Sunday, October 6, 2019

How to Get Started on that eBook You've Been Meaning to Do for Decades

How to Get Started on that eBook You've Always Wanted to Do

Have You Ever Wanted to Write an eBook But Didn’t Know Where to Start?  

That’s where I was. For decades I kept saying, "I want to do a book of my lifetime poems," and kept putting it off. Finally, I took the plunge and just recently completed the book. The poems were already written, and it took me about a month to learn the ropes and put the book together. It’s a book of personally written poems and lyrics from the age of 8 to 58, entitled "We Will Have Morning Smiles."

As a newbie self-publisher, I’d like to share a few of the tools I researched and used to get this first book on the market. These are just the basics, to learn from the guru’s you’ll have to Google and find the ones you like. I did watch multiple YouTube Videos from various people, and the advice I found most helpful was Self-Publishing with Dale. I tripped on his videos after endless Google research. Compared to some, his video presentations were the easiest to follow. 

My First eBook of Poems
The advice in his videos are helpful, but to be honest, I didn’t follow all of it. One bit of information was that you should use a professional to create the cover of your book (if you can). I didn’t do that; I created my own. However, I do agree that a professional is a better way to go. 

The other is that you should, if you can, hire a professional to ‘Format’ your book. Yep, you guessed it; I didn’t do that. I formatted my own. Formatting isn’t easy, especially with a poetry book, but you can do it if you’re willing to read and learn.

Here are Three Quick Points to Help You Get Started:

1. Create Your KDP Publisher Account on Amazon - This is Where You'll Upload Your Book for Publishing

That part is easy. However, when you start filling all the information in, you'll have a lot of questions. The good thing is, KDP has a terrific help section, and customer service answers questions very quickly.

2. Google Documents or Microsoft Word - Where You'll Write Your Book

I wasn’t sure how to get a book written, formatted, then uploaded to Amazon or any other sellers platform.

After reading multiple articles on how to get started, I was more confused. 

What I found was that most people use Microsoft Word to write their books. Since I don’t have the full paid version of Word on my Laptop, I decided to use Google Documents. However, you do have to save your work in .docx format to upload it to Kindle Create (see more about Kindle Create below). 

To save your google document to a .docx format:

  • Click ‘File’ in the top left
  • Scroll down to ‘Download’
  • Several file saving options will show, choose (.docx)
  • Save the file to your computer. Done.

Oh, and guess how much I knew about Google Documents? Yep. Nada. I never had a reason to use it. However, I should have been! It’s a terrific tool. I’m using it for a ton of things now. So easy. I’m currently helping a family member out with a project and have been sharing work via Google Documents. No wonder people like it!

Here’s another google docs tip for you: 

In google docs, you can auto-generate a Table of Contents. However, on the editing bar, look for the button that says, “Normal Text." There’s a dropdown menu there that lets you choose various Heading options. 

Your Heading choices are essential because they determine what goes in your table of contents, and where:
  • Heading 1 - Puts the title as a Chapter Heading in your Table of Contents
  • Heading 2 - Places it as a Sub-Chapter below a Chapter

With my poetry book, sub-chapters were important. The main chapters are the headings that describe the types of poems, and the sub-chapters are each poem by title below it.
This is the Back Cover
It appears at the end of
the eBook on the inside

3. Download Kindle Create - Kindle Create is Where You'll Format Your Book for Publishing

There are conflicting views on using this. I would guess very experienced self-publishers don't need it.

Since I’m a newbie and Kindle Create was easy to understand, it served my needs. I’ll be using it again, at least until I become some sort of a pro. 

Download Kindle Create to your computer directly from Amazon. Then watch the video tutorials and read the help section. They’re fabulous.

Upload your saved book (either from Word or Google Docs - if that’s what you used), into Kindle Create. 

The file that's created in Kindle Create is the file you'll eventually upload to your KDP Amazon Publisher Account.

A Few Tips to Share: 

  • Kindle create generates a Table of Contents for you
  • However, I still created a detailed Table of Contents in Google Docs
  • I included both Tables of Contents in my book - The detailed Table of Contents with Sub-Chapters is from Google Docs, the other from Kindle Create only features the main chapters (because I designed it that way). You don’t have to do this, but I wanted more of a break-down.
  • It appears you can't directly internally link on your document while inside of Kindle Create. 
  • Do all your internal linking in Word or Google Docs before you upload it to Kindle Create.

Remember, these are the basics for beginner self-publishers like me. I wanted to give you a way to get started on your own ebook because I know how daunting getting started can seem.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I could not help but laugh. I have been thinking about doing this for years. I just started working on a few different ebooks about a week ago. Thank-you, so much for writing this as it was very inspiring for me.

    1. Brenda, lol. Getting started is hard then sticking with the learning curve is next right? lol - every time I understood one thing, I ended up with another question. I'm trying to keep things simple until I have a few more books up. Good luck with your books!

  2. I started researching this process about three years ago. It's probably time for me to make a little progress, eh? Thanks for sharing your tips. Sure to give me a jump-start. Appreciated!

    1. It's daunting at first, and scary to hit publish lol - I was so nervous - but have started another one and am hoping the second is a bit easier, but who knows.

  3. KDP has me stalled out, so I'll definitely check the sources you recommend to get moving again. Thanks.

    1. You're stuck on understanding KDP? Tutorials and help through them are terrific. And Kindle Create was helpful as well to format.

  4. Good for you Barbara, getting your poems ready to be published. I've read several over the years and the are GOOD.

    My son published an eBook last year and I remember it took him quite awhile to figure it all out. He had the cover professionally done, I remember. Right now he and his sister are collaborating on a children's book (son wrote the story; daughter is doing the illustrations) and are conferring on it via Google Docs as they live 200 miles apart. :). Thanks for the eBook advice.

    1. I agree with your son on a professionally designed cover - down the road, I'm going to go there as well. Much better approach. Love that your kids are collaborating on a children's book!! That is on my list as well - There's a poem I want to convert to a children's book, but need an illustrator as well - hopefully I knock this one off the bucket list as well. Congrats to your kids doing one, that's fantastic.

  5. Congratulations on publishing your book of poetry! Excellent advice and information for beginners! I never would have considered writing first on Google Docs. Like you, I rarely use them and I'm not very familiar with them. I understand why it might be easier to have a professional handle the formatting for you. Writers want to spend their creative energy writing. However, I would imagine in self-publishing, you really don't want a huge expenditure on the front-end. Thank you for sharing your experience and tips while they were still fresh on your mind.

    1. Absolutely correct! Just starting out I did not need front end costs until I could determine what this whole book writing thing was about, and if I could manage it along with everything else we do online. You know only too well what it's like to be busy on multiple projects lol!

  6. Barbara, congratulations on having the oompf to publish your poems. Good for you!!! And thank you for this very helpful post.

  7. Whoa. Thank you for being so open with your experience. This is helpful. After the book was published using google docs, did you like how the font size, spacing or formatting came out? Sometimes a chapter heading will show up to large for the page as compared to the body of text in the chapter. I'll have to check out your book. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi, I spent a lot of time creating page breaks and of course creating chapters and sub-chapters in Google Docs - and also selected the font etc, - but once I uploaded it to Kindle Create, I found that they had more options re font - and it automatically converted all my font to one of theirs. I read sans-serif was a popular one for kindle books - so I used that (changed all my font in Kindle Create) - re-formatted every page in Kindle Create again, choose a theme etc - you'll see once you start working in Kindle Create - you'll figure it out. It took me a while to really understand how things worked. I've started another book and I'm just using Arial font again knowing that once I upload it to Kindle Create I'll be changing it. I also read it's a good idea to keep all the font the same (or most of it) in your book. I used variation of font for certain headings. Also, people can change the font size on their ebook reading devices, and change the font as well - so going hog wild on the layout can be all for not when someone decides they need the largest font. But I went all hog wild to lay things out pretty anyway.

  8. Barbara, congratulations on getting you book of poetry self-published! I started looking into what was involved many years ago and was overwhelmed and confused. Sounds like they’ve streamlined the process and made it more accessible for non-techie authors, thank goodness. I really appreciate all your helpful tips!

    1. Thanks Margaret. It's still a bit head spinning, but not too bad

  9. First of all Congratulations Barbara! That is one giant step you took! Having your work in a published book is a great accomplishment and one that you should be proud of. Your steps to self publishing are easy to follow, so when I get the urge to write, I will remember where to look for the rest of the process. Thanks!


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