Updated: Jul 28
When I first started my indie author journey, I had to do a LOT of research on my own and it didn't seem that the information was really gathered in one place. I had to search many youtube videos, blogs, and articles to finally understand formatting and the uploading process. So, to make it easier for people who might stumble on my blog, I've written out a detailed, step-by-step guide to writing your book, formatting it, and uploading it on Kindle!
PS: This blog is for people like me who have never done any of this before. Thinking of self-publishing? It's like writing and formatting for dummies! Some of it may sound obvious to some and be completely new information for others. I hope this helps you format your ebook to publish on kindle books!
STEP 1: Writing Your Book
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started (that I didn't even know I was making) was simply writing my manuscript on GoogleDocs without thinking about future formatting.
(Now, I actually invested in Microsoft Word, which has a lot more options when it comes to formatting and I found that exporting my books from Google Docs always seemed to create errors in the formatting later. So I thought Microsoft Word was a good investment to avoid those issues and eliminate the stress. That's not to say you can't use Docs. It is free and has all the simple features you need as an author.)
Today, one of my biggest pieces of advice is to write in the size you want to print in. For me, that's 5.5 x 8.5. When I wanted to convert my documents from the standard page size to my preferred print size, I found it very tedious to fix minor errors in indents, paragraph spacing, etc. To do this, first decide what size you want your book pages to be. Then, in the upper left corner of your document (it is pretty much the same process on Microsoft word as it is on Google Docs) click on File > page Setup
Click Apply to > Whole Document. Then select the page size and margins you want. I usually leave at least 1" margins around the whole pace. If your book is long, these margins will have to be adjusted and I'll show you how to do that in this blog.
Another thing that I found useful was the Page Break function. This can be found on both Google Docs and on Word. What this does is puts a break between pages where you want them. I use page breaks between chapters so that if I go back and add to a chapter, that break will always be there even if page count changes and I won't have to worry about it.
Next is downloading your document from Google Docs so that you can upload it to Amazon. Amazon accepts DocX, EPUB, and KPF documents for their ebooks. Now, Google Docs does have an option to download an EPUB format and Docx format and while they are both acceptable, the formatting has not matched up for me in the past when I upload to Amazon straight from these files. So I personally suggest downloading your file as a Docx file but NOT directly uploading it this way to kindle. Read on to see why!
STEP 2: Formatting Your Book for Amazon
If you want to put your book on Amazon, there are some other things you will have to do to correctly format your book so readers have a good experience. When I was going through this process, there was a lot of trial and error and I believe I downloaded 3 programs before understanding or finding the best one. Simply uploading your Docx or EPUB file results in formatting issues that aren't obvious until a reader gives you a low rating for having a bad reading experience...
The first thing I want to recommend is downloading Kindle Create. Kindle Create is a FREE program specifically made to format your book for Amazon. It's extremely easy to use. I would not recommend writing your whole book in the program, despite that being possible, because you will benefit much more from the editing software in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. And for an extra layer of editing, you can download Grammarly (which can't be used with Kindle Create).
When you upload your Docx book, Kindle Create will automatically try to format your chapters. This is one reason I always number my chapters because it makes it easy for KC (Kindle Create) to automatically fill them in. If KC did not choose your chapters correctly, you'll get the chance to approve or disapprove of its selection.
It's worth a note that if you're someone who adds small pictures into your chapters, these won't really translate directly from your Docx manuscript into KC. So you will have to re-upload the images individually into KC if you want them in your document. These photos need to be JPEG. You can either create a "Chapter Start Image" or just insert an image (which is what I did) because I didn't want it to take up the whole top of the page.
Once you've uploaded you book and approved or edited your chapters, the chapters will be listed on the left side at all times so you can skip to each one individually. I recommend going through your book multiple times to check for issues. You can also change the style of your book by selecting from KC's options. Just go to Theme on the top right side of the screen to find a small list of style options.
You can also use the Insert button to insert hyperlinks. I like to do this at the end of my books to encourage people to visit my website.
There is also a great function that you can't get by simply uploading your EPUB or Docx document into Kindle and that's a Back Matter page. This is simply something you can add to the back of your book. For me personally, I like to add links to my other books or series in case people would like to check them out as well.
When you are finished with your book and it looks the way you want it to (I recommend previewing it. the preview button can be found on the top right side) save it and keep the saved KC file in case you want to edit it later. Then click Export. KC will save your file in a KPF format, which is accepted by Kindle. This is why I recommend KC because it's part of Amazon and therefor all of the formatting done in KC translates perfectly when you upload to Kindle. Before I knew about this program, I tried many programs that converted Docx files to EPUB and they never worked right and did not include these extra features.
Once you've formatted your work, you're ready to upload to Kindle! But that's a whole other blog post that's coming very soon. I hope this helps until then!! Subscribe to be notified when I post next. I'll be covering topics on all things surrounding uploading your work on Amazon and making it ready for readers to enjoy.