This blog is a shortened version of Amazon’s publishing process. This blog covers a few items that may not be picked up on in their explanations. I have included several opinions that affected how I self-published. It is relatively easy to self-publish. Furthermore, while the author has attempted to present the information as presented on Amazon’s KDP, she may have interpreted it differently than how it is presented on KDP. It is important for the user to read all of the instructions on KDP. In addition, some of the other information in the blog is based on her experience (example – working with an illustrator) and is not a part of the KDP process.
Advantage to publish on Amazon’s KDP:
- Easy with Amazon’s templates
- Greater commission than traditional publishing
- Amazon has a larger share of the marketplace in most countries
- First time author/publisher can learn about publishing first hand
- You need minor technical know-how as in converting to various formats; i.e., pdf, jpg, etc. If one does not have this ability, then he/she can hire someone for the work. There are several agencies for doing this – www.fivrr.com Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), TheBookDesigner.com. There are also classes on https://www.lynda.com that can teach PhotoShop and, therefore, help in formatting books.
Jobs required for publishing your book:
- Write the story
- Illustrate (or collaborate with the illustrator)
- Preliminary formatting the story pages on Amazon (KDP) templates – you or hire a formatter
- ISBN, bar code and copyright
- Cover development
- Complete Formatting
- Publish/purchase draft and re-edit and final publish
- Market – FB, Instagram, schools, shows, book-signings, get newspaper interviews
1. Writing the Story:
- Make a few notes or outline for your story and start writing.
- Do a Google search to ensure your title is not taken. Then do a keyword search https://trends.google.com to help determine if the title has a keyword that will get more hits on the search engines. Put in the main word of your book title to see what kind of hits you get. For instance, I am re-doing my book, Can A Toucan Hoot Too? It came up high to 100 or close almost every day of the last 90 days. I also tested more words related to my book, as Amazon (in the book set-up) will ask for key words for the search engines. This is important so your book comes up in search engines.
- For young children from preschool through early elementary storybook, keep dialogue and storytelling short. Aim for around 500 to 700 words. Less is better.
- 28 pages is an ideal length. Three or four pages will be devoted to title pages, copyright, dedication, endnotes, or other such pages.
- Determine your page size ahead of time so art can be created for a specific size. You can see the various sizes on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), second page of book set-up.
2. Illustrate the story (or working with illustrator)-illustration is very important for your book.
- Write contract – see simple contract at end
- Create a “storyboard”
In creating your storyboard type your story on the specific pages and with specific instructions to the illustrator. You can use Amazon’s template for your chosen size and edit as you make changes in the process. On each page describe the image you want. Also, put in the text for your story, as you will be inserting it in the template later for final publishing.
Let the illustrator know the size. Allow the artist to make the art larger but always in proportion to your chosen size. 6”W x 9”H, (portrait rectangle). For my re-do of Can A Toucan Hoot Too? I have chosen 8 x 11 page/book size early to accommodate KDP’s expanded distribution requirements AND to increase the ease of formatting the book (fewer size changes in Photo Shop). Follow these links to set up the size, etc.
- Create a new title – paperback – You will complete page one and then save then you will be taken to page two. It is here that you can choose your size to let your illustrator know. If the size and other criteria do not allow for expanded distribution, KDP will let you know.
Some illustrators will add the text on the images as you need them. I do NOT do this as my words may change in the editing process and it is not easy to undo the words. Using Photo Shop I (or your formatting person if you choose someone else) can easily place text bubbles in a matching color on the images as the story is formatted.
Once you have agreed upon the art page by page, have it scanned at an office store. I prefer to have it scanned at 600 dpi in both jpg and pdf and emailed to me. I can downsize it on Photo Shop.
3. Preliminary formatting is next – always read Amazon’s notes on each section.
Download the KDP templates if you have not already. Click on “Get started with Kindle content creation tools.” There you will find the various sizes.
- Create a new title – paperback
- To the right you can download the template for book or the cover.
Then begin inputting the information into KDP. Most of the information can be changed/edited later. After you complete the first page do a save as draft or save.
4. ISBN, bar code, copyright notes
The second page will pop up. Two of the most important fill-ins:
- ISBN – Amazon will do it for free but they own the ISBN. I prefer to go through www.bowker.com and purchase my ISBN so I always own it. You can also purchase the bar code, as it is needed for sales in other stores like Barnes and Noble. Here is the information directly from www.bowker.com.
- identifies a book’s specific format, edition, and publisher
- links to essential information about your book
- enables more efficient marketing and distribution of your title
- is required by most retailers
- is the global standard for book identification”
- improves the likelihood your book will be found and purchased”
Copyright: Under U.S. copyright law, your self-published work is protected as soon as you put the pen to paper. However, it is best to register it with the Copyright Office in case you have a legal issue with someone copying your work. Furthermore, you must already have the copyright prior to taking someone to court for copyright infringement.
Here is a sample copyright page.
The Farting Four-toed Troll
Written by Lavelle Carlson
Illustrated by Donna Day Mathis
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or means without written permission of the author.
Enquiries should be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Page size and color – Again, size is important ahead of time for illustrator. Check to ensure that the size and details will allow for expanded distribution. When you input your size there should be a note if it does not allow for expanded distribution.
5. Cover development – If you or your illustrator cannot do this you may need to hire someone. The cover is important. The person who develops your cover will also need your ISBN as well as the bar code (if you purchased one from Bowker). If you are getting a free ISBN from Amazon’s KDP, they will take care of placing it on the cover. You or your cover formatter will just need to leave a space (with no print) on KDP’s cover template for the bar code.
6. Edit: Once you complete your book, review drafts and make necessary changes. You’ll want to do this several times. Also invite colleagues, family, or your book-loving friends to review as well if they will be honest in a nice way.
7. Complete Formatting:
- Title page – not always necessary but I like to pull out some characters that are important to the story for the title page.
- Copyright page complete
- Dedication page complete
- For children’s books use a large font.
- Pages in the order you want them – In Farting Four-Toed Troll I chose to have the text page on the left hand page and the image on the right hand page. I felt this would draw the children’s eyes to the fun images first.
- All the images will be placed on the pages
- All text on the text pages
- Speech bubbles on the image pages – Where it is appropriate I inserted text bubbles on the images to show children that the speech was coming from specific people or trolls. This is important in teaching print awareness.
8. Publish and wait for KDP to approve or ask for changes. You will be able to read through the book on their site to ensure that all images and text are in the correct place and margins are correct. Once you approve it you can purchase draft copies and re-edit and then do a final publish. I prefer to order author’s copies as the drafts have in large print on the cover “draft”. Once you hit the publish button it is not final. You can still remove the book to make minor editing changes and then re-publish. Actually, I prefer to order about 5-10 copies and have several people read them (free copies for reading and, hopefully, catching errors I missed). If any errors are found, I will re-publish.
9. Marketing – FB, Instagram, schools, shows, book-signings, get newspaper interviews. Marketing is always the most difficult and requires a long blog. For that reason I have not included it in this blog.
It is relatively easy to self-publish. However, it is important to read all of the instructions on KDP as not all will be stated in this blog. Good luck and happy publishing.
For speech-language pathologists who are authors or “wannabe” authors, I recommend the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/SLPbyDayAuthorbyNight/?epa=SEARCH_BOX. There are many speech-language pathologists/authors on this sight who have experience in traditional or independent book authorship and publishing.
Here are a few samples of self-published books to check out: