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My Experience with Publishing my First Kindle eBook

Updated on December 31, 2016

Getting Started

I don't own a Kindle, and I have always been one to stubbornly prefer the tangible pages of a real book over a cold screen. I lost my job last year, and, in an effort to never return to the corporate environment again, I took the advice of one of my friends to explore the world of freelance writing. I never thought of myself as a writer, but it turned out that I was more than capable of getting paid to write short articles on various subjects. Freelance writing, for me at least, can get very tiring. After freelancing for two months, I wanted to write what I wanted to write.

My dad has a Kindle and absolutely loves it. He travels a lot for work so it's his life-saver for all those hours spent crammed on planes and waiting in airports. He discovered several books on Kindle that discuss how to self-publish with Kindle and turn it into a living. The idea excited me and I immediately started brainstorming.

How Long is a Book Anyway?

After some research into eBooks, I found that Kindle books do not have page numbers (the font size can be adjusted on Kindles or Kindle Reading Apps making page numbers unusable) so eBooks are measured by word count. Short stories seem to be around 7,500 words or fewer. That's only a general rule, but it gives a good idea of what an eBook's minimum length should be and not fall into the short story category. I decided (with the help of advice from various Kindle eBook publishing authors) that 10,000 words is a great minimum word count for works of non-fiction. With this number in mind, I started working on a rough outline for my first book.

The Writing Process

I decided I wanted to detail my teenage years when I lived in China. That would make a fun book and it would be easy to write. When I finally sat down and began to write, I realized I was going to end up with at least 30,000 words when the whole thing was finished. This was a great feeling because before I started writing, 10,000 words seemed daunting. My plan with this book was just to crank out a rough, but complete, first draft before doing any editing or rewriting. After I had just over half of my first draft written, I started looking for references on how the manuscript would need to be formatted for the eventual Kindle upload.

I am not the most computer savvy and I have always liked writing by hand rather than on Word. This part of the book writing process worried me. Amazon has a couple eBooks that are available for free to download that go over correct formatting in a very clear, step-by-step manner with snapshots. Even if you have never used Word before, you could figure out how to optimally format your manuscript for Kindle with this resource.

Writer's Block

I got stuck for a while with my book and set it aside for a couple weeks. I still wanted to move forward with the whole publishing process, so I decided I would explore some other options while I took a break from writing my book about living in China.

Many of the "Get Rich with Kindle" books you'll see floating around suggest outsourcing various portions of the writing/editing/publishing process. I looked into what it would cost to hire a ghostwriter to compose something that I could publish quickly just to see how the whole publishing process really worked. There are a number of places where ghostwriters can be found, and I settled on Fiverr.com. There are plenty of writers who offer ghostwriting services at varying rates. I was looking for something relatively cheap and found someone who would charge $5 for every 500 words. So, for just over $100, I found someone to write a book on basic nutrition principles.

The project was delivered to me in just a week and with about 1,000 words more than what I had requested. I checked it in Copyscape and it passed. My mind was blown that it was this easy and this cheap to hire someone to write an entire eBook. Now, the book was written in British English and had a very strange overuse of semicolons. The content was average, not anything great, but perfect for my purposes. I spent maybe five or six hours editing and rewriting some of the more awkward portions.

Then, I sat down and followed the free Kindle formatting guide. I thought this part was going to be tedious an stake much longer that it did. It was simple and took me about 30 minutes to complete. I had made a clickable table of contents (very important for Kindle books because there are no page numbers) and had to insert page breaks after each chapter. The guide book even tells you how to set up a title page and copyright information. Formatting the book was the easiest part of the whole process.

Uploading the Book to Kindle

The KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) page has what is called your "Bookshelf" where you can see all the books you have uploaded for publishing. You will fill in your title, subtitle, author and contributor information, write a book summary, choose keywords, and select your book's genre. It's all very straightforward and easy to do. You will need a book cover to upload on this page as well. You can make your cover yourself, hire someone (Fiverr.com is great for this), or you can use KDP's free cover creator. I used the cover creator for this book because I did not want to spend time or money getting a cover made. They have a small database of royalty free images if you want to include an image, or you can upload your own picture. I opted for an image from their database. Then, you can choose from a couple different layouts, fonts and colors. All-in-all, it's easy to use and fairly decent depending on what type of book you have.

Finally, you'll upload your manuscript. This only takes a few minutes and it spell checks everything for you. My book did not contain any pictures, so I don't yet know if that takes longer or how the formatting process works for that.

Once it's uploaded successfully, you'll preview it. This is where you'll get to see exactly how the book will look on different devices. Because not all Kindle eBooks are read on Kindles, you'll get to see how it will look on iPads, PCs and phones that have the Kindle app. Any formatting issues will show up at this stage. I followed the Kindle formatting book and didn't find a single issue with the formatting of my first upload!

Finalizing Your Book Information

Once you're satisfied with your book's formatting, you'll get to set your pricing and royalties. If you price your book between $2.99 and $9.99, you can select the 70% royalty option. Any price outside of that range will earn a 35% royalty.

I priced my book at $0.99 because it's quite short and I know I could produce a more substantial book at a better quality on my own without using a ghostwriter. This is also why I used my pen name (Jicotea Kinsella) instead of my real name. When I start publishing books that I write myself, I don't want my readers to be scratching their heads and wondering why my writing style seems so different from book to book.

KDP will tell you that it takes anywhere from 12 to 48 hours for your book to go live in the Kindle store after you upload it. For me, it took less than six hours!

A Great Trial Run!

Publishing Understanding Food was a great way for me to figure out how the publishing process really works without throwing my beloved work out there first. I would highly recommend publishing something short and easy first to get a handle on the process. You can even publish a free book, just to see how the Kindle publishing platform works.

Adding a Paperback Edition of a Kindle Book

Amazon has just made it a whole lot easier to create a paperback edition of an already-published Kindle book. On your Bookshelf in your KDP account, you'll see an option to +Create paperback. Click there and it will walk you through through the process of converting your Kindle book into a hard copy. I spent about 30 minutes on a little reformatting for both the cover and the text, but it was a simple process. Now my book is available in two formats so anyone who isn't on board with the idea of eBooks can still get a copy!

Kindle and Paperback Editions
Kindle and Paperback Editions

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    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 

      3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      You could always hire yourself as your own ghost writer, then you'd get paid too! Oh, wait...that woudn't work, would it?

    • Jicotea Kinsella profile imageAUTHOR

      Jicotea Kinsella 

      3 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      It is tough to get someone else to write your book. I think in most cases, it's best to write your own, but hiring a ghost writer can definitely serve a valuable purpose sometimes!

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 

      3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Interesting idea - never thought about getting someone else to write my books for me. Maybe being a bit of a control freak and doing everything myself isn't always the only way.

    • Jicotea Kinsella profile imageAUTHOR

      Jicotea Kinsella 

      3 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      Thank you, vasantha!

    • profile image

      vasantha 

      3 years ago

      Thank you for giving the information on how to publish an eBook . Voted-up useful. I am planning to publish my first eBook , this hub is very useful.

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 

      3 years ago

      An inspiring Hub that should get all our Kindle-writing juices flowing! Well done and good luck with those Kindle sales. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • profile image

      Sandy G. 

      3 years ago

      Hiring someone to write a book for you is some good advice that I haven't heard elsewhere. I've been considering publishing some of my stuff and maybe I'll do a trial run as well! Great advice for new writers!

    • Uzochukwu Mike profile image

      Uzochukw Mike 

      3 years ago from Oba

      Jicotea, congratulations for the bold step you took. I wish you clean and big sales.

      By God's grace, I will be publishing my third kindle book by next month.

    • Jicotea Kinsella profile imageAUTHOR

      Jicotea Kinsella 

      3 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      It took a long time for me break down and start reading eBooks, but now I love it and can't get enough! Because Kindle makes the publishing process so easy, I can understand why there are so many really affordable and free books available. What's not to love?

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      The ebook bug has started biting me, so I'm glad to see that publishing for Kindle is not an arduous process. I bought a Kindle not long ago, and have come to like it as a reading device. In fact, as one who has literally thousands of books taking up space in my house, I think I'll mostly purchase Kindle books from now on.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      30k words are huge number, congrats that you managed to publish an ebook

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 

      3 years ago from Florida

      Hi,

      Thanks for sharing this information as it will be valuable to many who are thinking about an eBook or is writing one now.

      Have a great Wednesday.

      I will share this with Twitter and pin it on my re-pin board.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • Jicotea Kinsella profile imageAUTHOR

      Jicotea Kinsella 

      3 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

      Thanks!

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 

      3 years ago from United States

      Excellent,easy to follow directions. Congratulations and Well done!

      Voted up and shared!

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