About This Guide

This guide was written to help you self-publish your picture book for the Kindle.  There is little if any information in this guide that will help you create and/or edit, promote and/or manage your story. 

This guide was written with 4 assumptions I made about you:

1.     You own the rights to your story and illustrations.

2.     You know how to use some kind of graphic program such as Adobe’s Photoshop.  If you aren’t using Photoshop that is O.K. as I will be using generic terms to describe the process.  If your graphic program can crop, scale and save as a JPG then you will be able to follow my instructions.

3.     You know how to use a file compression program such as WinZip.  Again, I will be using generic terms to describe the process.

4.     You have a program that can produce an HTML file (ex. Adobe’s Dreamweaver, Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher). As with the points 2 and 3 I will be using generic terms to describe the process.  

When this guide is finished I will organize and compile all the blog entries into a Kindle book. You can help me make this a better book by testing the process and commenting about your experiences. I will be giving all the “contributing editors” a free copy of the e-book and listing you and your book title and/or website in the credits.



Why publish an e-book?
It is cheap. If you are interested in publishing your own picture book for Kindle then you probably have the skills to produce, upload and sell your book by yourself.

No Constraints. Possibly the best part of e-book publishing is that you don’t have to follow traditional picture book constraints. You are free to tell your story without worrying about any arbitrary page spreads or pacing demands



Why Kindle?
Don’t be deceived by this little notepad-sized device. Kindle is so much more than a black and white e-book reader. With free apps for your phone, i-anythings and computers you can download and read Kindle books without purchasing the Kindle device. My favorite part of all is that you can put a copy of your Kindle books on each of those devices simultaneously without having to purchase multiple copies. Also, your illustrations will be displayed in color if you use any of these other devices.



Getting Started
The first thing you will need to do is obtain digital copies of your illustrations.  Make sure these copies are all saved at high resolution (300dpi) and as a JPEG’s that are in the RGB (red/green/blue) format.  You can find this information by clicking on each of the files and choosing info. You can change any of these details if needed in the Save As dialog box in your graphic program. Save your images under a different name so you will always have your original as a backup.

·      Save as 300 dpi (high resolution)

·      Save as JPEG’s (other formats are not recognized)

·      Save in a RGB format (They probably already are, but CMYK images are not recognized)



Formatting Your Illustrations: A Magic Ratio
Now comes the time consuming part, reformatting your pictures. Keep this magical ratio in mind: 9 to 11.  You can work in just about any size (I would suggest larger than 6 inches x 7.3 inches to avoid possible pixilation of your images) you want but eventually it will be scaled down by Amazon to fit the kindle screen.  This is important to you because if you are working larger than 450 pixels x 550 pixels (Kindle’s screen size) then your images will be automatically scaled down.  This can cause all kinds of problems if your images aren’t in a 9:11 ratio. 

Remember:

·      The magic ratio is 9:11

·      The Kindle screen is 6”x7.3” or 450x550 pixels.

·      Amazon automatically resizes larger pictures to the magic ratio.



The Hard Part (the only editorial advice in the guide)
Now it’s time for you to get to work.  I can’t help you anymore until you have reformatted your images. You are now going to have to design your new e-book layout.  Don’t rush through this stage; you want your book to look the best it can.  Be deliberate and plan each page as if it were the most import page of the story. 

Self-publishing can be a double-edged sword. On one hand it is freeing because you GET to make all the editorial decisions.  On the other it is frightening because you ARE making all the editorial decisions. 

Keep in mind that you will need space in your images for your text. This will have a big impact on how you reformat the layout of your images. I suggest using a solid white text box embedded at the bottom of each illustration to contain your text. You may have to size your illustration down a bit to accomplish this but it will help improve the text’s legibility. It will also ensure that the text will always match the proper illustration.  Embedded text will also make it easier to assemble and upload your book.

Other Important Pages

Besides the story pages you will want to remember to create separate images for your cover, copyright/title page (a good place for your website and promoting any other books you have written) and maybe even a dedication page.

Remember:

·      Don’t rush this part.

·      Embed a text box in each image.

·      Create cover and other important pages for your book.

Putting your book together: Assembling your Kindle Book

Using an HTML editor: general steps

1.     First create a new HTML document and save it in your illustration/image folder. This is important because the HTML file tells Kindle where to find the image files and in what order they will be displayed.  If your images are in different folder than the HTML document, the code will link to a location that isn’t there and you will have a picture book with no pictures.

2.     Working in the design view, start dragging or inserting your images into the new html document.  Depending on the size of your images they may stack side by side or stack underneath each other.  Do not add any spaces or returns between pictures as the Kindle reader will interpret those as page breaks and you will end up with blank pages in your e-book.

3.     When you are finished double check to make sure your images are in the correct order and then save the file one last time.

I followed these steps in Adobe Dreamweaver however you could use these steps in just about any HTML editor.  If you have experience creating a picture Kindle book with any other program (ex. Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, etc.) tell me about your experiences and your process so it can be included in this tutorial and the future Kindle book.  I will include your name and website/book in each section as well as the credit pages.

“Packaging” your book for upload
When you have finished assembling your book it is time to create a compressed file. This file should contain only the images and the HTML file for your book.   

Using a file compression program: general steps

1.     Open your file compression program and open a new file.

2.     Save that file in your illustration folder.

3.     Select all your image files and the HTML file and insert them into the new compression file. It doesn’t matter if the files are out of order because the HTML document will tell Kindle where to find the appropriate picture.

4.     Save the compressed file.

I used the above steps in WinZip on a Windows Vista computer however you could use these general steps with just about any file compression program.  If you have experience creating a zip file with any other program (ex. Stuffit, ZipIt, etc.) tell me about your experiences and your process so it can be included in this tutorial and the future Kindle book.  I will include your name and website/book in each section as well as the credit pages.

Uploading your book to Amazon

Welcome to the easiest part. You are almost done but before you can upload your book you will need to set up a Kindle Direct Publishing account @ https://kdp.amazon.com. Follow the steps to set up your account and then you will be ready to upload your Kindle picture book.

Once you login to your account you will be taken directly to your bookshelf.  Just under the main heading you will see a button that says “Add a new title”.  Click that button and start Part 1. Part one is where you will enter vital information about your book such as the title and book description.  Probably the second most important entry (uploading the correct book file being the first) is choosing the right categories for your book.  This will be how Amazon targets your book to potential customers so choose wisely.  The forms are quite intuitive but if you have any questions there are convenient “(What’s this?)” links beside each form to help answer frequently asked questions. When you have completed each form click save and continue at the bottom to proceed to Part 2.

Part 2 is where you will decide on the price of your book and your royalty percentage. This is a decision you will need to make on your own but don’t stress on this too much.  You can change the price in the future if you decide your work is over or under priced.   However, deciding on the royalty percentage will require some careful consideration.  Take advantage of the “(What’s this?)” links so you fully understand the advantages of each percentage.  The last step in Part 2 is to submit your book. 

Congratulations!
Now comes the really hard part.  Waiting two days for the book to be uploaded and available for sale.  It seems like it should be instantaneous but it will take two days before your book is listed and available for purchase in the Kindle store.  But that doesn’t mean you should just sit around and hit refresh every other minute in hopes of catching your book the minute it is posted in the Kindle store.  Nope. Use this time and your favorite social mediums to announce the ETA of your new book.  Build that buzz and get ready to watch your book sales climb.



Other Books
Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide to Formatting Books for the Amazon Kindle by Joshua Tallent
Formatting Comics for the Kindle (The “Graphics on the Kindle” Series) by Manuel Burgos

 


Comments

10/05/2011 5:26am

Next month, the Kindle Fire will be released, with color capabilities, which is really good news for Kindle publishers of Children's books.

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margaret newton
11/20/2011 2:56am

I am finding the whole idea over whelming.i have children's stories with bright pictures and words on the same page.P
Perhaps some one does a day class or something.
I will let you know how I get on with your print out.

Reply
Anne
12/12/2011 1:04pm

Thank you for this amazing help! I am trying to assist a talented author, and your guidelines are terrific - the difficulty now is in making an html document, but have found someone to help with that - again, thank you - keep up the great work!!

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03/23/2012 2:20am

Great article, especially the pic aspect ratios - going to search you site for the same article written for publishing to the App Store

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Wayne Brown
05/04/2012 12:49pm

Any idea how I can fix my problem of every other page being blank? I've tried every format to upload my picture book. All the pages are there, except in between each page, there is a blank page. I cannot figure out how to eliminate them. Thanks.

Reply
Curtis
05/05/2012 3:55am

That sounds like you have a space in-between each picture. When you put the pictures in your HTML program make sure they are side by side. It will look terrible in this form but the Kindle (and other devices) will only display one image per page, assuming they fill the entire screen. However, the kindle reads spaces and returns as extra pages. So make sure any extra spaces or returns have been deleted.

Reply
05/23/2012 10:00pm

This is such a wonderful learning resource that you'll be supplying and you provide it away for free. I enjoy finding internet sites that understand the significance of furnishing a excellent resource for cost-free.

Reply
Curtis
05/24/2012 5:25am

Thanks for the feedback! Feel free to spread the word!-)

Reply
05/23/2012 10:54pm

The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!b Keep 'em coming... all do such a great job.

Reply
Curtis
05/24/2012 5:30am

Reading fun comments (like yours) is always nice to way to start the day!-) Feel free to spread the word!-)

Reply
Julie
06/05/2012 10:46am

Reply
susan
06/14/2012 1:19pm

this is such a clear explanation, the clearest I've found. Thank you!

Reply
08/31/2012 9:25pm

Thanks for this easy to follow explanation. Since I have not used a Kindle I am unclear about how picture books work. For instance I have a 40pb book with some double page spreads. Do these even exist in a Kindle, or do I need to condense my double spread to one page?

Reply
09/25/2012 5:16am

Double spreads are tricky for any e-reader but there are two options. First, you can scale down the spread to fit in the screen. This has two issues that need attention though. First, if all the pages are portrait and the reader will have to flip the screen for your double page spread. This interrupts the flow of the story. Second, it makes the picture much smaller and the reader will have to stretch the picture, which also interrupts the story.

The second option is to split the double page spreads up into two self-contained pages. This also has two issues for you to consider. It can take a long time to figure out how to reformat the pages to flow correctly with the story. You may have to completely re-design the book flow and pace. But, you and the reader will be much happier with the end result.

I designed my books around the one page view so I didn't have to worry about the spreads. I would suggest that if you are going to continue to publish e-picture books that you design them for one page spreads. It will save you all kinds of trouble down the road.

Reply
Mrs Reynolds
09/25/2012 10:26pm

CT, thanks you so much for this! You've really helped me on my journey to being a published children's author. I will definitely leave feedback when I've completed the process.

Reply
ct.
01/31/2013 9:02am

Mrs. Renolds,

I am glad it helped! I haven't checked in here for a long time so please excuse my tardy response.

Reply
Mrs S
10/15/2012 12:55pm

Hi Curtis,

this has been very helpful in my quest, however I have hit a snag! when I upload my book file to kindle all I get is a placeholder instead of the pictures. I've made sure they are jpegs, the right dimensions, the right images in the right folder in the right place, there is nothing wrong with the htm file because the text uploads okay. I wonder what I am doing wrong? Any suggestions?

Reply
12/11/2012 4:06pm

Hi, thanks for the tips though I am only getting the cover page coming up on preview and no actual pages... :( any more advice?

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Janine Louise-Garcia
01/15/2013 7:43am

Going to print this out and follow these directions step by step - It sounds like it all makes sense - and I trust that it will help my pictures reappear if I follow your advice to the "T". It's too overwhelming to try to work these directions from the web window - while all these other windows are going on / with the formatting the photos - so the print out method on my desk may work... my first publish to Kindle - all the photos did disappear - i had them as jpgs and i thought they were small ... maybe they weren't rgb - so now I've found your directions ...keeping my fingers crossed... here it goes....

Reply
ct.
01/31/2013 9:00am

Good Luck!

Reply
Susan
01/31/2013 8:15am

Hi CT, A quick query - when I doing my childrens book in HTML - which contains just images. i.e each page is a single image - my images don't fill the page. It's fine having borders at two side (as aspect ratio won't work for all screens).. but I'm getting borders all all four sides. And I have to manually zoom to get the image to the size I want. I've tried big dimension images, smaller dimensions, specifying height/width in HTML for the image, not specifying.. and no matter what.. each image is still not filling the screen as much as it could. Any ideas would be appreciated as I'm really stuck!

By the way, I've used a HTML editor, and just hand crafted the HTMl and then compiled the book using Kindle previewer. Then put it on a samsung tablet to also view on a "real " device that has a kindle app.

Reply
Susan
01/31/2013 8:25am

CT - I forgot to say my images are jpegs!

Reply
Curtis Taylor
01/31/2013 9:00am

I'm not sure, that might be an issue for the tablets. I suggest you re-size the illustration (in photoshop or scan at a higher resolution) much larger but keep the ratio the same. My illustrations were much larger, in the neighborhood of 11x17 (though I can't recall the specifics) and the app/tablet scales them to fit the screen automatically.

Reply
Susan
01/31/2013 11:41am

Hi Curtis.. sorry to sound dumb.. when you say 11X17.. what dimensions do you mean? And thanks for your reply - your tips are fantastic!

Mikkel E. Lee
03/08/2013 3:05am

Hi Curtis, Thanks for the good guidance.
What happens with the picture booke when it is on Kindle for Ipad which dimensions are 11:8 and not 11:9? does it work well?

Reply
04/29/2013 4:17am

What a commendable work you have done, with simplest of language. I can’t resist myself to leave a comment and trust me it’s hard to impress me. thank to CT.

Reply
Svetlana
05/30/2013 3:14pm

What do you mean adding white box under images for your text? You mean to add text inside images by graphic software?
I've seen ebooks where there were captions under images, and the text seemed to be part of book text, but appeared neatly underneath each image. That author probably paid to some professional.
But I would appreciate more on image formatting.

Reply
Dali
05/31/2013 5:09pm

What if my illustrations are 12" wide by 9" tall? Is there a landscape view possible for kindles?

Reply
James Russell
09/25/2013 2:24am

I have published 4 books on kindle.I downloaded 'Kindle Previewer' This can help sort out problems before you publish.Move your file (book) to the previewer If it doesn't look ok on the previewer, it aint gonna look good on kindle

Reply

Photography needs these platforms pretty much. Photographers make highest use of this.

Reply



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    © Curtis Taylor 2011

    ct.

     A blog that chronicles my journey to becoming a published author and illustrator. This blog also contains tutorials for self-publishing your picture book on Kindle






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