Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I learned how to Kindle. It's easier than I thought. You should try it.

Until recently, I used eBookIt to produce and distribute all of my e-books. I like the company and recommend it highly and will use it in the future. There are other companies that seem to provide the same services, but I've seen no reason to try any of them despite frequent emails from them and pleasant discussions at publishing events. (Read about my e-book odyssey)

I was aware of Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon's free entry into their e-book distribution system. I actually tried to use "KDP" and Smashwords about two years ago -- and failed.

I've since read a bunch of books about producing Kindle books to include on my new Books For Self-Publishing Authors review website. 

The publishing process made my mind numb, and I again decided to leave e-book formatting to the professionals.

I am a geek, but an old-fashioned geek (I have obsolete skills. I can solder wires, develop film and tune-up an engine). I learned how to sweat-solder copper piping and create websites with HTML. I learned how to build a wall with steel studs and Sheetrock, and can do amazing emergency repairs with duct tape and bungee cords. I always carry a multi-tool on my key ring. I have a growing collection of Swiss Army knives. As a teenager I built Heathkits in one night that were rated as one-week projects. My house has THREE distinct workshops: automotive, electronics and woodworking, and tools at the FOUR desks I use in the house  (yeah, I have a big house). That may seem ridiculous, but it makes sense to me. I could probably supply an incoming class at a trade school with my surplus screwdrivers. I've always been the go-to guy for relatives and neighbors when something needed to be fixed, or a tool needed to be borrowed. I built my first computer as a science project in ninth grade (around 1960) with homemade "Eccles-Jordan Bistable Multivibrators" (also known as flip-flop circuits). It could add numbers inputted with a telephone dial. I also built PCs in the 1990s, and a few robots, and furniture. I can install a phone system and fix ancient phones. I make delicious eggcreams. I can sew. I've installed audio systems, mufflers and shock absorbers in cars and learned how to bet on horses -- and win.

I've formatted thousands of pages for printed books, and designed many covers.

With this background, and my position as an avid proponent of independent self-publishing, I simply had to try to build a Kindle book one more time, despite the intimidating, mind-numbing documentation.

I'll spare you the gruesome details (I may try to sell the details in the Kindle book shown at the bottom), but once you have a document produced in Microsoft word, it takes just a few mouse clicks to make it available on Amazon. com.

Before you do that clicking you have to produce a cover, and probably change some of the formatting in your document, but it's NO BIG DEAL.

I first made many mistakes in uploading the proper files to Amazon, despite constantly referring to books and cheat sheets and calling Amazon. Now I can do it in a few seconds. 

Kindle books don't always look the way you expect them to, so be prepared to make revisions before you announce them to the world and to make compromises you would not settle for on printed pages.

Last week I published three Kindle books, and will probably publish a fourth today. It's easier than installing a sink or removing a car's water pump. Four books in nine days is pretty amazing. Am I turning into Simon & Schuster?

My first homemade Kindle books 

I may even publish this one:

I designed the book cover a few years ago but then abandoned the project. Now I think I will publish it with and about my new expertise.


  1. But can you canoodle, or canoe?

  2. You may be turning into Simon, but not Schuster.

  3. Yup, anyone can publish a poorly formatted book with a generic cover on Kindle. Unless the formatting is spot on nasty things can happen. Some paragraphs will be properly indented and others not, spacing between paragraphs can be different, centered lines can get defaulted to the left, any number of things can get changed around.
    Then there's the matter of cover art. Are the images copyrighted? Are they standard clip art that gives your book a generic look? As the old saying goes you get what you pay for.
    Have you downloaded a copy of the kindle conversion and proofed it?
    Was the book properly edited before publication? There are many thing that go into make a professional eBook. There are millions of DIY ebooks out there and the most are riddled with errors.
    As an Indy publisher I encourage writers to actually pay for a few mandatory services. Editing, cover design and formatting should all be done professionally unless you have experience with anyone one of those I would suggest paying for the service. When I publish a book for a client I usually publish to createspace to get a POD paperback, smashwords to make the book available in all eBook formats and to kindle for quick placement of the eBook on Amazon.