Tag Archives: self-publishing

KDP pricing vs IngramSpark pricing

I’ve just been speaking to IngramSpark [Australia] and discovered that Ingram only charge for the actual print cost of a paperback!!!!

-dance-

No idea why that’s such a big deal?

Allow me to explain. 🙂

When you print [and sell] your paperback through KDP, your royalty is calculated as the difference between the sale price of the book and two things:

  1. the print cost
  2. the cost of distributing [i.e. selling] through Amazon

Amazon’s distribution cost will always be 40% of the List Price [the sale price], but the print cost will vary depending on what, and how, you print. For example, black & white costs much less than colour.

To explain how distribution and print cost affect royalty, I’m cheating a bit and taking the next bit straight out of my KDP how-to book:

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.

  1. From that $10, Amazon takes $4 – i.e. 40%.
  2. That leaves $6.
  3. From that $6, Amazon takes $5 – i.e. the cost of the printing.
  4. That then leaves $1 as the royalty owed to the author.

 [10 – 4] – 5 = 1

Note: back when you had the option of selling your paperback directly through CreateSpace, the cost of selling through CS was 20% rather than the 40% owed to Amazon, but there was still a charge.

Knowing how Amazon and CreateSpace calculate royalties, I assumed that IngramSpark must have a distribution cost factored in there somewhere as well. But they don’t, and I couldn’t be happier! IngramSpark will distributre your paperback worldwide without charging for the distribution. All they charge is the print cost. Suddenly, the setup fee and the revision fee don’t feel so bad any more.

Until I see exactly how Amazon and IngramSpark function together, I won’t be completely sure of my figures, but I am now itching to try it and see. And of course, you’ll be the first to know what I’ve learned. 😀

cheers

Meeks

 


Hunting the Phoenix, by Audrey Driscoll

I don’t think I can define the difference between a craftsman and an artist, but I know it when I see it, and Audrey Driscoll is an artist. I know, because I am a craftsman, a good one, but not an artist.

So, enough navel gazing. What is it about ‘Hunting the Phoenix’ that’s so special?

Simple answer: everything.

‘Hunting the Phoenix’ is the fourth and last book of the Herbert West series, but it is also the climax of the preceding three books. Imagine the steps of a pyramid with the Phoenix as its apex. Or if music is more your thing, imagine a classical symphony in which each movement builds upon the last to achieve the soaring notes that grab your heart and lift you out of yourself. That is the Phoenix.

At its core, every work of fiction strives for just one thing – to persuade the reader to suspend disbelief, to become part of the story, and the Herbert West series is no different. Written in a style that is reminiscent of classical literature, the story lulls the reader into a pleasant sense of security. ‘Oh, this is what the story is about…’ And then the surprises begin. Small ones at first, as you realise the author is more daring than you thought, then more profound as the truly shocking events begin to unfold.

Each book in the series is like this, but in the Phoenix the shocks go deep. I admit, there were a couple of spots where I had to stop and shake my head in disbelief. Such careful, restrained, beautiful writing and she takes it there?

Yet ‘there’ is exactly where the story needs to go in order for the ending, the climax, to feel both unexpected and absolutely right.

I’m sure no one will be surprised when I say that the quality of the writing is superb. What may surprise some people is that it is written in the First Person POV [point-of-view], and I don’t usually like First Person POV. This time, however, I barely noticed because Driscoll effortlessly avoids every single pitfall that goes with First Person POV. As with C.J.Cherryh’s Foreigner series, the POV is perfect and exactly what the story requires.

I wish I could give ‘Hunting the Phoenix’ a 10 out of 5 but even my limited math knows that’s impossible. Suffice to say that this book, in fact the whole series, is as close to perfect as a story can get. It joins a relatively short list of books, including Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’, that I consider to be exceptional, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants more.

I’m just about to use parts of this post as a review on Amazon. If you want to read the series, the order of the books is:

  1. The Friendship of Mortals
  2. The Journey: Islands of the Gulf, Volume 1
  3. The Treasure: Islands of the Gulf, Volume 2
  4. Hunting the Phoenix

And please, leave a review on Amazon because these books truly do deserve to become modern classics.

cheers

Meeks

 


CreateSpace paperbacks – matte vs glossy

First up, I am amazed at how fast CreateSpace delivered my printed proofs of How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing. Seriously, from either the US or the UK to Australia in a week? Thank you!

Unfortunately, the proofs prove exactly why printed proofs of paperbacks are so necessary. This is what I see when I look at the cover on my computer screen:

Note: ignore the back cover text; was a quick and dirty scale down in Corel.

Now, have a look at what the cover looks like with a matte finish:

Note 2: that curly, golden looking thing in the background is the dog’s tail.

As you can see, the matte finish looks, well, awful. Not the fault of CreateSpace. My fault. All my previous covers have been printed with a glossy finish and [except for Vokhtah] they all turned out beautifully. This is one of my glossy how-to’s for comparison:

The black of the background is the same on both the matte and glossy covers. The difference between them, however, is stark.

I’m sure there are some covers that work perfectly with a matte finish, but none of mine do, and I’ll never make this mistake again. 😦

Another design mistake I made was in the choice of ‘tablet’ graphic I used. The outline of the tablet blends into the background way too much. That will have to be changed, tout suite. My only excuse is that it didn’t look that way on my screen. Not sure if that’s because of the calibration of the screen, my ageing eye-sight or just an inevitable outcome when you convert from RGB to CMYK colour modes. Actually, it’s probably a combination of all three.

And now to something that wasn’t my fault. These are smears of, I think, glossy ‘ink’ that have transferred to the matte print:

Not sure how POD technology works, but clearly it’s not quite as ‘clean’ as one would hope. As these books are just proof copies, and I’m going to change the cover slightly anyway, I’m not terribly fussed. But can you imagine how I’d be feeling right now if I’d approved this original cover for IngramSpark?…and now had to pay $25 to fix the problems with the cover?

I think my blood would be boiling, there’d be steam coming out of my ears, and the house would be ringing with four-letter words at max volume… Ahem. Luckily, none of that is happening, thanks to CreateSpace.

Lessons learned:

  • setup paperbacks to be sold on Amazon with CreateSpace,
  • request printed proofs of paperbacks from CreateSpace,
  • do not approve any paperbacks for IngramSpark until you’re sure of the ultimate quality because you’ll be working sight unseen and mistakes are costly.

There is one more lesson I have to learn, and that is to see if the IngramSpark worldwide distribution is as good as it’s cracked up to be. But that’s for another day and another post.

cheers

Meeks

 


Australian #Selfpublishers needed to beta test KDP how-to guide

Apologies! I’d love to send beta copies of the paperback overseas, but the postage is a killer so this plea is for Aussies only.

So what do I want and what do you get?

I’d like 5 volunteers, anywhere in Australia, who’d be prepared to test the KDP how-to for functionality. I’ll send you a questionnaire to make things easier, but essentially, the questions I’d like answered are:

  • do the step-by-step instructions leave anything out that a real beginner would need?
  • do the examples make sense?
  • are the screenshots good enough?
  • are the page numbers in the Table of Contents accurate?
  • are the page numbers in the Index accurate?
  • if dipping into a guide is your style, do the Table of Contents and Index help you find what you’re looking for? Quickly? Easily?
  • is the cover too garish? Tone down the green? Pick another colour for the back cover entirely?
  • and of course, typos, but only if they hit you in the face. Don’t worry about combing through each page.

In return, you get to keep the proof copies I send you. No strings, no obligations. However, if you return the questionnaire, I’ll also send you a ‘first edition’ of the final, finished version. If you want it signed, I’ll do that too, but you can have it naked if you prefer. Again, no strings, no obligations. 🙂

Almost as important are the things I won’t do:

  • no using your email address in any newsletters, either now or in the future,
  • no contacting you directly with any promotional stuff, and
  • no pressuring you to write a review.

So there you have it. I’m hoping to have the proof copies ready within 2 weeks, so if you think you’d be interested, please contact me on:

meeka at triptychacf dot com

or

@acflory on Twitter.

Many thanks,

Meeks


Retirement…slow down or speed up?

Not sure what your answer is, but mine is speed up! There are still so many stories I want to tell that another 50 years wouldn’t be enough, especially when I’m such a slow writer. And then there’s all that new tech coming online…

I’m not really a techie, you know. The true techies love all technology, whereas I’m pretty ambivalent about some of the innovations out there. Nevertheless, there are some gadgets I can hardly wait to use…like 3D printers for the home. Want that new top in your size? Not a problem, pay for the design and wait a few minutes while your 3D printer manufactures it for you. Or robots…I’ve loved the idea of robots since I first read ‘Door into Summer’ by Heinlein.

-laughs- I bet you thought Asimov was the only one who wrote about robots? Not so. You can find a description of ‘Door into Summer’ here.

Anyway, I’m saving my pennies for a household robot that will clean up after the cats, put the rubbish out, or maybe compost it on site? and mow the lawn. I’ve got a lot of lawn :/

But that’s not all! I haven’t had a chance to try VR yet, and it’s right up there as a ‘must do’ on my bucket list. I want to be able to travel the world from the comfort of my own home, and I want to fight monsters in glorious technicolour.

Of course, all of that depends upon how my eye-sight works with VR [I see depth via motion parallax, not stereopsis], but I’m hopeful, and this glorious track by Two Steps From Hell is how I feel at the ripe old age of 65. 🙂

The track is called ‘Unleashed’… Bring it on!

cheers

Meeks


IngramSpark for Australian Authors

Just finished a long conversation with a very nice lady from IngramSpark Australia, and I thought I’d share what I learned with other Australian self-publishers.

First and foremost, IngramSpark have a print facility right here in Australia. That translates to massive savings on shipping costs for Australian authors.

How massive? Roughly $4.90 for 1 to 28 medium sized paperbacks if you live in Melbourne. That’s because the IngramSpark print facility is located in Melbourne. Delivery charges to other states will obviously be higher. Nonetheless, I doubt those charges would come close to the cost of shipping books in from overseas.

Secondly, IngramSpark printing costs are a bit higher than CreateSpace but lower than Lulu. They also have:

  • a full range of trim sizes
  • hardbacks if required
  • global distribution to countries not available through Amazon.

Amazon distribution has become a sore point with Australians as they cannot buy print books on Amazon Australia. In the past, they would have to order print books from Amazon US or UK and pay shipping costs that often doubled or tripled the cost of the book. Now that we’ve been geo-blocked from Amazon international, print books will no longer be available at all. Unless…

And this brings me to my conversation with IngramSpark today. I rang to clarify whether I could use IngramSpark to provide print books to Amazon Australia. The question was complicated by the fact that I wanted non-Australian Amazon markets to continue selling paperbacks printed via CreateSpace and KDP.

Aussie authors will be pleased to know that the answer from IngramSpark was ‘yes’. 🙂

Basically what happens is that my book[s] will be available for world wide distribution – to countries not covered by Amazon as well as markets already covered by Amazon. When someone buys one of my print books from Amazon US, UK or EU, Amazon will fulfil the order from their own ‘feed’. In other words, if they can supply from CreateSpace OR KDP they’ll do so.

But…for markets such as Australia, Amazon will source the print book from IngramSpark. That means my paperback will be available to Australian readers from Amazon.com.au, and it’ll cost readers a heck of a lot less in shipping.

Apart from availability and shipping, there is one more reason to print books with IngramSpark here in Australia, and that harks back to their distribution capabilities. If I can persuade a local bookshop to give my book[s] a try, the bookshop can order direct from IngramSpark at wholesale prices. Wholesale discounts range from 30% to 55%, which puts self-publishers/small publishers on a more even footing with large, traditional publishers.

-dance-

Okay, I’ll stop high-fiving myself now and get serious again because there are also disadvantages to printing with IngramSpark. The two biggest disincentives are:

  • the setup cost of $53 AUD per book, and
  • the need to have an ABN [Australian Business Number].

If you’ve never run a small business before – for example as a sole trader – the idea of getting an ABN can be daunting. The truth, however, is that it’s both free and relatively painfree to apply for one.

For detailed, step-by-step information about getting an ABN see this post. And see this one about why you should NOT pay for that ABN [because it’s free].

Now for a word about the cost. $53 AUD is a steep price to pay when you’ve got more than one book to setup. I have 7 to-date, so that would have been an upfront charge of $371 AUD. Luckily, I managed to setup all 7 books during a free promotion run by IngramSpark.

I’m not sure exactly when or why IngramSpark runs these promotions, but from what I can gather, they seem to happen once, or maybe twice a year. I have two more how-to books in the pipeline, so I’ll have to pay the full setup charge for those, but at least the cost will be staggered for them.

Oh, and one more disadvantage – once a book has been approved [by the author] and is available for sale, any changes will incur a $25 fee. So…be very sure your book is as ready as it’ll ever be before you approve it for publishing/sale.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll be ordering proof copies of all 7 books in the next day or three. Once they arrive I’ll take pics and write an update on the quality, timing etc.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Barcodes for Indie Authors – updated June 6, 2018

I’m assuming that any Indies reading this post will have gone through the same frustrations that I did, so I’ll jump straight into the how-to part of the post. Once that’s done, I’ll talk about barcodes in general and discuss why you might want one. Let’s do it!

There are only TWO things you need to create your own, free barcode:

  1. an ISBN for your book
  2. a free online barcode generator

In Canada you can get an ISBN for free. In the US and Australia, you can buy an ISBN from a company called Bowker. The web address for the Australian company is:

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

If you want to know where to buy an ISBN for your own country, go to the website of the International ISBN Agency:

https://www.isbn-international.org/agencies

You should be looking at a screen like this:

Click the small down arrow [circled in red] to display a drop down list of countries. Scroll down to your country and click it. You should now see a detailed contact screen for the ISBN agency in your country. In the example shown below, I clicked on ‘United Kingdom and Ireland’:

Once you have your ISBN, you can go to the following website to use the free, barcode generator [you do not have to register first]:

https://www.bookow.com/index.php

On the Home page, select ‘Free ISBN-13 Bookland Barcode Generator’ as shown below:

You should now be looking at a page like this:

  1. From the top of the page, type in your 13 digit ISBN, including the hyphens [or cut and paste it in].
  2. Next, type 90000 in the Price textbox. This ensures that the scanner checks the bookshop’s own database for pricing.
  3. Type your email address, twice.
  4. Click inside the ‘Consent to email’ checkbox.
  5. Leave the DPI at the default [300].
  6. Now you have a choice of getting the barcode as a PDF file or as a PNG file. I find the PNG file easier to work with but the choice is yours. Either way you’ll end up with a picture of the barcode that’s been generated from your ISBN.
  7. Save the barcode to your computer.
  8. Insert the barcode into the back page of your book cover graphic.

Done. 🙂

Now for some of the explanatory stuff. Firstly, there are basically two kinds of barcodes [gross over simplification but work with me]. The first is for ‘things’ such as soap, toothpaste, butter etc. To get barcodes for these products, you have to register with GS1. This process is quite involved, but luckily it does not apply to books. 🙂

Books are covered by a completely different barcode that requires only an ISBN and a second, smaller code that simply tells the bookshop scanner where to look for the pricing information. If you want to get technical about it, this is a Bookland EAN-13 + 5-digit add-on type barcode. The one I created for my print book of Vokhtah looks like this:

The ISBN is displayed [in writing] twice, once at the top and once at the bottom. The 90000 barcode is added to the right of the main barcode.

Now, why would you need a barcode?

If you are using Print-On-Demand [POD] via CreateSpace or Amazon KDP, you will not have to worry about a barcode at all. If you get a free ISBN from either company, they will automatically generate a barcode from that ISBN and insert it into the cover for you. If you use your own, private ISBN, CreateSpace and Amazon KDP will also generate a barcode and insert it into the cover for you. But. Not all POD printers provide free ISBNs or barcodes, so if your chosen printer says you have to provide your own barcode, you now know how to do it…for FREE! Well, except for the ISBN but you have to pay for that anyway.  🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Updated – now 41 self-publishing tips for absolute beginners

  1. Print-On-Demand [POD for short] is new tech that allows books to be printed one at a time instead of in hundreds.
  2. Print-On-Demand means authors don’t have to buy 100’s of their own print books.
  3. 3 biggest Print-On-Demand printers are CreateSpace [Amazon], Lulu and IngramSpark. Amazon KDP is now offering print as well.
  4. Lulu & IngramSpark have print facilities in Australia. Both are more expensive than CreateSpace or KDP but you save a lot in postage [and time].
  5. Aussie authors wanting to print with IngramSpark must have an ABN and pay a $53 setup fee for each book.
  6. Aussie authors wanting to get an ABN should read this how to first: https://acflory.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/how-to-apply-for-an-abn-the-basics/
  7. Print-On-Demand works with standard trim sizes only. For table of trim sizes see : https://www.createspace.com/Special/Pop/book_trimsizes-pagecount.html
  8. Trim size = physical size of book after pages glued inside cover & trimmed.
  9. Page size templates for all trim sizes can be found on CreateSpace forums: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323
  10. Convert Word A4 pages to trim size pages via the Word Page Setup dialog box.
  11. ISBN = 13 digit no. that identifies your book worldwide. Buy your own ISBN or accept the free one offered by CreateSpace and KDP.
  12. The downside of a free ISBN is that it can only be used with the company that issued it.
  13. Aussie authors can buy ISBNs from Thorpe-Bowker: https://www.myidentifiers.com.au/
  14. As a rule of thumb, print, ebook & audiobooks all need their own ISBN.
  15. Books printed via CreateSpace and KDP are listed on Amazon automatically.
  16. To publish Kindle ebooks go to: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
  17. Amazon supplies ebooks with ASIN identifiers so ISBN not strictly necessary.
  18. If you want to ‘go wide’ & sell with other retailers as well as Amazon, your own ISBN is a must.
  19. Most POD printers prefer PDF files but will accept Word files.
  20. Before converting from Word to PDF, ensure all Word fonts are embedded in the document. See:  https://acflory.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/how-to-make-word-16-embed-all-your-fonts/
  21. File/Export completed Word doc. to PDF. Then upload that PDF to the POD printer of your choice.
  22. With KDP and CreateSpace, royalty = List Price – Print costs.
  23. With CreateSpace, Print costs= Sales Channel % + Fixed Charges + Per Page Charge.
  24. With CreateSpace, Standard sales channel % = 40% of List Price, Expanded sales channel % = 60%.
  25. Spine of cover = trim size & no. of pages. See: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do
  26. KDP cover template from:  https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/cover-templates  Select trim size from drop down list, enter page count & paper colour, then download template.
  27. CreateSpace cover template from: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do  Select Interior Type, Trim size and paper colour. Type in page count. Download template.
  28. Lulu cover template from: http://www.lulu.com/create/books   Select trim size, type in page count, click Spine Width. Note down spine dimensions. Download template.
  29. Lulu cover template is for front and back covers individually. If creating your own, all in one cover, ADD the width of the spine to the width of the 2 covers to get exact measurements.
  30. CreateSpace & KDP cover templates both include the spine and are easier to use than Lulu’s templates.
  31. Barcodes for CreateSpace and KDP – included at no cost.
  32. Barcodes for Lulu – not included. Bar codes must be provided in black and white and should be 1.75″ wide x 1″ high (4.445 x 2.54 cm)
  33. When converting covers to PDF for CreateSpace choose “PDF/X-1a,” “High-Quality Print” or “Press Quality” from the list of presets.
  34. When converting covers to PDF for KDP paperback, “Press Quality” and “PDF/X-1a” both work.
  35. When converting covers to PDF for Lulu, you are advised to set compatibility mode to PDF 1.3, but the newer PDF/X-1a works too.
  36. Total page no. of book = pages AFTER conversion to chosen trim size [not A4 Word pages].
  37. Amazon deducts 30% withholding tax from each sale. Aussies can claim exemption to reduce tax to 5%.
  38. Withholding tax exemption: US TIN = Australian Tax File No.
  39. Aussie authors must deposit 1 copy of each published book with the National Library of Australia: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit
  40. Aussie authors must also deposit 1 copy of each published book with their state library: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit/australia-wide
  41. Aussie authors – for Legal Deposit FAQ see:https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit-faq

How to make Word 16 embed all your fonts

Before I begin, if you don’t want to self-publish your own paperback, or if you don’t use a PDF file to do it, look away now.

Right, this is the task:

  1. convert your manuscript from a Word 16 [13 and possibly 10] document to a PDF file, in order to print with
  2. Lulu.com, CreateSpace.com or KDP [possible IngramSpark as well]

The problem:

  1. after converting to PDF, you find that there are fonts in your PDF that are not ’embedded’,
  2. yet after scouring your original Word file, you can find no trace of these non-embedded fonts.

How can you fix something that doesn’t seem to be there?

Before launching into the how-to, let me go back and explain the problem in a little more detail. It all starts with the Word fonts. While Word documents look great on screen and print without problems, sharing them with others can be tricky as they may not have the same fonts on their version of Word.

This is where PDFs come in. They take a picture of your Word file so that it can be shared by just about anyone. However…for PDFs to work properly, all those pesky Word fonts have to be embedded in the PDF. With me so far?

Okay, so how do you know whether the fonts have been embedded in your PDF file or not?

Easy. Download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Install it onto your computer and use it to open the PDF file of your manuscript. Once the manuscript is open:

  1. click File, and
  2. select Properties from the menu

With the Properties dialog box open, select the Font tab:

On the Font tab you will find a list of all the fonts used in your manuscript. Next to each one you should see ‘(Embedded Subset)’. I’ve underlined it in green above. If you see a font name without ‘Embedded Subset’ next to it [circled in red above], that means the font is loose and may be replaced with some other font when the reader opens the document [or tries to read your print book].

Now, you could take a chance and shrug the problem off, but printers tend to take a dim view of non-embedded fonts. CreateSpace tags them as errors but allows you to continue anyway. I suspect Lulu will be a bit less forgiving, that’s why I went looking for a solution.

Unfortunately, the solutions offered on the lulu.com website are not particularly useful unless you have an app called Adobe Distiller which is needed to make another app, called Lulu Job Options, work. Guess who doesn’t have Adobe Distiller?

My first brilliant idea was to go back into my Word file and get rid of the unembedded font[s]. Fail. I tried doing an Advanced search for the TimesNewRomanPSMT font, but the search came back with no returns. Given that I never choose TimesNewRoman, I can only think that it’s lurking somewhere in one of Words many defaults.

So then I spent about three, increasingly frustrated hours online, trying to hit on the right combination of search words to find an answer to my problem. I won’t bore you with the failures because the answer, when I finally found it, was right there in Word’s damn defaults. You’ll find it in the File/Options dialog box:

  1. With your Word manuscript document open, click the File Tab.
  2. From the File navigation pane, select ‘Options’:

‘Options’ is where the default options that govern much of the behind-the-scenes stuff lives in Word.

Once you click ‘Options’, the Word Options dialog box opens up. This is the motherlode:

Click Save on the navigation pane as shown [circled in red].

This will open up the Save options, one of which includes the option to ‘Embed fonts in the file’ [circled in red].

Click Embed fonts in the file.

Last but by no means least, uncheck both ‘Embed only the characters used in the document’ and ‘Do not embed common system fonts’. TimesNewRomanPSMT is one of those ‘common system fonts’. -rolls eyes and pulls hair-

Finally, click OK, save your Word file and then convert it to a new PDF file, again.

This time, when you open the new PDF with Acrobat Reader and check its properties, you should see something like this:

And there it is [circled in red], the TimesNewRomanPSMT font…embedded at last!

Happy publishing,

Meeks

 

 

 

 


#KDP Cover Creator – in words and pictures

After reviewing the Amazon KDP print-on-demand process, and finding it wanting, I thought I’d better provide a guide to the Cover Creator do’s and don’ts.

To begin…

If you have already published an ebook with KDP:

  1. Log in to KDP
  2. Go to your Bookshelf
  3. Find the ebook for which you want to create a paperback version and click ‘+ Create Paperback’

If you have not published with KDP before but have an ordinary Amazon account, go to the website:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

And sign in with your Amazon ID and Password. If you don’t have an Amazon account, click the big, yellow ‘Sign Up’ button and follow the registration instructions.

Once you’ve logged in to KDP, click the ‘+ Paperback’ button as shown below:

To work…

You should now be looking at the first page of the paperback setup screen. New authors will need to fill in the required details before they click ‘Save and Continue’ at the bottom of the screen. Existing authors will find the details already filled in using the details from the ebook.

Page 2 of the setup contains more questions, and down near the bottom half of the page you’ll find the Cover Creator option:

Click the yellow, ‘Launch Cover Creator’ button if you want to use the app to create a cover for your book.

[Note: if you already have a cover, you can upload it by clicking the ‘Upload a cover you already have…’ radio button instead. Covers must be in PDF format and they must be the appropriate size for whichever trim size you have chosen – i.e. for the physical dimensions of your book, including the spine]

You should now be looking at the ‘How to Use Cover Creator’ window:

This is essentially just an overview of the process. Click the ‘Continue’ button.

Next, you will be asked to choose a background picture for your cover. You have three options – use a free, KDP image, use your own image or skip this step:

Point at the options to see a description of that option. If you want to use your own image, click ‘From My Computer’ and select the appropriate file to use in the templates. If you’re not ready to select an image yet, click ‘Skip This Step’. You will be prompted later to select an image for the cover. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be using the free images from the KDP gallery.

From Image Gallery…

The images in the KDP gallery are organised in 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. In the example shown below, the main category selected is ‘Backgrounds’:

Clicking one of the sub-categories will take you to the actual images. In the example shown below, I clicked on one of the images from the ‘Abstract’ sub-category:

Alternatively, I could have typed a keyword into the search box to narrow down my search.

Once you find the image you want, click the orange ‘Use this Image’ button.

Cover Creator inserts the chosen image into all of the available templates and displays them for you to choose the one you like the best:

Click the left and right direction arrows to see all the available templates [11]. When you find one you like, click it.

You should now be looking at the ‘Quick Tutorial’:

This is just a simple overlay that explains the purpose of the buttons, icons and guidelines. Click the ‘Dismiss’ button to get rid of the overlay.

While the overlay is helpful, it completely ignores the most basic elements of the screen – i.e. how to enter your own blurb on the back cover!

When you dismiss the tutorial overlay, this is what you will see:

The triangular orange alerts are there to tell you how to replace the nonsense text with real text. Point to an alert to see a description of what it’s about. Generally, to replace the nonsense text, simply click in the relevant paragraph. This will clear all text and allow you to type, or copy/paste, the correct text onto the cover.

Easy, right? Not quite. For reasons I can’t fathom, the default font size for the paragraphs is not the same as the text shown. For example, the font for the author bio is huge, so before you type in the blurb, you have to set the font style and size via the editing bar as shown below:

Click the small down arrow to display the list of available fonts. Click a font to select it.

Next, click the small down arrow next to ‘Auto Fit’ and select a font size because…auto fit doesn’t work and the font is still huge. As far as I could tell, selecting the size of the font is a case of trial and error. The alignment options seem to work, as do the font colour and drop shadow options, but no matter what I tried, the Bold and Italic options remained greyed out.

Once you have all the back cover text entered properly, click on the ‘Author Photo’ icon. You will see two options – ‘From My Computer’ and ‘Skip This Step’:

Down the very bottom, in tiny blue letters, you should also see a link to the ‘KDP image guidelines’. -grinds teeth- Clearly this screen has been re-used without adjusting for context. Clicking this link does provide some very important information about cover images – i.e. if you choose to use your own image – but it provides absolutely nothing about the Author Photo. Luckily, Cover Creator resizes the Author Photo to fit automatically.

But… All photos are not equal. First I tried a photo of 527 x 532 pixels, and it worked perfectly. Then I tried a much smaller one – 157 x 202 pixels. Cover Creator inserted it into the available space but came back with a problem. It thought the photo was less than 300 DPI. Actually, both photos were 300 DPI so the size had clearly triggered some glitch.

For your information, the following photo size seems to work well:

500 x 500 pixels or

1.667 x 1.667 inches or

42.33 x 42.33 millimeters

With the blurb and Author Photo taken care of, it’s time to edit the rest of the template. First up are the template colours. Click the paintbrush tab beneath your cover:

This will display an editing bar:

The options on the left allow you to select each colour individually from a pallet of colours. The options on the right are colour sets that work well together. If you are choosing your colours individually, be very careful that the background and font colour are a good contrast to each other. If they are too similar, the text will be very hard to read.

The next tab is the layout tab:

Clicking this tab displays a selection of preset layouts:

And finally, there’s the font tab:

This option is for Title, Sub-title [if you want one] and Author Name. It provides a series of font ‘sets’:

Click the left and right arrows to see all the sets, and try them out. Click one to select it.

[Note: I’m not sure if the fonts were all very similar or I’m just going blind, but they all looked the same the me. Of course, this might be a display glitch…]

If you want to insert a sub-title, you have to click around the cover until the sub-title text box suddenly appears. Kind of lame. Type in your sub-title.

Although finding the sub-title is not intuitive at all, one nice feature is that you can select any piece of text – e.g. Title, Sub-title, Blurb, Spine etc – and change its colour using the Text Colour option on the editing bar:

 

You can also change the font and font size, which makes me wonder why you’d bother with a Text tab in the first place. -shrug-

When you’ve finished tweaking the cover, click the ‘Preview’ button and sit back while the system puts the finished preview together. Depending on how big the cover files are, this can take a while.

If you’re satisfied with the appearance of the cover, click the ‘Save and Submit’ button at the bottom of the preview screen:

The cover file will be saved automatically, and you can continue with the rest of the setup for your print book.

I hope this helps,

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: