Self-publishing my first book Immurement on Amazon this month was an exhilarating experience, but despite the time I spent researching how it all works, there were several details I wasn’t fully aware of until I began the process. Here are a few pointers that will give you a heads up on some of the items that tripped me up.
Although KDP and Createspace are both Amazon companies, you need to upload to each site separately. For some reason, I had assumed it was a one-stop process. On another note, they also pay royalties separately.
The book description also has to be entered on each individual site, and you have to use html in order to make it look appealing. Unfortunately, every time you tweak the description on Amazon and Createspace, you have to republish and wait up to twelve hours before you can view the changes on Amazon. This is a real pain if you are not familiar with html and are testing it as you go. I foraged around on the internet until I found out how to write basic html, and stumbled across a website that helps simplify the process. Enter your description with html into the Amazon Blurb Review and you can immediately view what it will look like on Amazon. Alternatively, you can test it out on a WordPress post, switching between the visual and text mode.
In keeping with the trend of forcing you to duplicate your efforts at every stage, Amazon also requires you to upload the information for your Amazon author page separately for each overseas site. This involves translating the information for sites such as Amazon.de (Germany) and Amazon.fr (France.) I simply copied and pasted my author page information into a free online translation service. I do speak enough German to know it wasn’t gibberish, so I took a leap of faith and assumed the French translation was equally lucid.
Theoretically you should allow enough time to order a proof of your Createspace print book before you approve the final version. You do have the option of viewing and approving it online, which is what I elected to do, but it is not recommended. Some authors publish the ebook a month or two ahead of the print book, but as I already had around fifty committed print orders right out of the gate, this wasn’t an option for me so late in the game. Thankfully Polgarus Studio had done an outstanding job of formatting my book and all was well.
Amazon will suggest a list price for each overseas country based on the US price you have set, but it is far better to manually adjust that price in order to avoid something clunky from a sales standpoint. For example, if you set your print book price at US$9.99, the suggested GBP price is 6.67, so you will want to round it up to 6.99.
You need to decide in advance whether you want to go with a glossy or matte cover, and a white or cream interior. The size of your book is something you should have already worked out by now, 5.25 x 8 is typical for a paperback and 6 x 9 is more common for a hardback.
You have to choose seven keywords for KDP, but when it comes to Createspace you can only select five keywords (huh?) Something to consider ahead of time instead of having to make the cut when you are in the process of uploading your book.
You can only choose two fairly generic browse categories for your kindle book to be listed in, and one for your print book. However, you can email KDP and request that they list your book in more specific categories, as long as you include the specific keywords required for that category. Definitely something to work out before you publish. Study similar books to yours, and the categories they appear in, to nail down what will work best for your book.
Hopefully I’ve saved you a few minor hiccups. All in all, self-publishing on Amazon was a pretty seamless experience even though the KDP and Createspace interfaces leave something to be desired. Both KDP and Createspace were extremely helpful, prompt and responsive to my questions throughout the process, and in the days following, so I have nothing but praise for them on that end of things. My best advice is to thoroughly prepare everything ahead of time, so that when it comes time to publish, you are simply filling out each section, and not trying to make critical sales and marketing decisions on the spot.