How to self-publish for Kindle

StandoffCoverOr at least, this is how I did it.

Before you take the step – are you sure you want to do this?  At the moment your chances of rivalling Terry Pratchett or Dan Brown are rather better by following the traditional publishing route. But if you’ve done your best, burnt your bridges and still want your Opus out there for the world to see, this is one road to take. Increasingly, having self-published isn’t seen as quite the stigma it used to be. Especially among those who write books. I’ve read a number of books written by fellow authors which were rejected by traditional publishers but that I would certainly part with my hard-earned to own. Hopefully, some of them will come out between covers but for now, I’m happy to read on-screen.

If you take this route, don’t expect to make your first million overnight. You’ll be self-publishing your book. Which means marketing. People don’t buy books they don’t know about so if you can bundle your book with those of other people, you may be able to make a bigger splash in the internet pond. But you’ll be lucky to give serious competition to the likes of Allen & Unwin or Harper Collins.

You’ve made the big decision

First things first. Don’t blunder about making the mistakes everybody makes. Find out from somebody else who’s been there and done that. My starting point was a free ebook by Edward C. Patterson. Are You Still Submitting Your Work to a Traditional Publisher? Easy to read and understand, it’s full of great tips. So… things to consider before you go down this road.

Do you have a Kindle?

It doesn’t matter; you can download Kindle for PC from Amazon for free. Here’s the link.

Now then, let’s check a few things off.

Is your book ready?
Has it been beta-read and torn apart by critical readers? Not your best friend or your latest paramour. The most disinterested parties you can manage who do read the genre. Don’t even think about loading a first draft. Remember that café where you had that lousy cup of coffee? You don’t go back there, do you? So what do you think will happen if somebody downloads your book and finds it’s not up to standard?

Has it been copy-edited within an inch of its life?
I don’t know about you, but spelling and grammar errors slap me right between the eyes when I read. ‘It’s’ when it should be ‘its’; their, there, they’re; incorrectly punctuated dialogue. Some of you may think it’s pedantic. I think it’s clear communication. At the end of the day, of course, it’s up to you, the author. Just keep remembering that lousy cup of coffee at the café you don’t go to. I hope you noticed the examples I used. Spell-check is a grate tool – but it sure doesn’t cover everything. Oops. Great tool. If you can afford to pay a copy editor, so much the better. I didn’t, but I have a number of pedantic friends.

Beta-read, edited, ready to go?
Download Mobipocket’s reader and ebook creator software. Sure, you don’t have to; Amazon will import Word files. But this allows you to create output for other e-platforms and you can check your results before you load to Amazon. One thing I discovered – while Amazon will allow you to load things like drop-caps into a Kindle document, Mobipocket’s creator software doesn’t translate a drop-cap properly. But then, Mobipocket creates output for other platforms as well as kindle – iPhone, iPad, Sony Reader etc.

Write your sales pitch
We’ve all had to do this; pitch a book in a query. But I found with the kindle, you don’t have as much space as you’d have even in a query. I cut mine down several times and worked hard at making the pitch attractive to a reader. People can actually ‘try before they buy’ with kindle – and the chunk they can download is quite substantial. But even so, they have to want to do it, don’t they? So do this one very, very carefully. Remember, you want to suck them in, not tell them the story. This is mine. I’m not saying it’s perfect – or even particularly good. But in 75 words it sets the scene, sketches the stakes, hints at the romance and the problem. Hopefully, the punters will at least take a look. And then shell out their money.

On an obscure planet between the mighty Ptorix Empire and its smaller Human neighbour 3,000 Ptorix miners are slaughtered—and the Human Confederacy Starfleet is blamed. As the spectre of interspecies war solidifies into a horrible reality, the fate of the Galaxy depends on an unlikely alliance between the Fleet’s charismatic young Grand Admiral Saahren and brilliant Ptorix-loving systems engineer Allysha Marten. The only problem is she has her own private reasons for despising Saahren.

All set?
Not yet, you’re not.
Don’t post without the all-important cover.
But I’ll talk about that next time.


About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 25 May 2010, in On writing. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. That’s been one of the most thorough walk-through on self publishing, and interesting to find that Kindle can be used on a PC. Cheers!

  2. Thanks, Piotr, I hope you found it useful. We keep pushing new frontiers.

  3. Thanks, Greta, that’s all really useful. I’m away to download my free Kindle…

  4. I’m more than a bit late to this article, but I’m glad I found it. Thanks, Greta, and like Lexi did, I’m off to download Kindle. And I’ll check out Mobipocket.

  5. Hey Greta! Was googling to see what I could see about drop caps and the Kindle. You know Michele Poet, on FB, and that company she’s putting together?

    In one of the samples there is a drop cap! Maybe it’s for another platform, not sure. Anyway I was happy to see this post of yours come up on Google and I found it very helpful.

    Since I’m behind, did you do an article yet on covers? Would love to read your thoughts on that too! Reb

    • That story is pretty old now – but I’m glad it was of help. I think the technology is constantly changing. This is the link to the cover story

  1. Pingback: Kindle Publishing Made Easy |

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