Here are 100 plus steps you can check off on your way to getting your first book published with a platform in place. Remember to breathe as you go through the process.
This is a supplement to the book How to Self-Publish for the technical steps in chapters 12 and 13 about On Demand Publication and Kindle Direct Publishing. We included the full list in the first two editions but since so many of the steps change between editions, we decided to do the updates here.
Each list, however, is a great resource by itself. We encourage all authors to buy the book to get the full impact to help you get your book published well with a platform in place. This applies to the ones who are going to try to do it themselves, to those of you who have had us do many of the tasks for you and ever body else along that continuum.
As you are uploading your book in a printed or eBook format to KDP you may see that the order of steps has changed or that there are new/different steps. If you do, please email us at email@example.com and let us know what needs to be updated.
You will also notice that the number of steps changes as well. For your reference, in the book, these are listed as 119 steps and 28 steps.
Steps to on Demand Publication
- Set a deadline.
- Write the skeleton of your book.
- Create an account with KDP.
- Create a password sheet.
- Create a new “folder” on your desktop where you will store all documents created for this book.
- Decide what your brand “You” is about.
- Research and choose a name for your publishing house.
- Pick or create one up close, clear, asymmetrical photograph of your face to use.
- Pick a blogging platform—I recommend WordPress.
- Sign up for a Facebook page—not your personal one.
- Sign up for X (Formerly Twitter).
- Sign up for LinkedIn.
- Sign up for Pinterest.
- Sign up for Google+.
- Sign up for YouTube.
- Sign up for Goodreads.
- Sign up for Instagram.
- Sign up for Threads.
- Join a writer’s group in your area or online.
- Sign up for any other hot, relevant social media site.
- Watch, stalk and lurk to watch how successful authors interact on social media.
- Start writing your book.
- Send a copy of your book regularly to yourself, or back it up, or put it in Dropbox.
- Create a bio to use on all social media that is likeable.
- Build brand “You.”
- Design or have a website designed with blogging included.
- Create your profile on Facebook page.
- Create your profile on X (Formerly Twitter).
- Create your profile on LinkedIn.
- Create your profile and boards on Pinterest.
- Create your profile on Google+.
- Create your profile on YouTube.
- Create your profile on Goodreads.
- Create your profile on any new Social Media site.
- Start an enewsletter and collect email addresses.
- Become an Amazon Associate.
- Keep writing your book.
- Start blogging.
- Start getting active on your social media by interacting.
- Spend some time on message boards in KDP learning.
- Read other experts’ work in your field or similar books.
- Actively take part in your writer’s group by offering your work for critique.
- Start thinking of cover ideas but don’t get stuck here.
- Reset your deadline.
- Keep writing your book.
- Start looking for editing options.
- Ask for referrals for book cover design.
- Keep up with blogging.
- Stay engaged with social media by sharing your progress.
- Resist temptation to go on a political tirade (or other hot topic) on social media platform.
- Finish writing.
- Read your finished work in your head while making edits.
- Read a printed version of your finished work aloud while making edits on paper. Make sure you add page numbers before you print in case you drop your manuscript.
- Ask your writers group, friends, and family to read a Word version with “track changes” on.
- Absorb criticism without quitting.
- Review suggested edits and revisions and make the ones that work for you.
- Resist crying about constructive criticism on social media.
- Send your revised manuscript to your editor with “track changes” on in Word.
- Start working on your book cover.
- Keep blogging and engaging in social media.
- Go over changes from your editor slowly and carefully.
- Trust your editor but make the final call on what changes to accept.
- After taking a day-break from your book, re-read it again.
- Ask an advisor, peer or family member to proofread again.
- If you used an amateur editor, use a second one.
- Finalize cover design.
Getting Started in KDP
- You should already have an account at KDP by now. Simply log in and you will open the “Create Manage Publish” page. Here you will hit the “+Create” button to add your new title.
- Choose Paperback, hardback beta, eBook, series page or Kendle Vella (publish serialized stories one episode at a time)
- Pause to dream a little bit about what you could do with the Audio Version ACX available to you in KDP.
- Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is the audio option now. You get your audio book on Amazon.com, audible.com and iTunes for 40% royalty if you pay up front or 20% if you find actors/readers on the platform who will work on a royalty share basis.
- Read carefully. Write your questions down as you go. Most of them will be answered here in this list or on your screen before we are done.
Title Information Step by Step on KDP
- On the Paperback Details tab, choose your language.
- Fill in title.
- Fill in subtitle.
- Add Series details.
- Add edition number if this is a revision or substantial update.
- Fill in primary author.
- Add contributors such as cover design, co-author, artwork, editor and so forth.
- Fill in a well thought out Description of your book. Use the formatting tools and html if you know it. This is what shows on Amazon beside your book thumbnail to entice your reader to buy your book.
- Answer questions about publishing rights, primary audience, reading age, primary marketplace. The United States is amazon.com.
- Choose three search categories, which are the categories the shopper will use to find books. The best way to do this is to go to amazon and look at several books like yours. Scroll down until you see the books ranking. In the same block of text, you will see the categories they are using.
- Pick 7 search keywords and input them. These are actually collections of words your reader might key in the search to find your book. Each of the 7 collections of words can be no more than 50 characters each. No need to include words from your title or subtitle and don’t sweat over the order of the words. Amazon will find you if the reader keys in any combination.
- Hit “Save and Continue” to keep your data you just entered and to go to the next tab, “Paperback Content”.
ISBN Step by Step on KDP Publishers
- KDP will give you an ISBN free, but I do not recommend this because you can never take your book to any other platform. I recommend getting your ISBN from Bowker or if you are working with a publisher, they may have a deal you would prefer. The purpose of having your own is to keep control of your book so be sure you know what you give in exchange for an ISBN deal or a free ISBN.
- Only enter a publication date if you published it before. Your publication date will be the date when you hit the publish button and amazon finishes their final review.
- Just a reminder to spend time reading the information KDP provides near each option to understand them. On your first time through the process, it doesn’t hurt to spend the time clicking on the underscored information written in blue that will open boxes that give you further details. Sometimes it says, “what’s this” and other times it is simply the name of the topic written in blue and underlined that provides a hyperlink to further information. The help button remains at the top of the page anytime you want to go, search and read. Just be sure to save your work at the bottom of the tab before you click on the help tab.
Interior Step by Step on KDP
- Choose an ink and paper combination.
- Choose trim size.
- Choose cover finish and save the tab as “Draft” at the bottom of the page.
- Click “Help” at the top of your browser window and type “Blank Template” into the search bar. Select search. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see the Download options. Each download has multiple trim sizes in the file.
- In the help sections you can also key in “paperback royalty”. This information will be available later but sometimes it helps with decisions to know this now. At first, I was confused about royalty. I thought 60% was the amount I got to keep. 60% is the amount Amazon gives you from the sale and you must pay for the printing from it. So, let’s say you are selling your book for $14.99. The math goes like this: (0.60 x 14.99) – printing = royalty. This information might make you decide to use a smaller or larger font. After you upload your cover and manuscript, KDP will display cost below the Book Preview section.
- Begin the layout process either with a KDP template, a formatted Word document, Kindle Create—or hire a formatter.
- Choose the font, margins, chapter headings and so forth.
- If you have trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for tips from your friends that are further down this road or hire someone—Selah Press Publishing offers this service too.
- When you are ready to upload your book file, log back in to KDP, find your book on the “bookshelf”, select “continue setup”. Go to the “Paperback Content” tab and scroll down to the Manuscript section. Select “Upload” and navigate to your manuscript.
- In order to preview your interior you will have to upload a cover or a dummy cover that is the exact size. See below for getting the cover dimensions.
- Hit “Launch Previewer” and wait…make a sandwich…get coffee…seriously—sometimes it takes several minutes. It’s worth it because KDP will evaluate both the interior and the cover for common errors. Look to the left for the “Quality Check” pane for error messages where they will give you a list of things that need to be fixed. Make any corrections that are necessary and upload your book again. When all is well, Download the PDF document that KDP creates of your approved book and hit the approve button. You may need this when you go to publish on Kindle and other devices.
Exterior Step by Step on KDP Publishers
- Investigate cover paper options. KDP now offers glossy or matte covers. I published my first matte cover book, Puffy & Blue: The Chronicles of Nine Lives Together, in February 2015. I am totally sold on the look and feel of the matte finish. If you want to see what a matte cover looks like for yourself, order a matte cover sample from KDP.
- A cover is both front and back with the spine added in. If you have images that need to run all the way to the edge, be sure to add in for a bleed trim. To get the template, go to Help and type in “create a paperback cover”. This one gets moved around a lot so keep looking until you find one that has “cover calculator and template generator” in blue. It currently lives at https://kdp.amazon.com/cover-calculator. Enter all the prompts and “calculate dimensions”. You will then have a chance to download the template. If you are using something like Canva, the dimensions will be what you need.
- Choose how you will make the cover or who. These can be tricky so be prepared to be patient with yourself and have several uploads or be prepared to pay someone to do it for you.
- Upload your finished Print-Ready PDF Cover that you made, or a graphic designer did for you that includes the spine, front, and back covers in high resolution.
- Upload your cover. Log back in to KDP, continue setup, choose the tab that says, “Paperback Content”, scroll down to Book Cover, choose upload cover. I recommend letting KDP place the barcode for you.
- Launch the previewer again. KDP will evaluate your cover and interior at the same time to look for common errors. To the left of your screen in the Quality Check pane they will tell you the errors. If the size is wrong, they will tell you what size was expected and what you uploaded. Make any corrections that are necessary and upload your book cover again.
- When all is well Download the PDF document that KDP creates of your approved book which will include the cover and hit the Approve button. You may need this PDF when you go to publish on Kindle and other devices.
Step by Step in KDP
- After you approve it, you will be able to see the summary and printing cost.
- Choose the territories you want to distribute your book through via Amazon. I always pick all territories, including the expanded distribution check box down in the pricing section, which makes your book available to bookstores and online retailers.
- Choose your primary marketplace.
- On this screen, you can enter different prices and see the cost of printing and the royalty you will make in different markets. Unless you are amazingly well known or your book is too large, you should pick a list price of $14.99 or below.
- Absolutely, without a doubt, order a hard copy proof.
- Save this page as a draft until you are finished proofing your printed proof.
- Use the “Request Proof” button, follow the prompts, and go to your cart within 24 hours to pay for it.
- Once your proof arrives go over it inch by inch, word by word, cover to cover.
- Ask a trusted friend, peer or advisor to do the same.
- Make any corrections necessary following the above steps in both interior and exterior, step by step using KDP Publishers.
- If you had no corrections, then you are ready to use the “Publish Your Book” button.
- If you have minor corrections do them and upload a new manuscript or cover and launch the previewer again. Go over it page by page extra careful if you are not doing another printed proof.
- If the changes were major, upload the new manuscript or cover, launch the previewer, approve, then order a new proof. This is worth it even it if feels like a delay.
Distribute Step by Step in KDP Publishers
- Create your Goodreads Author page and do a book give-away promotion.
- Sign into your Amazon Associate page, put in your ISBN # to get an Amazon Associate link to your book so that you can earn an extra 4% or more as you promote your book using that link.
- Add your Amazon Associate link to your new book to your blog, website and social media.
- Shout from the rooftops on your blog and social media about your new book.
- On X (formerly Twitter) write a tweet to me that says something like this, “@KaylaFioravanti I followed your advice and just published my new book (include a link)” You can put your link on my author Facebook page too.
- Put focused energy into the entrepreneur portion of being an author-preneur.
- Create your Author Central through the Marketing button at the top of the main page. This is where you put your picture and your bio.
- Go to the marketing page, learn about and do A+ content.
- Go to the marketing page, learn about and do ads for your book.
Steps to Kindle Direct Publishing (eBook)
Now that your KDP Publishers book is complete, you are ready to create a Kindle version of your book.
- When you hit the publish button, KDP will ask you in a pop up if you want to create an eBook now. You can say yes from there of you can come back later to your bookshelf.
- From the bookshelf, select “+Create Kindle eBook”. Either way, KDP will pre-populate many of the fields for you.
- The entire first tap is filled in to match the print book. The only choose you have to make is at the bottom where it asks if you want to release now or if you are wanting to do pre-orders.
- Hit Save and Continue.
- On the tab, Kindle eBook Content, first choose to enable or not enable digital rights management (DRM) which I talked about in Chapter 2.
- Prepare the eBook cover by opening your cover in any editing program. Crop it to just the front cover and save as JPG.
- Come back to KDP, navigate to this middle tab and upload the JPG you just made as the cover.
- Prepare the interior by opening Word. If you made the interior with word, save it as eBook before you make changes. Then remove the page numbers, headers, footers, section breaks and turn off “widow and orphan” controls.
- If you created it in InDesign, cut and paste all the text from each text box in order into a word document making sure to copy and paste all headers for each section as you go.
- In the word document you now have from either method, remove the page numbers from the Contents; create a bookmark at the beginning of each section listed in the contents; and then create hyperlinks from each line of the contents to those bookmarks.
- Make hyperlinks out of all addresses in the book for websites, social media, and email addresses.
- Save OFTEN😊
- Navigate back to the middle tab and upload your interior. KDP will tell you that you don’t have a Table of Contents. This is ok, they are looking for one that was generated by Kindle Create but we didn’t use that tool.
- Open the book in the previewer.
- KDP will take over and check your file. Look to the left in the Quality Check pane for a list of common errors that KDP found.
- Play with the previewer by changing to various Devices by changing the device name at the top.
- Look at every single page, take notes of major issues but be aware that there is not one single layout that will look the same on every single device.
- Save as Draft and open the word document. Make the changes needed and upload again. Check every page again. This will feel like over kill but be patient and do it. It will save you potential headache later. Repeat this process until you are happy with the way your book looks on most devices.
- The last item on this tab is the ISBN. You can’t use the same ISBN number for your print and digital book. You can choose not to have an ISBN or purchase a second number. If you don’t give one, you can only sell your book on Amazon.
- Hit Save and Continue.
- On the third tab, choose KDP select. This has been just a check box but you may have to go the enrollment page to sign up. If you are not planning to immediately put your eBook on other platforms or sell it from your website, I recommend using KDP Select as another stream of revenue. Right before each 90 period is up there a window where you can un-enroll.
- Verify your publishing territories.
- Choose to receive the 35% or 70% royalty.
- Use the list price box to play with different price points.
- International prices will adjust automatically based on the US price.
- When you are ready, click “save and publish.”
- Kindle will do another review that can take up to 72 hours. When they are finished it will just go live.
- Promote, promote and promote some more!