Have you ever thought about writing a book and self-publishing it on Amazon as either a paperback or Kindle edition? This can feel like a daunting process when you don’t know where to begin. Thankfully, Carolyn Wilhelm recorded every step she went through while she was self-publishing her books and has created a Udemy course for others who want to know what’s involved, step by step for Self-Publishing from the Very, Very Beginning.
Most classes and websites that talk about self-publishing assume you already have a lot of knowledge about such things, which means they don’t work well for true beginners.
You may think that, yes, Amazon itself has guides available on what to do and how to format books for free, so why not use those? Let me tell you from my own personal experience that those guides are truly awful! The dimensions used differ from place to place, the inches to millimetre conversions are drastically wrong in places, and even the templates they provide aren’t formatted correctly!
How do I know these things? Because I have put together books for clients of mine and I sadly attempted to use the Amazon guidelines as instructed to do. An Amazon best-selling author had previously used Create Space for her book series, which sounds like it was very easy, but I have found that Amazon’s new KPD is very frustrating. I have lost many, many hours of paid work while struggling off the clock trying to figure out what was going wrong because I had used the Amazon guides and templates and things weren’t working.
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A True Beginner
I do not have a design nor publishing background, so yes, I was a real beginner. I didn’t know what bleed was, nor even a gutter. I needed help, and I needed it fast! I was done staying up half the night, and Phil was done with me complaining and verbalizing my frustrations.
I’ve done so many different things over the past couple of years, and so many courses that my head was full. That’s when Carolyn of The Wise Owl Factory reminded me that I was signed up with her Udemy class, Self-Publishing from the Very, Very Beginning. Yes, why on earth had I not thought of that…the answer was that I was following my client’s instructions and using the Amazon guides.
Help To The Rescue
I took a step back and revisited the course. When I first had access I didn’t know that I would find myself formatting books for Amazon. Now that I was doing this as part of my business, I needed to do it as well as I could.
Carolyn is right when she tells you to set things up correctly right from the start to prevent more difficult issues down the road. One basic point is how you set up your Word document to deal with pictures. You would think the Amazon templates would be pre-set to deal with this – but no, they weren’t. I was so glad for Carolyn going over this as it would have been very embarrassing to have had every illustration in a colouring book to show up blurry when it went to print! Watch this video that shows what you should do:
Carolyn’s course deals with these formatting technicalities, as well as things like whether you will need an ISBN or not, and where and how to assign them, which is important.
There are 9 main sections to Self-Publishing From The Very Very Beginning:
- Introduction and Overview
- Preparation to Work
- Create a Kindle Manuscript in Word
- Self-Marketing for your Self-Published Book
- Create a Paperback Manuscript in Word
- Children’s Picture Books Paperbacks and eBooks
- Barnes and Noble Press
- Social Media Tips
- Free Author Pages
Each of these main sections has several subsections that go into easy-to-understand detail. Carolyn shows you what to do right on the screen so you have the option to split-screen your own screen and follow along as you watch the lessons.
This self-publishing course has over 3 hours of video lessons and 39 resource downloads, mostly in PDF form that give extra explanations for you to keep handy. For example, the download for where to get ISBNs and Bar codes gives you that information, broken down by how much money each option will cost. You’ll also have 4 templates to use for your own children’s book or chapter books!
What kind of book will you be publishing? There are differences between manuscripts, colouring books, and children’s picture books. Carolyn also shows you how to set up an interactive book for Kindle – these are super-cool!
There’s More To Do After You Publish
Of course, simply publishing your book isn’t really the end of the process. You need to set up an Amazon author profile, and you’ll also want to set up social media profiles for promotion.
Speaking of cost, you could pull out all the stops and spend a small fortune on publishing you book. But Carolyn’s methods show you the most affordable way to do this, and most options are available for free. Why spend money when you don’t need to?
As you create and sell your books, you’ll start to know what works and what doesn’t and you can make adjustments as needed or invest in graphics or an illustrator for a unique product.
Now that I have this course, and have worked my way through a couple of books for a client and I know what works and what doesn’t for this particular style of book, I am more confident about putting these skills to work for my own future self-publishing. I’ve had an idea or two for a few years but have just never done anything about it, like most people. Now that I have a go-to resource (you can also ask questions through the course portal) and have done things the hard way before doing them the smart way, hopefully I’ll soon have my own official author’s page.
For more information about Carolyn Wilhelm and her products, you can have a look at her website, The Wise Owl Factory (and her introduction of this course),her Amazon author’s page, and our many posts about her products,
Carolyn Wilhelm is the author of The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has an MS in Gifted Education, a MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12, and has finished the KHT Montessori 12 month program. She makes mostly free resources for teachers and parents.