Category Archives: How to print a novel with KDP

Unpublishing a book

I’ve just unpublished ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’.

It’s not the first book I’ve unpublished – I had to unpublish the two CreateSpace versions after CreateSpace ceased to exist. Nevertheless, hitting that ‘Unpublish’ button on KDP felt very odd, especially as I’m not sure whether I’ll ever republish in the same way again.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I unpublished the KDP how-to book because it was first published in 2018, and parts of it were now quite out-of-date. KDP only made a few changes, but Thorpe-Bowker [the agent for ISBNs in Australia], and the National Library of Australia, had both completely changed their websites. I would have to update much of the second and third parts of the how-to, and basically create a ‘second edition’ of the book.

Unfortunately, when you create a second edition of a book, you have to publish it with a new ISBN, and that costs money. Given that I haven’t earned a single cent from the how-to, it didn’t make sense to invest yet more money into a project that no body seemed to want.

Around about this point, I sat down and did some hard thinking.

Was the how-to bad? Was the Kindle Fire version too restrictive? Was the paperback too expensive?

Or could it be that people have grown used to finding information online? For free?

Given how much research I do online, for free, I could hardly fault others for doing the same thing. So I had to decide whether to keep flogging that poor dead horse, or move with the times. I chose to move with the times and publish the entire how-to, online, for free on my blog.

Was this a completely altruistic decision? Hah… -cough-

The truth is, self-publishing is hard. Making yourself visible on Amazon is hard. Selling your books and making money is next to impossible unless you’re:

  • very lucky,
  • very good at marketing,
  • have oodles of cash for advertising, or
  • have some way of enticing people to your blog

I suck at the first three, but I am good at teaching people how to do things. At least half of all the people who visit my blog are there for one of my how-to posts. So if that’s my strength, how do I translate it into increased visibility for the rest of my work?

Honestly, by the time I got to that question, the answer was pretty obvious – the smart thing would be to self-publish the how-to on the blog and hope that increased exposure would lead to…something. -shrug-

I’m realistic enough to know that very few of the people who come for my how-to posts stay to chat, or buy my science fiction. But you have to work with what you have. Besides, I’ve put so much work into my how-to books I’m damned if I’ll let them sink into complete obscurity.

So, allow me to introduce you to the new, updated, 2020 edition of ‘How to print your novel with Kindle Direct Publishing. -points to sidebar on the right-

Clicking that image should take you to a Table of Contents which contains all the links to all the sections/chapters of the how-to. Alternatively, you can click the link below:

Click here to display the Table of Contents

Enjoy,
Meeks


TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing

Introduction – is this guide right for you?

Frequently Asked Questions

Part I – How to Prepare your Novel

Trim Size, Bleed, and Page Specification

Designing the interior format of your book

Front Matter, Back Matter & ISBNs

Creating a Table of Contents [TOC]

Section Breaks

Page Numbers

Exporting your document to PDF

Preparing the Cover of your Book

Part II – How to Setup your Novel

Getting Started with KDP

Paperback Details

Paperback Content

Using Cover Creator [optional]

Reviewing your Book and Cover

Paperback Rights & Pricing

Part III – for Australian Self-Publishers

30% Withholding Tax

ISBN in Australia

Legal Deposit, Australia

Miscellaneous

Creating a free barcode

Extra help for graphics heavy books like memoirs and cookbooks, etc

Word 16 image compression, image resolution and Wrap Text settings


ISBN in Australia

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In this section you will learn how to purchase a private ISBN in Australia.

ISBN in Australia

Thorpe-Bowker is the official agent for ISBNs in Australia.

To purchase one or more ISBNs, start by going to the Thorpe-Bowker website. Their web address is:

https://www.myidentifiers.com.au/

On the Thorpe-Bowker welcome page, click the ‘Sign in/Register’ option located in the top, right hand corner of the screen:

On the next screen you have the option of signing in or creating a new account. Click the blue ‘Register’ button:

You should now see an option for ‘I am a new customer’:

Below it, there is a message from Thorpe-Bowker saying that new customers will have to pay a one-off fee of $55 before they can purchase an ISBN. This is a relatively new fee and meant to cover the setting up of your account.

As Thorpe-Bowker is the only company selling ISBNs in Australia, there is now way of finding a better deal. Those who only intend to sell through Amazon’s standard distribution channels may prefer to use one of their free ISBNs instead.

Those who wish to purchase print copies from the Australian branch of IngramSpark [located in Melbourne] will have to purchase their own ISBN as the KDP ISBN is only valid for KDP.

To continue, click the blue ‘I am a new Bowker Customer’ button.

Next up you will be asked to fill in a registration form. This is pretty standard with mandatory fields marked with a red asterisk. One of those fields is ‘Organisation Type’.

If you’re a self-publisher, don’t worry. Click on the small arrow next to ‘Organisation Type’ and you will see a drop down list which includes the option for ‘Self Publisher’ :

Click the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ button for promotional material and then complete the registration process by clicking the green ‘I Accept – Create My Account!’ button.

Once your registration is complete, return to the Thorpe-Bowker website and click Buy ISBNs & Identifiers on the main screen. Then select ‘Buy ISBNs’ from the drop down list:

Note: the option for ‘Buy ISBNs in Bulk’ will take you to a login screen for ‘VIPs’ who may buy ISBNs in their hundreds.

Next, you will be shown a page of sales options. Select the option/product of your choice by clicking the appropriate ‘Add to Cart’ button:

Bowker will display a summary of your order:

Click the blue ‘Checkout’ button.

The Checkout is fairly standard except for the fact that the only payment option appears to be Paypal:

This is rather misleading as there is, in fact, an option to pay by credit card, but you do it as a Paypal ‘Guest’.

Click the ‘Submit Order’ button and you will be shown the following screen:

To pay with your credit card, click the ‘Pay with a Card’ button.

You will now see a Paypal screen something like this:

Fill in the required details and complete your purchase.

You will now be returned to Thorpe-Bowker and a summary screen:

Note: you are under no obligation to take the survey.

To assign your new ISBN, click ‘My Account’ as shown above and select ‘My Identifiers/ISBN dashboard’ from the menus.

Assigning an ISBN to a book

You should now be looking at a screen that displays information about your ISBN[s] :

The screenshot shows a number of ISBNs, all of them unassigned – i.e. not yet linked to an actual book.

To link an ISBN to your book, click ‘Assign Title’ opposite the ISBN you wish to use.

Note: once assigned, ISBNs cannot be re-assigned.

You will now have to enter information about the book assigned to that ISBN:

The first thing to note before you begin filling in the Bowker forms is that you only have to enter information in the fields marked with a red asterisk, such as ‘Book Title’ above.

The second is that you do not have to upload the cover of your book at all.

This is important because you will need an ISBN before you can finalise the cover of your book. It is needed to generate the barcode provided by both KDP and IngramSpark. These barcodes are generated for free so you only have to purchase barcodes from Thorpe-Bowker if you intend to publish with a company that doesn’t provide a barcode.

Finally, the default view is Basic – i.e. only the most commonly used fields are displayed:

If you need to enter details not shown on the Basic view, you may wish to change to the Advanced view which contains all available fields.

Book Title

To begin entering information about your book, click in the field marked ‘Book Title’ and type the name of your book. This is a mandatory field.

Medium

Medium refers to the book’s material composition – i.e. whether it is a print book, an ebook, or an audio book.

Select ‘Print’ from the drop down list.

Format

Format refers to the type of print book – i.e. hardcover or paperback.

Select ‘Paperback’ from the drop down list.

Subjects & Genres

Subjects & Genres refers to the category of book you intend to publish. You can select two genres, but only one is mandatory.

Select the most appropriate genre for your book from the drop down list:

Authors & Contributors

Contributor 1 is the author. As an Individual, the author’s full name and suffix may be entered, but only the ‘Last Name’ is mandatory.

Type your Last Name and as much other information as you wish to enter.

The next mandatory field is ‘Function’. It refers to the role the Contributor played in the creation of the book. The only checkbox that needs to be ticked is that of ‘Author’.

When to add another Author or Contributor

As a general rule:

  • If you co-authored a book with another author, then that author’s name must be listed as a second Contributor.
  • If you supplied material to an anthology, then all the other authors of that anthology must be listed as well.
  • If the anthology was commissioned by an editor, then the editor’s name must be listed.
  • If you wrote the text for an illustrated book – for example, a children’s book – the the illustrator must also be named as a Contributor.
  • If the book was originally written in another language and translated into English, the translator must be named as a Contributor.
  • If, however, you hired an editor to ‘clean up’ the book and a designer to create the cover, you do not have to name them as Contributors.

Sales & Pricing

There are four mandatory fields in this final section: Publication Date, Target Audience, Title Status and Book Price.

Publication Date

As the ISBN is needed in order to publish the book, there are two possible ways of interpreting this field.

  • the publication date is notional – i.e. a date in the near future when you intend to officially publish the book, or
  • it refers to the original publication date of the book. For example, let’s say you publish a non-fiction book in 2010. Ten years later you revise and update that book and publish it as a second edition. Each edition of a book requires its own ISBN, but the publication date of the book points back to the publication of the first edition.

Clicking the Help icon produces this explanation from Bowker:

Target Audience

Unless your book is specifically designed for one of the listed targets, click the option for ‘Trade’. Trade refers to trade paperbacks and is the general purpose classification.

Title Status

Clicking the small down arrow opposite this field causes a drop down list to display:

‘Active Record’ is the status of any book that is [or soon will be] for sale.

Note: if the book is not due to be published for a substantial period of time – e.g. a year – ‘Forthcoming’ would be more appropriate.

Book Price

As a self-publisher, you may want to vary the price of your book for marketing purposes. Or you may sell it to a number of different market places with different currencies/price points. For all these reasons, you do not want to be tied to one price in Bowker’s records.

Click the option for ‘Write for info [No set price or free] as shown:

When you have finished, click the green Submit button.

Bowker will display a congratulations screen and that will be that. If you click on My Identifiers, you will now see your book linked to the ISBN.

You can now type the ISBN into the Copyright page of your book and submit it to KDP or IngramSpark for the barcode on the cover.

Note: Be sure to copy the ISBN for your book exactly as it is shown, including hyphens.

Log out from Thorpe-Bowker.

In the next section we will look at the National Library of Australia, Legal Deposit requirement.

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30% Withholding Tax

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In this section you will learn about the the 30% US Withholding Tax, and how Australian Self-Publishers can get the tax reduced to 5%.

30% Withholding Tax

All authors who sell their books on Amazon.com are subject to a 30% Withholding Tax. This tax is automatically deducted from their earnings by Amazon.

Authors living in countries that have a Trade Treaty with the US, such as Australia, can apply for an exemption that reduces the tax to 5%.

If you are eligible for this exemption, KDP will send you an email explaining about the Withholding Tax. At the end of the email there will be a link to a page where you will be able to complete the tax exemption forms.

Requirements

Australian authors will need an Australian Tax File number.

On the tax exemption page, you will be asked to consent to filling in the form electronically.

You will also be asked to consent to providing an electronic signature for Form W-9. The electronic signature does not require any arcane graphical knowledge. You simply type your name and then click a button that confirms you are who you say you are.

Filling in the forms

A few things to remember about these forms:

  • You are completing the W-9 form as an individual so you can leave questions relating to businesses blank.
  • ‘Beneficial Owner’ refers to you as the owner of the work.
  • When you are asked if you have a TIN, answer yes as this is your Australian Tax File number.
  • You will be asked to type your ‘Australian TIN’ in the box provided. Type your Tax File Number exactly as it appears on your Tax File Number certificate.
  • For the US Persons Test, you should click the last entry which says ‘None of the above’.

Once these forms have been completed and submitted, Amazon can reduce your Withholding Tax to 5%.

In the next section we will look at purchasing an ISBN in Australia.

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National Library of Australia, Legal Deposit

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The information in Part 3 is tailored specifically for Australian Authors. In this section you will learn about the legal requirement to deposit a copy of your book with the National Library of Australia.

What is ‘Legal Deposit’?

It is a legal requirement that Australian authors deposit one copy of every book they publish with the National Library of Australia, within one month of publication.

For more details, please visit the National Library of Australia website: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit/how-to-deposit

The National Library of Australia accepts both print and digital formats – i.e. paperbacks, magazines, maps etc and ebooks. Given the cost of printing a book and posting it, self publishers with both a print and a digital version of their book may wish to deposit only the digital version. To do so, contact the library and ask for the deposit to be digital only.

How to deposit Print material

Send printed material to:

Books
Legal Deposit
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600

Journal, magazine and newsletter issues
Australian Serials
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600

Sheet music
Music Acquisitions and Cataloguing
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600

Maps
Maps Acquisitions and Cataloguing
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600

How to deposit Digital material

To deposit your ebook, go to the National Library of Australia home page: https://www.nla.gov.au and select ‘Legal deposit’ from the Using the Library/Services for Publishers sub-menu:

This will take you to the Legal Deposit screen:

Click the bright red ‘Deposit Now’ button. This will take you to the National eDeposit [NED] website: https://ned.gov.au/portal/

Here you can:

  • Make an edeposit
  • Manage your account
  • Create an account

You do not have to create an account with the NED, but if you are likely to self-publish more than one book, it would make sense to have one.

Selecting the type of ePublication to deposit

Click the ‘Make an edeposit’ button.

You should now be looking at a screen that asks what type of ePublication you want to deposit. The two options are : Monograph and Serial.

Monograph is defined as a publication that usually has an ISBN. Examples given include books, series of books, maps etc. Serials have an ISSN and include magazines and newspapers etc.

Monograph

Select ‘Monograph’. A drop down list will display. Select ‘Book/books in series’ as shown:

After specifying the type of publication you wish to deposit, the screen changes to show the upload option:

The NED will only accept the following file types:

  • .epub
  • .pdf
  • .mobi

Note: NED does not accept Word documents.

Find the digital version of the book you wish to deposit and wait until it uploads. Depending on the size of the file, this could take a few minutes:

Next, you will be asked to upload a digital copy of the cover of the book:

Note: the file format of the cover cannot be .pdf. It must be in either .jpg, .jpeg, .tif or .tiff file formats.

Once the cover has finished uploading, click the ‘Next: ePublication details’ button at the bottom of the screen:

ePublication details

The next screen requests information about the publication itself. You will have to enter the title of the book and, as owner of the intellectual content, you will have to enter your name:

‘Owner type’, ‘Given names’ and ‘Last name’ are mandatory. ‘Owner role’ and ‘Birth year’ are optional but it wouldn’t hurt to identify your role as the ‘Author’.

You can also add another owner by pressing the green ‘Add another owner’ button located under ‘Owner type’.

Other information

As with Thorpe-Bowker, you are asked for the publication date. Enter the year in which the book became available for sale or download [if free].

The only other tricky question regards the ‘Edition Statement’. Again, this only applies to books which have been published before. This is the explanation offered by NED:

Click ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ as the case applies.

ISBN

Next, you are asked whether the book has an ISBN:

If your book has an ISBN, select the ‘Yes’ option and then type in the ISBN…but with no hyphens this time.

When you have finished adding information, click the ‘Next: Access Conditions’ button located at the bottom of the screen.

Access conditions

This section refers to how much of your book you allow the public to access, and under what conditions:

Confirm that you have the legal right to set conditions for your book and then decide how much access you will allow.

If your book is available for sale, the two options circled in orange probably strike the best balance between your commercial rights and the purpose of the legal deposit.

Publisher details

As a self-publisher, you will have to enter your own contact details, including name, address, phone and email.

At the bottom, you are asked if you want to create a user account. If you tick ‘Yes’ you will have to enter the standard registration details, but at least you will never have to enter them again.

If you don’t want to create an account, click the ‘Next: Review and submit’ button located at the bottom of the screen.

Review and submit

This screen details the information you have entered in all the previous screens. Right down the bottom is a checkbox:

Ticking the checkbox grants permission for ‘NED Member Libraries to use and manage deposited content as outlined in the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Notice’.

Tick the checkbox and then click the green ‘Submit your edeposit’ button to complete the process.

Legal Deposit in State Libraries

Legal Deposit also requires that you deposit a copy of your book with the library of your home state. https://www.nsla.org.au/legal-deposit-australasia

If you only have a print edition of your book, you will have to send a physical copy to the relevant state library.

If you also have an ebook version of your book, you may request to deposit it instead of a physical copy:

Depositing the ebook with NED ensures that it is available in all states.

Best of luck with your publishing, now and in the future.

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Paperback Rights & Pricing

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Paperback Rights & Pricing is the final tab in the KDP setup process:

On this tab you can set distribution rights and pricing, check royalties, and request a printed proof of your book.

Distribution Rights

This section is about your rights – i.e. where you have the right to sell your Paperback. The two options shown are ‘Worldwide’ and ‘Individual territories’.

If you are a self-publisher and own the copyright to your book, click the button for All territories (worldwide rights). This will allow your paperback book to be offered for sale via Amazon’s standard and expanded distribution outlets.

What is Standard Distribution?

Amazon in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada and Japan are deemed to be Amazon’s ‘standard distribution’ outlets.

If your paperback sells through these outlets, Amazon will take 40% of the sale price as payment for selling your paperback. Your share of the sale will be 60%, but the cost of printing is taken from your share.

What is Expanded Distribution?

As at July, 2018, all other countries in the world, including Brazil, Mexico, India, China and Australia [which have Amazon stores of their own], fall into the category of ‘Expanded Distribution’

Your paperback is not automatically sold in these expanded distribution outlets.

KDP does offer Expanded Distribution, but it does so by outsourcing the supply of your paperback to third parties. As these third parties must be paid for producing your paperback, your share of the sale price drops from 60% to 40%, but the cost of printing still comes out of your share.

Pricing & Royalty

This section is a calculator that allows you to check your royalties at different price points. It all begins with the List Price.

List Price

The List Price  is the price at which your book will sell on Amazon. As a self-publisher, the Author sets the List Price.

To set a List Price, simply click inside the List Price box and type an amount:

Once a List Price is set, KDP displays the Rate, Printing and Royalty at that price. In the example shown below, the List Price was set at $12.99:

Rate

If you sell your paperback through Amazon’s standard distribution outlets [figures shown in blue], your share of the List Price is 60%. This is the ‘Rate’.

Printing

The value shown under ‘Printing’ is the cost to print your book.

Royalty

The value under ‘Royalty’ is how much you receive from the sale of each book.

But your royalty is not 60% of the List Price. It is 60% of the List Price minus the printing costs:

Royalty = (List Price – 40% [to Amazon]) – Printing

Or to put it another way, when your paperback sells on Amazon:

  1. Amazon takes its share – 40% – from the total sale price,
  2. This leaves 60% of the total sale price.
  3. From this 60%, Amazon takes the actual print costs.
  4. Whatever is left over is your royalty. 

To illustrate this point, let’s say the List Price of a book is $10 and the print cost is $5. From that $10, Amazon takes $4  – i.e. 40%.

That leaves $6.

From that $6, Amazon takes $5 – i.e. the cost of the printing.

That then leaves $1 as the royalty owed to the author:  [10 – 4] – 5 = 1

Minimum List Price

Although the Author sets the List Price, KDP will not allow that price to fall below break even so it will always set a minimum price.

In the example below, the minimum price is $3.58 :

If the List Price is the same as the Minimum Price, the printing costs are covered, as is the 40% owed to Amazon [for selling the book], but the royalty to the author is zero.

Royalty with Expanded Distribution

As explained in the previous section on Distribution, KDP relies on third parties to produce paperbacks for Expanded Distribution.

If you tick the checkbox for Expanded Distribution, your Rate – i.e. your share of the sale price – drops to 40% because the cost of outsourcing comes out of your share as well. So now, the calculation looks something like this:

Royalty = ((List Price – Amazon’s 40%)- company X’s 20%) – Printing

Using the same figures as before, the calculation would look something like this:

Royalty=((10 – 4) – (20% of 6) – 5 
 =(6-1.2) – 5 
 =-0.20

As you can see, the Author ends up 20 cents out-of-pocket.

To ensure this does not happen, KDP automatically increases the Minimum Price when Expanded Distribution is enabled.

Although this ensures that the Author doesn’t lose money, the fact that the increased Minimum List Price is applied to both Expanded and Standard Distribution outlets means that overall sales may drop [because the price in Standard Distribution is now too high]. It also means that authors will be limited in how much they can use pricing as a tool in their marketing.

Marketing and the Primary Marketplace

The Primary Marketplace is the Amazon distribution centre chosen as the default. The List Price for all other Amazon marketplaces is based on the Primary Marketplace and its currency.

In the examples shown so far, Amazon.com is set as the Primary Marketplace, and the List Price of $12.99 is in US dollars by default. If someone wanted to buy that book in one of the other Amazon marketplaces, the price would be converted to the equivalent in that currency. But this assumes that the accepted price of paperbacks in the Primary Marketplace is the same for all Amazon marketplaces. This is not always the case.

For international authors, it makes more sense to optimise the List Price for the marketplace in which most books are likely to be sold. For example, an author in the UK might want to change the Primary Marketplace from the US to the UK.

To change the Primary Marketplace, click the small arrow next to ‘Amazon.com’:

KDP will display a drop down list of the other standard Amazon marketplaces:

Amazon.co.uk – is for the UK.

Amazon.de – is for Germany.

Amazon.fr – is for France.

Amazon.es – is for Spain.

Amazon.it – is for Italy.

Amazon.co.jp – is for Japan.

Amazon.ca – is for Canada

To change the Primary Marketplace, simply click one of the other marketplaces on the drop down list.

In the screenshot shown below, Amazon UK has been selected as the Primary Marketplace, and all the pricing is shown in English pounds [£].

All the other markets will now be based on the UK List Price.

Different pricing per region

KDP also allows you to set different prices for each of the standard marketplaces.

In effect, this means that you can optimise the List Price of each marketplace to suit the cost of books in that marketplace.

If you know the best price for each marketplace, this option can be a very powerful marketing tool.

To set the List Price for individual marketplaces, click 7 other marketplaces as shown below:

You should now see calculators for all seven marketplaces:

To change the List Price of one or more of these non-primary marketplaces, click inside the price box of the chosen marketplace and type in the new price.

To bring the List Price back in line with the Primary Marketplace, simply click the option to ‘Base this price on Amazon.com’. The name of the markeplace will change, depending on which country is selected as the ‘primary marketplace’.

Terms & Conditions

By clicking the Publish button, you agree to KDP’s Terms and Conditions. You can find the Terms and Conditions at this address:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200627430

Printed Proof Copies

Although you can make changes to your book after it has been published, I strongly recommend ordering and reviewing a printed proof before clicking the ‘Publish Your Paperback Book’ button.

To order a printed proof, click the blue link as shown below:

When you click ‘Request printed proofs of this book’, KDP displays the following screen:

At the top, KDP explains that proof copies ‘…have a ‘Not for Resale’ watermark on the cover and a unique barcode but no ISBN. You pay only the printing cost for your selected marketplace times the number of copies. Shipping and applicable taxes will be applied at checkout.’

You can order up to 5 proof copies at a time – i.e. for yourself and/or for beta readers.

Finally, you should select a marketplace that is the closest to where you live. This will reduce waiting time and shipping costs.

When you have selected the relevant information, click the Submit Proof Request button to be taken to the payment processing area.

Proof Copies vs Author Copies

Although Proof and Author copies are both supplied ‘at print cost’, Proof copies can only be requested before the book is published while Author copies can only be requested after the book is published.

Author copies can be sold by the author. Proof copies are clearly marked ‘not for resale’.

Publish your paperback

To go ahead and publish your paperback with Amazon KDP, click the yellow ‘Publish Your Paperback Book’ button located at the bottom of the screen.

KDP will display a confirmation screen which includes the following message:

Once the review is finished, you should see your paperback listed on your KDP Bookshelf and on Amazon itself. Congratulations!

Part III is devoted to information specifically for Australian authors. This information includes step-by-step instructions on buying an ISBN in Australia, applying for a US Tax Exemption, and the Australian National Library’s requirement that a copy of all material published by Australian authors is deposited with the library.

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Using the KDP Cover Creator [optional]

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Although the KDP Cover Creator has a few quirks that don’t make it ideal for absolute beginners, some of the advantages – such as free images and a cover automatically sized to the correct dimensions of the book – make the learning curve worthwhile.

The following table provides a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages associated with using Cover Creator:

ProsCons
The app. is freeThe app. is not supported on: KDP.amazon.co.jp
KDP provides a helpful video that covers the basics. You can find the video on the KDP website under ‘Create a Book Cover’.The video and the written instructions are not geared towards absolute beginners
The app. uses templates that can be customised using either pre-set themes and styles or manual optionsThe app. only provides 10 templates and they do not allow for a great deal of customisation
The Title and Author Name are automatically inserted into the templateThe Title and Author Name will display exactly as you typed them during Title setup. To change how they look, you will have to return to the Title Details tab and make the changes there
The manual options provide a fair degree of customisationThe manual options are not always intuitive. For example: – the ‘Start Over’ button only takes you back to the template selection screen. – the Preview button only works after the sample text is all replaced.
The app. offers a large selection of free imagesThere is no ‘obvious’ way to select a different cover image once you have selected the first one.
The app. automatically creates a cover to the exact dimensions required for your book. 

The following sections will detail how to create two covers:

  • One will be created using the pre-set images provided by Cover Creator.
  • The second will be created using your own background image.

To begin, click the yellow, ‘Launch Cover Creator’ button as shown:

The next screen is simply an overview of the Cover Creator process. Click the Continue button.

Cover Creator now displays three ways to select a background image for your cover. The three options are:

  • from the KDP free images gallery,
  • from your computer,
  • and ‘Skip This Step’.

Note: ‘Skip This Step’ places a generic image into each template. You will have to choose a permanent image before finalising the cover.

Select a Free Image from the Gallery

Click the option for From Image Gallery:

You should now be looking at the KDP Image Gallery:

The images in the gallery are organised into categories and sub-categories. When you select one of the main categories listed on the left hand side of the window, the sub-categories will display on the right hand side.

Note: you can also type a keyword into the Search box at the top of the window to narrow down your search.

Click one of the sub-categories to display the images in that category.

In the example shown below, the main category is ‘Backgrounds’. This category contains three sub-categories – Abstract, Nature and Patterns & Textures. Clicking the Abstract sub-category displays a gallery of images. The image used in most of this section is circled in orange:

Click an image to see more information about it:   

And finally, click the Use this image button to select the image for your cover.

Selecting a Template

After selecting an image, Cover Creator automatically inserts it, as well as the Title and Author Name, into all of the pre-formatted templates available. These templates are displayed in a gallery:

Use the left and right arrows to view all the templates.

Click a template to select it.

You should now be looking at the Cover Creator working screen with your chosen image and template displayed: 

The cover template is displayed with red and white dotted lines:

  • the vertical white dotted lines in the middle mark the fold lines of the spine.
  • the red dotted line around the outside is the safety perimeter. All text has to be within this line.
  • the white dotted line around the outside of the cover is where the printed pages will be cut, so any text that extends past this line will be truncated. The cover image, however, must extend past this line.

If you are using one of the free images, it will be the right size automatically.

Note: if you are using one of your own images, make sure it is big enough to extend past the white line.

The orange triangles are alerts that provide context sensitive help about possible issues and explain how to fill in the missing elements of the cover template, such as the blurb and Author bio etc.

Below the cover image are three buttons which offer pre-sets ‘styles’ :

From left to right, the buttons allow you to select a pre-set colour scheme, a pre-set layout and a pre-set font style for the Title and Author Name.

Selecting a colour scheme for the template

The button for colour schemes

Click the button for Colors. You should now be looking at a list of colour schemes for the entire template:     

These colour schemes work best for cover templates that include blocks of colour, such as the example below:  

You can also select all three colour elements individually via the ‘Custom Colors’ pane on the left:

Primary Color’ is the block of colour that contains the Title.

Secondary color’ is the background colour.

All Text Color’ sets the colour for all the text – front cover, back cover and spine.

To change the colour of the text, click the appropriate option and select a colour from the popup palette.

Note: make sure the colour of the text does not blend into the background as this will make it hard to see at thumbnail size.

Selecting a layout for the template

To change the position and appearance of the various layout elements of your book cover, click the Layout button as shown:

The current layout is shown with a pale blue highlight and a tick. Use the Left and Right direction arrows to see all the available layouts.

Click a layout to select it.

Selecting a Font

The third button – ‘Choose Fonts’ – displays yet more pre-set styles that determine the font and font size of the text on the front cover only.

Use the left and right direction arrows to see all the font combinations. Click a combination to select it for the text on the front cover.

Adding the blurb and Author bio to the back cover

Apart from the Title, Sub-Title [if applicable] and Author Name, all the other text on the template is ‘dummy’ text. It’s only purpose is to illustrate where text appears on the template you have chosen.

Clicking an alert, or an area of dummy text, will display a white dotted line. This dotted line denotes a text box.

To replace the dummy text, simply click inside the relevant text box and begin typing.

The first few letters you type will be huge, but as you continue typing,  the text will become progressively smaller.

In the example shown below, the text box is for the author’s bio, and you can see how large the font is:

The automatic re-sizing of the text occurs because the ‘Auto Fit’ option is selected by default [circled in orange above].

The ‘Auto Fit’ option is located on the Edit Bar which appears whenever you begin editing the text boxes.

Note: you can also copy/paste text from an external source using the keyboard shortcut of CTRL V.

To change the size of the text manually, click the small down arrow [as shown below] and then click a font size from the drop down menu:

The font will now remain at the size you set, no matter how much text you enter.

The Edit Bar also contains the standard editing options for Bold, Italic, alignment, and text colour. There is also a Reset Style option that acts as an ‘undo’ button for the current text box.

Manually editing the colour of the text

To change the colour of individual text elements – e.g. the Author Bio –  click inside the text box to be changed.

With the Edit Bar displayed, open the font colour palette by clicking the small down arrow as shown below:

Click the colour of your choice and the text in the text box will automatically change to that colour.

Manually formatting the Title, Author Name & Sub-title [optional]

KDP advises against changing the wording of the Title, Author Name or Sub-title, but you can change the formatting – for example the colour.

To begin, click the text you wish to change. In the example shown below, the Author Name text box has been activated:

To  change the font size, alignment or colour of the Author Name, simply select the relevant option from the Edit Bar.

To dismiss the Edit Bar, simply click outside the relevant text box.

Adding the Author Photo

Author photo

The back page of the template includes a picture placeholder for the Author Photo.

To insert an Author Photo, click the placeholder image.

KDP will display the following popup:   

Select the option for ‘From My Computer’.

KDP opens My Computer [or Windows Explorer] so you can find the photo you wish to use.

Select your Author Photo. Cover Creator will re-size the image automatically, but if the original photo is too small, making it big enough to fit will lower the resolution and cause the program to display an error message:

The author photo in the example above is only 116 x 150. For best results, the Author Photo should be 500 x 500 or above.

To check the size of your author photo [in Windows], open My Computer [or File Explorer] and navigate to the location where the photo is saved.

Hover the mouse over the photo until a small, floating popup appears:

Inside you will see information about the photo, including its dimensions. The one shown in the example is 527 x 532 and just the right size.

To choose a different photo in Cover Creator, simply click inside the image. The display will change to show the Edit Cover Image popup:

Note: the name of the popup is misleading. The options provided by the popup will work on any image that is selected – i.e. the author photo or the cover image itself.

To select a different author photo, click the option to ‘Choose a new cover image’.

Cover Creator will display the ‘Get Images for your Cover’ popup. Click the option for ‘From My Computer’. Find the new image and select it. Cover Creator will upload the image and substitute it automatically.

Previewing your cover on Cover Creator

If you’re like me, you will want to see how your Author Photo looks, but if you press the Preview button whilst there are still unfinished areas on your cover [such as dummy text], Cover Creator will display this error message:

Click the ‘Go back to fix it’ button and continue adding text to the back cover. Once all the dummy text has been replaced, the ‘Preview’ button will become active and you can see what your cover looks like without all the guidelines.

To view your cover, click the Preview button located just below the cover template:  

After a short delay, KDP will display a digital representation of what your cover will look like.

If you are satisfied with your cover, click the Save & Submit button located directly below your cover. KDP will save the cover and return you to the Paperback Content tab.

But what if the Preview reveals unexpected errors? Or what if you don’t like the cover at all?

If you don’t like what you see in the Preview, there are four main options available to you:

  1. Keep the whole cover but make a few minor tweaks to it.
  2. Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc], together with the design elements [font size, colour etc] but change the template.
  3. Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc] and design elements [font size, colour etc] but change the background image.
  4. Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc] but get rid of the design elements and change the template.

Minor Tweaks

To make a few minor tweaks to the existing cover, click the ‘2 Style & Edit’ tab to exit the Preview screen and return to the template workspace:

Everything remains the same, but you can now edit the cover again.

New template

To change the template itself, click the ‘1 Choose Design’ tab:

Again, all your work remains, but you can change the way it’s displayed by selecting a different template from the gallery of available templates.

New cover image

To change the cover image – i.e. the background image – first click the ‘2 Style & Edit’ tab to take you back to the working screen.

Next, click on any blank space on the background image – i.e. on a space not occupied by a text box. This will cause a ‘frame’ to appear around the background image. It will also cause the ‘Edit Cover Image’ popup to be displayed on the right hand side of the cover:

On the popup, click the option to ‘Choose a new cover image’.

Cover Creator asks where you want to get the image from.

Using your own image

This time, choose the option for ‘From My Computer’:

Navigate to your image and select it.

Warning! Cover Creator will attempt to ‘fit’ any image into the template, but the greater the difference in size between the image and the template, the less successful the result will be. For best results, the cover image should be tailored to the exact dimensions of the cover template.

Note: for instructions on calculating a cover template for the exact dimensions of your book cover, see PART 1, Using the Cover Template Builder.

Once you have selected the background image for the cover, you may find that the existing design elements – layout, text colours and font – no longer fit the new image.

In the example shown below, the Title and Author Name cover up too much of the cover image and the back cover needs to be re-worked:

This is where the ‘Start Over’ button can be very useful.

Starting Over

The Start Over button, located on the bottom left of the screen, deletes all the design elements – fonts, font colours, layout etc – while leaving the text, cover image and Author Photo intact. This is quite handy if you need to start the design process from scratch.

After clicking the Start Over button, Cover Creator displays a confirmation popup:

To continue, click the OK button.

You should now be looking at the template selection screen again:

This time we are going to select a special template that does not provide the Title and Author Name on the front cover. This template is particularly handy for those who have already published the book as an ebook and hence already have a front cover, or those who want to create something a little more unique for the front cover.

Template: Use with front cover image’

Click the template for ‘Use with front cover image’ [circled in orange above].

You should now be in the template workspace with the new template displaying the old cover image. To change the cover image, click the image and then select Choose a new cover image from the Edit Cover Image popup:

Once again, KDP displays the image selection screen with the three options of: ‘From Image Gallery’, ‘From My Computer’, and ‘Skip This Step’.

This time, choose the option for ‘From My Computer’. Navigate to the front cover image you wish to use and select it.

In the example below, a special font was used for the title and another image was added to it. The size and positioning of all the text was also designed to allow the cover image to ‘tell a story’.

Unfortunately, the orange triangle above the front cover image indicates that Cover Creator found a problem. Hovering the mouse over the triangle displays the error message below:

Cover image error

To ensure a good quality cover, KDP recommends that the cover image be 300 DPI – i.e. 300 Dots Per Inch, but the cover image is only 293 DPI.

As the image is very close to being good enough, we could ignore the message, or choose a better one. But we won’t. Instead, we’re going to scale the image down.

Scaling an image down means making it a little smaller. This has the effect of pushing the dots per inch closer together, thereby increasing the DPI.

Note: when you make an image larger, you decrease the resolution because you’re expanding the area covered by the same number of dots per inch.

Scaling the cover image

To scale the image down, start by clicking anywhere inside the image. This causes a ‘frame’ to be displayed around it:

Click-hold-and-drag one of the corners towards the middle of the image as shown above. As you drag the corner the image will become blurry. As soon as you release the corner, the image will snap back into focus.

If you scale the image down too far, press the ‘Click to reset image position’ option on the Edit Cover Image popup. This will undo everything and return the image to its original size and location.

As soon as the orange triangle disappears, you can stop scaling the image.

As before, click the Preview button below the image to see the cover without the guidelines.

When you’re happy with the appearance of the cover, click the ‘Save and Submit’ button on the Preview screen:

KDP will display a confirmation that the cover uploaded successfully.

In the next section we will look at reviewing and approving your book.

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Reviewing your book & cover

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After both your manuscript and book cover have been submitted successfully, KDP generates a digital version of the book which you can review onscreen.

Note: you will have the option of requesting a printed proof of the book before giving your final approval.

Review your book

To review your book, click the Launch Previewer button located near the bottom of the Paperback Content tab:

Next, KDP displays the Print Preview screen: 

Preview errors

On the left of the screen is a notification area. If there are any technical problems with the book, KDP will detail them here, under the heading of ‘PLEASE CHECK’. Any problems identified by KDP must be fixed or the book may be rejected.

A checklist of 8 common problems can be found on the KDP web page:

https://KDP.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/GYEKAVKMSE23PFTM

To fix any problems, click the Exit Print Previewer button near the bottom of the screen.    

Edit the original manuscript [or cover file], upload the edited file, and review the book file again.

Thumbnails and the interior of the book

In the middle of the Print Previewer screen is the display area. It is set to ‘Two Page View’ by default, and displays the front, back and spine of your book.

To view the interior of your book, click the Thumbnail View option located at the bottom of the screen:   

You should now be looking at a thumbnail spread of the cover and interior pages of your book:

While in Thumbnail View, you can scroll through the pages for an overview of the layout, or you can zoom in on individual pages by clicking the relevant thumbnail. When you click a thumbnail, the display returns to a full-sized, two-page view of the pages.

Approve your book

If the review finds no problems with your book, and you are happy with both the interior and the cover, click the Approve button located on the bottom right of the Previewer screen.

KDP will save your book and return you to Paperback Contents.

Summary Details

After approving your book, KDP displays the Summary details. These include the settings for the interior, bleed, cover finish, trim size,  page count, and how much it will cost to print your book: 

In the example shown, the print cost is in US dollars for Amazon.com.

To view the print costs for the other Amazon marketplaces, click the Show other marketplaces link directly below the print cost.

KDP will display a drop down list of print costs in the currencies of the other standard distribution centres – i.e. in Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Canada.

KDP Print Cost

The KDP print cost is made up of three components:

  • a fixed cost
  • a price-per-page cost which varies according to type of paper chosen and whether the print is in Black and White or Colour
  • the total number of pages in the book

You can find more detailed information on KDP print costs here: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834340

Note: the print cost is only one element in the final sale price of the book.

To progress to the last tab – ‘Paperback Rights & Pricing’ – click the Save and Continue button which is located at the bottom of the screen, just below the print cost.

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Paperback Content

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The second tab is Paperback Contents. This is where you will enter detailed information about the book, such as it’s trim size etc, as well as uploading both the book file and the book cover.

ISBN

The first item you have to enter is the ISBN:

All books need an ISBN of some sort, and KDP offers two options:

  • a free one [from KDP], or
  • a private one, purchased from the ISBN agency located in your own country.

Note: for a detailed description of the differences between the two types of ISBNs, including their advantages and disadvantages, see Part 1, Front Matter, Back Matter & ISBNs]

The option for the free ISBN is shown as the default.

KDP ISBN [free]

To use a free ISBN from KDP, click the Assign me a free KDP ISBN button.

KDP will display a reminder that the ISBN can only be used with KDP:

To continue, click the Assign ISBN button.

KDP will generate an ISBN for your book and display it on screen. Type, or copy/paste, this free ISBN into the copyright page of your Word manuscript and convert the file to a new PDF [if applicable].

Use my own ISBN

If you have your own ISBN, click the Use my own ISBN button instead.

The screen will change to display the ‘ISBN’ and ‘Imprint’ text boxes:

Type or copy/paste your ISBN into the ISBN field. Make sure you type it exactly as it appears – i.e. including the hyphens.

Note: Australian authors can find detailed, step-by-step instructions on purchasing an ISBN from the Australian agency, Thorpe-Bowker, in PART 3, Appendix 2, ISBN in Australia.

Next, for the ‘Imprint’, type the name you used when you purchased the ISBN. For example, as a self-publisher, I buy all my ISBNs using my own name, therefore the Imprint of my books will also be my name.

The only exception to this rule is if you have set up your own small publishing company and purchased your ISBN under that company name. If this is the case, use the company name as the Imprint of your book.

Publication Date

The next option you will see is the Publication Date:

Leave this date field blank.

KDP will fill in the date for you once your book goes ‘live’ on Amazon – i.e. becomes available for sale on Amazon.

The only time you will ever have to enter the Publication Date manually is if you have already published your book in a different format – e.g. as an ebook or audio book.

Note: if you are unsure of the date, look up the ebook or audio book on Amazon and scroll down to the section called ‘Product Details’ where you should find the publication date.

To enter the publication date, click the calendar icon as shown:

You should now be looking at the calendar popup:

You will select the date from the calendar popup.

To change the year and month, click the back arrow until the correct year and month are displayed. Next, click the day.

The correct date should now be displayed in the Publication Date field: 

If you make a mistake, click the blue Clear Date option and begin the selection process again.

Print Options

The Print Options include Interior & Paper Type, Trim Size, Bleed Settings and Paperback Cover Finish. The default settings are displayed in the boxes shaded and outlined in orange.

Note: these options may or may not be correct for your book.

The following is a brief description of each Print Option.

Interior & paper type

KDP refers to the text of your book as the ‘Interior’. The paper type includes

  • Black & white with cream paper,
  • Black & white with white paper,
  • Colour with white paper [cream paper not available].

Note: Colour is defined as any text or graphic that includes a colour.

The default selection is ‘Black & white Interior with cream paper’.

To select a different option, simply click one of the other boxes.

Trim size

The trim size selected for the Print Options must be the same as the trim size chosen for the Page Setup of your book. To change the default Trim Size to the correct one, click the box labelled  Select a different size:

You should now be looking at the Trim Size popup:

The default selection is shaded in yellow.

To select a different trim size – for example the one circled in orange – simply click the box that contains the trim size you need.

Bleed settings

As discussed in Part 1, Trim sizes, Bleed and Page Specifications, Bleed is only required if the paperback contains images that extend all the way to the edge of the page.

As most novels do not include photos or graphical images in the interior of the book, leave the bleed setting as ‘No bleed’.

Paperback cover finish

KDP offers two cover finishes – Matte [default] and Glossy.

The Matte finish will feel soft and silky to the touch, but the colours will be muted. For example, black will print as a sort of charcoal.

By contrast, the colours in the Glossy finish will be vibrant and ‘true’ to type, so black prints as black.

Before deciding on a cover finish, it’s always a good idea to check other books in your genre.

Click the finish of your choice to select it.

Manuscript

This is where you will finally upload – i.e. send – the your book file to KDP.

Note: KDP recommends using the PDF format but will also accept .DOC, .DOCX, HTML, or .RTF file formats.

To begin, click the Upload paperback manuscript button as shown below:

After clicking the ‘Upload paperback manuscript’ button, KDP will return you to your own computer so you can locate the book file to be uploaded.

Find the book file you prepared during PART 1 and select it.

The system will take a few moments to upload the file. When the upload is finished, the name of the book file will be shown in green:

Book cover

For the cover, KDP offers two choices: you can upload your own cover or make one using an online app called Cover Creator. ‘Use Cover Creator’ is shown as the default option:

To upload a cover created by some other application, click the button for Upload a cover you already have [circled in orange above].

The screen will change to display the ‘Upload your cover file’ button:

Important! Before clicking the Upload your cover file button, check whether your cover already includes a barcode. If it does, click the small checkbox [circled in orange above] to stop KDP from automatically adding a second barcode to the back page of your cover.

If you do not have a barcode of your own, leave the checkbox empty. KDP will generate a barcode for you using the ISBN assigned to your book. It will also insert this barcode onto the back cover of your book.

When you are ready, click the Upload your cover file button.

As with the interior, KDP will return you to your computer so you can locate and select the cover file for your book.

Note: the book cover must be in PDF format.

Depending on the size of your cover file, it may take a minute or two to upload the file. When the upload is complete, KDP will display a confirmation that your cover uploaded successfully.

In the next section we will look at using the online Cover Creator app. Please note that this is completely optional.

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Paperback Details

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The Paperback Details tab requires you to enter basic information about your book, such as the Title, Author Name etc.


Language

The first option is Language. It is set to English by default.

To select a different language, click the small arrow next to the text box to display a drop down list of available languages.

Click a language to select it.

Book Title and Sub-title

Type the title of your book exactly as it will appear on the cover of your book. You can also type in the sub-title if applicable.

Series

If the book is the first volume of a series – for example, a trilogy – type the name of the series and include the volume number.

Edition Number

Leave this option blank unless you have already published the paperback once and the current book is significantly different to the earlier version.

Note: publishing the book as an ebook or audio book does not count as a significant change. Nor does changing the appearance of the cover.

To be significant, a new version has to do one or more of the following:

  • Add to the book, for example by adding extra chapters.
  • Update the information in the book to make it current.
  • Delete sections of the book.

Author

This is where you enter the name or pseudonym of the Author:

There are five parts to the Author Name, but only the ‘Last Name’ field is compulsory. This point is important, because how the Author Name is filled in determines how it will appear on the Amazon website.

For branding and marketing reasons, it’s vital that the Author Name displayed on the Amazon website is identical to the Author Name that appears on the cover of the book.

In the screenshot above, the Last Name field is filled in, but all the other fields are left empty. This is to ensure that the Author Name on the Amazon website appears in lowercase letters with no spaces, just as it appears on the Absolute Beginners guides.

Note: once the Author Name has been saved, it cannot be changed.

Contributors

Knowing whether to add a contributor can be slightly tricky.

In the KDP Print Publishing Guidelines, Contributors are defined as:

‘…the people involved in creating your book, including the name or pen names of authors, editors, illustrators, translators, and any others who helped create your book.’

The operative word here is ‘create’. For example, anthologies are usually created by multiple authors who all contribute to the whole – e.g. by contributing short stories or poems or articles etc. In this case, all of the authors have to be named.

Furthermore, such anthologies are often organised and co-ordinated by one editor who may set the theme for the entire anthology. This editor may also take responsibility for the implementation of the whole project. In this case, their contribution is vital and they must be named as well. The same is true of translators who create what amounts to a new version of the book in another language.

When it comes to illustrators, the degree of contribution varies. In a children’s book where the illustrations are just as vital as the text, the illustrator would have to be named. The designer of a simple book cover, however,  is not contributing to an integral part of the book – i.e.  the book can exist without that particular cover – therefore they do not need to be named.

If none of these conditions apply, leave the Contributors section empty.

Description

Every book available for sale on Amazon includes a brief description of its contents.

This description can be critical in helping a reader decide to buy the book. It is therefore very important that the description:

  1. catches the reader’s eye,
  2. triggers their curiosity,
  3. yet does not give the whole story away.

The KDP description field allows a total of 4000 characters. This total includes the spaces between words. You can either type or cut-and-paste the description into the text box provided.

Publishing Rights

This option has to do with copyright and is a legal requirement:

If you are the author of the book, click the I own the copyright and hold the necessary publishing rights button [as shown above].

If you are not the author, and you are attempting to re-publish a book that already exists in the Public Domain, click the button for ‘This is a public domain work’.

Keywords

Although this option is not mandatory, keywords do help readers find your book, and discoverability is vital for self-publishers.

Each book is allowed up to 7 keywords which can be single words, or phrases such as ‘binary star system’ or ‘virtual reality’.

Categories

KDP allows two categories per book. To select the first category, click the Choose Categories button:

KDP displays the Categories popup with the major categories displayed:

Next to each major category is a + symbol that indicates sub-categories are available.

To open the sub-categories, click the symbol next to the category.

To select a category for your book, click the checkbox next to it.

To change the selected categories, uncheck the box next to the category, or click the blue ‘Remove’ option next to the selected category.

To save your selections and exit the popup, click the Save button.

Adult Content

Adult Content is defined as ‘language, situations or images’ that are inappropriate for children under the age of 18. Click whichever button applies to your book.

Finally, click the Save and Continue button at the bottom of the screen to move on to the Paperback Content tab.

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