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A painless path to publishing on Amazon

You’ve written hundreds of articles on markets, gold, government, and perhaps monetary theory.  You’ve hammered politicians and economists with merciless logic and unflagging scholarship.  Some of your writings are more valuable than gold, but where are they now?  Scattered, that’s where.
Why not put the best ones in one place: A book.  Make that two books.

For writers who have yet to publish a book and would like to, this brief article will show you step-by-step how to get it done.  It’s easy.

Yes, easy.  

Briefly, what you’ll do is create a word processing file then duplicate it.  You’ll use one file for a Kindle ebook, the other for a paperback.  

For the Kindle eBook, you’ll use your word processor to create an ePub file.  For the print version, you’ll change the document dimensions to fit Amazon’s 6” x 9” paperback format, then save it from your word processor as a PDF.  

You’ll then go to https://kdp.amazon.com, if necessary register, then go through three steps for each book to put them up for sale on Amazon’s site.   You’ve already done the hard part by creating the content.  

Your books will need a cover, and you can create your own or use Amazon’s hand-holding Cover Creator, which you’ll see during step two of the three-step process.

You’ll upload the ePub to create the Kindle version and the PDF for the print edition.  

That’s it.  Amazon will email you when they’re live and available for purchase on Amazon’s site, usually within a few hours of completing the three-step process.

Manuscript preparation

(In what follows I’m referencing MS Word for Mac 2011 version 14.4.5 and Apple Pages version 6.0.5.  Some details may differ depending on your version.)

To create a good reader experience it’s important to get your word processing files formatted consistent with Amazon’s requirements.  It is, as they say, a piece of cake.  Let me show you:

1.  Crank up your word processor and prepare your manuscript.  Keep it as vanilla as possible — no fancy fonts or drop caps.  You’re marketing thoughts, not typefaces.  If you’re gathering articles already written, you’ll copy and paste until they’re all home in one place.  Otherwise, write as you normally would, keeping in mind that the sections you want to appear in an active table of contents for Kindle editions should have paragraph style titles rather than ordinary text titles.   

Here’s what I mean.  Below, I’ve typed the text then applied paragraph style Heading 2 to the title of a chapter:

Chapter One:  They all laughed

So, for example, if you have 12 chapters in your book, each chapter title would have the Heading 2 style.  Your word processor (Word or Pages) will incorporate all chapter titles as entries in the table of contents.

2.  Create an active table of contents.  Create a new page at the beginning of your manuscript by inserting a page break at the top of your first page.  Then on the blank page:

Apple Pages: Insert —> Table of Contents —> Document

MS Word: Document elements —> Table of Contents

In our example, all 12 chapter titles would appear magically in the table of contents — because you’ve applied paragraph styles to each title in the body of your manuscript.  With an active table of contents you can click on a chapter title and jump directly to the actual chapter.  Test it, you’ll see.  It’s neat.

3.  Add a page break at the end of each chapter.  

4.  All images should be inline, not floating.  Select each image, then:

Apple Pages: Format —> Arrange —> Text wrap —> inline with text

MS Word: Format picture —> Position —> Inline with text

If the image is a picture make sure it’s high-resolution.  

Important: Insert images into your document, rather than copying and pasting.

5 . Do not include headers or footers.   You will use this file to create a Kindle version, which doesn’t support headers or footers.

6.  Finish writing the manuscript and make sure it’s as clean as possible — no misspellings, omitted words, etc.  If you use hyperlinks test them to make sure they’re accurate.  I think it’s a good idea to put them in an end notes section, using superscripts in the body to reference them.  

For help strengthening your writing, even for powerhouse authors, see my little book, Write like they’re your last words

7.  Add the usual book front matter.  In your manuscript add at minimum a title page and copyright page.  You might also wish to add a dedication page and another page listing books you’ve published, honors received, knighthoods bestowed upon and so on.

8.  Create an ePub copy for Kindle. 

Apple Pages: File —> Export To —> ePub

MS Word: Not supported (as far as I know).  But — you can use the free program Calibre to perform the conversion.  See this 52-second YouTube tutorial to see how it’s done.

The content of your book is now in ePub format.  You will upload the ePub file to Amazon Kindle shortly.

9.   Copy the clean word processing manuscript from step 6 to a new file to create a print version of your book.  

Apple Pages: File —> Duplicate.  

MS Word: File —> Save as . . .  Give the duplicate file a unique name.

Using the duplicate file do the following: 

Add page numbers in the footer.   Set margins to 6” x 9”. 

10.  In the 6x9 print version, go through the manuscript to ensure all block quotes and images are within the new 6” x 9” dimensions.  Look for any kind of strangeness.  Adjust as necessary.
11.  Save the 6x9 word processing file to PDF.

Apple Pages: File —> Print —> PDF —> Save as PDF

MS Word: File —> Save as . . . —> PDF  

You are now armed with an ePub file for Kindle and a PDF file for a paperback.  All you have to do is feed these files to Amazon, essentially.
12.  Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and sign in (or register for an account).
13.  Signing in will take you to https://kdp.amazon.com/bookshelf.  Follow the onscreen directions for creating a Kindle eBook and a paperback.  As I said at the outset you’ve done the hard part by preparing the files.  
You’ll be able to preview your books before giving Amazon the okay to make them live on their website.  You can always un-publish a book temporarily if you discover problems that eluded you earlier. 
Conclusion

Don’t let a mere 13 steps keep you from being a published book author, with full control over the content of your material (as long as it’s not porn).  Don’t be intimidated by the likes of PDF or ePub.  They’re servants with odd names.  They will do your bidding.  Let them.  You’ll profit from it.
See you on Amazon.

Comments

David Parker said…
Thank you George.
If I ever figure I could add anything to what you, North, Lew Rockwell, et al., post, I'll use your method!
George said…
Just so you know, David, I've put this article into Kindle and paperback form under the title, "Publish on Amazon without breaking a sweat."