From Idea to Publishing in Two Months
by Kira Gordon
When I started, I had no idea that writing a book would be the easy part. Publishing a book is fairly easy too.
Writing a good book and publishing it well is not.
Like many Authors, it is my life-long dream to write and publish a novel. During a drunken late-night conversation, a friend dared me to try my hand at writing a book. The dare, really a taunt, consisted of: just do it or never waste precious air by talking about it again.
Two days later, that same friend sent me an article discussing the amount of money being made by sub-par smutty novels, and my dream started to become reality. As soon as I closed the email, I began to write.
Two-and-a-half weeks and 98,014 words later, I have a novel. Not only do I have a novel, I have a good novel. My sense of completion is short-lived, though, as I now have to figure out where to go from here.
An initial look at the publication process overwhelms me, so I sit back and consider my options. A week after completion, I get up the nerve to send the novel to a friend. At 3AM that same evening, I receive a text, “Holy shit! You wrote a book! BTW, thanks for sending this at midnight. I can’t go to sleep now.”
With that review in hand, I got more courage, so I sent the book to a publicist I’ve known for years. Apparently pre-sleep dementia is what gives me my gumption, because again, at midnight, I sent out the manuscript.
At 6AM the next morning I received the following text, “WTF? You need an agent. Call me ASAP.”
I obviously called her at 6:01AM. When we spoke, two things became clear, I need to focus on editing, and if this project was to become a reality, I need to learn about the publishing industry.
Luckily, many of my friends are either published, or know people who’ve been published. Because they understand me (the level of control I prefer) and the urgency of the project I’m driving, they all encouraged me to self-publish (while continuing background conversations with agents).
With my full-length book in editing, I wanted to test-drive the publishing process. Hands-on education is my preferred methodology – which will be obvious when you read my smutty novel.
If you’re considering writing a book or if you’re looking for advice on how to get published, you need to start with J.A. Konrath’s, “The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing (Everything A Writer Needs To Know).”
Seriously, if you take one action after reading this article, aside from following me on Twitter, it should be to follow the link above and read every word Konrath has to say. His advice is practical and sage.
I’m going to restate, I’m new to this. The information I’ve giving you is real-time to my understanding. This article doesn’t touch on my experience with ePub. The focus is publishing on Amazon.
Once you’ve read Konrath, clean up the formatting of your book:
Write your book in Microsoft Word and save it as a .doc file. Don’t get fancy. Stick with .doc.
Format your text consistently. Things like bolding, italicizing, and indenting didn’t cause me a problem. Places where I originally used bullets and images looked weird in my original upload to Kindle Direct Publishing, so I deleted the offending items and found ways to write around them.
Images need to be .jpg.
With your clean file in hand, go to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Don’t go to Author Central on Amazon. That comes after KDP.
At KDP, you’ll need to sign in to Amazon. From there you will receive an option to begin publishing. Do that. Know that Amazon also offers CreateSpace, an online service to help you develop and design your book. I did not use this service.
Now, if you take two things from this article, let this be the second: READ every screen of the KDP process. It’s actually quite easy, if you read it. If you don’t read each screen, you’re going to miss a piece of information that is potentially critical to yours or your book’s success – in my case, I forgot the Author name. Fairly important detail when you’re trying to establish a writing career.
If you’re not familiar with ISBNs, you’re going to need one. You can buy an ISBN direct from Amazon or you can buy one (or ten) from Bowker. There’s a lot of information on ISBNs, so I’m not going into detail in this article. Just know that you’ll need one – and ultimately you will also be given an ASIN (the Amazon-specific equivalent of an ISBN).
Back to the file upload process within KDP. I read lots of different things on how to convert my .doc to a Kindle version, and I reserve the right to take back what I’m about to say – don’t do it. Stick with your .doc. I spent a lot of time doing the conversions (ePub, Kindle) and the file that looked best within KDP was my .doc.
Next up in the KDP process, you’ll need to input contributors (Author, cover art…), book descriptions, etc. Know that the process does allow for you to save and come back later.
You’re almost done. When you submit your book, you will receive a notification that the book has been submitted and it will take 12 hours in the United States and up to 48 elsewhere to review and publish your book.
Amazon does a great job of showing you the status of your book. You’ll be able to see if it’s being reviewed, in final approval or if the submission has been rejected and returned to you.
In my case, I was missing critical information (AN AUTHOR), so my original submission was rejected and returned to me. Amazon explained why the book was rejected, so I didn’t have to search for a reason – I appreciate that. Updating the KDP publishing file with the missing information is easy and exactly eight hours and 17 minutes after my initial KDP submission, I have a book, THE BUSINESSMAN ,(really a short story) that is now available on Amazon.
Now, I just need to figure out Amazon promotions, finish editing the full-length book, sign an agent…
@readKiraGordon on Twitter