Making Digital Books: Formatting Your Novel (or Story) for the Kindle

Making Digital Books: Add your ebook to the top of the stack!

You can’t talk about making digital books without the Kindle coming up in the conversation. When the first Kindle came out a few years ago, it was obvious it was a game-changer.

Up until that point, ereaders were just a curiosity, and few people used them.

And then Amazon launched the Kindle, and made it a snap to download ebooks from their huge digital inventory (for a small fee, of course!). Soon they had their self-publishing site up and running, the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and you could upload your novels and stories and comics to the Amazon site. The playing field–as everyone likes to say these days–has been leveled.

And with the launch of the full-color, touchscreen Kindle Fire in November of this year, selling at just $200, all bets are off for how many ebooks can be sold on this flat playing field.

When you publish at KDP, you get a great royalty rate for each ebook sold there: 70% for ebooks priced at $2.99 and up, and 35% for ebooks from $.99 to $2.99.

Note: There’s a trick to setting your ebook prices to free, if you want to do some “loss leaders,” but I’ll discuss that later in the marketing post.

Also, there are some wrinkles to the priced at KDP, so check out their pricing page for details. Watch the delivery fees if your ebook is more than 10 MB in size, for example.

So let’s see how you can get in on the game with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, aka KDP.

Steps for Formatting for Amazon’s KDP

  1. Copy the Word document you formatted for the Smashwords file, but give the file a new name, such as “XYZ_Kindle.doc.”
  2. Using the new Word doc for Kindle, repeat steps 1-15 for the Formatting your Word document for Smashwords process covered in the Smashwords blog entry.
  3. Next, update the front matter text by removing any references to Smashwords, which includes deleting the entire Smashwords Edition License Notes paragraph.
  4. Replace any links to Smashwords with relevant links to Amazon pages, such as any links to other works you may be excerpting in this ebook.
  5. Save the Kindle Word document as a Web page (.htm, .htm file), using Word’s File > Save As option. Saving the Word document as a Web page generates a new .htm file and a new folder, entitled “XYZ_Kindle_files.”
  6. Select both the new .htm file and the new folder.
  7. Create a .zip file of the two items — the .htm file and the folder. This .zip folder is what you’ll upload to Amazon’s KDP.

Sample KDP .doc File and Amazon Page

For an example of an .html file that started as a Smashwords Word doc, and was then formatted for KDP, check out my .doc file for my novella “The Last Sorcerer:”LastSorcerer_Kindle.doc

(Of course, I’d still need to convert this .doc file to an .html file, and then “zip” up the .html file with the folder that the conversion created.)

And here’s the Kindle Store page for that story: “The Last Sorcerer.”

Uploading to Amazon’s KDP

After you’ve gotten your .zip ready, it’s almost time to upload it to Amazon’s KDP. Just like with Smashwords, you’ll need a cover and some brief descriptive text about your ebook. If you’ve already created these for Smashwords, you can re-use them here.

Once again, you can do a quick look around at Amazon’s Kindle Store and see how other writers do their covers and descriptions. Or take a look at My Amazon author page to for some ideas.

To upload your ebook’s .zip file to Amazon’s KDP:

  1. If you haven’t done so already, register with Amazon’s KDP. If you’re already an Amazon user, you can use that login information.
  2. After you’re logged in at KDP, click the Add a new title button.
  3. Add your ebook’s name, series information (if needed), and description. I usually use my Smashwords Long Description here.
  4. Add the ISBN you got from Smashwords, if you like. The ISBN is free, so I use that for all my ebooks. It lists the publisher as Smashwords in the Bowker database, so if it’s important to you to have the publisher listed as you or your publishing company, you can buy your own ISBN, but they’re not cheap. Personally, I don’t think ISBNs are all that important in the digital world.
  5. Add your cover as a .tif or .jpg; make the image at least 500 pixels on the longest side.
  6. Add your .zip file from the previous process.
  7. After the .zip is uploaded and converted, click the Preview book button to see how your ebook looks in the Kindle simulator.
  8. Click Save and Continue to enter pricing information on the next page.
  9. Select the publishing territories for this ebook. In most cases, it will be Worldwide rights – all territories.
  10. Select 35% or 70% royalty. For 70%, your book must be priced at $2.99 or higher.
  11. Set your list price for the US and the rest of the world. I select the option to set the price automatically based on US prices for other countries.
  12. I also select the option to allow lending.
  13. Click the last check box on the page, confirming that you have all rights necessary for this ebook
  14. Click Save and Publish. After about a day or so, your ebook will be live at, so let people know about it!

And that’s it for Amazon KDP formatting. Not as strenuous as the Smashwords formatting was, I hope. As always, I hope you found it useful.

If you have any tips or questions, feel free to share in the comments or via Facebook or Twitter! And thanks for reading.

Back to the Making Digital Books Table of Contents.

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