A Review of Self-Publishing a Book Using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

Creating Student Authors ebook cover
Ebook Cover Made Using KDP Cover Creator

In this blog, I am sharing how I am mentoring a group of high school science students to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April-June 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

As my students prepare to self-publish their books, I also am self-publishing a book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self-Published Author. It gives my students an example to follow, and it gives other teachers the tools to mentor their students. I asked my students to produce both paperback and ebook formats, and I did the same for this book. I reviewed my experience making the paperback format last week. Having just finished the ebook conversion, here is a review of my experience using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

What is KDP? It is Amazon’s publishing firm for ebook, specifically in Kindle format. You pay nothing. You submit a file of your book using Microsoft Word or PDF (portable document format), and KDP makes it into a Kindle file. You also upload a cover, or make one using their free “Cover Creator” service. You choose pricing and distribution channels, and they show you what your royalties will be in each one. When you finally submit your book to be published, it will appear only in online retail channels, such as amazon.com. Even though it is in Kindle format, it can be read on any smartphone, tablet, or computer that downloads and uses the free Kindle app. This last point is important to publicize, as many people may not have a Kindle device, but they can still read your ebook.

I made the paperback version of my book first, then converted that file to ebook format. For the paperback, I made a “Book Template for Students” that has all the pagination and blocking for a 6×9 inch book, the standard size offered by CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand paperback publishing firm. I wrote my book using this template, then converted it to PDF and uploaded it to CreateSpace for publishing. I used the original Word file from this paperback as the starting point for the ebook. I downloaded KDP’s free guide, Building Your Book for Kindle, available in Windows or Mac format, to convert the paperback file into the ebook file. The guide is clear, but the process of conversion is tedious, sometimes requiring you to go paragraph by paragraph to reformat things. It took me over three hours to convert a short book of about ninety pages. Plan for it to take longer for students who have never done it before.

The next step is to submit your book in KDP for their internal review prior to publishing. You need to establish a log in account with Amazon, then set up your title as a project in the kdp.amazon.com website. If you already use Amazon for shopping, you will use the same log in for KDP. Once you are into KDP, follow their step-by-step instructions. I found these straightforward, and KDP offers free help through email. You can also either upload your cover file, or make your own for free using KDP’s Cover Creator. I used this second option, and I was happy with the result. After you upload your book file, preview it on every type of reader–KDP has a virtual version of each, so check each one to be sure your book looks good in each. You can download my “Self-Publishing Checklist for Amazon” that goes through this entire process.

If you want to have a complete set of directions to mentor your students, then look for my book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Anyone to Be a Published Author. It is available in paperback on createspace.com and in ebook on amazon.com, plus other distribution channels within the next few weeks. Profits will benefit Ridgefield Public Schools and Newington Public Schools in Connecticut.

My next post will be about my students’ experiences publishing their books.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April-June 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.


Author: bryanholmesstem

Physics and Math Teacher, STEM Competition Mentor - starting at Thomaston High School, CT, in fall 2018.

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