We’ve covered how to establish a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and how to set your product pricing and royalties in the Getting Started post and we’ve talked in more detail about the individual product details in the Book Basics post. With all that great information, you’re ready to go, right? Except…wait, what is your product?
If you’re reading this I’m to assume you’ve written a book.The question remains: have you formatted it for upload? Book formatting isn’t as simple as uploading a Word document. Don’t despair however. It isn’t hard either. With a few easy steps you can make sure your book is professional quality when your reader opens their Kindle and sees your work.
Preparation for publication
Many writers choose to write in chapters which affords editing ease and also reorganization. Like many other authors, I don’t write in a linear fashion, instead relying on a mixture of plotting and scene “stitching” that often has me jumping from place to place in a novel. Doing so would be impossible to keep in one text document, no matter the format, so I keep each scene or chapter in separate documents that can be readily accessed.
When it comes to prepping your novel formatting, you need to put your edited document in a single file from start to finish, front cover to back cover. A lot of writers find that the successful conversion format is a Word document that has been saved as an HTML document. You can do that using the “Save As” command in Word. Doing this will keep any embedded files in the document fixed in their proper spot. No one wants a weird chapter heading illustration jumping about in the final document upload. In this same regard considering any columns or tables in the document formatted as text or graphic images. (Be advised: if you are unfamiliar with graphics programs, stick with the text format or work with someone who has design knowledge.)
Kindle books following their own page formatting, especially as readers come in different shapes and sizes, so be sure to remove any page numbers or references to page numbers. Footnotes (if necessary) should be replaced with hyperlinks that navigate readers to another section of your document like an End Notes page. If writing non-fiction, hyperlinks embedded directly in your text is very useful since Kindle includes basic web function. If you use this feature however I’d warn readers somewhere at the book’s front matter that navigating away to the websites may slow their device.
KDP accepts the following file formats for upload:
- Microsoft Word (.doc)
- Adobe (.pdf)
- HTML (.htm or .html)
- Plain text (.txt)
- Zipped HTML (.zip) – useful for HTML documents with images
- Mobi (.mobi or .prc) – Mobipocket file
Word and Adobe seem to be the most commonly used file formats, although Mac Pages is up and coming. Plain text (.txt) once uploaded allows you to preview the document before saving. Amazon does recommend you upload the work in a single HTML file. If unfamiliar with that process, you can use the “Save As” function and choose the HTML format. When using Plain Text, remember that Kindle will automatically re-size and re-order the text. Amazon recommends using little formatting in text files and even using as few hard returns, or hard line breaks, as possible. In my experience, I shy away from using PDF. Amazon does not guarantee the conversion quality of PDFs.
Graphics and images
For most writers this will primarily concern cover art and back cover art. However there are a number of authors who choose to include graphics within the book itself. Fantasy is a prime example. Many authors will upload a chapter heading graphic, such as a House coat of arms or a themed graphic.
Kindle will allow the following graphic formats:
- Joint Photographic Experts Group or JPEG
- Bitmap or BMP
- Graphic Interchange Format or GIF
- Portable Networks Graphic or PNG
Cover images however can only be in TIFF or JPEG format.
Always remember rights when selecting art and illustrations for your book. Some authors will use images found on the internet, but I caution against that. Unless you have downloaded the content with a full rights release from a reliable source, stick to images you’ve created or purchased (again examining the usage rights you are entitled to). Remember that just because you’ve purchased artwork does not mean you have full use of it.
Basic image formatting guidelines
- Imagines larger than 450 by 550 pixels will be resized
- Image files must be 64kb or smaller with aspect ratio of 9 to 11
- Increase an image’s sharpness slightly but not too much
- For a full-page image on Kindle, resize it to 450px by 550px
Well, what is there to say about this except…your book needs one. Unless you have some considerable skill in graphic design, you should hire a professional cover designer. I know many of you are thinking But I can’t afford that! No fear, there are dozens of professional cover art sites with stock cover arts you can use. I particularly enjoy SelfPub Book Covers. Inexpensive, a large portfolio you can select by genre or surf by artist, and they pull the cover art out of rotation once it is purchased, guaranteeing you a unique cover.
Upload and preview
With these few tips you are well on your way to formatting your book properly and uploading it into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). All that is left is to try the upload and preview the document, from start to finish, to make sure there aren’t any discernible issues. If there are, identify them and go back to your document to double check. Then simply repeat. Do this as many times as possible ensure your upload is a professional quality as possible. Keep in mind that people will not only judge you on your writing and marketing abilities, they will also judge your work on its quality of appearance.
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