Saturday, 8 January 2011

How to publish for Kindle on Amazon

NOTE: since KF8, I no longer use this method. See THIS POST for my latest.

To anyone who hasn't done it, publishing for the Kindle on Amazon can seem a formidable task, so this post is to share my tips on how I published Remix. There are other ways - and you can always pay someone else to do it. JA Konrath recommends the person he uses. Allow about a day to do it my way.
  • Prepare your book as a Word document. Remove page numbers and headers. Make a title page; I'd advise condensing the usual front matter to one page. Put the indents to three characters, and start each chapter on a new page using Ctl and Enter. I used a tilde (~) between scenes, as the conversion process can remove line spaces on Kindle for PC. [Update: to add a space between paragraphs use Shift-Return at the  end of a paragraph. Unlike Return on its own, all the Kindles respect these - except the Kindle Fire if the blank lines follow a page break.] N-dashes with a space either side allow the text to flow better than M-dashes. Consider if you should put a bit about another of your books with a link, or a link to your website, at the end.
  • Click on Metadata to the left of the page you are now on, and fill in your book's details and cover. You will need to use Ctl and V to paste. You no longer need to include your cover image at the front of the text - Amazon's KDP now has a box you tick and your cover will be added as the first page of your ebook.
  • Click File and Save As, and the document will be saved in HTML form where you choose on your computer.
  • Go to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. Register, go to your Bookshelf and click Add a New Title. Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Once your HTML file is loaded, you get to the most important part of the process, Preview. Preview gives you an approximation of what your text will look like on a Kindle (don't worry that the page has no margins - it will on the Kindle). At this stage, go through every single page looking for formatting flaws which have popped up, such as passages in bold or italic or incorrect indents. Put these right on the HTML document as you find them. You don't need any knowledge of HTML to do this; it's easy to work out which bit of code is wrong, and replace it with a sound bit of code from a correct passage. Remember to change the code at the end as well as the beginning of a paragraph. Warning: this painstaking process may take hours, depending how much extraneous concealed formatting your original Word document had. But it's essential.
  • Reload the improved text, and check again.
  • Repeat until your book looks the way you intended.
  • Fill in the rest of the details.
  • Publish! If you have a Kindle, download a copy to check; if you don't, download Kindle for PC and check on that.
  • Sell lots of copies.
For tips on print books' typography, see my post Typography and the self published novel.


  1. I think the hardest part of Kindle is the tax thing for non-US folk. How did you get around that, Lexi?

  2. I haven't done anything about that. My American sales are small compared to my UK ones, and I haven't yet had a cheque for them. I guess I'm waiting to see what happens...

  3. Thanks for the succinct and very helpful explanation of the process. I've done two books on the Kindle so far but your recommendation of Mobipocket Creater, which I'd not heard of before, will make the process a whole lot easier.

  4. Mike, if you've published two books, you probably know more about the process than I do!

  5. I only did it by trial and error. Mostly error. Yours is a very helpful step by step method that i know will make my next one easier.

  6. I'm on a Mac (the conversion programs I found were Windows-based) and didn't have Word at the beginning, which caused trouble with Smashwords too, so I ended up having Ted at create mobi and epub files for me. He did a professional job.

  7. Lindsay, what is it with Macs? Everyone says they're better, but there are all these things they can't do...

    What did Ted charge, if you don't mind my asking?

  8. What always annoys me when reading instructions for such things as Amazon DTP is that they fail to take into account that it's much more difficult for beginners. So expert estimates on the time needed should be taken (by the novice at least) with several truckloads of salt.

    I just thought I'd add that Kindle Previewer is a useful gadget. But a word of warning. On my computer at least, the icon on the desktop doesn't do anything; I have to go to start then All Programs and get to it that way. But then, I never could get technology to work as it's supposed to. I think there's something wrong with me.

  9. The Kindle Previewer has only had 228 downloads - is it very new, or not very popular?

    I was distracted by the Adult Friend Finder Loophole Exploiter on the same site - 'Many people are tired of paying for LOVE with no results'. Now that's had 20,062 downloads...

  10. Great post Lexi, thanks for the walk-through. I don't even want to think about how many revisions I had to do. The indents went nuts every time I inserted the cover image, but only on conversations. Everywhere else they were fine. Pull the image, it all went back to normal.

    I also found a program called Calibre that builds ebooks. It's very efficient and does a good job of inserting cover images that don't appear as the first page, but rather in the menu under 'cover.' I was very impressed with the program -it might be worth a try if the others aren't working the way you want.

  11. Jamie, I wrote this post after loading a new version of Remix with chapters starting on fresh pages, something I'd read could not be done because the text has to flow and reform (not true).

    And I was on version six before I was satisfied...a certain amount of doggedness is called for.

    I had a look at Calibre ages ago, but couldn't work out how to use it. I'm sure there are better ways than mine :o)

  12. Good info Lexi.

    I've used Calibre on my Mac to convert Word (RTF) files for easier reading on my Nook (I get tired eyes from the computer screen). I've not tried anything special (page breaks, covers, centerfolds, etc.) but it has done what I've needed.

  13. I'll have to take another look at Calibre. Everyone who uses it seems to like it - but then I haven't yet got a Kindle (can be only a matter of time...)

  14. One thing I did with the Kindle file for my collection of travel writing, Snakes Alive, was to put the front matter at the back. I wanted the readers to be able to get right into the book. The print edition is more conventionally laid out. The Kindle one has a title page then goes straight to a Table of Contents, which has hyperlinks to each of the individual travel pieces in the book.

  15. Now that's a good idea. I tend to read forewords after I finish the book, anyway - and then only if I've enjoyed it.

    And you have a proper Table of Contents - respect!

  16. I dunno, Lexi! I love my Mac, but the problem is that the rest of the world doesn't use them. :P I finally caved and got Word and I don't have any trouble with Smashwords now.

    Ted charges $89.

  17. Lexi, that was a really helpful post. I'm not ready to dip a toe in the water yet (see to find out why) but if I do go down the Kindle route I'll know what to do. Thank you!

  18. Lindsay, the problem usually is the rest of the world...

    Spin, it's lovely to get a chance to pick your own name instead of being lumbered with family name and parental choice.

    Why not throw a competition on your blog to find the best pen name for you?

    Then go for it :o)

  19. Still preparing my YWO editions for Kindle Lexi. On a Mac.

    Hoping to use something called Scrivener which reviews well for e-book preps. But will check out Calibre as well. Congrats on all your successes. You are seriously an inspiration.

    Am so ungeeky, this is going to be hard work!!!

  20. Prue, I think it's a labour of love whatever method you use. Persistence will carry the day!

    An inspiration - goodness me :o)

  21. Lexi, the only thing I disliked about my copy of Remix was the lack of proper chapter placement. However, I see in one of your posts here that you have uploaded "a new version of Remix with chapters starting on fresh pages". Is there a way to replace my version with the new one?

  22. Peter, I'm sorry about that. When I first formatted Remix, I read an article that said (wrongly) you should remove chapter breaks as they wouldn't transfer properly.

    All I can suggest is that you contact Amazon customer services and tell them you'd like the improved version, and they may well do it for you:

    Let me know what happens.

  23. Hi Lexi, I notified Amazon CS and a few days ago they emailed me to say the new copy of Remix would be sent to my Kindle next time I connected by Wi-Fi.

    And it was :-)

    The formatting is fine now.

    By the way, I gave Remix a 4 star review on Amazon.

    Oh and I really liked the sample of "The Unofficial Girl". I just hope the whole book isn't too lightweight when it's finished (but I'll buy it anyway)

    I'll sign off now as I'm beginning to come across as a stalker ;-)

    Thank you for your time.

  24. Peter, I'm glad Amazon CS sorted it out for you.

    Thank you for your review - not sure which one it was...

    Unofficial Girl - I also hope it's not too lightweight - or indeed, too anything bad. But even JK Rowling doesn't please everyone :o)

  25. Hi Lexi,
    Just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I had been puzzling over how to get started so your guide was a huge help.
    Also, I've really enjoyed both your books.

  26. Hi Camilla - I've just rescued your comment from Spam - sorry about that.

    Glad you found the post helpful, and thanks for reading my books.

    I popped over to your blog, and followed the link to Shoeperwoman and read about that awful woman stealing her idea. Truly, there is not enough creativity to go round, and some of the untalented are shameless. I do hope right prevails.

  27. Camilla - first your comment went to Spam, then it and my reply were removed by The Great Blogger Outage of 2011. What have you done to offend the bloggods?

    Glad you like the books :o)

  28. With the introduction of the Kindle and other small e-readers the market for electronic books has sky rocketed. There never has been a time like this for would be authors and editors.