As promised here is the first of a three part blog about becoming an Indie Author by publishing your book on Amazon….
Before you start..
You will need to already have an account with Amazon and if you don’t you can easily create one. Dont have an Amazon account? This link is for you
You can forget the traditional path into publication ie typing up a manuscript in double line spacing then sending it off to a publisher or agent on a wing and a prayer. You need to create your book as a digital file which means using a word-processor on a laptop or pc or Mac. Most people likely will already have Microsoft Word but don’t worry if you don’t, you can download two free office programs that both incorporate decent word-processors. Here are the links
Find your story..
Ok so now open your word-processor and its time to write. Of course this begs the question…. What do I write about? Only you can decide that. It is best to do some planning first and have your plot and main characters already fleshed out. It wont prevent you making changes later. In my case I had to do an awful lot of research first before I could even begin. You don’t have to start with Chapter 1. I wrote first about an execution scene which is towards the end of my book.
Some Do’s and Donts……
Now start as you mean to go along and it is very important to remember ONE thing. You are NOT writing a document to be read in Word. Your work will become an e-book and is destined to be read on smaller screens than a pc or laptop or mac. What you create will not be WYSIWYG on Kindles or Kindle apps. There are some things that just will not translate over when your file goes onto Amazon so it is best to know now and avoid them.
- Don’t use tabs or spaces. You might use these to create indents. If you really must use first line indents you can do so and I will refer you to a book at the end of this blog. Personally I don’t like them and didn’t use them at all.
- Don’t insert empty spaces between paragraphs by pressing return. Set a standard space between paragraphs by choosing something like 10pt or 12pt AFTER each paragraph
- Don’t use fancy-pants fonts like say cursive handwriting. Keep it simple. Some like Times New Roman but I don’t. I think there is some research to indicate that sans-serif fonts like Arial are easy to read. Arial is a safe choice but I prefer Trebuchet
- You MUST use Heading 1 for all of your Chapter Titles and if you want to use sub or secondary titles for say a quote make these into Heading 2. That then makes everything else body text. Without using Heading 1 you cannot create a proper Table of Contents with hyperlinks embedded. If you cant think of all the titles just type in Chapter 1 etc and the words can come later.
- You must insert page breaks as soon as you have finished writing a chapter. Do not simply keep pressing return until you get to a new page.
- Don’t use headers and footers, they wont display properly. I did put on page numbers which obviously appear in a footer as I wanted to print out my file. When I converted my file ready to upload to Amazon it ripped then all out!
- Do not copy and paste in any images. Indeed images are quite complex as they need to be uploaded into a separate folder. Don’t forget also that on some Kindles images in colour will come out in shades of grey. Best to avoid them really. You will need an image for your book cover but that is not uploaded as part of the book.
- Font size. Safest to type in point size 12. Don’t forget Kindles and Kindle apps can be re-configured to different sizes anyway
- The issue of line spacing was bothering me and I couldn’t find any simple advice. I settled on 1.5 for my whole book and it seems to work fine
Your very first page will be your title page. You will be uploading your cover separately at the upload stage (more on covers later!)
- Type in your book title, press return type in your subtitle or alternate title (if you have one) then press return again. Now type in your name. Now centre the text and while you are about it make all the text Heading 1 though you could make subtitle and author Heading 2. After your name Click on the Insert Tab and choose “Page break”.
- You will now be on page 2. This is your copyright page. This text should also be centred. Type is something like..
Text Copyright©2014 Mike Sheridan
All Rights Reserved
The Copyright symbol can be found by choosing Insert and on the far right of word is a Symbol tab, open that and you will find the C in Circle. After this immediately create a page break and you will then be on page 3
3. This page can be used for a customised dedication ( heading 1 of course) if you have one and if you don’t it will become your table of contents page. Assuming the latter let us move on
4. Simply type Table of Contents for now, make it heading level 1 but DON’T centre it, will tell you why later, then create a page break after the text
5. The next page could be an Intro Page or a Prologue. If you don’t have any of those it will therefore become the first chapter of your book. Lets assume you don’t have an Intro or Prologue. Type in Chapter 1 then centre the text and make it a Heading 1. You can add text of your choice behind Chapter 1 or come back to it later. I changed some of my chapter titles a number of times. Now press enter and ……… it is time to start writing your book proper.
Lets talk about covers
You are going to need a good cover for your book and if you are not an artist and cannot design one, worry not. There are plenty of people who can. What you need to know about images……
- You are going to need what is known as a jpg or jpeg file. These are the most common image files and these are created every time you take a picture on a digital camera
- Be aware of copyright issues and don’t take just any image off the internet, make sure you can or have permission
- Your image MUST be at least 1000 pixels long across the longest ie vertical side but best is 2500 long. The person creating your image needs to know this too!
- Your cover MUST include your Title, your name and a cover image of some sort. You can include a sub title, I certainly did.
- Give some careful thought to your colour covers. Bright colours of red green and yellow can hurt the eye. Also think about a contrast with your text and background
- When your book cover is finished and ready save it somewhere you can easily re-find it like say your computer desktop
For those who would like to find an artist or illustrator I recommend the website www.elance.com. It is a community of designers and artists and you basically create an account then describe your job and put it out to tender. The image on my book cover which you can see here was created for me by an artist in the Ukraine, I described the scene I wanted, a woodland glade the scene of some brutal murders but I also wanted it to be in silhouette form. Given it was a bloody murder I wanted it not in black but blood-red. The result is what you see. I added in my own text.
I have a blog about using Elance.com for those who may be interested…
Now lets assume your wonderful book is complete, its time to do some serious checking and editing.
- Run it all through a spell checker. Words underlined in red could be a problem. You may have some spelling errors though it will often pick out surnames as they are not recognised. Underlining in green is supposed to be a grammar error but can be ignore most of the time. Make whatever changes you need to.
- Put on the show/hide feature. This is what looks like a backwards P sign next to A-Z in Word. This will show you where you may have unwanted spaces in your file and these need to be removed. It will also show spaces between paragraphs and if you used page breaks or not. It puts marks on the page but these wont show up in your file
- By all means print out your file if you wish and yes even in double line spacing if you want to. If you can get a friend or partner to read it and make notes or suggestions on the paper so much the better
- Now turn off the show/ hide as you have nearly finished. Just one more thing to do..
Insert a Table of Contents
Go back to your Table of Contents page at the start of the book. Place the cursor one line below the text then choose References tab in Word and choose Table of Contents. There are a number of different types and you might want to sample a few. If you create one you don’t like simply press undo and start again and again until you find one you are happy with. If memory serves I had a slight problem when I created a Table of Contents as it included the book title,copyright and dedication page. I got around this be deleting the text on those pages, then creating the table of contents, then went back and created the text on those pages again.
Congratulations your book is almost ready to load up to Amazon. Now here is a list of things you must have ready and easily at hand when you embark on stage 2 which is to upload your file to Amazon;
- Your amazon account details ie login and password
- Your finished file in Word in something similar
- Your finished book cover in jpg format and with right dimensions
- Your will need what the US authorities call a tax number. We don’t have those but do have NI numbers and that is what I used. Have yours ready.
Ok that’s all for now folks. In the meantime here are links to two free e-books for your Kindles or Kindle apps which you can download and read at your leisure. They helped me but I think they were designed for the amazon.com site…. Until next time then……….Oh yes, problems or queries about stage 1 please get back to me by posting a comment or question.