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  • Writer's pictureBilvy

Guide: Self Publishing with KDP

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is Amazon's self publishing service, which prints and publishes books on demand. On-demand printing means no minimum order requirements, so you can affordably use KDP for personal orders, like the hardcover editions I've made of my favourite fan fics.

Disclaimer: Respect writers and the copyright laws that protect them. This guide is only intended for printing individual, personal-use copies of books, and in no way encourages profiting off others' work. Printing with KDP automatically lists the work on Amazon's public storefront, so you must remember to unpublish any fanfiction as soon as your order has been printed.

Handy links:


Step 1: Set up your KDP account

First time users will need to set up payment, identity, and tax information. KDP is typically for authors to self publish and monetise their work, which is why they require this info.

Step 2: Use a template for the internal pages.

Download KDP's manuscript templates from here for a .docx file with all the margins and dimensions set up for you. You'll get a zip file with all the paperback book sizes.

8 x 5 is the standard size for paperbacks, while 8.5 x 5.5 is the smallest option for hardcovers.

Step 3: Paste from AO3

The best way to copy fic from AO3 is to download the entire work as an HTML file.

Use the download button at the top of the fic and select the HTML option.

The file will open in your browser, giving you a single page with a cleanly formatted version of the fic. Select all the text with CTRL/⌘ + A, then copy and paste it into your .docx template!

Step 4: Formatting

Pasting everything from the HTML file will retain all of the text formatting (line breaks, italics etc), but you'll need to edit the size of the text to fit the template, and remove any unnecessary text like chapter notes and tags. And though it's not necessary, there's so much to customise at this stage to make a book really unique!

Things you can edit:

  • Resize the body text (recommended 11pt)

  • Change the body font (i.e. Times, Georgia, Garamond etc)

  • Remove any "Chapter Summary", "Chapter Notes", and "See the end of the chapter for more notes" text.

  • Insert page breaks at the start of new chapters.

  • Customise the font for chapters, headings, and page numbers.

  • Add decorative characters to scene break lines (i.e. ❅✦⚔︎☾♥︎✎)

  • Insert illustrations (KDP can print colour, but black and white is much cheaper)

  • Create a table of contents with the "Insert" tool.

KDP also has a detailed guide to formatting according to industry standards, if you're into that.

Step 5: Generate a cover template

After the internals are completely finished, export the finished manuscript to a PDF file.

Use the KDP cover calculator to generate a cover template. The "page count" will be the total pages of your manuscript PDF. Hit "Calculate Dimensions" then "Download Template" to get a PNG and PDF of your template.

Step 6: Design the cover!!

Unzip the template you just downloaded and open the PNG in your preferred image editing software (Photoshop, Procreate, Canva etc). Alternatively, you can use Amazon's built in Cover Creator tool. Photoshop owns my soul so I've never touched it, but have a look if you want to avoid this whole cover editing rigmarole.

To start editing, lower the opacity of the template layer so you can keep all the important content within the bleed and crop lines. When you're finished, export the file as a PDF.

In Photoshop you can simply Save As > Photoshop PDF, but other programs like Clip Studio Paint may require you to save the file as a PNG, then convert that to a PDF elsewhere.

(Doing this on a Mac is simple enough; just open the PNG in Preview and hit the Export as PDF option. Sorry Windows users, you're on your own.)

Step 7: Upload to KDP

Back in your KDP bookshelf, hit the big yellow CREATE button to start, and select whether you're making a Paperback or Hardcover.

Page 1: Hardcover/Paperback Details

Everything here is for the Amazon store listing. Only fill out what's necessary if you're printing fanfic and plan on removing the listing as soon as you've ordered your copy.

Page 2: Hardcover/Paperback Content

Click to get a free ISBN (I'm so sorry, no way to avoid that big ugly barcode).

Select the same paper options you entered into the cover calculator.

Bleed Settings: If you included any images in the internals that extended outside of the margins, select "Bleed (PDF Only)". Otherwise stick to No Bleed.

Cover Finish: Self explanatory, but I just want to note how freaking gorgeous and silky the Matte option is.

After uploading your internals, upload your cover file by selecting the " Upload a cover you already have" option.

It will take a few minutes to upload your files, but once they're processed, you'll be prompted to check the previewer before continuing. If there are any issues with bleed or print quality, they'll be listed here so you can easily make the adjustments and reupload as needed.

Page 3: Rights and Pricing

If you're printing for yourself, you can mostly ignore this page. Select "all territories" and continue on to the Publish button at the bottom.

Step 8: Ordering

The worst part: Waiting. It can take up to 72 hours for the book to be processed, but thankfully mine have always finished within the day.

Once you get an email telling you the book is ready, go back to your KDP bookshelf to order an author copy!

NOTE: Be careful not to order a "proof" copy . Proof copies feature a “Not for Resale” watermark across the cover to check for errors before publishing.

Finally, the most crucial step: Once you've received confirmation from Amazon that your book is finished printing and has been shipped to you, unpublish that shit.

In the same place you ordered an author copy, click "unpublish" to remove it from the store.

I expect that if the worst case scenario arises and any of you leave a fan fic listed on Amazon for someone else to purchase, you send that full amount straight to the author without a second thought.

This got a little long but I hope it helps! Amazon is a clunky ass website and I definitely understand how intimidating KDP is to new users. But after you've done it once, you'll be able to do it with your eyes closed.

Please remember to respect the authors of the works you love. If an author asks for people not to print their work, you must heed that. Otherwise, be sure to leave kudos and bookmark your favourite works, and comment to show your appreciation!!

- Bilvy (and Oliver)

The fics mentioned in this guide:

Aziraphale / Crowley (Good Omens)

M - 41,313 words - Human Professors AU

Aziraphale / Crowley (Good Omens)

E - 213,340 words - Human Teacher/Guardian AU

In A Place Like This - ghostrat (me)

Aziraphale / Crowley (Good Omens)

T - 5,200 words - 1920s Demon/Angel Arrangement

And ummmmmm you don't have to but if you like my writing you can also buy my original work here orrrr read stuff for free here 👉👈

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