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

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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.

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

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Cover of Paperback Made Using Amazon's CreateSpace Cover Creator

Cover of Paperback Made Using Amazon’s CreateSpace 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. My book serves two purposes: It gives my students an example to follow, and it gives other teachers the tools to mentor their students. Since I asked my students to produce both paperback and ebook formats, that is what I am doing. I have found that it is easier to do the paperback first, then convert it to ebook, instead of the other way around. I am using Amazon’s services entirely, so for the paperback, I am using CreateSpace. I am just finishing up my paperback production, so here is a review of that experience.

What is CreateSpace? It used to be an independent publishing firm, but was bought up by Amazon a few years ago. CreateSpace offers to publish your book in a print-on-demand paperback format. You pay nothing. You submit a file of your book using Microsoft Word or PDF (portable document format), and CreateSpace makes it into a book 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. It will not be printed and distributed in hard copy. That is the essence of print-on-demand. A book is printed only when someone orders it online. If you want to put your books on store shelves, you can order them from CreateSpace at cost, then give them to the store to sell on consignment. Talk to your local bookstore manager first to see what makes the most sense for you. What I found works well is to buy about 50 of your books when it is first published. Give some to friends and family and to people who helped with the book, then use the rest for any book events, including giving a few to local bookstores to sell on consignment.

The first step in making a book in CreateSpace is to write it. The basis of a good book is the text, and I have covered how we wrote our books and did several phases of editing and revising over the past year in my blog. One aspect of the text is formatting, and for that, 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. CreateSpace also offers a free template on their website.

The next step is to submit your book in CreateSpace for their internal review prior to publishing. You need to establish a log in account with CreateSpace, then set up your title as a project in their website. After that, follow their step-by-step instructions. I found these straightforward, and CreateSpace offers free help through email or telephone. I used the email service a couple times, and they were prompt and helpful. In the “Interior” setup for your book, you will be asked to upload your book file. Again, this can be in Word or PDF. Once you upload it, CreateSpace says it takes 24 hours to review it, but I have found it is usually faster. During this time, upload your cover file, or design one in CreateSpace’s Cover Creator–I used that, and I have been happy with the result. They have many designs available, and you can change colors and other aspects. Once the review is complete, you will get an email explaining if there is any issue with the file. At this point, you can download a digital proof and order a paperback proof copy for a small charge. Do both. The digital proof looks like a virtual paperback on screen, so use it to catch any obvious errors. The paperback proof is invaluable to see exactly what your book will look like–plus it’s a nice souvenir. When I ordered my proof copy, CreateSpace said it would take about ten days to ship, but it actually arrived in five. After you approve the proof, your book is ready to publish. 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 became available today on createspace.com, and it will be available on amazon.com in a couple more days, 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 more about the preparation of the ebook using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

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.

Mentoring Science Students to Draft a Book – Give Them a Template

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Tip#4In 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 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

How should a physics and engineering teacher like me instruct students in how to write a book? I gave the reasons why I am doing this project in a previous post. I have been learning about the self-publishing process over the past year, as I published my first book and marketed it. This did not make me an expert, but it gave me a new perspective that I could share with students. Besides this experience, we are networking with writers in our community to give the students other perspectives on writing and publishing.

But back to the main question – how should a science teacher like me teach students this process of writing and publishing? I decided to give the students wide latitude on creativity, while giving them more detailed guidance on deadlines and expected outcomes. To start them off, I had two meetings with them before the summer break where we discussed ideas for books and the importance of writing to a target audience. For the summer, I gave them the assignment to write a first draft of the book, due mid-August. We are starting to review these drafts now. To help them save time and concentrate on the creative aspect of writing, I gave the students a book template that was formatted as a paperback book, ready for publishing. All they had to do was type over the text. Since the whole point of this project was to learn to communicate effectively about science through a book, learning the intricacies of formatting a book, as required in the Chicago Manual of Style, was not high on my list of learning objectives. Providing the students a template saved them valuable time to do what was most important.

Throughout this project, I will show other ways that you can mentor students in the creative process of producing a book, while giving them supports that keep the project from being too daunting and time consuming. If you would like to see or use the template, click Book Template for Students to download it. It was based on the template provided at the “Tools and Resources” link on the website for APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur): How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. I had used this book as my primary guide in writing and publishing my first book, and I recommend it.

Next week, my post will have a tip on organizing students into a writing critique group.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly 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 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.