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
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.
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.
· 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.
· 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.
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.
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