Publish to the world – free and fast

A number of people have requested Schooling at the Speed of Thought in Kindle format. “How hard could that be”, I wondered.  The answer – incredibly easy, fast and cheap. With the right tools, and this guide, you too could be publishing quickly and easily. 

So, if you are interested in doing likewise either for yourself or as a project with students, read on…

First some quick background info… Amazon Kindle is an e-book publishing platform that allows authors to publish directly from the Kindle Store on Amazon. The Kindle platform consists of devices (Wireless/3G enabled ebook-readers); applications for PC, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, Blackberry, and Android-based devices; and an ebook store with books, magazines and public domain content. In theory, practically anyone can take a Word document and push it to the Amazon site for anyone else to download – either free or paid for. OK, there’s a bit more to it than that, but not a lot.

The business model is simple – you write, design and produce your publication, upload it to the Kindle Direct Publishing platform using your regular Amazon credentials, and providing poeple buy what you are selling, eventually – and I stress eventually – you get a cheque through the post. Amazon give you either 35% or 70% royalty – which is taxable of course. Read the “getting paid” section here before getting too excited.

So, assuming that your aim is to deliver your wisdom to the massess, rather than to purchase a castle in Tuscany, just follow these simple steps to publishing stardom.

1. Get the right tools

Microsoft Office Pro 2010

MobiPocket Creator 4.2 (free)

Kindle Reader for PC (free)

2. Build your publication

Word 2010 is indispensable for both professional quality print and ebook publishing. Use the left-hand navigation bar to structure, draft and refine your text. Keep your style-sheet simple, and avoid multiple layered bullets.

3. Add illustrations

Use PowerPoint 2010 for creating professional publishing-quality images. Create your tables in PowerPoint, save them as JPEG files and insert them into your Word document.

4. Convert to Kindle ebook format

For small publications – especially if they don’t have tables and illustrations  – you can upload diretcly to the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. However, I found it better to follow these steps:

i) Save the Word 2010 file as a Word 97-2003 format

ii) Import into MobiPocket Creator (‘Import’ then ‘Build’)

iii) Test with Kindle Reader for PC and refine the Word document until you are happy with the format and layout

5. Upload the “Kindle Content” file to Kindle Direct Publishing

Watch this video to see how to do this part – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMpiKDzNNO4

You will have to wait up to 3 days for the nice people at Amazon to review the content before its published.

And that’s pretty much it.

Key tips and reminders:

1. Don’t try to upload big files with lots of tables, pics and complex formatting directly to Kindle Direct Publishing. Build and test on your PC first.

2. Tables are tricky, and the more you have the trickier it gets, so build the tables in PowerPoint first, and export as JPEGs and then import these as pictures into Word.

3. MobiPocket Creator strips out blank lines, so use the Styles in Word to set “above” and “below” paragraph spaces (eg 6pt or 12pt above and below).

Lastly, its worth pointing out that all of the interior for the paperback version of Schooling at the Speed of Thought was done in Microsoft Office Pro 2010. The “galley” was sent to the printers in Word 2010 format, and the formating and layout options now within Word 2010 make it perfect for taking a book through from conception to the bookshelf. The only other software that was used was Visio for some of the more complex diagrams, and Adobe InDesign was used for the cover.