On publishing a Kindle book: 8 quasi-random observations

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Here it goes, in no particular order—some observations about publishing a Kindle book (my short story, “Out There”):

  • Publishing on Kindle can be very, very easy. And that’s both thrilling and scary. Thrilling because of the prospects for indie authors. Scary because I really wonder about the prospect of a ridiculous glut of unedited, junky ebooks.
  • Amazon’s Kindle publishing how-to for Macintosh users is clear and easy to follow. Yes, it involves using Microsoft Word — I’d prefer to use anything but Word for writing (or formatting) — but the guide simplifies things and doesn’t require much technical know-how.
  • How much time did it take to format and publish the book? Well, I was publishing a short story I’d written in the 1990’s; it already existed as a Word file. Formatting the book, using Amazon’s directions, took two or three hours. Designing the cover took about a half-hour or an hour. Publishing the book using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) took about a half-hour.
  • My recipe for a simple e-book cover: Strong image. Big type. That’s it. Yes, I could have spent much more time on this, and I’d like to with other books, but this was really an effort at experimenting with publishing on Kindle and I didn’t want to obsess over any one element of the project.
  • I’d wondered whether there’s a minimum length for a Kindle book. There’s not.
  • You can decide who’s listed as the publisher of your book.
  • Many writers have embraced blogs and Twitter. But ebooks? I think we’re still at an early stage of seeing how independent writers explore the ebook. I expect we’ll see a lot more writers publishing ebooks and embracing the role of writer as entrepreneur.
  • Once you publish, you can revise. I’ve already changed the cover of “Out There.” In the future, I may reformat the way the title page looks, reformat the header for the Table of Contents, center the headings for chapter titles, and make other changes.


  • Allan, I thought that you can now format with MacBook and save in ePub format. I’ll be trying that next week, as I, too, hate using word.

  • I just put my 6th book up today, and I still struggle with some aspects of formatting because of my lack of familiarity with Word. The great thing is that I can take it down a dozen times, make the correction and put it back up. I’m doing a series of Tips books, each geared to a different profession or stage of life. “Enjoy Your Retirement” is up for free now until Sunday, if you’re interested in seeing an example of a book in a series. Thanks for the great information you continually give us!

  • How timely your newsletter was. I am in the process of selecting a graphic designer but it’s not easy! We know what we want but don’t know how to get there! It’s also hard when you have published with a company like X-Libris. Of course I can redo it in word but not sure have to change the file they have to word. Working with O-Desk.

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