For this week's #WritingStrong blog, we have a couple of special guests!
Judy and Keith, authors of several self-published titles, including their newest book, The Wicked Witch Anthology, dropped in to share their experiences when it comes to working through Amazon in their self-publishing journey! Have a read, and, as always, feel free to leave a comment!
We’ve just completed our second self-publish experiment—in both cases, we first
published in Kindle format then secondly as paperback. Good luck with your endeavors.
Overall, it’s been a good experience with Amazon. We do enjoy the look-and-feel
freedom it grants.
First time experiences.
Number one…scary. There are plenty of HELP files to read and YouTube videos to
watch, but we were overwhelmed with information and taken aback by the amount of
personal information—for tax reasons—needed to set up our account.
Our first mistake
We read the request to submit a PDF as a requirement, and we don’t have a program to
convert a Word document to a PDF. I searched around and found a tool, spent a few
days converting the document only to discover Amazon tool didn’t like the PDF output! I
went back and re-read the submission guidelines and discovered you can submit a
Word document…problem resolved.
Amazon has a Word template for you to use. You download the software, and it adds a
Kindle tab inside Word for you to select. Our second mistake was to use the provided
templates too soon. Once you use them, they embed invisible formatting characters.
We still don’t know how to remove them!
You can waste days by inputting your data—using a simple cut-and-paste
technique—too soon. This Word document with Kindle style embedded is almost
impossible to edit. We found it best to start again.
Rule number one…be one-hundred percent happy with your final story and layout,
before you input into the Kindle template.
The main reason we started this endeavor was to end up with illustrated paperback
books. Our friends wanted something to touch-and-feel. We’re all getting older! The
other reason was a lack of illustrations in our current eBook offerings. Our same friends
informed us—children stories need pictures.
Without thinking, we used a standard Word template which defaulted to Letter size (US)
or A4 (UK). That’s a problem as most books are much smaller. We wasted time by
making layout choices for the wrong paper size. We ended up selecting 9” by 6” as our
final book size and cropping or resizing our images to fit within the printable area
associated with that paper size.
Lesson learned…step one is set your paper size
Impatience. We wanted instant feedback. Word ran slower, and we got too many clicks
ahead of the software…causing a crash. You do not always recover everything. This is
doubly true with remote software. After you’ve created your master version on your
computer, you have to upload it to Amazon.
It takes time for the upload to take effect. If you get impatient, and try to rush
things…the website boots you off!
Simple answer, go and do something else for an hour, or even better check the next
We guarantee your first upload will not be the final version.
Again impatience, but this time with the cover creation. Your Kindle version needs a
front cover, and your paperback version requires a spine, front and back covers.
We had browser issues with Explorer and eventually switched to Chrome. With Explorer
we could not cut and paste to change the default text in the templates—no problem with
Warning, with Explorer we crashed our computer multiple times trying to create the
cover. This happened with all the covers we created. Impatience was one reason, but a
mismatch/incompatibility between Explorer and the remote Amazon software, we
believe was the main cause.
Simple answer, use Chrome as your browser. It took us multiple attempts to learn this
Well, that’s about it. Lastly, a list of traps we fell into.
Table of Contents
Not all templates automatically make an entry into the table. Book title—no, Part
title—yes, Chapter—yes. Be careful, as we never found out how to remove these pages
once they’re inserted, and the document saved.
One peculiarity, the titles are upper case, but the entries in the table of contents are
lower case. We accidently discovered, shift-key makes that character upper case in
We added illustrations by a simple insert at the beginning of most chapters. It
sometimes wreaked havoc with the oversized first character. Suggest trial and error, but
don’t save anything that looks odd. It is difficult to recover from—use undo to return to a
First and last paragraphs
These default to 1.25. The rest use 1.0 spacing. Don’t know why! We ended up
manually changing each first and last paragraph line-spacings as we like consistency.