Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a great way to self-publish your eBook, paperback or hardcover book for free and sell it on Amazon. There are different formatting rules to follow, depending on the type of book you want to create. Even if you think you only want to create one format, it’s worthwhile to look at the other formats, so it will be easy to convert your file later. You can even expand your reach by creating a digital audiobook through the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

Many graphic designers are well-versed in how to format books for KDP, but you may choose to do it all yourself. KDP’s Help Center is well-organized and will walk you through how to format and publish your book, as well as ways to market and distribute your book. Here’s a general overview of how to get your book from your heart to your reader’s Amazon cart!

Step 1: Write your manuscript.

You can use Microsoft Word, Pages, or (for an eBook) Kindle Create. To help you make your decision, KDP offers a couple of decision trees you can use to choose how you want to proceed. Here’s some tips to help you along the way:

  • Before you start typing out your manuscript, start well by setting up your formatting properly, to avoid having to go back and adjust later.
    • Styles: Using styles for your paragraphs, headings, sub-headings, etc. will be super helpful in creating a manuscript that displays and prints properly.
    • Page Breaks: Adding page breaks ensures your text will display how you want it to. Therefore, be sure to add page breaks between chapters and in areas where you want the text to stop and not continue with the next page of content.
    • Hyperlinks: In your Kindle eBook, you may choose to include external links to enhance your book. Amazon has guidelines about this, so be sure to check before adding the hyperlink.
    • Footnotes: If you’re going to include them, they must have working links so readers can easily click from the content to the footnote and back.
  • Create a Table of Contents. If you’ve used styles, it will be easy to create this.
  • Add front and back matter:
    • Front Matter includes things like a Title page, Dedication page(s), and Copyright page
    • Back Matter includes “About the Author” and a Bibliography, if needed
  • Check for errors: Don’t rely solely on spell-check and grammar-check. Share your manuscript with a few people who will read and offer feedback.

If you like, you can use Kindle Previewer as you format your book to make sure it looks as intended.

Step 2: Design your book cover.

Once you have your manuscript, it’s time to design your book cover. You can upload your own image, or you can use Amazon’s Cover Creator to design a cover for your Kindle eBook or paperback. You will also find guidelines on creating your own cover at that link.

Step 3: Publish your book.

Now it’s time to upload your book! Set up an account on KDP and follow the steps to enter your book details and upload your files. Be sure to preview your book again using KDP’s Online Previewer to make sure everything is exactly how you want it. Once you’re happy with it, you can set your rights and pricing and publish your work.

Are you intimidated at the thought of having to write an entire manuscript? You might look into a new offering at Amazon called Kindle Vella, which allows you to publish your story one episode at a time and get paid along the way. Or, you can join a challenge like NaNoWriMo to encourage you to get started.

We love helping authors self-publish their book on Amazon and Kindle! If the process seems daunting, we are here to help. Check out some of the titles we’ve helped with below and contact us with any questions you may have.

by Susan McCorkindale:

by Jill Kamp Melton:

by Robert E. Logan:

by Janet Logan:

by Tara Miller and Jenn Peppers:

Finding the Flow: A guide for leading small groups and gatherings