Have you ever wanted to be a published author?
With the advent of the internet there are millions of amateur writers filling article based websites with their musings. While a lot of these writers have less talent than a hamster, some of these writers are actually excellent and possess all the qualities required to be a published author.
However, getting published is not easy and often quality manuscripts can get overlooked and forgotten easily; sometimes it takes a lot of luck to get published - just ask J K Rowling.
Luckily, the internet has provided additional resources that allows amateur writers to publish their own work on online stores for little or no cost, and share the revenue from the sales with the online store.
So why haven't you published your e-book yet? It's easy and in many cases you can publish your ebook for free.
Publishing an ebook for free - step by step guide.
The step by step guide below will walk you through the process of creating an e-book and publishing it on Amazon for free.
Step 1 - creating an eBook template for Microsoft Word
While you can write your book first and then worry about the formatting later, I always find it easier to get the format set at the beginning so i do not have any problems later in the writing process.
One thing you can do is build a 'standard' template for your ebook and then save it for future use. I am using Microsoft Word 2010.
Why use MS Word? Word is one of the easier word processors to format and has additional easy to use tools that can help you make the 'best' looking ebook. Here are some things to think about when using word:
- File Format: When writing in word always save as the Word 7.0 format (.doc) - rtf and docx formats do not currently trasnfer well into the Kindle format.
- Tables: If you are writing a reference book you can now incorporate tables using the 'Insert Table' method on Word.
Layout: You should use indentations, bold, italic and headings as these will translate well into the Kindle format,however items like bullets, special fonts, header or footers as these will not transfer to the Kindle format.
- Page Breaks: IMPORTANT TIP: finish every chapter with a page break as this will ensure the text does not run together.
- Image Placement: Always use .jpeg formats with center alignment for images.
- Spellcheck and Grammar: Word has an extensive spell checker and grammar checker.
- Index: always use the in-built index capabilities of Word - however, make sure your index fits nicely onto a 'Kindle' front page.
So let's take each element of the ebook and start building our template:
Front Matter is often the most important piece of the book as it is almost like the introduction, but it also includes items like the Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Preface and Prologue. While you don't have to incorporate all of these elements, it's a good idea to setup your template to incorporate them all.
- Title Page: All e-books should have a title page - the title should be centered with the Author name below it. A page break should be inserted below it.
- Copyright Page: This is usually the second page and follows the Title Page. A page break should be inserted below it. Please see picture for an example of a copyright page.
- Dedication: The dedication should follow the copyright page. A page break should be inserted below it.
- Preface: The preface follows the dedication page. A page break should be inserted below it.
- Prologue: The prologue should follow your preface page. A page break should be inserted below it.
Now that you've setup your front matter, you can now format the remaining text. Generally all I do is to use the indentation of Word. Hoever, for poetry etc, you can change the formatting. To setup the standard indent on Word 2010:
- Select the Home menu and click the 'right' box at the bottom right of the Paragrpah section.
- In the dialog make sure Indents and Spacing is selected.
- In the indentation section of this dialog box, look for the drop down box title special - change this to 'First LIne'
- The 'by' box should be changed to 0.5 inches for the standard Word indentation.
- Click OK
Creating Back Matter
Once you've completed your text, you are ready to add the back matter. This essentially provides additional information such as sources, notes, appendicies etc. Many ebooks will not have this information.
You can place these in any order, but like Front Matter you should add a page break after every element.
Save Completed Template
Your ebook template is complete, so save this as a generic word file ready for use in future ebooks.
Saving as DOC file
As the Kindle uses HTML, the best way to build the perfect eBook is to save your word file as a DOC file and have it converted when uploading to Amazon. So use the template you've designed, add your content and then:
- Use the 'File' menu
- Click 'Save as'
- Change the drop down 'file type' to 'Word 97 - 2003 document'
Step 2: Uploading Your eBook For Sale on Amazon for free
To be able to upload your e-book for free you have to join Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing; you provide basic information such as name, address and tax information and then are able to publish a book in the 'bookshelf' by clicking 'Add new title'. Before doing this you should create a cover first:
Creating A Cover
You can incorate a front cover into your book if you want, but I find it best to create a front cover as a JPG file in Paint or some other art program first. The front cover will be what readers see when searching for books so you should take time to ensure the front cover is decent.
Enter your book details
The first thing you will do is enter details about your book. You'll add the book name, a description, contributors to the book and other info. Remember, this is where you are beginning to sell the book so make the description interesting.
Verify Your Publishing Rights
This is where you can specify if the book is public domain or not - generally I don't set my books as public domain as you are then giving the right for anyone to use your work.
Target Your Book to Customers
You now have the ability to add your book to two categories and add 7 keywords. AS with any writing you should always use basic search engine optimization techniques when adding keywords, as this is how your book may be found on Amazon.
Upload Book Cover
You've designed your cover earlier - you know can upload the picture and veiw how it will look - you also have the option to check the box 'the book cover inside your book.' - this will add the cover you designed as the cover of your book.
Upload Your Book File
Find the DOC file you previously saved and upload it - the system will automatically convert your word file to Kindle format.
Preview your book
You have the option to do a quick preview of your book or download a Kindle previewer and the relevant mobi file. On loading the previewer you also have the option of viewing the book in Kindle for PC. This is one of the more important stages in uploading your book as you can now check to see how well it is formatted - if you are not happy, go back to the DOC file and amend accordingly.
Save and continue
Once you are happy with the cover, content and descriptions, click on Save and continue to set prices and distribution.
Verify Your Publishing Territories
Unless there are legal implications of publishing your work somewhere, you should set your publishing territories as Worldwide.
Choose Your Royalty
You can now choose whether you want 30% or 70% royalty - with 30% you can price your book beginning at $0.99; with 70% royalty you must price your book at least $2.99.
Once you have set the royalty you then set the price of your book in varying regions.
Kindle Book Lending
Select whether you want to allow people to lend your book to other Kindle users.
Save and Publish
Are you done? Make sure you are happy with the book and then click Save and Publish. This will start the process of publishing your book. You will see the status of your books in the Booskshelf - the process to publish takes at least 24 hours. You will see the following statii:
- In review - this is a process that ensures that your book is suitable to be published it can take up to 24 hours.
- Publishing - your book has been reviewed and is now being prepared for publishing.
- Live - your book is live and can be bought on Amazon.
Step 3 - things to consider now you've published your eBook
Congratulations, you have now published your eBook on Amazon for free. There are various things to think about:
- Should I enroll for KDP Select? KDP Select allows your book to be part of the Kindle Library - if someone loans your book from the library you will share in the monthly 'income' from the library - on average this is around $1.70 per loan - you however must give Amazon 90 days rights to your book - during this period you cannot sell it anywhere else.
- Create an author page on Amazon - once you have a few books you should create your own author page on amazon. This allows readers to see all your books, read more about you but also view a couple of RSS streams - I have both my blog and my Hubpages account as an RSS feed.
- Market your book! With KDP Select you have the option for giving the book away for free for a limited time - this is a useful technique if you have a series of books.
ShirleyJCJohnson on December 01, 2014:
I am so ready to get started on my publishing career. Thank you. I know I can research various things on my own; but, what I've always needed was someone who knew the ropes, so to speak, so that I would have a clue as to where to get started. Wow, I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about when and how to start.
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on October 02, 2012:
Great hub. You have inspired me to give this a shot!
lovingleaves on August 31, 2012:
Brilliant. What about if I save from word to a PDF? have you ever tried that? I only have a free PDF version and I cannot resize pages, so I do not know if it would be too big for some devices? do you think this matters? (it's a free ebook)
Simon (author) from NJ, USA on April 30, 2012:
Glinksgroup: go to https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
Click on Join Now and sign up.
Once signed up click on the Books tab in the dashboard and click on the 'add more books' section - you can then add your books.
Glinksgroup from Lagos, Nigeria on April 29, 2012:
It is interesting, but how do i creat my Author central and advertise my product?
htodd from United States on April 29, 2012:
Publishing an E-Book for free is really great ..Interesting
marshacanada from Vancouver BC on March 31, 2012:
Thanks for this useful hub SimeyC. I have been sitting on a book not knowing what to do with it. I may try publishing it it.
Laura Brown from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on March 25, 2012:
A good post for me to start with. I'm not using Windows and my ebook reader is Kobe, not the Amazon ereader.
@miloskc Publishing ebooks for free isn't going to save literature. It's fine for a hobby or someone who wants to get their foot in the door. But, I'd rather have a publisher (a print publisher) to give everything an extra push and a second outlet for readers to find my book.
miloskc on March 17, 2012:
Very useful! I think the self-publishing will save literature. Once when all the money from publishing books starts going directly to writers (and not various literary agents and publishers), writing will become profitable enough and more people will choose that as a profession.
jenubouka on March 16, 2012:
I am definitely inspired and your right what the worse thing could happen? I think just to see your name on a book is pretty cool thing, it shows determination and drive, a great resume builder for sure. I bookmarked this wonderful and very helpful hub.
craftdrawer on March 15, 2012:
Very useful information! I could have really used these when I first self-published on Amazon. I learned by making a few mistakes. This is a great reference for future publishing!
Damien Darby from Seattle on March 15, 2012:
Nice Pub Sir!
As to the question, Smashwords is a great place to start publishing a free eBook. Every day there are new distributors opening up that allow free eBooks. Just doing a Google Search can produce a plethora of results.