Being a self-published author is a dream for many, as self-publishing is undoubtedly an easier way to get seen and get your content out there than going through a publisher.
It takes a lot of effort to find a publisher these days, so self-publishing is the best way to go.
Amazon KDP is the most popular of all self-publishing platforms, however, for some new authors, understanding how KDP works can be quite a challenging task.
It is complicated for beginners, and the formatting can be difficult. The last thing you want is to have written a whole book, only to have to go through and reformat it all over again for KDP.
So, it is always best to pre-format it for KDP as you write it, to save the later hassle.
How do you do this?
Let’s explain how!
Understanding Amazon KDP
KDP is the book publishing platform by Amazon that can be used as a way to self-publish a book online, which can be printed or sold as an e-book.
This is one of the top self-publishing companies, and it dominates the book market for self-publishing. Most writers will consider KDP over traditional publishing these days.
Part of this is because traditional publishing is much more difficult to find success in, and also that the higher royalty rates of KDP offer more financial benefits to writers.
With less competitive hoops to be jumped through, and higher royalties, who wouldn’t choose KDP?
How Does Amazon KDP Work?
KDP works to allow paperback, and e-books to be published by authors.
For e-books, authors can directly upload book files, and it appears in the online Kindle store as an e-book for purchase and instant download.
For print, authors have to upload their book files and then KDP uses print-on-demand technology to print the book upon publishing. Print costs are deducted from royalty payments per book.
The basic structure of how Amazon KDP works is like such:
- The author uploads their book files to their Amazon KDP account.
- The author publishes their book on the KDP platform.
- Readers can then purchase the e-book and download it.
- Readers can then purchase the paperback book, as Amazon KDP uses print-on-demand to print and ship after purchase.
- Amazon then pays the author’s book royalties per book sold.
Formatting Guide For Amazon KDP
It all seems simple, doesn’t it? It can be, once you have the book on the platform. However, the formatting process can be a bit fiddly for some.
Today we will look at how you should format your book from Microsoft Word, as this is the most common program used by writers.
While the e-book/ Kindle format is very simple, formatting for print using Amazon KDP is a lot more complicated. So, we will focus on this aspect.
Formatting A Print Book For KDP
Once upon a time, self-printing was expensive and risky to do in pint, with so many left with unsold books that cost a great deal of money.
However now, with print-on-demand, books get printed as they are ordered. The only real cost now is for cover design and formatting.
You will have options for print books, however, the easiest for new authors is to use KDP Print which is Amazon’s long-standing print-on-demand sector.
KDP Print Formatting Challenges
Formatting a book for KDP print can be learned quickly enough, and you can do it all in Microsoft Word too, making it even simpler.
However, there are some hurdles to jump and this is often why many self-published writers stick to e-books.
Most of these requirements are not difficult, and you could learn to design your files yourself or even pay someone else to do so.
Formatting Print Books In KDP
Many authors try to get their books into the format that KDP requires only to end up giving up.
There are some formatting quirks with KDP, however, once you have wrapped your head around them, you are sure to be formatting your books in less than an hour.
KDP provides free templates from Microsoft Word for authors to use to help them, they are a good place to start. You can download them and look at them, however, you do not have to actively use them.
Simply apply the principles they have to your manuscript.
This is the faster and easier approach, you know your manuscript and can easily adapt it while copying and pasting your whole manuscript into someone else’s template can be very mind-boggling.
Most of the templates will contain the same features, this is because there are things we need to do for print books we do not need to do for digital books.
The trim is the physical size of your book, most of us have not seen many books which were 8.5” x 11”.
Print books are often much smaller than typical printer paper, so word documents of print books should look smaller than a normal Word document.
With Kindle, this is not an issue, so it can come as a shock when you have to start thinking about size.
KDP will, luckily, have some sizes for you to choose from, such as select ‘industry sizes’, named so because these are the sizes used in the publishing industry.
The most popular option is 6” x 9”, however, 5” x 8” and 5.5” x 8.5” are also popular. 8” x 10” is also popular for nonfiction and manuals.
Just remember that the cost to your readers will depend on the number of pages, so 6” x 9” is often favorable over 5” x 8” for this reason.
Margins are a non-problem for Kindle authors, but in print they are. A majority of Word documents will have margins on the left, right, top, and bottom all even.
However, a print manuscript requires asymmetrical margins.
There is a mirror image format to print books, where the pages are not the same on the right and left, left-handed pages will be even-numbered, and right-hand pages are odd-numbered.
Left-hand pages will have a narrow left-hand margin but a wide right-hand margin. Right-hand pages have a wide left-hand margin and a narrower right-hand margin.
This is done as it allows space for the book bindings.
Style is in-built into Word’s tools. These styles mean the book is consistent throughout, and you can edit all the book’s settings through this.
Chapters should always start on a new page. Using page breaks is pivotal. Sections are important to page control with numbers, footers, and headers for a professional look.
While ebooks require little to no formatting, paperback books published through Amazon KDP can have some strict requirements.
Following these can make it tricky for some, however, if you can pre-format your book, knowing what you need to do, it is much easier.
Be aware of the margins, page layout, sectioning, typeface, cover design, and all other facets of your book’s appearance and design.
Being aware of it before you publish will help you format as you write, saving you time, hassle, and worry later on.