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Step By Step: Using Kindle Direct Publishing

Philip Overby

Article Team
As a bit of an informational/discussion post, I'd like to discuss my ongoing process of publishing a book using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for the first time. There are many steps, but I'm going to focus on Step 1 and see what others think about it.

First, you are prompted if you're interested to join KDP Select. Being that I'm selling my short stories for 99 cents a piece, I figured it would be a good way to get extra downloads because it will be offered via Kindle Unlimited as well. Another thing is that I'm choosing only to publish with KDP on this first short story. This may change in the future, but for now I've decided to go exclusive and see how it works out.

Getting Started

1. Enter Your Book Details

Book Name:
For my book name I'm going with The Unicorn Eater. Since my fantasy tends to focus on dark fantasy with a darkly comedic slant, I felt like this title would show the kind of fiction I plan to produce. Unicorns are often seen as either majestic creatures for children or as easily meme-able creatures for the internet.

Subtitle: While this is optional, I'm looking to highlight the Splatter Elf brand by using the subtitle "A Weird Tale of Splatter Elf." I'll probably use this subtitle for all my shorts. If I do Splatter Elf novels later on, I'll most likely use "A Splatter Elf Novel" or something similar.

This book is part of a series: I wasn't sure what to put here since the short stories I'm releasing aren't necessarily interconnected, but they are part of the same world. I decided to leave this blank.

Publisher: I'm using the publisher name Splatter Elf Publishing just because I thought it would be easier to identify and ties into my brand. Not sure if this is the best choice, but I'm going to go with it for now.

I want this to be as good as possible, obviously to attract reader. But I also don't want it to be too long since it's for a short story. I still haven't decided on this, but I'm going to probably post some of my ideas here later on before I click "Publish."

Book Contributors:
I only have two other people helping me with this. My cover artist and someone helping me with graphic design for the text. I obviously want to thank them for helping me, but I was curious what I should put here from people who have done this before.

English. I guess that's relatively obvious.

Since ISBNs are optional, I wasn't sure what I should do here either. I don't know much about this, so any input would be helpful.

2. Verify Your Publishing Rights

Verify your publishing rights: I clicked "This is not a public domain work."

3. Target Your Book to Customers

Categories: I couldn't find the ideal categories for my story, so I decided to put "Fantasy-General" and "Fiction-Humorous." Those were the too best ones I could find. I didn't want to categorize it as "Dark Fantasy" because I felt that may be confusing for some people. A category "Fantasy-Comic" would certainly be helpful.

Age Range: I decided to leave this stuff blank as I wasn't sure what to put here. While I think my writing is probably PG-13, I could see with the graphic violence being a bit different for other people.

Search Keywords:
I choose the following "weird, fantasy, splatter elf, unicorn, comedy, dark, short story." Maybe I should research the keywords with the best reach and change these slightly.

4. Select Your Book Release Option

I clicked "Ready to release now" but I'm still not ready. I didn't plan on having it available for pre-order though.

5. Upload Book Cover

I'm happy with my book cover, but I figured I'd wait until I release it to post it up anywhere. I know book covers are one of those things people feel wildly different about, so hopefully it works for the style and tone of what I'm going for.

6. Upload Your Book File

I went with No DRM. Although I'm not clear what all that means, it seems to indicate that choosing No DRM enables people to share the story more easily.

OK, so that's the first phase of publishing with KDP. If anyone has any feedback or thoughts about my various steps, feel free to chime in and discuss it. Thanks!

I would also go with Kindle Select for a 99 center. The reason is KU as you've said and at times KU borrows have been half of my total sales. But there's another more important reason, money wise. If you sell a 99c book you get 35c royalty. If somone borrows your book through KU, you get whatever the pay out is which is likely to be between $1.50 and $2. (I know it makes no sense to me either, but that's the way it is.) Note that if you go select, you must be exclusive to Amazon.

Next, keywords are actually critical. A number of keywords will put your book into certain categories, along with the two that you were allowed to select. The morecategories your book is in, the greater the visibility. I suggest going to kindleboards - the writers cafe, and doing a search through threads on keywords. A number of people have done research on which keywords will put your book in which additional categories. Also keywords maybe plural sensitive. From memory "elf" is a useful keyword, but "elves" is not.

DRM stands for digital rights management. I usually use DRM for all my novels, but there are people who say it doesn't stop the pirates - which unfortunately I can attest to - and it annoys customers who may want to share ebooks between devices.

Cheers, Greg.
That's a good source, Psychotick-- just a few months old, too, which is vital for all things keywordy.

We haven't gone into one of the biggest issues to publishing on Amazon (or any ebook): formatting your document. Amazon's guide to it is at https://kdp.amazon.com/help?ref_=TN_help and all I can say is that you want to follow it exactly, download and test the results, and keep tweaking until you're sure it's right. Triply so for the table of contents (a vital thing for ebooks, after all).

Philip Overby

Article Team
psychotick: Thanks for the information. I'll definitely pay more attention to keywords as I do my final prepping. And I'm glad you confirmed my thoughts about Kindle Select. While I don't know if I will go exclusive with all my stories, I'm going to try it for this first one and see how things turn out. I think it only has to be there for 90 days minimum.

wordwalker: I asked about formatting in a separate thread and many people suggested using the Smashwords Style Guide. I've been looking through it and some of it is causing my eyes to glaze over, but I'm sure it'll be fine. Since my story is about 10,000 words and doesn't have chapters, I won't need a table of contents I guess.
You don't want to use the Smashwords guide for formatting for Amazon.

Amazon uses different rules-- most of them are the same as Smashwords, but that makes it all the easier to get them mixed up. Actually, you can use the Smashwords website to create ebooks of almost every type known except Amazon (which sounds like a bitter joke, come to think of it), but the last I heard they still have that one limit.

Philip Overby

Article Team
Ah, OK. I thought it worked for all formats. There's one for Amazon that I saw on their page. I guess I should use that one.


The book description is synonymous with a blurb, therefore typically around 200 words. You should research and follow the rules for crafting a blurb. However, if you use the description box in the KDP home page you can add more info such as a small sample of a favorite paragraph from your story.

You can also utilize HTML in the description box for italics, bold, Amazon orange headlines, etc..

If you try to do this from the Amazon author page, you will be limited to fewer words for the description and no HTML.

The HTML adds a level of professionalism to your display page.

Do not list anybody else as contributors. People will wrongly assume the book was authored by more than one person. It is not necessary and only causes confusion.

List your contributors in the content of the book only.

ISBN#'s, are for libraries and book stores and not necessary for eBooks. You can get a free ISBN# if you publish a print copy through Amazon's Createspace.

Being a part of a series is a major selling point. Definitely show the title of your series and the volume #.

Authors are notorious for flubbing up cover designs. My advice is to hire someone with experience and a knowledge for what sells. Do not try to incorporate specifics from your story. Readers like eye candy, and it is important that your image shows up decent as a tiny thumbnail.

A good trick for a title, is to incorporate key words into it, even if it sounds lame or cheesy. You will be competing against 400,000 other titles, so every little bit helps. This is where we start to fringe upon a former topic you and I covered which I will not bring up again. However I will just say...you will see what I mean about getting swallowed up by ....... , but I digress.

If you have any specific questions , feel free to PM me.

I would price your short story at 2.99, not .99. The price is a statement to the world that you believe in your work. With the use of sales and promotions you can alter the price as needed.

From my experience, the price does not influence sales(unless it's over $10). If they see it, they will buy it. The trick is getting seen!

Also, do not sweat reviews. Authors lose sleep and sanity fretting over gaining reviews. A few reviews are great to get started but will not start any algorithms in the Amazon central processor, that is a myth.

Philip Overby

Article Team
Thanks for the advice. I've thought about 2.99 for future stories, but for this one many people I've talked to seem to think 99 is good. The reason I'm going with this is because my story is under 10,000 words. My second story looks like it is going to be a novelette or a novella, so I may go with 2.99 for the second one. Just depends on how I feel about it.


Fiery Keeper of the Hat
I always thought I'd price a short story at $1.15, if only to show that I thought it was worth more than the typical .99.

I've no idea if that would actually work.


Philip Overby

Article Team
I do think my next one could reach 20,000 words even, so I might consider doing 2.99 for that one. I am nearing the end though, and it's 12,000 something words now.

Yeah, I felt that if I'm selling anything under 10,000 words, 99 cents is best. And if I'm going to sell anything that is 3,000-7,000 words, I'll probably bundle it with other stories and just make it a collection. Either that or submit the stories to various markets.