How I Self-Published my Poetry Ebook on Amazon KDP as a 17-year-old

Yes, this is a sign that you should start writing, get back to writing, or get around to publishing!

If you don’t already know, I became a self-published writer in May (2021) when I published the ebook version of Floating Tears, a compilation of my musings and poetry.

No, I had absolutely no clue about what to expect when I decided to go for the self-publishing route, so you could call me a ‘newbie’ amongst well, sharks (aka the publishing process, already published authors, agencies etc.). However, after reading a million-and-three articles on self-publishing vs conventional publishing (through agencies), various self-publishing platforms, software to familiarise myself with, how-tos and all that jazz, I kind of understood what the process demanded from me.

I’m not here to advise you on whether you should self-publish your book or not because there are loads of articles online discussing the same and written by far more experienced individuals but I will say this, self-publishing was way easier than getting in contact with agencies because 1) I couldn’t find any local (Pakistani) ones that met my demands or were up to the mark, and 2) it is generally quite difficult to have your book idea/proposal/manuscript accepted if you are an unrecognised and a fairly new writer—hence why I chose the self-publishing road.

Along the way, I also came to realise that if you don’t know your way around designing a manuscript for a paperback or hardcover, which included knowing different margin/bleed/slug settings for the dimensions you were going for and more technical stuff (which was the case with me), publishing an ebook (unlike a paperback or a hardcover) was quite self-explanatory and simple.

All you have to do is download Kindle Create, which is recommended by Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), and the software will give you a whole step-by-step tutorial on how to end up with a final manuscript. In fact, you can even design a cover with Kindle Cover Creator if you’re not the best graphic designer, which you’ll find a link to when you get to the uploading-a-cover step in the publishing process.

I skimmed over several helpful articles on the Amazon KDP help page and found out what a typical front matter, back matter and body should look like and the steps to take after submitting my manuscript.

For example, my front matter consisted of the following pages; the title page, copyright page, dedication page, table of contents, foreword, preface, a disclaimer and side notes (all before the body of my book began). The back matter began where the body ended, and that included the following pages; an about-the-writer page, a glossary, and an afterword.

Kindle Create has specific templates for the pages included in the front and back matter and organises it in the expected, usual order, so all you really need to do is follow the tutorial and just put in the details. As for the body, you need to have a documented manuscript (preferably a Word document) if you’re looking to publish a simple story/book without any pictures or links. If you’re looking for another format, one that includes pictures, links and such features, again, Kindle Create will help you with it all.

I was able to publish my ebook approximately 2 months before the paperback because I didn’t have to worry about the dimensions of my cover, any bleed settings I had to look into, font, sizing, images, if my book met Amazon’s requirements etc. And so, it really was just me uploading a Word manuscript, having Kindle Create apply the ebook format onto it, filling in the front and back matter, and after a lot of proofreading, I was ready to publish my debut book!

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