish only on Amazon.com for 3 months, you can enroll in KDP Select. KDP Select allows you to run free promotional days for your books, which are incredibly beneficial on the platform. KDP Select works especially well for authors that have multiple books and authors that are trying to expand their exposure. The downside is that you cannot publish on other venues such as Smashwords at this time. However, most writers have found that Amazon.com by far outpaces their sales on all other venues.

Advertise Your Book

Now is the time to aggressively advertise. You want to put your book on all of your blogs and all of your websites. You want to tell everyone you know about your book. Post it on all of your social media accounts. Exposure is the most important thing about this process.

If you've done KDP Select, you should sign up for free book circles on the days that your books will be free. However, it's important that you get a review on your book first. Without at least 4 stars, most books will not qualify for sharing circles. Advertising your book, it cannot be stressed enough, is the most essential part of this process.

Once you've created your manuscript, you can also create a print book at www.CreateSpace.com.
Once you've created your manuscript, you can also create a print book at www.CreateSpace.com. | Source

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    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I tried offering one of my books with free promotional days on KDP Select. Over 300 people downloaded it. I was hoping that a small percentage would write a review on Amazon. That was the idea behind the free promotion. But no one did. I do see a few sales of both my kindle version and my paperback version. But I am always on the lookout for new ideas for promotion. You gave me a few good ideas, such as signing up for free book circles, which I didn't know about. I'll have to try that. Thanks.

    • jkcki profile image
      Author

      Jenna Inouye 3 years ago from Norman, OK

      Offering a book for free on Amazon: upload it as normal to Amazon with an ordinary price tag. DO NOT SIGN UP FOR KDP SELECT. Now, upload your exact book to SmashWords, and set it for free on SmashWords.

      Within a week, Amazon will update saying that it is "price matching" your book at $0.00. Interestingly, it does this even if your ISBNs aren't synced up. If you want to offer it for free immediately, simply go to your Amazon page and click on "price match" ... there's a link somewhere on the page ... and let Amazon know that the book is available for less somewhere else.

      When you no longer want your book to be free, simply update the price on both Amazon and Smashwords.

      This works --I've done it for a couple of my books which are now $0.00 but still under my copyright.

    • Robin Beck profile image

      Robin 3 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      In response to jkcki can you please tell me how you can offer an eBook for free on Amazon. I am getting that one can offer a book for free, but then it is likely to be public domain and remains free forever. One other matter; I have noticed that if I price a book at $3.99 the same book gets listed by Amazon at $5.99. They simply add a further $2.00 on top, which seems a bit cheeky seeing that they already get a discount of 55%.

    • profile image

      Alan Prefontaine 3 years ago

      Yeah, I know, which is why I do want an editor because I hesitate to actually send it off even if I was confident about my talents. So thank you for the advice and the source, both of you.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very useful hub for me, as a friend has suggested that I consider publishing an eBook of m poetry on Amazon Kindle. I have no experience with this so any information is invaluable. Thanks.

    • jkcki profile image
      Author

      Jenna Inouye 3 years ago from Norman, OK

      I've noticed that many people are very mixed about KDP select--it works for some people, and doesn't work for others. I think it is worth noting that you CAN make your eBook free on Amazon without enrolling in KDP select, and that this gives many of the benefits of KDP select overall. I definitely don't regret using KDP select--I think it helped me rather than hurt me--but in the future I'll probably experiment with things that are more along the lines of what you're talking about. I still think KDP select is a valuable tool for a beginning writer, though.

    • jkcki profile image
      Author

      Jenna Inouye 3 years ago from Norman, OK

      You have a few options. There are professional editors and proofreaders, but they can be prohibitively expensive to those that are self-publishing. A good editor will often charge upwards of $30 an hour, and even that is actually a low rate. Venues like eLance and oDesk allow you to hire a proofreader, but standards may be low. I hate to say it, but publishing companies from other countries are usually ESL (English as Second Language), and while they have an impressive command of English overall they usually don't notice structural quirks.

      What I would advise, for someone thinking of self-publishing, is to join a writer's community. I have one myself on Facebook that's invitation only. We support each other and would freely edit each other's work. By joining a writer's community you foster relationships that will last you throughout your career, and can give each other a "second pair" of experienced eyes at low cost. It's honestly not always worth it to invest in editing, especially if it will be at an outsourced company that's not likely to notice issues of phrasing... Sorry, but I'm just being honest.

    • Robin Beck profile image

      Robin 3 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      I invite you to visit http://publish.kimabooks.com. We have a team of excellent people waiting to help you and the rates are reasonable (I think). BTW you should not feel bad about not picking up errors. Simply no one (and I mean no one) picks up all the gremlins, especially in their own writing. That is why books should be proof read preferably by more than one person.

    • profile image

      Alan Prefontaine 3 years ago

      Great blog, and that is even just skimming it, but my big problem is more along the lines of editing and finding people to proofread. I am not the best technical writer in the world (ie Grammar and stuff), and also when I am writing I tend to focus more on the writing then the technical aspects of the writing. But then the problem is it seems I am bad about catching my own mistakes, getting better, but my largest obstacle to publishing an ebook is to find someone or a service who will proofread my book and make sure that everything is as smooth as I can get it. Any thoughts?

    • Robin Beck profile image

      Robin 3 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      Everything you write is true, but as a professional publisher with 35 eBooks we have given up on KPD Select. The 5 days free promotion if also advertised on sites such as www.totallyfreestuff.com can result in as many as 600 free downloads. However this does not usually result in many firm sales after the 5 days and then one is stuck without sales on Barnes & Noble for 90 days which are usually more than what we make on Amazon.

      The best strategy? Sign up for bitly and pump your Twitter followers.

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Useful tips! Thanks jkcki!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      I found several useful tips here that will help when I get around to creating an ebook. Your table for suggested word count at specific pricing was something to consider. And I really liked the suggestion about joining KDP and publishing some free stories to get some author interest going.

    • Ginger Meow profile image

      Ginger Meow 3 years ago

      This is a great Hub! I have bookmarked for reference and one day hope to self publish.