How to Self-Publish Your Books on Amazon (Including how to create paperbacks and ebooks on Createspace, iBooks, Nook and Kindle)

by Eric Elder
www.theranch.org

Don’t know how to publish that book that’s on your heart (or on your computer)?  This session is for you!  Now you can directly upload text you’ve written, or songs or videos you’ve recorded, to Amazon.com and they’ll publish them for you, handling all of the printing, shipping and billing, with no up-front costs to you.  This is a fast, cost-effective way to get God’s Word out without having to find a big publisher to back your project.  It’s also a great way to raise awareness for your cause and help support your ministry.  Read on, or watch the video below, to find out more.

1) Why would you want to self-publish your work on Amazon?

Just because your project may not attract a big publisher doesn’t mean God can’t use it mightily!  Whether it’s a Bible study in a niche language, a sermon series on a narrow but important topic, or a training session for local believers, you can use new print-on-demand services from companies like Amazon.com to publish it for you. (Other companies offer similar services, such as Lulu.com or Blurb.com, but this workshop focuses on Amazon.com just to keep it simple.)

It’s cost-effective:  There are no up-front fees, and the printing and handling costs are only deducted when a customer pays for an order, resulting in no cash outlay…just net profits.  Example costs:  If you want to order your own book, the cost for a 100 page book is $3.66 per book, and you can order as few as 1 copy.  And if you sign up for the pro plan for a one-time cost of $39.99, you get each book for only $2.15 each, and you can order as few or as many as you like. (Note: since I made this video, the prices have gone down, and there is no longer a pro plan since the prices for everyone have been reduced.)

It’s fast:  As soon as you’re finished writing or recording your work, you can upload it and make it available worldwide.  I write a weekly devotional and send it out by email to my readers.  As soon as I’m done writing a series (after 15, or 20, or 30 weeks), I copy and paste all of the articles into one long document, format and upload it to Amazon, and within a week after I’ve finished writing, I can hold a finished paperback book in my hands!

It’s always available:  There’s no need to stockpile books/CD’s/DVD’s and you never run out.  It used to be that you’d have to print 500 or 1,000 books to get anywhere close to $5 a copy (more like $15-$20 if you printed just one).  Then you have a closet full of books, and if you notice an error, you have a closet full of mistakes, too!

It’s hassle-free:  They take care of all shipping, handling and expediting of orders.  I’ve tried printing my own booklets, photocopying pages, or taking them to a copy shop.  Then each time someone wants one, it would take an hour or two just to find a mailer, get to the post office, and ship it out.  Now it’s all done transparently.

It’s easy to make changes:  If you want to change, add or delete something in your materials, just make the changes and upload a new file.  I used to proof read my books over and over, asking others to proof read it, too, taking months before I finally published it so that it would be just right.  Now I proof it once, upload it and if someone finds a mistake or has a suggestion, I revise it and the next copy that goes out contains the revision.

2) How do you get your materials to Amazon?

You just upload your content from your computer.  For publishing directly on Amazon, you’ll need to create a free account at www.createspace.com (CreateSpace is an Amazon company and handles the self-publishing for them).  Companies like Lulu.com also have arrangements with Amazon, so books and music you upload to Lulu can also be made available on Amazon.  To create a free account on Lulu or Blurb, just go to www.lulu.com or www.blurb.com.

Once logged into your account on CreateSpace, just click “Add New Title” to begin uploading your project, whether it’s a book, CD, or DVD (you can also make them available as downloadable ebooks, or MP3 or video downloads).

You’ll be asked for several pieces of information about the project, a description that will appear on Amazon’s website, the list price you want to set, the category that will help people find the item, etc.

You’ll then be able to upload the content for your project, whether it’s a PDF file of the text within your book, or a JPG image of your cover art.  Some services also offer a cover creator where you can choose from a collection of pre-designed covers, and substitute your title and author information to appear on the front and back.

Once your project is uploaded, you can order a “proof” copy of your book or CD or DVD to make sure it prints exactly as you want it to print.  If you need to make changes, just upload them and order another proof.  When you’re satisfied with the way it looks, just log back in to your account and click the “approve proof” button.  You can now order as many copies of your project as you want, and your item will appear within a few days on Amazon.com so others can find it and order it, too.

3) How do you create your content? 

You can create your book, music or video using any word processor, or music or video editing software, then save it in a standard format, such as PDF for books, MP3 or AIFF for music, or a physical DVD for video.

You’ll need to check if your software can create the right final format.  If you find you don’t have the ability to create a PDF file from your word processor, there’s a free word processor you can download to do it, called OpenOffice, from www.openoffice.org (it’s similar to Microsoft Office with a word processor, graphics program, database, and  spreadsheet all in one, but for free!)

Here are some tips when setting up your pages for books:  format your entire document to be in the final “trim size” you want for your book (options vary from Amazon to Lulu to Blurb, such as 6″x9″, or 5.06″x7.81″, and so on; when setting up margins,  use “mirrored” margins and then set your inner margins a little wider than the outer margins to allow for the fold of the book, such as .75″ for the inner margins and .5″ for the outer margins;  to make it look like a “real” book, you can add headers and footers that run throughout the book, including the author name, title or chapter names at the top, and page numbers at the bottom.

For a professional look, find other books that look appealing and try to emulate them.  For instance, try a Garamond or Times New Roman font for the text rather than Arial or Helvetica to make it easier to read (the “serif” style fonts, with little feet along the bottoms of most of the letters, draw your eye across the page and make it easier to read…”san serif” fonts, those without little feet, work better for bold headlines, like the title and headings of this outline).

You can also use the advanced features of your software to create a polished look by using “small caps” (large initial letters for words in titles and smaller capital letters for the remainder of each word) for things like chapter headings, or “drop-caps” (a large initial letter) for the first paragraph of each chapter.  Adjust the final layout by checking your hyphenation settings if you find some words are breaking in the wrong places, or to specify how to handle things like widow & orphan lines, those lines that happen to be left all alone at the top or bottom of a page by themselves.  (Here’s a PDF CONVERTER ONLINE from ADOBE – https://www.acrobat.com/createpdf/ )

4) How do you create your cover art?

You can use any graphics program to create your cover artwork, then save it in a standard PDF or JPG format.  If you don’t have graphics software, you can download the OpenOffice software for free, which includes a drawing program.  Then you can import photographs, or draw shapes or create titles or subtitles right there.  Usually you create the entire front and back of artwork in one file.  After you upload the inside content of your book, you’ll be given the exact dimensions for this file, and even a template to help you create it.

When creating cover art, allow a margin around the outer edge for the graphic to “bleed” off the edge, as this will be trimmed off in the final printing and cutting process.  Usually .125″  bleed is suggested.

Some companies offer cover creation software for you so you don’t have to create the artwork yourself.  Just fill in the title and author information, and choose from their collection of graphics and pre-designed themes.

Here are some tips when creating your own artwork:  Focus on one dominant theme for your cover that draws the person’s eye to it, whether it’s a striking graphic, a bold type style, or a pleasing title placement; then choose complimentary colors that go with, or are also used within the graphic.

When choosing fonts, only use a few complimentary fonts, or vary one font style in only a few different ways, such as using italics, larger or smaller fonts, small caps, or expanded text (increasing the spacing between letters).  For the text along the side of the book (the spine), make sure the text is right-side-up by imagining the book laying on a table and still being able to read the spine text.

5) Questions? 

To see an example of how I’ve setup the book and CD ordering process on my website for my ministry, visit “The Bookstore at The Ranch” at www.theranch.org or “InspiringBooks.com” at www.inspiringbooks.com.

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.  (The Apostle John, on why he wrote his gospel, John 20:30-31).

Quotes on Writing and Perseverance 

Persistence – Ernest Hemingway often worked for hours to perfect one paragraph.

A poem is never finished, only abandoned. Paul Valery

Of the making of books there is no end.  King Solomon

If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought. Dennis Roch

I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short.  Blaise Pascal

From my first experience of writing a screenplay, I had learned something about the process of revision. You can always make something better, and if you make it worse, you’ll know it. I had learned to have no fear of rewriting. All writers should be so lucky.  John Irving

You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length.  Carl Gauss

The story is told of an accomplished artist who was applying the finishing touches to a bronze sculpture. He kept filing, scraping, and polishing every little surface of his masterpiece. “When will it be done?” asked an observer. “Never,” came the reply. “I just keep working and working until they come and take it away.”

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.  Thomas Edison

If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius.  Michelangelo

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.  Mother Teresa

All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.  Walt Disney

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them.  Henry David Thoreau

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.  Dr. Seuss

Quit now, you’ll never make it.  If you disregard this advice, you’ll be halfway there.  David Zucker

There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though every thing is a miracle.  Albert Einstein

Most of my friends who are novelists have told me that they never know the end of their novels when they start writing them; they find it peculiar that for my novels I need to know, and I need to know not just the ending, but every significant event in the main characters’ lives. When I finally write the first sentence, I want to know everything that happens, so that I am not inventing the story as I write it; rather, I am remembering a story that has already happened. The invention is over by the time I begin. All I want to be thinking of is the language- the sentence I am writing, and the sentence that follows it. Just the language.  John Irving

Do not write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot be misunderstood. Epictetus

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.  Robert Frost

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.  Rudyard Kipling

When you sell a man a book, you don’t sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue- you sell him a whole new life.  Christopher Morley

Share a Comment

Your email address will not be published.