I read on many of the facebook groups about the frustrations self-publishing authors experience when they try to upload their manuscripts to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
Brain damage and frustration are the prices you pay to self-publish all by yourself without signing up for a “pay to play” publishing house or hiring consultants to help you.
Self-publishing means we do it ourselves. I also have a publisher that takes all the brain damage out of all this.
Making my own books gave me an appreciation for what established publishers do on behalf of writers. I can attest that they earn every penny they squeeze out of each book sale.
The issue I’ll address here is how to layout your manuscript for a hard copy book. I’ve published three books on KDP.
The first one had me pulling my hair out, but once I settled on a format, the others were simple, since I followed a template I made for myself with the first book.
Here are some simple steps I followed using Microsoft Word (Word). The first step is to decide what size book you want to publish. I chose 6″x9″ from the list that KDP supports. After you’ve opened up Word, pull down “File” and open up “Page Setup.”
This will bring you to the “Page Attributes” tab where you can set up the page size. After you’ve opened “Paper Size” choose “Other” and type the size. In this case, for 6″x9″ I chose 6.11X9.25.
After you’ve chosen your page size, open up the drop down the “Page Attribute” box and choose “Microsoft Word.” That reveals a tab and select “Margins” and then OK.
A new window will open that allows you to select your margins. This is where you can get frustrated, because the margin sizes can be adjusted to meet what you think is visually pleasing. This may take you three or four uploads to KDP to see what they will look like. KDP allows you to change your formatting and layouts. If you walk away, remember to save your project as a draft so you can come back to it without having to do an edit of your “sent” project. I did that after I had second thoughts about the layout. For projects that you “submit” and you want to edit, it takes a few days for KDP to process the data and make it “live.” My advise is to be patient and not be in a rush. KDP allows you to sell your “coming soon” book. I settled on these setting, and you can try them. What you pick can vary depending on font and type size. After you hit OK, your manuscript will change. Take a look at it, if you like the balance, upload it to KDP as a draft. Why this is frustrating is because once your manuscript is uploaded, KDP will make its own version, which will be slightly different than what your Word document looks like. Be patient and take your time.
After you’ve set your margins, open up the “Layout” tab at the top of the box. I use half inch headers and footers. Again, you can mess around with the settings, but if you have page numbers, you’ll want adequate space so that they fit relatively centered in the header or footer – not to high, and particularly not too low to the page edge.
That’s it for a KDP self-published books. I can’t over emphasize the need for you to be patient with the trial and error you’ll likely experience.
When it comes to the KDP e-book version. You’ll keep your manuscript “one-up” with a single sheet. The frustrating part is with table of contents. I would leave that out of the e-book because the pages float around and change. Also the Word table of contents tool doesn’t change as the pages change and it gets all messed up.
The e-book title pages and other stuff at the beginning like Dedications may get scrunched together, so be prepared not to have separate pages for the introductory information.
I use a website called Online-Convert to make e-books other than for KDP. It does a pretty good job of converting my Word files, including adding a front cover. Again, nothing is 100 percent. You’ll have to mess around with pages and formatting.