9 Steps to publishing a book on Amazon Kindle

Last week I published my first book on Amazon – Remaining Relevant

It was a great sense of achievement. I learned a lot about the self publishing industry and I learned a lot about myself. I never realised quite how hard it would be to take a book from idea to published.

This post outlines 9 Steps to publishing a book on Amazon Kindle.

Step 1 – Have an idea

There is a saying that everyone has a book inside them. This means that we are all capable of writing a book. I would agree.

The first step to writing a book is about having an idea. Some people have lots of ideas for books. Others struggle to generate ideas in great numbers. Generating ideas is hard work but there are some techniques that may help.

I’d recommend reading ThinkerToys – it’s packed full of some really great ways to generate ideas.

The technique I tend to use most often is that of writing down my challenge on a piece of paper.

For example, for the testers edition of Remaining Relevant I wrote on a sheet of paper “write a book about how hard it is to find good candidates and what candidate could do about it”. I then let my subconscious mind get to work.

Over the next few months I wrote down any ideas, insights and observations that popped in to my head. I collected these notes over a period of about two months, each day re-reading my challenge. These notes, no matter what format they took, ended up in Evernote.

I then brought these ideas and notes together in to a mindmap (wish I’d known about Mohiomap at the time – would have saved me lots of transcribing). This let me see how these ideas could collide, combine or spawn new ideas.

We’re all different though so hack around with various techniques and start generating ideas.

Step 2 – Research the idea

The next step I did was to spend some time researching. As usual I used Evernote to bring this research together in one place. I then sifted through it and started to make sense of what it was I wanted to write about.

No matter what genre of book you are writing you’ll most likely need to do some research.

The key thing though is to not spend forever researching. It’s possible to procrastinate about the writing by spending that time researching.

Step 3 – Outline the order of the book

The order of the book is important as it will help to convey the right message, in the right order. A book with random or misguided direction can be tough to read.

Don’t worry, you’re unlikely to get the order right first time. Just the act of outlining the order is helpful when it comes to writing the book.

For this I use the wonderful tool Workflowy. It’s great for outlining stuff. I used it to outline this post.

Step 4 – Write the book

Writing the book is a really hard step. It’s hard because it takes daily persistance. You have to fight resistance at ever stage of the way.

It took me ages to get started when I fist set out to write the original tester’s edition of Remaining Relevant. I couldn’t fight the resistance.

There were blogs to read, emails to send, social channels to check, people to see, food to eat, walls to paint, cars to clean….you get the point. It’s hard.

Then I hacked around with my writing system and found a process that worked. This coupled with some time management approaches worked for me. I could beat resistance. And I beat it everyday.

Still to this day this following approach works for me, but no doubt resistance will soon find a way to get back at me.

Steven Pressfield’s extraordinary good book The War of Art is where I was first introduced to the ideas about resistance. It’s a brilliant book for anyone who is attempting to create anything new.

As I first published Remaining Relevant on Leanpub I used their Dropbox integration to write the book. In a nutshell you and Leanpub share a dropbox folder and your manuscripts exist within a folder as text (.txt) files.


Image of text files in dropbox


To start with I created a text file for every single chapter and used a notepad tool called TextWrangler to see them all in one window.


Text Wrangler files

I then started to write.

Every lunchtime for about 5 months I would disappear to the top floor of our office building and write for 45 minutes. No wireless. No internet. No phone.

To avoid falling foul of the resistance I would close down all other apps before heading to the top floor. This meant when I opened my laptop I had a clean slate. No distractions. I then opened TextWrangler and wrote.

I wrote the easiest chapters first. I wrote what I felt like writing that day. I didn’t write the book in the order it ended up in. I didn’t wait for inspiration to strike. I turned up on the top floor, opened my laptop and I wrote. Every single weekday.

I then started to get up at 5:30am and write for 45 minutes every morning before the kids got up. Again, I beat resistance by making sure everything was ready. I would fill the kettle, get my coffee cup and coffee ready, get a glass of water ready and get my laptop setup (no open apps or tools). This meant that when I woke (using a fitbit silent alarm) I would be ready to write….complete with coffee.

Before publishing the original tester edition on LeanPub I created a .doc version of the manuscript. I wrote the original book with the intention of making a more general version. This general version, to be uploaded to Amazon, was kept in .doc for simplicity.

As I don’t have Microsoft Word on my mac mini (it’s SO expensive) I uploaded the manuscript to Google Docs and worked on it in the browser.

This initially created opportunities for resistance to strike as those bookmarks looked so tempting. I solved this by removing the bookmark bar and installing Anti-Social to help with that. Anti-Social allows you to restrict access to the web basically.

I slowly worked through the file in Google Docs getting it ready for general consumption. After completing the book I downloaded a .doc version to Dropbox. I then used Microsft Word on my Windows laptop to finalise before uploading to Amazon KDP.

Step 5 – Tweak the book ready for publishing on Amazon

After completing the book and getting it proof read I was ready to upload to Amazon. Or so I thought.

To upload a book to Amazon you need to do some tweaking.

I did three final things before uploading.

Firstly I added a dynamic table of content by following the Amazon KDP publishing guide. I also then added the Start and TOC bookmarks as per the same guide.

I then finally saved the .doc file as HTML and zipped it along with the images.

The book was now ready to go.

Step 6 – Get a US Tax EIN

I then went to upload to Amazon and soon found that I had to fill in some US Tax information on Amazon. This meant getting an EIN. Hmm.

So I followed this great guide on getting an EIN and phoned the US using Skype. I called at 2pm and it cost about £1.20 in total but I wasn’t in the queue long. It wasn’t that tough and I got my EIN.

Step 7 – Upload and Test

Then I uploaded the book and tested it on the Kindle emulators. Boo. It didn’t work. For some reason my TOC and bookmarks didn’t work so I had to re-do that and upload again.

This time some of the emulators wouldn’t go to the right page for the TOC and start, yet some would.

After some Googling it seems it’s very common for the navigation not to work, especially with the emulator.

A lot of people also seemed to think it’s potluck whether the bookmarking works at all. I must admit I’ve read many books where it doesn’t work as expected.

Step 8 – Add an author page

After uploading the book I was now ready to tell the world. But before that I needed to create an Amazon author profile.

This was pretty straight forward as Amazon send you an email with details of how to promote the book and add an author page. I just visited the page and added my details along with a photo.

Step 9 – Tell the world

With that done it was now time to market the book. And that is a giant task in itself 🙂

So. Here are the steps again.

Step 1 – Have an idea

Step 2 – Research the idea

Step 3 – Outline the order of the book

Step 4 – Write the book

Step 5 – Tweak the book ready for publishing on Amazon

Step 6 – Get a US Tax EIN number

Step 7 – Upload and Test

Step 8 – Add an author page

Step 9 – Tell the world


Note: My new book, Remaining Relevant, is available on Amazon. The book contains help and advice for people who are job hunting. In it I cover interviewing, self learning, writing resumes and finding good jobs.
It’s available on Amazon right now: