How to Create Picture Ebooks for Kids

This post by Laura Backes originally appeared on Jane Friedman’s site on 2/23/15.

Until recently, creating ebook versions of children’s picture books was something publishers reserved for their best-selling authors and illustrators. If you wanted to self-publish a picture ebook, you either needed to be a whiz at writing code, or you paid an ebook creation service to do it for you. (That said, it was possible to find a few services targeted toward publishing books for kids on Apple devices, such as Book Creator.)

Last September, Amazon released KDP Kids’ Book Creator, which allows the average Joe to create illustrated children’s books for the Kindle and upload them directly to Amazon. These books can be designed in the landscape format (to mimic the layout of print picture books) and can include text pop-ups that enlarge the text with a tap or a click, making it easier to read.

Side note: Using the KDP Kids’ Book Creator means you’re publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. You can choose from several royalty structures within that program, and also choose whether or not to be included in KDP Select, which gives Amazon exclusive distribution of your ebook for a certain time period in exchange for marketing perks.

While the KDP Kids’ Book Creator still has a few rough spots (which Amazon is presumably ironing out in response to user feedback), it’s a good start. Those of us who have worked in children’s publishing for years recognized this move for what it was: a game changer.

Just how much has Amazon’s new free software changed the game?


Read the full post on Jane Friedman’s site.


Can You Successfully Use Word Templates to Create eBooks?

This post by Kimberly Hitchens originally appeared on on 10/5/14.

Once upon a time, (okay, about a month ago or so)  in a fit of curiosity, I decided to buy one of those advertised templates—you know the ones—make your ebook from WORD!  Why?  Because we get a lot of inquiries here.  In fact, we receive about 300 emails a day, believe it or not.  We get people asking why our services are “better” or different than what they can do themselves. A lot of what we do is invisible to the human eye.  This makes it hard to answer those types of questions without sounding self-serving.

As in, “well, gosh, we export and clean up the HTML, so that all the bad code that you can’t see with the naked eye doesn’t make your book go wonky when it’s opened on a Kindle.” This is a difficult sell, to be honest.  It’s the same difficult sell that I run into when I try to explain that Smashwords does not do the same thing that we do.  But, when you look at a sausage, do you know what’s inside it? Can you tell that one sausage-maker lovingly crafted his sausage from the BEST stuff, while the other used what remained on the floor after the first guy finished?  No, you can’t.  Not unless you already do this for a living, and if you did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation–would we?

An eBook-making Test:  Show, Not Tell.

In that vein, I decided to test what we do against those “DIY Word” templates that you can buy all over the Internet.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?  Perhaps, I thought, if I simply used one of those commercial templates, I could show–not tell–people the difference.  I made sure that I bought a well-written template, from one of the most reputable and best-known websites on the topic of bookmaking.  For both ebooks and print books.


Read the full post, which includes numerous images for comparison, on


Manuscript Formatting and the Nuclear Option

This post by Melinda Clayton originally appeared on Indies Unlimited on 5/6/14.

This past fall I published a self-publishing book. It looked great on my computer screen. The formatting was perfect; my spacing, indents, page breaks, etc., were all exactly where they needed to be, so I uploaded to Kindle Direct Publishing feeling pretty confident my preview in their online previewer would be error-free.

Boy, was I wrong. My paragraph indents were completely off. Some were indented too far, some not enough, and some just plain missing.

I went back to my manuscript and clicked on the pilcrow (the little paragraph symbol on the tool bar that shows all the formatting in your manuscript). Everything looked fine. Telling myself it must have been an issue on KDP’s end, I uploaded again.

I clicked through the various preview screens. On some devices, the formatting was good. On others, it was clearly off. I couldn’t possibly upload a book that was going to have lousy formatting on half the devices that downloaded it.

I knew what needed to be done; I’d even written about it in the book. I needed to go nuclear.

My manuscript was written as a Word .doc, and Word is known for sometimes having hidden code that not even the pilcrow will show you. This is particularly true if you’ve copy/pasted a lot, saved in various places, or emailed the document back and forth.


Click here to read the full post on Indies Unlimited.


Announcing Pre-order for KDP

An email Amazon sent to KDP authors today:

We’re excited to announce that you can now make your new books available for pre-order in Kindle Stores worldwide. With a few quick and easy steps you can create a pre-order page up to 90 days in advance of your book’s release date–your pre-order product page will be created within 24 hours. When you make your book available for pre-order, customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set. We will deliver it to them on that date.

One advantage of using pre-order is that you can start promoting your Kindle book pre-order page on Author Central, Goodreads, your personal website, and other places ahead of its release to help build excitement for your book. Also, pre-orders will contribute toward sales rank and other Kindle Store merchandising ahead of release, which can help more readers discover your book.

Visit your KDP Bookshelf to set up your new book for pre-order.

Best regards,
The Kindle Direct Publishing Team

Questions? Learn more about pre-order on our Help page.


Playing with Permafree Books – The Results

This post by Nick Stephenson originally appeared on his site on 1/9/14.

I’ve been experimenting with a permafree book over the last few weeks – admittedly, I’m a little late to the game, but with so many indie authors using this approach, I figured it was time to dip my toes in the water. I chose my shorter title, “Paydown” (a 95 page novella) as the guinea pig for this little experiment. The book has been well received, with a 4.2* rating on Amazon over 15 reviews at the time the title first went free. A few weeks later, reviews are still good, averaging 4.1* over 28 reviews. But I’m far more interested in measuring the ROI, so here’s the breakdown for y’all:

Price of Paydown prior to permafree = $0.99c
Average daily revenue for Paydown prior to permafree = $2.20
Average daily unit sales for Paydown prior to permafree = 6

Granted, I only had the book up for sale for 2 weeks before going free, but that gives you a rough idea. Essentially, for every day the book is free, I’m losing $2.20 off the bat (I figured I could live with that). So how did jumping on the permafreebie bandwagon help sales across my other titles? Here’s a lovely graph:


Click here to read the full post, which includes a breakdown of the sales figures, detailed analysis, and conclusions, on Nick Stephenson’s site.