Tips for Publishing on Kindle Direct

posted Sep 23, 2012, 11:20 AM by Martin Roy Hill   [ updated Aug 4, 2015, 4:06 PM ]

Those who serve or work for the military talk in terms of "lessons learned." In any operation, successful or not, you can learn lessons to improve your effort next time around. Well, I have lessons learned about publishing an e-book for Amazon's Kindle reader.

When I prepared my book "Duty," I was concentrating on the print edition. Neither my wife nor I have any kind of e-reader, though we've talked about getting them. (We have no more room on our bookshelves.) So, when Amazon’s Createspace asked if I wanted to publish “Duty” in a format for Kindle, I had no idea what I was doing. I just assumed Createspace’s print template would automatically translate into the Kindle template.

There’s another old military saying: “Never assume anything, because it makes an ass out of you and an ass out of me.”

When I first previewed the book’s Kindle version, I really had no idea what I was looking at. All I knew was that the formatting looked strange. The indents were too large and there were strange numbers here and there.

It took me some hunting around on the Kindle Direct Publishing help site before I learned what was wrong. According to its instruction, which you can find here, I needed remove all tab characters and have Word insert automatic indentions. I also had to strip out all of the page numbers and headers, as well as the table of contents.  I recreated the TOC by bookmarking each story’s title (i.e., the chapter titles), and then link the bookmark to a hyperlink on the corresponding name in the TOC.

Amazon recommends saving the book file as a filtered web page. But when I did that, and imported it into Kindle Direct, the result was a large body of unseparated text. I reverted to a Word document format and imported that. Success!

Lesson learned: Don’t assume you know what you’re doing. Read the instructions first. Duh!