A Visual Guide To Publishing Your eBook on Kindle

For years it has been only the exceptionally gifted or the very lucky writer who ever saw their books in print. Today, thanks to digital publishing, virtually anyone can publish their own book. This article is a step-by step tutorial that will show you how to publish your own e-book on Kindle at almost no cost to you. Before we dive into the process, we’d like to make one point clear: it’s one thing to publish a book, but it’s another to sell it. Before you spend the time and energy publishing your book, you may want to spend some time thinking about how you plan to get it in the hands of readers. If you’re looking for help, check out our other articles, especially this one.

Why Kindle?
A Kindle reader is a device that displays an electronic version of a book that is downloaded by a customer.  In addition to the Kindle reader, the company has programs and applications available for most smartphones, electronic tablets and computers—both Windows and Mac. Kindle is a subsidiary of Amazon—one of the largest online retailers in the world. While there are other platforms available for publishing e-books, the vast majority sold today are sold through Kindle. By publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing, your book becomes available to millions of people around the world.

Another reason to publish with Kindle is the fact that they spend a lot of money promoting their titles to their customers. And they don’t just promote popular authors. When our first book was published, Amazon adds for the book were found all over Facebook. We didn’t pay for these ads. Amazon paid for them.  Free targeted advertising is a service that other publishers don’t offer.

Finally, if you’re technically challenged when it comes to creating and uploading print files, Kindle makes the process straight-forward and easy to understand.

Sign Up or Sign in to an Account
Go to the homepage for Kindle Direct Publishing and sign into your account or create a new account if you don’t have one.  After you’re logged in, click “Get Started.”

Note: You may be required to provide your bank account information, as Amazon will either send you a monthly check or directly deposit your royalties in your bank account. You can choose how you receive payment.

SignInKDPAdd New Title
Once you are signed in, you will see the Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard.  This is where you will add new book projects, view reports on book sales and launch promotional programs. If your book is ready to be published, click “Add New Title 1.”

Add_new_title

Enter Your Book Details
Here, you will provide Kindle with the details of your book including the title, sub-title, publisher, author(s) and description.

Description
A major mistake many authors make is failing to recognize the importance of the book description. Kindle allows 4,000 characters for the description. Our advice is to use as many words as possible in the description without making it sound repetitive. Amazon’s search engines match up your book with customer searches based largely on key search terms found  in the book’s title, sub-title and description. If you want your book to be recommended to potential buyers it would be wise to make the description as full and complete as possible. We included the chapter titles in the description of our first book in order to help readers find the book through key search terms found in the chapter headings. Give serious thought to the description. You might check out our article on creating a description that will help sell your book.

ISBN
Although print books require an ISBN number, Kindle does not require one for e-books. If you have one, you may use it, but it is completely optional.

Enter_book_details

Book Category
Kindle encourages you to add up to two categories for your book. You may want to do a little research before you decide on your book’s categories. The category choices can weigh heavily on sales and rankings. Ideally, you want your book to be in a category where it has a chance to compete with other books for a spot in the top 10 of the category you’ve chosen. If you are a new author, you may want to place the book in a category with fewer books, because it will give your book a better chance to rise to the top of the category.  Placing the book in a category with tens of thousands of similar books will almost guarantee it will get lost in obscurity. Check out our article on choosing a category for more information.

Keywords
Kindle allows up to seven keywords for your book. We suggest using all of them. Keywords can be single words or they can contain strings of words such as “prophetic ministry” or “raising the dead.” Keyword selection is another important consideration as search engines tend to match up buyer search terms with the keywords you provide. We’ve developed a process that allows you to determine which keywords are most commonly searched for by potential buyers. See our article on keywords for more information.

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Category_Menu

 

Upload or Create a Cover
We strongly encourage you to create a visually appealing cover for your book. A good cover design draws the attention of potential readers. Kindle makes it easy to create a simple cover if you don’t have the design skills or money to pay for a professional one. Just follow the steps below.  (If you have your own cover image, check to see that it meets Kindle’s format requirements.)

Choose_Cover

 

If you choose to create your own cover:
Click the Cover Creator button and launch the program.  Follow the instructions to create a background image, select a color scheme and a layout for the text and choose your fonts. When you are satisfied with the cover, save it and click preview. If it looks good, save it and come back to the this page to complete the next step.

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Upload Your Book File
First, choose if you would like to enable digital rights management (DRM). If you enable digital rights management it is (in theory) more difficult for others to share or sell your work without your permission and without paying you a royalty. Some authors encourage sharing of their work without payment as it can create a wider visibility for their work. If you don’t want your work being shared without your knowledge and without payment, select “enable digital rights management.”

Digital_rights_management

Next select “Browse” to locate your book file on your computer.

Upload_book_file

Types of Formats
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) lets you upload and convert your final draft from several formats. For best results, they recommend that you upload in DOC/DOCX (.doc/.docx) or HTML (.html) format. Be sure to read through the tips below for your preferred format prior to publishing.

KDP accepts the following formats:

WORD (DOC or DOCX)

We developed a simplified approach for creating a Kindle file from a Microsoft WORD document. Check out this video for step-by-step instructions.

  • KDP accepts most DOC & DOCX files; however, some files which contain complex formatting may not convert well. Be sure to use the previewer to check your file’s conversion if it contains tables or is graphic intensive to ensure conversion was successful. For more tips on formatting in Microsoft word please visit their Help page.
  • Kindle books can be viewed in different font sizes, depending on the reader’s preference. Page numbers, font sizes and margins created in Word will not be applied.
  • The “Page Break” feature in Word should be used to create intentional page breaks (i.e. ending a chapter for a smoother transition and better reading experience).
  • Images can be added using the ‘Insert’ function in Word. Do not use the copy/paste function.
  • If you’re submitting your file in DOC or DOCX format, the entire book text should be uploaded in one file.
  • Do not include a cover in your book file. Kindle will automatically embed the cover file you selected in the previous step.

HTML (ZIP, HTM, or HTML)

  • If your HTML document contains images, please compress all files into a single ZIP file before uploading.
  • For help with HTML please see KDP’s Basic HTML Formatting Guidelines.

Verify Upload
When you have successfully uploaded your file and it has been converted, you will see the following screen verifying that the file was uploaded and it passed the spell-check test.
Note: KDP’s spell-check feature should not be relied upon for accuracy. It is unlikely that it will catch all misspelled words. The best way to spell-check your document is to rely on the services of a good editor.

Successful_upload

Formatting and Previewing
If your book has minimal formatting requirements and does not include tables, images or bullet lists,  Amazon’s upload service is extremely good at retaining your formatting. Nevertheless, you should always preview your work after successfully uploading it. If your book contains images, charts, tables or lists, you may need to use a special program to convert the file to preserve formatting.

Consider the fact that an eBook is displayed on a screen. Screens come in many different sizes, from iPad Mini’s to iPhones, full-size iPads and desktop computers. Books that include detailed graphics will never look as good when displayed on an electronic screen as they do in print.

After uploading your book file, use the “Online Previewer” link then, from the drop-down list select a device and preview how your book will be displayed. The menu allows you select different devices and either landscape or portrait orientation for previewing.

 

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Save & Continue

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Set Your Price

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Select Territories

Select_territories

Amazon lets you set nearly any price you wish for your book. However, there are two royalty options: 35% or 70%.

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Here are some things to consider:

  • You can designate your book for sale in only certain countries, or worldwide.
  • If you price your book below $2.99, or more than $9.99, Amazon will only offer the 35% royalty option.
  • In some smaller markets, Amazon only offers the 35% royalty. (The 70% option is available in the U.S., Canada, UK and most larger markets.)
  • When you choose the 70% royalty option, Amazon also deducts a small “delivery fee” for each book sold. This is their additional fee for wirelessly distributing your work, and is based on the file size of your work. In the U.S., this fee is presently set at 15 cents per megabyte. (A Word document of approximately 100,000 words and with minimal graphics is typically no more than 1 MB.)
  • There is no delivery charge with the 35% royalty option.

Thus, if you charge $2.99 for your work and choose the 70% royalty option, your royalty for each book sold is likely to be:

$2.99 x .70 = $2.09 before delivery fee

$2.09 – .15 (delivery fee) = $1.94.

You earn $1.94 for each book sold. (Authors are solely responsible for paying taxes.)

MatchBook

Match_book

Lending

 

Lending

 

Confirm & Publish

Confirm_publish

Once you’ve published your book, it takes Amazon 24-48 hours before your book will be available for sale on their website.

 

KDP Select

Amazon aggressively promotes their “KDP Select” program. With KDP Select, if you agree to publish your work on Kindle—exclusively—for 90 days and allow Amazon customers to borrow it for free, Amazon will pay you a small fee each time the book is borrowed. Typically, this fee is close to the royalty you would have received had the book actually been purchased.

KDP_select

Amazon obviously wants everyone to have their work available exclusively through them.

Given Amazon’s market share, you may wish to try KDP Select. It will prevent readers from purchasing your book on Apple’s iBooks service, or other platforms, as long as your book is enrolled in the program.

Paperback Printing

KDP offers an optional service where they will convert your ebook to a paperback. We have not tried this service (it’s currently in Beta) because we create our own print book files. But if you have limited funds, you may want to check it out. More information on the paperback option can be found on this page.

Amazon Author Page

Once your book is available, we also recommend creating an Amazon author page—a free service that links your biography, personal website, and social media pages with your book listing.

Final Thoughts

Publishing ebooks with KDP does require you to learn their system, a system which is continually being updated. Our experiences have been positive overall. We sell a lot of ebooks through Amazon, and all of them are permanently enrolled in KDP Select.  We have no regrets about making KDP our exclusive distributor for ebooks.

If you have specific questions about publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing, you’re welcome to email us through our contact page.

The First Step to Marketing Your Book

One of the most frequent questions I receive from new authors is: “How do I market my book?”

Sadly,  the question is usually asked two or three years later than it ought to be. The time to begin marketing your book is at least a year (ideally two or three years) before it’s published.

The first step in marketing your book is creating a personal website or blog. As an author, your website is the front door to your platform. It’s the place where readers can find you and the things you write. Email lists, social media and other ways to connect with readers are nice, but creating a professional-looking website and posting on it regularly are the first steps to building an audience that will buy your books. I learned the importance of having and regularly posting on a website by accident.

In 2009, (three years before my first book was published) I began a Google blog. I shared stories about the people I prayed with who were being healed. The first year of blogging, traffic to my website was pretty dismal. With the help of Google’s search engine, the site had about 10 visits a day. Nothing to brag about, but the readers who did manage to find me became dedicated followers. This was around the time when Facebook was becoming popular.

In 2010, I began intentionally building a group of friends on Facebook who were interested in healing. I continued sharing stories from my blog with them. By the end of 2010, the blog was seeing around 100 visits a day. For the next two years, I continued building the audience and sharing articles from my blog on Facebook. By the end of 2012, when my first book was ready to launch, the website was seeing around 450 visitors a day.

Having that kind of traffic to my website provided an audience of readers who were primed for a book launch. I published my first book at the end of 2012 and it sold well, considering that it was my first book and I was a relatively unknown author. I made more than $25,000 in royalties from the book the first year it was published. All of that due to a blog that I posted on every week.

Here’s where dedication and a little hard work pay off. It’s one thing to set up a free website. It’s another thing to post 300 articles on it over the course of a few years. It takes that long for search engines to aggregate your stories and send readers to your website. Building a platform isn’t rocket science. But it does take time and it requires persistence.

In 2014, I upgraded my platform. I migrated my blog to a self-hosted WordPress website and continued posting and sharing on Facebook. I added a podcast, which increased traffic by 30%. Today the website sees around 1000 visits a day. I self-publish through Amazon’s Kindle and Create Space and my books sell well enough for me to write full-time.

There are many components that make up a successful marketing campaign, but for an author, none are more important than having a personal website, where readers can check out your work, get to know you and fall in love with your stories.

If you need advice on creating a website, check out this article.

Joel Friendlander Template Review

There are many ways in which self-published authors can format their books.  I recently had a chance to check out Joel Friedlander’s preformatted book templates. He has a number of templates available. Each is designed for a specific purpose, such as non-fiction, memoirs and novels. The templates are available for use with either MS Word or Adobe InDesign. Each template type has a number of styles to choose from and they are available in a variety of the most popular trim sizes.

The basic version of a template allows you to create a print book file, but some templates offer an upgrade that also allows you to create an e-book file. There are different licensing options to choose from based on how you plan to use a template. The least expensive option is to purchase a template to be used for a single book. If you plan to use a template for more than one book, a multiple use option is available and if you plan to format books for others, a commercial license is available. (Enforcement of licensing seems to be on the honor system.)

I purchased the Microsoft Word version of the novel template called “Flourish.”

The differences between fiction and non-fiction templates are found in the preformatted styles that are included in each. Novels don’t require things like bulleted or numbered lists so these styles are not included in the novel template but they would be included in a non-fiction template. If you’re not sure which kind of template you might need, rest assured in knowing that you can include things like a bullet list even if it’s not a style that’s included in a template you’ve purchased. You can always add custom styles to your book file as needed.

You pay for your template with a credit card or Paypal and receive a link in your email to the template’s download page. Download the template to your computer and open it to begin a new book project. (You should immediately save your book project under another name so you don’t accidentally overwrite the formatting of the master template.)

I had a short book I was working on that was around 6,000 words, divided into 4 chapters. Following the instructions that were provided I copied and pasted the contents of the book document into the template then saved the Word document under a different file name.

There were some things in my original document, like extra paragraph returns, that transferred over into the template that needed to be removed. That’s not unusual. Most writers put in too many paragraph returns when composing a manuscript and they have to be removed when creating a print file. Joel has a Youtube tutorial that explains how to find and remove them. (The video uses the InDesign template, but the same steps can be used when formatting in Word.)

Customization

One of my chapter titles contained too many words to fit neatly on a single line using the preformatted font size for the chapter opening page. I was glad to find that the styles in the template are not locked. They’re completely customizable. When working in MS Word, any of the style presets can be changed by right clicking on the top ribbon on the current style you’re using then selecting “modify” and changing the settings as needed in the dialogue box. I liked the style of default title font, but I reduced the point size from 32 to 18. I also changed the point size for the chapter number to match the new title size. When I was done, the chapter opening page looked great.

Joel only offers templates in a limited number of trim sizes. I planned to submit a file to Create Space for a book with a 5 x 8 trim size. The template I purchased was for a trim size of 5.5 inch x 8.5 inches. This was the closest trim size available. I took a gamble when I purchased it, hoping the margins could be changed. The other change I wanted to make was to the inside and outside page margins.

The default page margins were set at .92 inches for the inside and .75 for the outside. Margins this wide might be needed for a book with 400 pages, because a wide inside margin allows readers to view the text near the gutter of a thick book. But my book was only going to be 32 pages in length and these wide margins weren’t needed and didn’t look right. Changing the margins was easy to do. I opened the margins tab in Word (Page Layout > Margins > Custom Margins) and set the overall page dimensions to 5 x 8 inches and the inside and outside margins at 0.6 and 0.5 respectively with the gutter set at 0. (Be sure to verify that you’re changing the settings in the document for the book you’re working on and not the master template.)

Evaluation

When I was done formatting my book, I looked at the preview of the print file and I was impressed. The file produced seemed to be professional enough to meet the needs of most authors. The entire process of formatting my short book took about 1 hour. I liked this template and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a preformatted template solution, but there are some things about the MS Word version that bothered me.

healing-book-screenshot

For example, I would like to see better control of line spacing. If you add subheads to your manuscript, (even the preformatted ones) it throws off the line spacing and text on opposing pages doesn’t line up properly. Correcting it can be time consuming, if it can be corrected it all. To be fair, this is not actually a template problem, but one native to MS Word and I’ll discuss that more in a minute.

There is also the issue of poor baseline control. Many self-published authors print books with ragged, uneven baselines. (It’s become one of the telltale signs of a self-published book.) The baseline is an imaginary line at the bottom and top of a page. A professionally designed book has text touching the baseline at the bottom and top of every page, without irregularities. At Inkity Press, we format our print books in InDesign. This program has a colored line that represents the baseline. We adjust the text box and add or subtract text to a page when necessary and change paragraph breaks to make sure there is text on every page touching the baseline. InDesign gives you precise control over text placement relative to the baseline as seen in the image below.

 

baseline

Baseline and text box as displayed in Adobe InDesign

Microsoft Word doesn’t provide a tool that shows the baseline of a page, so you never know if your text is at, below or exactly on the baseline. That means the baseline of a book formatted in Word is bound to have irregularities. It’s one of the limitations of Word, and it’s one of the drawbacks of using this kind of system, but it isn’t going to be a deal-breaker for most people.

In terms of the quality of the end product, Microsoft Word will never match the quality of a file created in Adobe InDesign. InDesign is the gold standard for creating print book files and that’s not likely to change. But InDesign can be a beast to learn and since Adobe has moved to cloud-based leasing agreements, you’ll be paying them the rest of your life to use their software. (That is unless you go with the now freeware version of Adobe InDesign or Creative Suite 2. If you’re curious—CS2 is not compatible with Joel’s templates. They’re only compatible with CS4 or later.)

Most authors are already familiar with Word, so it’s not surprising that many have opted for the less-than-perfect print books produced by this user-friendly platform.  Word may not produce the best looking books, but many authors find its ease of use to be of greater importance. Using preformatted templates like Joel’s in Word does offer a nice alternative to InDesign.

In summary, if you’re looking for an easy way to format your books for print and e-book, Joel’s templates make the process simple, they’re reasonably priced, they’re customizable and they seem to work well.

* Note: I did not purchase the e-book option for my template. According to one tutorial video, the conversion to an e-book with one of his templates involves importing the finished Word document into a free e-book program called Calibre. Once the book is in Calibre, it can be formatted and exported to virtually any e-book format.

Joel’s templates can be found here: Joel Friedlander Templates

How an Author Should Respond to Criticism

Most writers will slowly gain a larger following over time. As your sphere of influence grows, so grows your exposure to people who are not familiar with, or in agreement with your message. Every writer wants to be heard, but with a larger audience comes negative feedback via comments on social media posts, articles, e-mails and book reviews.

You initial response may be to block people who leave negative comments from your discussions. If you’re overly sensitive and prone to being discouraged or distracted by negative feedback, this may be a good option—at least initially.

But the goal of most writers is to reach a larger audience. And as your audience grows, it becomes more difficult to filter out negative feedback. At some point, you’re going to have to allow the negative comments into your life and deal with them. It helps to understand that there are different types of negative feedback, each of which should be handled differently.

One type of critic is the stranger who doesn’t understand you and your message and has no desire to. When one of these comments comes your way, you simply need to realize this person got off on the wrong planet and they haven’t found their way home yet. They’re lost and they’ve wandered onto your social media page, website or Amazon page and claim you’re the worst writer they’ve ever read.

Do yourself a favor and don’t engage them. Discourage your friends from engaging them. Leave them alone and they’ll eventually find the bus back home and you’ll never hear from them again. 1 -2 % of your book reviews will be from such people. They can drive you crazy if you let them, but the wisest thing to do is ignore them and keep writing.

The second type of negative comment comes from someone who gets your message, but takes issue with your delivery. Let me give an example:

I sometimes receive reviews from readers who complain that I don’t have enough Bible teaching in my books. (Some have accused me of not having any.) How do I deal with this criticism?

First, I need to ask myself honestly, if the criticism is true. In my teaching books, I typically include around 100 verses of scripture per book. To some that seems like a lot. To others, it’s not enough.

When I look objectively at the complaint, I can see that it’s not true that there is “no Bible teaching” in my books, so I can ignore these complaints altogether. And by ignore, I mean; I don’t engage these folks in any way. I don’t ask people to “vote down” their reviews on Amazon and I don’t confront or argue with them.  Some people will never be happy with your efforts, and you need to learn how to be okay with that.

Some people have commented that I could use more scripture, more testimonies or something else in my book that might actually make it better. For those who acknowledge your efforts, but think you can do better, you need to recognize the fact that there is always room for improvement. These comments are intended to help you. Rather than being ignored, they ought to drive you to excel at what you do.

Then there are friendly negative comments. These come from people who know and like you. These people want you to succeed and their comments have your best interest at heart. You should always take these comments seriously. Investigate them and ask yourself honestly if the comment is valid before dismissing it.

The thing to keep in mind with negative comments is that they can’t all be handled the same way. Some are bogus and don’t require your time. Others are valid and they hold the key to the changes you must make to become a better writer.

Here are a few rules I’ve adopted for use when responding to criticism:
 
• Never respond to a negative comment until several hours have passed after reading it (preferably 24 hours) so that you’ve had time to remove any emotions from the situation.
 
• Don’t respond to the occasional 1 star review on Amazon and don’t encourage friends to. Many people who leave a 1 star review do not understand how the rating system works or they don’t have the technical ability to leave an accurate review. (I’ve read reviews where the person admitted they could not figure out how to change the number of stars to what they wanted.) Others who leave 1 star reviews are internet trolls. As a general policy, it’s best to ignore 1 start reviews, unless you receive a lot of them. If that happens, you need to investigate and find out why. 
 
• When responding to a negative e-mail, be polite and say as little as possible. Say what is required to answer the complaint and leave it at that.
 
• If a complaint seems terribly “off the mark” consider clarifying the issue before responding. It may be that the person responded to the wrong book/article/message by mistake.
 
• Always keep in mind the fact that the person you’re communicating with could become a future friend, supporter and/or customer.
 
• Never say anything that would embarrass or bring shame to someone who has a complaint.
 
• If you complain on social media about your critics, few people are going to see it as a sign of maturity. Most will see it as exactly the opposite. Wear your battle wounds on the inside and if you need to vent, do it privately with someone you trust.
 
• Most negative comments on websites and social media do not require a response. If you do choose to respond, it’s always better to leave a positive response than a negative one.
 
• When you respond to criticism, bear in mind this proven fact:
People buy your books not because of the content itself, but because they like you, personally. As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy the “what,” they buy the “why.” They could get a similar book from someone else. But if they hand over their money to you, it’s because you’ve done something to earn their trust. They like you. Do you want to risk alienating your customers over something as trivial as a negative review or comment that almost no one is going to read?
 

Preparing and Uploading a Word Document for Publishing on Kindle

There are many ways to create an e-book file for Kindle Direct Publishing. This might be the easiest. How to prepare a Microsoft Word document for uploading to Kindle.

20 Tips on Writing and Self-Editing

By Praying Medic

If you happen to be a blogger or a published author, and especially if you have aspirations of writing your first book, I have a message just for you. I’ve come up with a list of 20 things you might want to consider as you write your next viral blog post or best-seller.

Editing is a touchy subject. There are differences of opinion on how to best convey ideas in writing. There are for example, some obvious style differences between how a writer in London and one in New York would write the same story. But there are concepts that most authors and editors agree upon. Here are a few that I’ve found to be helpful:

1) As much as possible, try to write in clear, concise chunks of thought. In general, it’s best to write the shortest sentences possible. Try to avoid writing long, run-on sentences. If you carefully analyze most long sentences, you can usually re-write them as a couple of shorter sentences that convey the same idea more clearly.

2) Keep related sentences together in the same paragraph and keep paragraphs as short as possible. When transitioning to a new subject or thought, begin a new paragraph.

3) Read through your draft periodically and re-organize paragraphs as needed to make the flow of thought as smooth as possible. Don’t be afraid to do some large-scale reorganizing and re-writing if it’s called for.

4) Learn the proper use of commas. It’s a simple, little mark, but its improper use can drive people crazy. Go here if you need help.

5) Learn two spell better. Spell-chick can be a useful tool, but it isn’t food-proof and it will mist some obviously misspelled worlds. If you want to be a successful writer, strive to improve your spelling. (The first sentence above passed spell-check with flying colors. I counted five misspelled words. How many did you catch?)

6) Learn to write with proper grammar. As dangerous as it is to rely on spell-check for spelling errors, it’s even more dangerous to rely on it to check your grammar. Your reputation and credibility as a writer will largely depend upon your spelling skills and your use of grammar. In particular, learn the proper use of its and it’s; the proper use of your, and you’re; and the proper use of their, they’re and there.

7) Minimize the use of boldingunderlining for emphasis. Their unnecessary use makes your writing harder to read. There are fewer things that require emphasis than we want to admit. When emphasis is needed, consider using italics, but don’t over-do it.

8) Try to use sub-headings when introducing a new section within a chapter or blog post. Keep them relevant. Good sub-headings help readers follow where you’re going. If a chapter or blog post is short, or if it only focuses on one subject, you may not need them.

I-shot_the_serif9) Always use a serif font in a book’s text body. (Examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman and Garamond.) It’s probably the best option for your blog as well. Serif fonts have a little line at the end of the letter. They’re much easier to read than non-serif fonts, such as Arial. (We use Garamond in all our books.)

10) Always use the same font size within the body of a book or blog post. Changing font sizes tends to annoy readers, and causes display problems with e-books. Find a font size that works well and stick with it. (Twelve-point Garamond or Times is a good option, if you’re not sure.) The exceptions to this rule are chapter headings and sub-headings. For chapter headings, I use the same font that we use for the body of the book, but a size that is two or three points larger. For sub-headings, I use the bold version of the same font used for the text.

11) When placing a quote within a sentence, it’s generally safest to use a comma immediately before the quote. The comma will usually follow a word like “said” or “replied.”
Example: Jack said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

12) The punctuation for a quote nearly always goes inside the ending quotation mark.

13) When using quotes, always use double quotes. The exception is when a quote appears inside another quote. In this case, the outer quote gets double quotes, while the inner one gets single quotes. If there are multiple quotes within other quotes, the use of single and double quotes alternates.
Example: The author’s final argument was less convincing: “When Brown writes of ‘interpreting the matter through a “secular” lens,’ he opens himself to the same criticism he made earlier in his own paper.”

14) Many writers struggle with the proper use of semi-colons, hyphens, dashes, and em dashes. I had trouble with them while writing my first 2 books, but I’ve gotten better with practice. I now rely heavily on the em dash, ( — ) which is a very long dash that has a lot of flexibility in how it can be used. It can replace semi-colons and even parenthesis in some cases. It’s my go-to punctuation for long sentences that contain several clauses. (If you use a PC, you can create an em dash by holding down the alt key while typing 0151 on the numeric keypad.) I use this guide for punctuation when I need help. The tabs along the top of the page provide quick access to the use of all forms of punctuation.

15) Titles of books, magazines, movies, etc. are best written in title case, which capitalizes all the words except the shortest ones (such as in, the, of, ect.). A title is usually italicized, and the use of bolding or underlining isn’t necessary. When in doubt, you can check the capitalization of a title here.

16) When introducing a new subject that readers may not be familiar with, it’s a good practice to italicize the first mention of it and explain what the term means, but it’s not necessary to italicize it afterward.

17) It’s a good practice to standardize Bible references. How you do that is a matter of preference, but it’s a good idea to choose a method you like and use it consistently. Some people use standard abbreviations, while others write out the entire book name. Here’s an article that has plenty of tips on this and related topics.

18) The most overused punctuation mark is the exclamation mark! I think of it as literary hot sauce!! A little can be good, but it’s easy to over-do it!!!

19) While it’s tempting to use Capitalization Tricks to draw attention to Certain Words, it’s best to avoid getting drawn into this Trend. Learn the standard rules for capitalization and stick to them. I picked up a few bad writing habits from bloggers that I followed and had to painfully unlearn them when I began writing books.

20) Lastly, resist the urge to use ALL CAPS to draw attention to certain words. It looks unprofessional and the main message it conveys is that you’re an inexperienced writer. Write well and you won’t need to employ such tactics. Strong writing speaks for itself.

Choosing Your Book’s Categories

In this message, we’ll show you a step-by-step method to choose the categories for your book that will allow it to be noticed by potential buyers. (Although this example uses Amazon, the same category choices you make for Amazon can be used for publishers like Smashwords.)

Category selection is one of the least understood parts of publishing. When you select the categories for your book you’re not just identifying what type of book you’re publishing. You’re also choosing a field of books against which yours will compete for sales. One mistake authors can make is selecting a category that has too much competition, virtually guaranteeing their book will not be seen by potential buyers. Another mistake is selecting a category so small that your book cannot get adequate exposure to potential buyers. All categories are not created equal. They come in all shapes and sizes and they’re unique. The best strategy for selecting the perfect category for your book is to find one that is:

  1. Appropriate for the subject of your book
  2. Large enough to provide adequate exposure to buyers
  3. Small enough to give your book a chance to compete for top billing

Using our book Divine Healing Made Simple as our example, we began our testing of category options by going to the Kindle eBooks page as shown below.

 

Kindle page

 

The first step is to choose the most appropriate broad category for the book. Review the categories and choose one that best suits your book. “Religion & Spirituality” was the most appropriate for our book so we selected it.

Beside each category is a number that indicates how many books are in that category. The category “Religion & Spirituality” has over 264,000 books in it. This is too large a category for our book to compete in, so we must find a smaller category.

 

Main_Category

The next step is to click on the category “Religion & Spirituality,” which opens a new page with a list of sub-categories. Review the sub-categories here and select the one that is best for your book. “Christianity” was the most appropriate sub-category for our book so we selected it.

 

Sub_category

 

Once again, click on the category you selected and review the sub-categories available. Select the one that seems best for your book. For our example, the category “Christianity” has over 136,000 books, which is still too many for a first-time author to compete against, so we must select a smaller sub-category. Of the sub-categories listed,  “Protestantism” was the most appropriate so we selected it.

Smaller_Sub-Category

The category “Protestantism” has only a fraction of the number of books that “Christianity” has. But at just over 5,000 books it’s still too large for our book to have a chance to compete, so we must find an even smaller category.

The category “Protestantism” is sub-divided into sub-categories based on denominations. Although there are several categories with only a hundred or so books to compete against in some of the categories, we wanted to give the book adequate exposure to searches. Selecting the final category is the most critical part of the process. You want to find a category that is neither too large, not too small. A category that is too small can limit the number of people who will see it, so went went with the largest subcategory in Protestantism, which is “Pentecostal.”

Amazon’s default search setting displays books according to their ranking by popularity, with between 20-30 books on each page. With only 1,400 books in the category, we felt our book had a chance to compete for a spot on the first page of rankings, which would give it decent exposure to potential buyers, so we selected this as the final category.

After you’ve made your selection, note the category path displayed at the top of the page. This is the category path to use when setting up your book in your KDP dashboard.

 

Final-category

 

This author has a blog that receives about 13,000 visits a month, and he links his articles to the book’s Amazon page. His book has consistently ranked well in this category, spending a fair amount of time in the top twenty. During promotions, it also reaches the top of the larger categories “Protestantism” and “Christianity.”

If you want to know how many books you need to sell to rank in a certain level on Amazon, the list below provides a breakdown of sales compared to ranking. (The list was last updated in December, 2013)

Amazon Best Seller Rank of 1 to 5 – selling 4,000+ books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank of 5 to 20 – selling 3,000 – 4,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 20 to 35 – selling 2,000 – 3,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 35 to 200 – selling 500 – 2,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 200 to 350 – selling 250 – 500 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 350 to 500 – selling 175 – 250 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 500 to 750 – selling 120 – 175 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 750 to 1,500 – selling 100 – 120 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 1,500 to 3,000 – selling 70 – 100 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 3,000 to 5,500 – selling 25 – 70 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 5,500 to 10,000 – selling 15 – 25 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 10,000 to 50,000 – selling 5 – 15 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 50,000 to 100,000 – selling close to 1 book a day.

Writing a Description for Your Book

In this message, we’ll show you a step-by-step method to write a description that will get your Kindle book in the hands of readers. (We strongly recommend that you read our article on selecting keywords first as this subject will be discussed in this message.)

Your book’s description is not merely an introduction of your book to potential readers – it is also a field of data used by search engines to recommend books to buyers. Much of the marketing of your book is carried out by Amazon’s powerful search engines that work off whatever information you give them. Thus the description of your book needs to be optimized for both human readers and computers. A good description provides readers with a comprehensive, well-written overview, while creating a string of key words that will grab the attention of search engines.

Kindle allows up to 4,000 words for your book’s description. We suggest using as many as possible and we advise spending a little time thinking about the best possible description for your book. One of the biggest mistakes authors make is not taking advantage of the marketing potential offered by a well-written description.

When a buyer searches for a book on Amazon, the website’s search engine will suggest a variety of books based on the words used in their search. The books suggested by the search engine are based on relevance to the search terms (unless the buyer selects a different setting, such as highest average rating).

Once a buyer begins typing in the search box, Amazon suggests words that are commonly used together as search terms. (These groups of words appear below the search window in a drop-down menu.) In our article on keywords we explain that these combinations of words are the best ones to use as keywords for your book. They are also the ones you want to use in your book’s description because search engines look for these words in the title, subtitle, description and in the keywords selected for your book. The more often these word combinations are found – the more likely Amazon is to recommend your book when a buyer enters those words in their search.

To begin, log in to the Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard for your book and find the description text box as shown below.

Description_box

We suggest writing your description in a word processing program and when you are finished, copy and paste it into the text window. Using our book Divine Healing Made Simple as our example, the image below shows how we created a compelling headline for the description.  Amazon has a new feature for authors who have an author page with them.  (Click this link to find out more about author pages.) The author page allows you to create a description in an editing window that provides tools for formatting of text including bold, underline, bullet lists and more. If you have an author page, creating a professional looking description is a snap. If you don’t have an author page, take heart – Kindle allows the limited use of HTML tags for the description in the standard description page editor.

HTML Tags
It’s completely optional, but if you want to create various effects for the text in your description, you can do so by placing HTML tags at the beginning and end of sections of text to create headlines, bold, italics, bullets and more. To create the headline effect as shown in the example below, use the opening heading tag (<H1>) immediately before your ext and the closing tag (</H1>) immediately after the text. Note: using the H1 tag may cause your heading to appear in the Amazon gold color they use for their own headlines, which may cause readers to think your description was created by Amazon. 🙂 Use at your own discretion.

To create the headline effect for your description, replace the text between the tags below with your own text:

<H1>Your Heading Here</H1>

If you want to put the title of your book in bold as we did below, use the HTML tags (<b> </b>) to do it. Replace the text between the tags below with the title of your book:

<b>Your Title Here</b>

To create blank lines between paragraphs and headings, use the paragraph tags (<p> </p>) at the beginning and end of a section of of text. Below we show how to use paragraph and bold tags together. The formatting for the first paragraph in our description looks like this:

<p>
<b>Divine Healing Made Simple</b> is a training manual for the supernatural life, providing street-proven instruction for healing the sick in any type of setting. In addition to healing, the book teaches about prophetic ministry, street evangelism and making disciples.</p>

 

Description_Tags

 

While many authors might use as little as 200 words in their entire book description, we used that many just for the opening. We wrote four paragraphs for the opening of our description, each with different purpose. One paragraph is a general introduction, one tells readers what they can expect from the book, another helps to distinguish our book from others in its genre, and the last is an inspirational paragraph to motivate buyers to read further.

 

Description_Paragraphs

The description itself should be an easy to read overview of your book, with a generous sprinkling of key search words strategically placed within the text so that they don’t interfere with the natural reading of the passage. Repetition of key words is acceptable as long as it doesn’t become glaringly obvious that you’re trying to pack as many search terms as possible into the description. Be careful not to overdo it. Below we’ve circled all the commonly used search terms we used in our description.

Description_Keywords

Bullet List
To give readers a closer look at the contents of our book, and to provide search engines with more keywords, we included the chapter headings of the book in a bullet list. To create a bullet list, replace the text between the tags below with the words from your book:

<li>Chapter 1</li>
<li>Chapter 2</li>
<li>Chapter 3</li>
<li>Chapter 4</li>

Bullet tag

 

Key Words
The key words we want search engines to find in our bullet list are circled below:

Word_combinations

Reviews
Once your book has received some positive reviews you may want to consider adding a few of them to the description. We chose short excerpts from the best reviews and created a list of them with each review separated by a line of blank space.

Headline
To create the headline effect as show below, replace the text between the tags below with your own heading or use ours:

<H1>What Readers Are Saying:</H1>

Italics
It’s completely optional, but to place text in italics as shown below, use the italics tags (<i> </i>) at the beginning and end of the text you want to italicize:

<i>“A book that will bring you to a simpler place and understanding of the truths behind healing the sick.”</i>~ Cameron

Paragraph Tags
To create a line of space between reviews use the paragraph tags (<p> </p>)  and the beginning and end of each line of text. Below is an example of how paragraph and italic tags can be used together:

<p>
<i>“A book that will bring you to a simpler place and understanding of the truths behind healing the sick.”</i>~ Cameron</p>

<p>
<
i>“The authenticity and pure heart of the author comes shining through in a way I truly appreciate.” </i>~ Kody</p>

Paragraph_tag

 

Save and Continue
When your description is complete, save it by clicking on either the “save and continue” or the  “save as draft” button at the bottom of the page.

Save_and_continue

Selecting Your Book’s Keywords

In this message, we’ll show you a simple method to determine the keywords that are most likely to get your Kindle book in the hands of readers.

Kindle allows up to seven keywords for your book. We suggest using all of them and we advise spending a little time determining which keywords are best for your book. When a buyer searches for a book on Amazon, the website’s search engine will suggest a variety of books based on the words used in the search.  The books suggested are based on relevance to the search terms unless the buyer selects a different setting, such as highest average rating.

Once a buyer begins typing in the search box, Amazon will suggest words that are commonly used together as search terms. These groups of words appear below the search window in a drop-down menu. If the buyer chooses one of the suggested combinations of words — the search engine displays books that are relevant to that group of words. If they do not, the search engine suggests a group of books relevant to the words the buyer entered.

The words that appear in groups when a user begins typing are the most commonly searched for combinations. If you want to know what the majority of people are searching for – just look at the combinations of words that are displayed in the drop-down menu as you type. This is where smart authors get their keywords from.

The keywords an author chooses for their book are used by Amazon’s search engines to match up searches by buyers to the books they’re looking for. If you can determine which search words a buyer might use when they’re looking for a book like yours, you’ll know what words to use as your keywords. If you have those same words as your book’s keywords, you have a much better chance of having Amazon suggest your book to a potential buyer.

Keywords can be single words or they may contain strings of words such as “prophetic ministry”, “prayer and fasting” or  “signs and wonders.” In the three examples shown below, when we searched for possible keywords for the book Divine Healing Made Simple, we found that these were groups of words that were relevant to the book and commonly searched for together, so we used them as Keywords. By using this process, we came up with seven different combinations of keywords for the book. Note: in the last example, “prophetic dreams” also came up as a commonly search for combination. We could have used this combination as another keyword.

To choose the keywords for your book, think about the word combinations that are relevant to your genre or the topics discussed in your book and try typing different combinations into the search box, looking for combinations that work. When you have seven sets of words that you think will work well, enter them in the keyword box for your book on the KDP dashboard and save your selections.

Signs_wonders

 

 

Prayer_and_fasting

Prophetic_ministry

Writing a Book – Where to Begin

Our advice to anyone who wants to get started with writing a book is to begin by starting a blog. If you’re new to writing, the early stages of getting your material written can be a frustrating process. Much of the frustration is over the struggle with developing a habit of writing regularly. Blogging is one way you can make the process a lot less painful. If you can get yourself in the habit of posting regular messages on a blog for a year or two, you accomplish several important things:

First — Blogging will get you in the habit of writing regularly, which in itself is a major victory. Most people who want to write books never write them because they never develop a regular habit of writing. Blogging can give you the motivation you need to write regularly.

Second — Blogging puts your writing in front of an audience that can give you feedback. All writers need to hone their writing skills. A great way to work your way through the process of becoming a better writer is to let readers tell you what they like and don’t like about your material. If you respond to criticism by changing (and improving) your writing style, you will become a better writer.

Third — when you post messages on a blog you’re creating an audience of readers who will likely buy your book once it is written. You do the writing and let search engines bring interested people to your blog. After you’ve written a certain number of messages, you may find that they can easily be converted to the chapters of your first book.

For those of you who need help starting a blog, we’ve written a comprehensive article explaining step-by-step how to get started. Click this link for that message: