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Turn Your Manuscript into an E-Book

Updated on May 16, 2017

My First Little Book

My Smashwords eBook
My Smashwords eBook

My Path to a Completed e-Book

I started my e-book publishing career with a small book of poetry, figuring that a small book could be quickly formatted, tested, and published. I then joined the Kindle Select program so I could offer my book for free for a few days to gain exposure. Kindle Select also makes your book available to borrowers through the Amazon Prime program. For a first book, the goal is maximum exposure and getting positive reviews while producing the next book as soon as possible and building a platform from which your writing can be discovered by readers in your niche.

I have now published over a dozen books and knitting patterns on Amazon as well as on Smashwords. Right now I am in the "writing the next book" stage of my plan, which will be my longest e-book yet. I hope others will find this information helpful. The more quality indie publications out there, the more the public will accept and demand e-books by independent publishers.

Image courtesy of adamr /

How to Self-publish a Book on Amazon: Sell Kindle eBooks and CreateSpace POD Paperbacks on Amazon (Write, Self-publish and Market on Amazon 2)
How to Self-publish a Book on Amazon: Sell Kindle eBooks and CreateSpace POD Paperbacks on Amazon (Write, Self-publish and Market on Amazon 2)

This is the best book for beginners who want just the facts on writing, formatting and publishing for Kindle.


Your Book Cover is Important

Make Your Book Stand Out from the Crowd

When you shop online, are you more likely to buy a product with or without a picture? Most people want to see what they are buying, even if it is a digital cover for a digital book. A good cover design shows potential readers a little about your personality and gives them a taste for what is likely to be inside the book.

I have used a stock design from the Cover Creator in the Kindle Direct Publishing upload page for one of my early books. Then I moved on to using my own photographs for my knitting pattern books. I am also working on some possible covers from drawings made by myself and my daughters. I even have a cover design done for a book I have not yet written. Why? I find it very motivating to look at my lovely cover and title--such a great cover deserves a book to go inside, right? If you are stuck in the middle of a book, try pausing to work on a cover for a bit and see if that gets you jump started.

Subtitle Tip

When entering a subtitle in the Cover Creator, click on the subtitle area of the cover. You won't see a cursor. Ignore the styling options popup box and just start typing your text.

Producing my Content

I started small.

I had published poetry for several years on what were then Helium and Associated Content. It was a simple matter to take some of those poems (I still had rights to them--they were not exclusives) and paste them together into a Word document. I added a title page, preface, acknowledgements, and table of contents. I then followed Guido Henckel's instructions to clean up the html before uploading to Kindle Direct Publishing. Note: I now follow the Smashwords Style Guide to create my upload file and get good results.

My next booklet, According to my Research, I published on Smashwords as well as Amazon. Doing both means I can't enroll this booklet in the Kindle Select program, which requires 90 days of exclusivity to Amazon, but this is a specialty booklet of lesson plans for teachers, so wanted to cast a wide net to find my audience.

When my 90-day obligation on Kindle Select ran out, I also uploaded my haiku book on Smashwords so that users of Nook and Kobo reading devices can also find it. Since then, I have not used Kindle Select, but have published on Smashwords (opting out of their Amazon distribution option) and then tweaked my file to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing. (Kindle wants a .docx file while Smashwords wants a .doc file.)

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    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 2 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      I have done much better on Smashwords than Amazon. My knitting patterns do well on Barnes and Noble, which Smashwords enables me to reach.

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 2 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Interesting to hear how your Amazon experience compares with Smashwords - I was never keen on using Amazon due to their rather heavy-handed attitude to authors, whereas Smashwords actually like their authors!

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 3 years ago

      @John Dyhouse: If you publish on Amazon and select KDP, you will not be able to publish them elsewhere. If you publish on Smashwords and your formatting is accurate, your work is immediately sent to a variety of virtual book stores. I suggest you go online and find Mark Coker's free books on formatting. You can still publish on Amazon, but not KDP if you want to optimize your chances for being read.

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 3 years ago

      @MGuberti: Try selling them for free first Marc. People love freebies. If they read and like you they will subsequently pay.

    • MGuberti profile image

      MGuberti 3 years ago

      I love the idea of $0.99 being the new free. I may write more books and charge $0.99 for them to see how the price change yields better results.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago


    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @John Dyhouse: The best course is to remove all formatting, then put the text in a Word document, add some simple formatting (just headings and a table of contents) and submit to KDP. Remember if you've already published anywhere, you can't use Kindle Select, but that's not a big deal. I usually do my books according to the Smashwords style guide even for Kindle--Smashwords requires very simple formatting and less is more with e-books.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      As I commented above I have a number of probably poorly formatted e-books. they were only ever intended to be for free distribution. I believe that I can sort out the issues, add some new content and put them through KDP. Does this seem to ba a practical idea?

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      I have a trio of poetry books available on Scribd and am working on a fourth. I also have a couple of others and more planned. I am heartened by your experience with a "small poetry book" and will look into publishing on KDP.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @Scarlettohairy: Yes, starting with a collection of short articles, stories or poems is a great shortcut.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Thanks for these tips! I need to gather some old articles and see if I can come up with an ebook or two.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @Diana Wenzel: If you think of it, let me know when your book is out. I'd love to see it.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      My goal is to publish my first eBook this fall. I am very excited about this upcoming accomplishment. Thanks for the tips and resources. Appreciated!