In "Publish your Book for Free!", I explained that you can publish any book on which you are the copyright holder for the Amazon Kindle platform at no cost. In this article, I'm going to walk you through step-by-step instructions to getting your masterpiece loaded up via the Amazon Desktop Publishing website and making it available for sale on Amazon.com.
- Go to Amazon's Desktop Publshing site (link below). If you have an existing Amazon account, you can use that to sign in, otherwise, create an account and sign in. If this is your first visit, you will get pop-up windows about the Terms of Service for Amazon DTP U.S. and U.K. that you will have to accept to continue. After you accept the TOS, click on "Account" in the upper right corner.
- On the Account page, you will fill out your company/publisher information. If you're publishing under your own name, then just enter your name and address, and under "Tax Information", select "Individual" as Business Type and enter your SSN. If you're publishing as a company, select "Partnership" or "Corp" as the Business Type, and enter the TIN or EIN.
- Choose a payment method to receive the royalties on your book sales. You may choose between direct deposit into a US bank account, which is free and pays out with a minimum of $10 in earnings, or have a check mailed to you, which costs $8 and has a minimum payout of $100. Then click "Save Entries".
- When you're returned to the main page, click on the button to "Add a new title" near the upper left. This is where you will upload your book text and cover and fill in the description, etc.
- Once you're on the book page, under Book Basics, fill in the title of your book and optionally, series and edition information, if any. Under description, you have 4,000 characters with which to make your "sales pitch" for the book. Look at any Amazon book page to get ideas about what to enter here. Of course, you want to enter your book "blurb", a few sentences or a paragraph or two that tells readers generally what the book is about and entices them to read it. You can also include editorial reviews, a brief excerpt, and information about awards or accolades the book has received. Unfortunately, this area is basically straight text. You can't use any fancy formatting or HTML to spruce up the look, so just do your best to sell the book with wise word choices.
- Under Book Contributors, you must enter at least one contributor, which would naturally be the author, or, if the book is a compilation work, the editor. You can add multiple authors/editors, as well as any other contributors you want to acknowledge, like a cover artist, illustrator, or translator.
- In the next set of blanks, enter the language the book is written in, and optionally, a publication date and publisher name (corp or individual). In the ISBN blank, you can enter an ISBN if you already have one for the ebook edition. Do not enter the ISBN of any print version of the book. If you don't have one, that's fine, too. It's not required.
- The next section is Publishing Rights. Your choice is between public domain rights and private, copyrighted material. Amazon has begun to limit the publishing of public domain volumes, because they don't want their customers to be greeted with 2,000 copies of the same text, but that doesn't mean you can't publish one of these if your version is unique in some way, for example, if you have added illustrations or editorial content that enhances the original text. One important thing to note is that public domain titles do not qualify for Amazon's higher 70% royalty rate.
- The Browse and Search section is next and is very important. Choosing well here will assist your book in being found in customer searches. Under "categories", you may choose up to five categories in which to list your book. I suggest looking under the category listings on Amazon that you think are most appropriate for your book and making note of the count of titles under each. If you are undecided between a couple of categories, pick the one with fewer titles. It's easier to be found among 337 titles than among 12,337 titles. And be sure to pick all five categories you are allowed—the more ways your book can be found, the better.
- Under the Search keywords section, you can enter 5-7 keyword phrases that apply to your book. Try to think of keywords that are different than the categories you chose, and likely ways that people would search for topics or titles like yours.
- Now we get to the meat of your book upload. First, you must upload your cover image. The cover image needs to be in JPEG or TIFF format, 72 DPI, and a minimum of 500 pixels wide by 1280 pixels high. If it's not at least this large, it won't come out right at all.
- Next, you must select whether or not you want digital rights management (DRM) enabled on your book. Choose carefully, as this option cannot be changed later. DRM is special formatting put on a book to make it difficult (though not impossible) to copy. In other words, it's copy-protection for ebooks. DRM has the potential to make it difficult for a purchaser to read his own book, and the true concern over unauthorized copying is blown way out of proportion. DRM is a topic unto itself, so I'll say no more on it here, but my personal feeling is "just say no to DRM".
- Finally, we have the book itself! Formatting of your manuscript to optimize its look on the Kindle or any other ebook platform is an enormous topic, but suffice to say that basic formatting is not difficult, and the Amazon DTP help forum has several documents to help you with this. Once you have your manuscript in a format you're satisfied with, just use the button to upload the file and then preview it right there on the upload page. The previewer shows you what your document will look like on a Kindle, so you can make adjustments as needed before publishing. When you're done with that, hit "Save and Continue".
- This will bring you to the Pricing and Publishing page. Here, you first have to select your Content Rights. If you are publishing a non-public domain title for which you hold the copyright, you most likely have worldwide rights to your title. If it's a public domain title, or someone else has copyrights over it, you probably have rights in only certain territories, and you need to select appropriately.
- The only other thing you need to choose is your price and royalty option. If your book is priced in the range $2.99 to $9.99, you are eligible for either the 35% or 70% royalty. There are some finer points to each of these options, but for the most part, I would suggest choosing 70%. Your royalty will be 70% of the selling price less a delivery fee, which is based on the size of your Kindle file, but is usually around ten cents for books without illustrations. If your book is priced outside that range, you have only the 35% option, but there is no delivery charge with that one. How much should you charge for your book? Well, that is a topic for another day, but for now, I would suggest just looking at a wide range of books similar to yours and pricing similarly.
- When you've finished with setting the price, affirm that you have read and accept the DTP terms and conditions, then click "Save and publish". Don't worry that you don't have everything quite right, because you can go back and change anything except the DRM selection later on. Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow you to make any changes to your book or book information while the book is already under review for a prior change, so try to make all your changes at once.
Amazon Desktop Publishing website
Amazon DTP manuscript formatting help