Writing an ebook for Amazon isn't as simple as you think. Sure, we all know that you have to write the content you want on Amazon, whether fiction or non-fiction. But there is so much more to getting your book ready for Amazon that you’ll need to do.
There is even software online that claim they will automatically convert your book into a Kindle version for free, and this can be tempting I would strongly advise against it. Using this method will make your book look amateurish, it might result in text overlapping pictures, awkward spacing, entire paragraphs italicized or bolded, or even wacky formatting.
With the oversaturated world of indie publishing right now, the last thing you want to do is take shortcuts that will sink your career before it even begins. Luckily, writing your ebook for Amazon the right way doesn’t need to be rocket science. In fact, by the end of this broken-down guide, you will be a pro.
So, How Do You Write an Ebook for Amazon?
The first thing you’ll need to do is create the actual content. You could opt to write this yourself using the creative narrative of the made-up story swimming in your head (fiction), or a factual account of something that has actually happened in real life (non-fiction). Alternately you could opt to hire a ghostwriter who will take your vision and create the raw manuscript of the story for you.
Once you have the first draft of your story, the next step will be editing. You will need multiple rounds of self-edits (reading through the book yourself), as well as professional edits (editings done by a professional who can identify anything from large developmental issues to grammar and sensitivity issues). After which you would follow with a final proofread to have your final draft.
If you’ve gotten to this point in your journey, take a second to congratulate yourself. You’ve written a book and that’s not something to take lightly. Now, however, comes the other half of your intention, getting your book ready for Amazon. This will include:
- Cleaning up your work
- Adding in page breaks
- Applying your styles
- Adding a table of contents, and
- Uploading your file.
Let’s dive into exactly how you can get each of these steps done using your preferred word processing application.
Getting Your Ebook Ready For Amazon
Step 1: Cleaning Up Your Work
To get your book looking professional, it is generally recommended that you use the 'justified' alignment option. This is because it typically provides a clean result, but when it comes to your ebook that is not always the case.
Amazon uses what’s known as reflowable text. Put simply, that essentially means Amazon allows the reader to be able to resize, recolor, and in some cases even reformat the text in your book. As such the body text of your ebook will be justified by default once uploaded to Amazon.
If your book has headings or special sections, however, that you will like to have set a different way (left-aligned, right-aligned, or centered), you will need to set these parameters in the actual style of the text (we will dive more into this later).
For spacing, margins, page sizes, and other formatting settings, it is typically recommended to use the defaults set in your word processor to avoid any coding conflicts after uploading your manuscript to Amazon.
Step 2: Adding Page Breaks
If you have followed Step 1 and corrected any incorrect or awkward formatting, then your next step is to introduce proper page breaks. Your first page break will most likely be after your book title on your front page.
To create this, move your cursor to the end of your title then hold down the keyboard shortcut of CTRL + Enter (on a Windows PC) or CMD + Enter (on a Mac). Repeat this process adding page breaks before every new chapter or section.
The usual sections found in an ebook are:
- A title page
- A copyright page
- Table of Contents
- Introduction or Prologue (depending on the genre)
- Body or Chapters
- About Author and other back matter
Pro tip: Leave your Table of Contents for last. As you work on the other sections, simply leave a blank page and go back to it later. When you are done with the arrangement, go back to the Table of Contents and add it to the book.
Step 3: Modify & Apply Your Styles
When you have organized all the sections, you can apply styles to help readers understand the different parts of a chapter or block of text. Section and chapter headings can be formatted using the Heading 1 style, while subheadings can be identified using Heading 2 or 3 etc.
It is important to note, however, that Amazon's software does not offer you all the font types you would find in your word processor. Additional typefaces are unlikely to work on Kindle. The Kindle Fire, for example, has only 11 fonts.
- Lucida Sans Unicode
- Times New Roman
To avoid complications, it is recommended that you format your book using the above typefaces. You can add italic or bold styles to the font of your headings, but ensure the body of your text is written without fancy formatting (typically in the ‘Normal’ style).
If using images or tables, ensure that they are centered and fit in the writing area of the document. It should start at the leftmost indent and end at the rightmost one. If you find that an image occupies the entire page, you have two options.
You can opt to crop the image, removing any unwanted regions. Or adjust the width of the image it fits the page. If you do the second option, however, ensure that all the images in your book as the same width, to get a more professional look.
Step 4: Add A Table of Contents
You can automatically add a Table of Contents to most Word processors. Most word processors automatically link the TOC sections with the heading and subheading font styles you applied in the previous step. Your TOC will not only pull the content of your headings but also whatever formatting options you had selected for them.
To set this up:
- Return to the page that you had reserved for the Table of Contents.
- Insert a custom TOC with hyperlinks selected to be used instead of page numbers. This will ensure that when your reading clicks on a section in your TOC your book automatically jumps to the section in that book.
- Next text out all your links to ensure they redirect to the correct sections and correct any errors you find. Once you are certain that everything works it's time to move to the final step.
Step 5: Upload the File
You are now ready to publish your book on Amazon using their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. To get this done you will need to:
- Visit the Amazon KDP website, and create an account if you have not yet done so.
- Fill in all the details about your book then click publish.
That’s it! You’ve done it! Amazon can take up to 72 hours to review your book and ensure it means the guideline for their store. Once your book is approved it will then appear on Amazon.