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Claire Shaw
Features Writer
4:29 AM 14th August 2020

What Did You Do In Lockdown 2: How To Publish An ebook

Travel writer Kathryn Joyce wrote, ‘We all have a book in us. The first step is recognising this. Writing is a whole new journey’.

And now it has never been easier to write and self-publish an ebook. Your book could be autobiographical or instructional. However, just bear in mind that 70 percent of the top 200,000 ebooks are genre fiction, as opposed to literary fiction. Genre fiction includes romance, mystery and thriller, along with sci-fi and fantasy. The global ebook market is expanding rapidly and thirty percent of all US adult fiction books purchased are by self-published authors.

While there are many genres of ebooks, there are also many ebook self-publishing platforms such as iBooks, Kobo, Book, Smashwords, Scribd and Tolino. However, this article will describe how to publish an ebook on the ubiquitous Amazon platform as there is very little initial outlay with this website and so it is an excellent tool for all of us wishing to take the first step on our publishing journeys.

After you have completed a word processed manuscript, you will need to download Kindle Create, Amazon’s free tool for formatting ebooks. Kindle Create allows you to choose the font, position and colour of subheadings. It also recognises any chapter titles that you have included and will create a contents page for you that allows readers to click on chapter titles to navigate around your book. The preview function permits you to see what your formatted book will look like on the majority of e reader devices. Once you are happy with your formatting, you will then need to save the new manuscript within the Kindle Create software, which will automatically convert it into an ebook file.

The next step is to upload the ebook file onto Amazon’s e-publishing platform. Although you may already have an Amazon account for making online purchases, you will need to set up a different account on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing website, whose address is kdpamazon.com. Once signed up you will then have access to your own personal ebook publishing dashboard.

Before uploading your ebook, it is a good idea to have already considered how you are going to create the front cover of your book. Everyone intuitively knows how very important the front covers of books are for presenting the right image of your work and attracting customers. A professional looking front cover will make all the difference to the interest in and the sales of your book. But don’t worry, Amazon has it covered with its own inbuilt cover creator software that allows you to create spectacular front covers at the touch of a few buttons.

For the cover of Eboracum: The Story of Roman York, I decided to buy a stock photograph from an online website for £14.99. This gave me the right to use it on the front cover of my ebook. I felt that a photograph of a real person made the book look more dramatic than a drawing and would give the cover a more professional finish. The photo of a Roman soldier standing in a field, looking into the distance seemed perfect for a book about the conquest of North Yorkshire. It had a wistful, romantic feel to it and the colours seemed to harmonise well.

After inputting information such as my name and the title of the book into the kdpamazon.com dashboard, you are then able to launch the inbuilt Cover Creator. If you don’t have your own image, you can use one of the many already provided by Amazon. If not, upload your own image and the online tool will automatically input your title and name onto the front cover. There will be six different layouts to choose from and after you have selected the one that shows off your information to the best effect, you can manipulate it even further by changing the font size and the font colour. Just make sure that you save your work.

You don’t even have to spend money on professional images for your ebook covers. For my second ebook about the famous eighteenth century potter, Josiah Wedgwood, I found a beautiful free photograph from Wikimedia Commons online. It stated that the image was free to reproduce as long as Wikimedia was given credit for the work. Of course, you could use your very own photograph if you are happy with the finish. Another alternative would be to use a free online tool to create a front cover, such as canva.com. Just make sure that you don’t infringe copyright and that the license allows you to use the image for your intended purpose.

You can create your front cover either before or after uploading your manuscript and the kdpkindle tool is great for saving your work until you are ready to publish.

One of the advantages of using the Amazon Kindle publishing platform is that you don’t have to have an ISBN number, although you may if you choose. As I am taking my first tentative steps in ebook publishing, I decided to use the ASIN number that Amazon will automatically assign to my books. However, should you choose to upload your book to platforms other than Amazon, you will need to buy your own ISBN number, which is more economical to buy in a bulk batch of ten.

On your Amazon dashboard, you will be asked how much royalty you would like to receive from the book and can take up to 70 percent. Royalty rates vary depending on whether you choose to sign up for Kindle Select, which allows readers to read your book as part of their monthly subscription fee. You will also need to decide on a price for your book. Understandably, readers expect to pay less for ebooks than paperbacks.

On setting up your account for the first time, you will be asked to input your bank details and it is very important that you have your IBAN and SWIFT codes to hand, as otherwise you will not be paid for sales in foreign territories. Once all your data has been published, you then press ‘Upload Book’ and your work will be sent for verification. Some spelling errors may be picked up by the software at this point, but is always best practice to ensure that you have asked someone else to proofread and correct your work to make sure that it is of the highest standard possible. Amazon does not provide this service for you.

You are advised that you will need to wait between 8 and 72 hours to see your book on Amazon’s website, but in my experience the books are up and available within a day. Within your kdpamazon.com dashboard, you will see a heading called ‘Reports’, which is where you can keep track of the territories in which your book has sold. Amazon will create the ‘Look Inside’ facility for you, which is a great marketing tool as it gives readers a snapshot of what to expect from your work.

At this point and at any point in the future, Amazon also provides the facility for you to publish a paperback version of your book through their print on demand service. You will need to upload your book and front cover again and ensure that the trim size of your book is perfect so that none of the text runs off the page. If you are able to ensure that your paperback will print perfectly, this is a great service because there is no initial upfront investment. When a reader purchases your book, Amazon prints off a copy and posts it to them for you. Amazon deducts the price of printing and of sending the book and you are left with the remaining revenue. This is a great way of self-publishing because you do not have to find space in your house for your bulky stock.

Once your ebook is published, Amazon will send you an email notification with a link to how to create an Author Page, where you can upload a photo of yourself and some biographical information, all for free. This is a great way to promote your work as readers love to feel a connection with you and know more about you. However, now that you have your book online, it is still not time to sit back and relax and enjoy your profits. You will need to ensure that readers know that your book actually exists, competing amongst all those other authors who want to be read.

In next week’s article I will explain the steps that I am taking to market my first ebook, Eboracum: The Story of Roman York.