Friday, June 12, 2009

Publish Your Book on the Amazon Kindle

Publish Your Book on the Amazon Kindle: A Practical Guide
By Michael R. Hicks

(CreateSpace / 1-440-45694-1 / 978-1-440-45694-7 / November 2008 / 68 pages / $7.95 / Kindle $4.76)

This review of Michael R. Hicks’ Kindle how-to book has been a long time coming. I had hoped to finish the updated, 2009 version of my second book, Ker-Splash, and utilize the information and instructions in Michael’s book as I created the Kindle version. That plan, however, got too bogged down among my many projects, so I am writing this special instructional review without actually trying out Michael’s advice and hints. The reader of this review should not be substantially misinformed due to my already developed level of knowledge in the field of uploading a book to the Kindle system at Amazon. Although my latest book will not be ready for a while longer, I have already uploaded, modified, and uploaded again all of my four books at least once, so I have more than a little experience with the instructions Michael has presented, although my practical application of the material happened prior to my reading of his book.

You should consider this book review as something out of the ordinary for PODBRAM. It is intended more as an installment of The Kindle Report than a review per se. Mr. Hicks’ book is officially listed as having 68 pages, but that includes the front and back matter, a few blank pages, and many screen-shot-type illustrations. The actual reading material covers only 55 pages and I completed it in one sitting at my computer. Yes, you read that correctly. I read A Practical Guide in PDF form directly on my desktop, making notes in a Word document as I made my way through the document preparation and upload instructions. Unlike all other book reviews here at PODBRAM, this seemed like the most practical way to read the book and impart the helpful information contained therein to the PODBRAM audience.

There are several points you need to understand before we proceed with the description of the pertinent information contained in the book. First of all, I am going to give away most of the plot. A list of some of the points of interest I found will be stated for the readership. Secondly, you need to understand that because I had already uploaded books to the Kindle format numerous times before I read these instructions, the many graphics included in the book were of only a passing interest to me. I already knew exactly what to expect from Amazon’s operation in this department, and this sped up my reading of the book considerably. Most importantly, although I am about to tell you in this extensive review much of what is contained in Mr. Hicks’ small book, this should not deter you from purchasing the paperback version of this book and following the instructions as you prepare and upload your manuscript to the Kindle! I think Publish Your Book on the Amazon Kindle is an excellent guide for the Kindle novice. Soon I shall be reading and reviewing Joshua Tallent’s longer, more detailed Kindle how-to book in the usual paperback format for those who may be further along in the learning process. Most any Kindle novice should be able to cough up the measly $7.95 for this book, read through it once, make the manuscript modifications recommended therein, sign on to the DTP (Digital Text Platform) system at Amazon, and upload his or her book while following the illustrated instructions. Without further delay, the following are the most notable points that I feel should be imparted to the many future Kindle uploaders out there in PODBRAM-land.

(1) Mobipocket does not pay royalties until $150 has been accrued! You also have to go through PayPal to be paid by Mobipocket, which is located in France!

(2) Mike likes to use Mobipocket Creator to create the file and then upload it to the Kindle DTP, but when I did this with Daydream, the photos were omitted. He says you have to ZIP all the photos together and upload them as a single file. How exactly you do that is not described in the book. This omission, combined with the emphasis on Mobipocket, is my leading criticism of the book. A Practical Guide was written prior to Mike’s knowledge of Smashwords, and at least so far, I have found the Meatgrinder at Smashwords to be easier to use than Mobipocket Creator.

(3) Kindle particularly likes Word 97 and RTF files. Relatively simple PDF files convert well in Mobipocket Creator if the PDF is the only version of your book that you can access; otherwise the Word version is nearly always easier to convert than the PDF.

(4) Images should be at least 450 pixels wide to fill the screen width of the Kindle because text will not wrap around images on the Kindle. Photos should be no larger than 600 x 800 or 64KB. To upload a cover image directly to Kindle DTP, make the image 450 wide by 550 tall, and convert it to grayscale prior to uploading it to the system. The system will change color to grayscale, but it may not do such a hot job of it. The color image you upload for the book’s Amazon page should be of a higher resolution than the one discussed above to be downloaded in B&W by the customer.

(5) Mike explains in detail how to create a Table of Contents using Mobi Creator that is interactive in the Mobipocket format.

(6) If you send in your book uploaded with Mobi Creator to both Amazon DTP and Mobi, two versions with two ASIN’s will appear at Amazon. That’s why there are two listings for Mike’s books, and he discusses the pros and cons of the author utilizing this trick.

(7) Upload graphics other than photos, such as graphs, charts, and tables, in GIF format instead of JPG.

(8) Mike recommends clearing your browser cache just prior to uploading your book to Kindle, as the information stored in the cache sometimes confuses the DTP system.

(9) You can insert a page break into the HTML by placing certain code between the paragraph close tag and the next paragraph tag in each location where a page break is desired.

(10) The number of Kindle books available changed from 285,000 to 300,000 on 6/9/09. Mike didn’t say that; I did. Wouldn’t you like your book to be number 300,001?

See Also: In Her Name Review
Mike's Kindle Website
Mike's Homepage

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