I’ve just unpublished ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’.
It’s not the first book I’ve unpublished – I had to unpublish the two CreateSpace versions after CreateSpace ceased to exist.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 I unpublished the KDP how-to book because it was first published in 2018, and parts of it were now quite out-of-date.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 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:
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Using the same figures as before, the calculation would look something like this:
((10 – 4) – (20% of 6) – 5
(6-1.2) – 5
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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:
The app. is free
The 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 options
The 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 template
The 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 customisation
The 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 images
There 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.
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.
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
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:
‘PrimaryColor’ is the block of colour that contains the Title.
‘Secondary color’ is the background colour.
‘All TextColor’ 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.
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.
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
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.
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:
Keep the whole cover but make a few minor tweaks to it.
Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc], together with the design elements [font size, colour etc] but change the template.
Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc] and design elements [font size, colour etc] but change the background image.
Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc] but get rid of the design elements and change the template.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.