So, you have a completed manuscript, edited and revised to within an inch of its life, a great, eye-catching cover and a mailing list waiting with bated breath. Excellent! Now a whole new can of worms opens. You have to get it onto paper/ereaders. Happily, online platforms like Kindle and Kobo have made it fairly easy to get your book into the hands of readers. But they all have quirks and inconsistencies that you won’t know about until you’re in the middle of it. Unless, of course, some nice writer who’s just done it writes a blog post on the subject! So here’s my 5 things I wish I’d know before I started. So you do.
1. Having the Wrong File Types
It’s very annoying, and time consuming, when you come to upload your book and realise it’s in the wrong type of file. And they’re all different. Kindle recommends a Word file, but your Amazon paperback needs a PDF. Kobo, on the other hand, only accepts ePubs. And you cannot just convert the same file. A Word file converted to an ePub doesn’t look good. And there are things you can do for the paperback PDF version that would not convert well on the Word file. I found the best thing to do was create a separately formatted file for each version. So now I have a very basic layout that works on Kindle, but the paperback can have fancy fonts and pictures. Still working on the ePub!
2. Relying on Preview Mode
Once you upload your Word file to Kindle you can go into preview mode to see what your book will look like on people’s ereaders. Except that you can’t. They don’t look the same at all. I had my file looking absolutely perfect in preview mode, but when I downloaded the Kindle file there were blank pages, not to mention wrong indentations and spacing. So don’t think that because it looks good in the preview you don’t have to download a mobi file to check. You do.
3. Not Getting a Proof
I didn’t know at first, but you can order a proof version of your paperback once you have approved it. Please do this. Your book can look quite different than you imagine. For me, the print was much smaller than I expected. This is because the PDF version is usually sized on your computer as A4. But when you upload it to your book, Amazon will trim the size so that one page of your PDF equals one page of your paperback. But your paperback, depending on the size you’ve chosen, is likely much smaller than A4, therefore the print has automatically been shrunken.
4. Not Leaving Room for the Barcode
This is for when you design your paperback cover. If you don’t have a barcode, Amazon will assign you one. It then gets put on the bottom right-hand-side of your back cover. So make sure you leave plenty of room for that in your cover design. You don’t really want to have to stop and redesign the cover at this stage.
5. Not Checking The Listing Thoroughly
Because so many things are easily corrected on Amazon, we may not always check for mistakes too carefully in the actual listing. After all, we can always fix them, right? Wrong. Once you hit the publish button on your book there are some things that cannot be changed. You can’t change the title or subtitle or author. So make sure you check carefully, and check again, that you have typed it all correctly! The title and subtitle will be a big part of the Amazon listing. So even a small mistake, such as accidentally typing ‘form’ instead of ‘from’ (who would do something like that?), becomes very noticeable. You can contact Amazon about it and ask them to change it, but this is an extra worry that’s easily avoided if you check it carefully, with the knowledge that it can’t be changed easily.
So there’s the five things I wish I’d known before the publishing process. I worked it out though, and so will you. But I hope you find my experiences helpful when it comes to publishing your own book. Let me know if there’s anything you would add!
‘My Year of Stories- a journey from unpublished writer to debut novelist’ releases on the 15th of October 2017 and is now available to preorder here.