9 Steps to self-publishing a book on Amazon

9 Steps to self-publishing a book on Amazon

Self publishing a book on Amazon is an amazing experience. Sure, it’s daunting, but it’s also a brilliant personal challenge to complete. Here are 9 Steps to self-publishing a book on Amazon.

My first book published on Amazon, Remaining Relevant, is doing ok – it’s never going to provide me enough money to pursue writing as a full time career, but that’s not the point. The goal was to see if I could do it, and to learn how to self publish.

It was a great sense of achievement. I learned a lot about the self publishing industry and I learned a lot about myself. I never realised quite how hard it would be to take a book from idea to published.

This post outlines 9 Steps to publishing a book on Amazon Kindle.

Step 1 – Have an idea

There is a saying that everyone has a book inside them. This means that we are all capable of writing a book. I would agree.

The first step to writing a book is having an idea. Some people have lots of ideas for books, others struggle to generate ideas in great numbers. Generating ideas is hard work but there are some techniques that may help.

I’d recommend reading ThinkerToys – it’s packed full of some really great ways to generate ideas.

The technique I tend to use most often is that of writing down challenges I’m facing on a piece of paper and then generating answers and solutions to those problems – these often become book ideas.

For example, for Remaining Relevant I wrote on a sheet of paper “write a book about how hard it is to find good candidates and what candidate could do about it”. I then let my subconscious mind get to work.

Over the next few months I wrote down any ideas, insights and observations that popped in to my head. I collected these notes over a period of about two months, each day re-reading my challenge.

I then brought these ideas and notes together in to a mind map – this let me see how these ideas could collide, combine or spawn new ideas.

We’re all different though so hack around with various techniques and start generating ideas.

Step 2 – Research the idea

The next step I did was to spend some time researching. As usual I used Evernote to bring this research together in one place. I then sifted through it and started to make sense of what it was I wanted to write about.

No matter what genre of book you are writing you’ll most likely need to do some research.

The key thing though is to not spend forever researching. It’s possible to procrastinate about the writing by spending too much time researching.

Step 3 – Outline the structure of the book

The structure of the book is important as it will help to convey the right message, in the right order. A book with random or misguided direction can be tough to read.

Don’t worry, you’re unlikely to get the order right first time. Just the act of outlining the structure is helpful when it comes to writing the book.

For this I use the wonderful tool Workflowy. It’s great for outlining stuff. I used it to outline this post.

Step 4 – Write the book

Writing the book is a really hard step. It’s hard because it takes daily persistance. You have to fight resistance at every stage of the way.

It took me ages to get started when I first set out to write Remaining Relevant. I couldn’t fight the resistance.

There were blogs to read, emails to send, social channels to check, people to see, food to eat, walls to paint, cars to clean….you get the point. It’s hard.

Then I hacked around with my writing tools and time management approaches and I found a solution – I had found a way to beat resistance. And I beat it everyday.

Still to this day the following approach works pretty consistently for me, but no doubt resistance will soon find a way to get back at me. It might not work for you – experiment to find a way that resonates. But be careful – hacking with your writing process can be a form of resistance too!

Steven Pressfield’s extraordinary good book The War of Art is where I was first introduced to the ideas about resistance. It’s a brilliant book for anyone who is attempting to create anything new.

I use Google Docs to write my books. It’s pretty simple and is available on all devices. I created a browser shortcut for the file so I could quickly access it.

I then started writing.

Every lunchtime for about 5 months I would disappear to the top floor of the office building and write for 45 minutes. No wireless. No internet. No phone.

To avoid falling foul of the resistance I would close down all other apps and open my book before heading to the top floor. This meant when I opened my laptop I had a clean slate. No distractions.

I wrote the easiest chapters first. I wrote what I felt like writing that day. I didn’t write the book in the order it ended up in. I didn’t wait for inspiration to strike. I turned up on the top floor, opened my laptop and I wrote. Every single weekday.

I then started to get up at 5:30am and write for 45 minutes every morning before the kids got up. Again, I beat resistance by making sure everything was ready. I would fill the kettle, get my coffee cup and coffee ready, get a glass of water ready and get my laptop setup (no open apps or tools). This meant that when I woke I would be ready to write….complete with coffee.


I slowly worked through the file in Google Docs getting it ready for general consumption. I had it proof read and edited by a number of very helpful wording experts.

After completing the book I downloaded a .doc version to Dropbox. I then used Microsft Word on my Windows laptop to complete Step 5.

Step 5 – Tweak the book ready for publishing on Amazon

After completing the book I was ready to upload to Amazon. Or so I thought.

To upload a book to Amazon you need to do some tweaking.

I did three final things before uploading.

Firstly I added a dynamic table of content by following the Amazon KDP publishing guide. I also then added the Start and TOC bookmarks as per the same guide.

I then finally saved the .doc file as HTML and zipped it along with the images.

The book was now ready to go.

Step 6 – Get a US Tax EIN

I then went to upload to Amazon and soon found that I had to fill in some US Tax information on Amazon. This meant getting an EIN. Hmm.

So I followed this great guide on getting an EIN and phoned the US using Skype. I called at 2pm from the UK and it cost about £1.20 in total. I wasn’t in the queue long. It wasn’t that tough and I got my EIN.

Step 7 – Upload and Test

Then I uploaded the book and tested it on the Kindle emulators. Boo. It didn’t work. For some reason my TOC and bookmarks didn’t work so I had to re-do that and upload again.

This time some of the emulators wouldn’t go to the right page for the TOC and start, yet some would.

After some Googling it seems it’s very common for the navigation not to work, especially with the emulator.

A lot of people also seemed to think it’s potluck whether the bookmarking works at all. I must admit I’ve read many books where it doesn’t work as expected. I got it working for most of the emulators and moved on through to publishing.

The publishing process is really self explanatory. I filled in the details and added the right categories and author details. I then chose the 70% royalty option which meant the book had to be £1.99 or above. Set the price and let Amazon work it’s magic.

Step 8 – Add an author page

After uploading the book I was now ready to tell the world, but before that I needed to create an Amazon author profile.

This was pretty straight forward as Amazon send you an email with details of how to promote the book and add an author page. I just visited the page and added my details along with a photo.

Step 9 – Tell the world

With that done it was now time to market the book. And that is an on-going giant task in itself 🙂

So. Here are the steps again.

Step 1 – Have an idea

Step 2 – Research the idea

Step 3 – Outline the structure of the book

Step 4 – Write the book

Step 5 – Tweak the book ready for publishing on Amazon

Step 6 – Get a US Tax EIN number

Step 7 – Upload and Test

Step 8 – Add an author page

Step 9 – Tell the world


Note: My new book, Remaining Relevant, is available on Amazon. The book contains help and advice for people who are job hunting. In it I cover interviewing, self learning, writing resumes and finding good jobs.
It’s available on Amazon right now:
Book - Remaining Relevant