Holly Marlow

Adoption, Fostering and Special Guardianship

Indie Publishing

As I get asked questions about this a lot, I’ve collated my top tips for publishing a book. This saves me from re-typing the same information lots of times and means I’m less likely to forget something! I hope you’ll find this information helpful.

Printing and Distribution

I use Amazon’s KDP service to publish my books. Amazon prints a book each time someone orders it. They deduct the printing cost, then what’s left is split 40:60. Amazon take the 40% cut, which includes the packaging and delivery, as well as the convenience of it being on Amazon for people to buy, and the author receives 60% of the sales after printing costs (£3.50ish for a 24-page book, but it varies as different countries have different printing costs and taxes).

You can sign up for KDP here if you have an active Amazon account: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/. You have to sign up at the “.com” site, even if you’re not in the US, but you can publish books on all Amazon sites.

Once you have signed up to KDP, if you go to your “Bookshelf” it’s quite straightforward to add your book’s Amazon description, categories, etc. You then upload the PDF, select paper quality and set pricing. The tool tells you what royalties you’ll get with each paper and ink type, as different paper types and print options cost different amounts.

If you opt for “expanded distribution” when uploading your book, Amazon will also market your book to shops etc, and your royalty is approximately halved if they sell books that way, but that’s still higher than the royalty you’d get from a traditional publisher (typically 10%). My books have appeared on the websites of WH Smith, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble and loads of other online bookshops.

You can order a proof copy of your book before you hit “Publish.” I recommend doing this to test your options, for example, if you’re not sure whether you want a matte/glossy cover or white/beige paper, you can order one of each. It’s also helpful to see how colours come out in print, as it can differ slightly from what’s on a screen.

Design and Layout

KDP have downloadable templates here. I use some of the 8.5×8.5 templates to make square books and 6×4 for my autobiographical book, but as you can see, there are a lot of options!

I draw my own illustrations or someone draws them for me, then I use free software called GIMP that I think is best described as Paint for grown-ups, or Photoshop for the inexperienced, depending on your perspective! I scan the pictures in and edit them into double page spreads using GIMP, then re-size each page and export to JPG or PNG, then paste into the KDP template, making sure my double-page spreads align.

I use fonts from Google Fonts, which in my opinion look more professional than using the standard fonts available in Microsoft Word. Google Fonts have a lot of options and you can input sample text to see how your font will look, before downloading it.

Good luck with your publishing journey!