Dummies guide to publishing an ebook on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords

In this blog post I’m going to try and demystify the ebook publishing process. I’ve been through it and lived to tell the tale. So here goes. Stand by for a fun ride. It’ll be worth the trials and tribulations along the way!


  • Book (preferably in .doc format) – see detailed formatting guidelines below
  • Cover picture (in jpg format, max 1200 pixels high)
  • Short book description (400 characters max)
  • Proper book description (up to about 2,500 characters)
  • About the Author summary
  • Book categories (i.e. Young Adult, Fantasy, etc.)
  • Decision on selling price of book


  1. Do not attempt to publish your book without ALL the above ingredients. Delay or disaster could occur
  2. Ensure you have full publishing rights to the book you are publishing (I know this sounds odd, but if you have signed a contract with anyone, check and make sure…)
  3. Log in to SmashWords.com and create an author account if you don’t already have one (trust me, there is method in my seeming madness) – complete your author profile
  4. Select ‘Publish’ on your dashboard and complete the page, copying and inserting the various ingredients from above as requested
  5. Press ‘publish’ and wait while SmashWords processes your book (this could take several hours. SmashWords uses a queue which will update to inform you of its progress)
  6. When SmashWords has published your book, go to its page (click on book title) and download it to your PC / iPad / Ebook reader. Look carefully at the results and decide whether anything needs reformatting. If so, reformat and resubmit book to queue. PLEASE NOTE – This step is really important and time spent here will saves hours later)
  7. Once book is successfully and satisfactorily published at SmashWords, go to Amazon.com (you will need an account at kdp.amazon.com. You will also need an author account at authorcentral.amazon.com)
  8. On your ‘bookshelf’ page (at kdp.amazon.com), select ‘add a new title’ and complete the form as requested (similar to SmashWords).
  9. Submit the book to Amazon and wait while it converts it. You will then be taken to a page where you can select royalty rate and book price. Finally select publish and then wait
  10. It will take 24 hours or  longer for your ebook to appear in the Amazon Kindle store. This is why it is advised to publish at SmashWords first (to ensure format looks correct). You cannot view or correct any publishing errors at Amazon until after the book is completely published
  11. Once book is published, attach it to your author profile at Amazon
  12. While book is publishing at Amazon you can publish it at Barnes & Noble in much the same way. Go to pubit.barnesandnoble.com and set up an author account
  13. Select ‘add a title’ and go through a similar routine as at the other sites. It will take up to 24 hours for the ebook to be available at the Barnes & Noble site.
  14. Market shamelessly!
  • You may receive emails from Amazon or Barnes & Noble if there are problems with publishing. Do not ignore these emails. The quicker and more fully you respond to them, the quicker your book will publish. Each email will delay the publishing process by at least a day
  • If you have previous books published at Amazon that you want linking to your author account you can do that at the authorcentral site
  • If there are also physical copies of the books that you are epublishing you will need to email amazon to ‘merge their entries’. This can take several days
  • Check back regularly for publishing progress (often the books will appear in the bookstore before they are highlighted as ‘published’. Try searching for them on Amazon or B&N)
Detailed Document / Book Formatting:
  • The best instructions are HERE
  • Seriously, read the guide linked above…
  • In a nutshell, no fonts bigger than 18pt. No multiple lines between paragraphs. Use Word to automatically set up indent and trailing line space on paragraphs. Never use ‘tabs’. Don’t use lots of different fonts. Don’t use odd fonts. Insert all pictures inline. Etc., etc.
  • Seriously, read the guide linked above!!
About the author:

Paul Dorset was born in Poole, Dorset in England in 1960 but has been living in America since 1995. He has been writing for many years and some of his early works were published in ‘teen advice’ columns. He has also had many technical articles published, mostly in the field of Computing.

Paul currently lives in the Pacific Northwest but has traveled extensively and worked many times with teens and youth groups. It is this background combined with a vivid imagination that has enabled him to weave a tapestry of magic into complete novels. His first epic fantasy series, aimed at young adults, is entitled ‘The Southern Lands’. However, the storyline is more than exciting enough to keep adults turning pages as the story unfolds.

Paul is currently working on several other projects and hopes to release a couple of new books later in 2011. For up to date information on his projects, please read his blog which can be found at http://pauldorset.blogspot.com


  1. says

    Is this an eBook or an actual book?

    Getting this information was on my “to do” list. Thank you for this fantastic article.

    Thanks for the response.

  2. says

    Thanks for this. I’ve been wading through posts for days trying to find simple, succinct advice like yours. Just what the doctor ordered.