I make these mistakes so others can learn from. And also, future Lisa will not make the same ones again. A 12-step process to self-publishing a book with Amazon KDP.
TLDR: made a lot of mistakes. Did lots of extra work and extra stress with subpar results. But hey, at least now I would not make them again.
The Process (Self-publish with Amazon KDP)
As with life, it’s all a giant process. Nothing too complicated. Once written down, can be replicated with ease. Here are the steps taken.
- Write the book. Finish writing it. Write it on Microsoft Word. Use headings format that is in Word. (Important)
- Send it to the editor. Correct for grammar and image spelling errors.
- Open an Amazon KDP account — https://kdp.amazon.com.
- Get ISBN for free or buy ISBN.
- If you are from Singapore: https://www.nlb.gov.sg/deposit. No strings attached.
- If you are from somewhere else: Amazon gives out free ISBN. Some strings attached.
- At the same time, get a designer to design the cover and back. Use the tools by Amazon to design the cover, for specific size — https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/cover-templates.
- Highlight the images required to be designed. Get the designer to also design the graphics in illustrator. (Important)
- Go through the book again, adding new edits, chapters, rearrange paragraphs. Add footnotes, labels and references.
- Send it to the editor again. Correct for headings, subheadings, etc.
- Add images to the Word document.
- Upload on KDP and check settings/mock up.
- Receive an author’s edition in mail by Amazon.
- Make the link available for people to purchase. Or make pre-order link available.
So that is it. A simple 12 step process. Now, moving on to my mistakes.
I made so many mistakes. I’m listing them according to how grave the mistake was.
Terrible: The book is made with inDesign.
Instead: Do it via Microsoft Word.
Thinking that it is more beautiful and nicer on eBook and physical copy, boy was I wrong.
- It’s difficult to account for spelling errors.
- Design is not needed for eBook! The cleaner the better. Otherwise, it’s not possible to highlight on Kindle/iBooks.
- It’s not possible to do have the book in Dark Mode.
Terrible: The graphics are made directly on inDesign.
Instead: Make them individually on Illustrator
When the graphics/tables/images are designed on Illustrator, I can move them around and export them individually. I can’t do that with inDesign, and now I’m tied to the application.
Unnecessary Stress: There are various types of designers. Graphic designer =/= book designer.
Instead: Get someone to only focus on graphic design. Another person for book layout design, if required.
Being a designer doesn’t mean they are good at everything to do with the Adobe Suite. Pay for professionals, at least with the first project. Then, it’s easier to guide maturing talents in subsqeuent projects.
Bad: Did everything concurrently.
Instead: Finish the full book before editing.
I wanted to get the layout and other things together while I’m finishing the last 10%. But that doesn’t always flow well with all parties involved. It ended up becoming stressful because some edits are not fixed in inDesign.
Bad: Track changes when editing. Did not track changes when sending to designer.
Instead: Always track changes. First from editor, then to designer. After draft 1 is fully done, move on to the next draft.
Copy and paste is easy. But sometimes, the formatting is messed up. It’s also easier to track the specific areas that need minor edits.
Bad: Full book in inDesign
Instead: Content page in inDesign. Cover with Photoshop/Illustrator. Graphics with Illustrator.
Use the tools by Adobe. Don’t put all eggs in 1 Adobe application basket.
- Is design really not necessary? It’s useful for physical copy. Not for eBook.
- Do I need footnotes? Need — no. Preferred — yes.
- Time spent on this? The research and book writing (from idea to finishing the book) — about 3 full years. The rest of the steps — about 2 months.
- Can I do everything alone? Yes. Book writing (personal). Editing (use Words edit, Grammarly). Design (free basic templates on KDP). But remember, time is also money. Energy is also money. And a professional beats an amateur any day.
- How do I …write? You sit your butt down, turn off all gadgets and wifi. Open Word and start writing. Draft 1 is not perfect. AND THAT IS OKAY. It’s a draft for a reason. Then move things around after.
- Can I really do this? Yes. If I can, you can too.
- Really? Yes, really.