How to Self Publish Your VMware eBook KDP

how to self publish an ebook on kindle directDo you have a VMware book you’d like to self publish in 2013? In this “How-To” post I’ll cover the easy steps I took while publishing my own eBook on Kindle.

A Pep Talk for Newbies!

First, I’d like to take a moment and give new writers a “quick self publish pep talk.”

If you’re just getting started as a new writer, be aware it could take some time writing, and rewriting, before you have enough content ready to self publish your VMware eBook, especially if you want readers to pay for it. Hang in there!

That said, on the other hand, high quality content is king and sometimes you can get away with less content if you have something unique that has little or nothing written about it.

Tip: Do a quick search on Amazon for your topic to see how many Kindle books are already published on your subject. This will help you tune or tweak your eBook topic.

I was lucky to find when I chose my topic because most VMware books were “how to” guides for building or troubleshooting vSphere, or “how to” interview and apply for VMware jobs, or “how to” pass different VMware certification tests. Nothing was published on Kindle as a manager’s guide to help hire VMware talent.

Keep it Simple!

When I wrote “VCP for Hire” I knew it wasn’t going to be one of those thick “how to” books like Scott Lowe publishes. You know the one’s you see lined up on cubicle bookshelves?

I was motivated to self publish it because I thought the information I wanted to share about managing and hiring virtualization engineers was an important subject that would help IT managers regardless how many pages I wrote. Copies of VCP for Hire are still selling so I might have been right?

I’ve also read that Amazon allows authors to publish short stories and single essays as long as they are done with taste and priced fairly, but be warned that Amazon’s customers can return an eBook with no questions asked. I’ve had one copy returned out of over a 100 copies sold.

Tip: I’m telling you this to let you know your book doesn’t have to be hundreds of pages long…

Hindsight

There’s always a better way of doing things in hindsight, but I would do it the same way all over again because I wanted to strike while the iron was hot and the topic was fresh and available.

Don’t wait, get writing now, and get your book published on Kindle!

How to Self Publish an eBook on Kindle

1. Write Your Manuscript

I’ve been supporting VMware as an IT engineer for years so writing an eBook on the topic wasn’t difficult. What was difficult was thinking through what I wanted to say so the information would flow from chapter to chapter and make sense.

Tip: Go on Amazon and take a look at the table of contents of books similar to the one you want to write. Look for ideas on how the chapters should be ordered.

First, start by creating an outline on the topics each chapter will be about. Don’t worry so much about the structure. Just focus on covering all the topics you want  to write about.

I used MS Word to write my manuscript so once I had my outline laid out in my document, I just started filling in the body between chapters. Writing this way you will end up with one long document that requires a lot of scrolling.

Another way is to create a new Word file for each chapter or subject and then cut and paste it all together later.

And another way is to use a Mind Mapping tool to organize your topics before you start writing.

Whatever works for you, the goal is to write, write, write!

Example of my outline (ToC):

VCP for Hire: 

  1. Legal Disclaimers
  2. About the Author
  3. Introduction
  4. Don’t Erase This Whiteboard!
  5. Manager to Manager Advice.
  6. Leverage My Mistakes.
  7. This is Not Another Technical How-To Guide.
  8. Small or Medium to Large Environments.
  9. Small (Fast Paced & Agile)
  10. Medium to Large (Established, Standardized & Methodical)
  11. Engineering, Support & Operations.
  12. Two New Job Titles.
  13. Technical Qualification (Skills)
  14. Virtualization Engineer (VE)
  15. Virtualization Administrator (VA)
  16. Hybrid VE (Small Environments)
  17. Basic Job Descriptions.
  18. VCP for Hire Bonus Content
  19. Ten Must Ask Interview Questions.
  20. Thank You!

2. Formatting Your Manuscript

Here are the steps for getting from first draft to final draft. It will take time so have patience.

Once you have your first draft written, format it so can be printed. If you’re using Word, here’s how I formatted my document.

Step 1 – Apply standard format tags

  • Titles use the Title tag
  • Chapters used the Headings 1 tag
  • Topics within a chapter use Headings 2 tag
  • The body uses the Normal tag
  • Add a Page Break after each chapter

Step 2 – Insert the table of contents (below I’ve added links with more details to help do this)
Note: As you write more and edit your draft, you will need to update the ToC.

Step 3 – Print it out your first draft and don’t look at it for a few days before you start editing and correcting the grammar and structure.

Tip: I did this because I found I sub continuously auto edit as I read and miss obvious grammar mistakes if the text is fresh in my mind. Letting it rest will flush it from you mind so you can see the errors better.

Step 4 – Take a red pen and mark, circle and edit the draft.

You can do this after each chapter if the book is long, or all at once.

Step 5 – Update the soft copy with your corrections and print out another copy.

Wait another day before reading and editing. Repeat this step until the manuscript flows. I found changing small things caused me to have to rewrite sections and repeat this step several times.

Step 6 – Print out a fresh copy of your second draft and get someone to read and edit it.

If the person helping you isn’t an editor give them instructions on what you are looking for: spelling, grammar, flow, etc.

Note: There are people online that make a living as editors so hire one if you don’t have anyone to help you edit your manuscript, just make sure you get someone other than yourself that can read, spell and understands basic grammar.

Step 7 – Once the second draft is edited you’ll want to review any major changes to ensure they are relevant.

Then update the manuscript again and print out another copy.

Review the third draft and make more changes as required. Have it reviewed again in case something was missed or doesn’t sound right. I ended up switching complete chapters around during this step.

Step 8 – By now you should have most of the changes and editing done.

Also the formatting should be coming along. Read it again and repeat any step as required until it flows.

Hopefully by now you have a final draft. Be careful not to make any more changes.

Tip: If you do make changes at this point make sure you read the manuscript again to ensure it still flows.

3. Choosing Cover Artwork for Your Kindle eBook

I wanted to do it myself but I’m not much of an expert with Photoshop or Gimp so I created a basic layout in paint and found someone on Fiverr to do my VCP for Hire cover. I actually sent the same idea to three different people and picked the best cover that came back.

Note: I was on a small budget so I did settle for a cover that could have been better. Also I noticed a spelling error on the cover on the day I was going to publish my eBook on Kindle.

Tip: Proofread everything!

Cover Sizes

Amazon wants eBooks to fit inside their Kindle devices so they have recommended dimensions. I also found their recommendations work fine for my Kindle application running on the iPad.

Creating a Kindle Account and Uploading your Manuscript and Cover

Now it’s time for the exciting part, and my guess is you’ve already gotten ahead of me and created the Kindle Publisher account. No problem. Here’s the link if you haven’t: KDP.

Once you’re created your account and logged in just following the step by step instructions they provide to upload your files. It may take uploading your files a few times before the look is right in the simulator.

I found a few tricks for getting formatting right, here’s a couple of links to help you.

  • Dark Neon – Formatting a Word Document for Kindle (read)
  • Amazon – Instructions for Publishing on Kindle Direct (read)

4. Pricing and Publishing your VMware eBook on Kindle

I originally priced my eBook at $8.97 and later lowered it to $6.97. With all the eBooks that are priced at .99 cents it’s easy to think your eBook isn’t worth more, or shouldn’t be free.

Tip: Don’t give away your hard work if it’s worth something.

If you’re not sure how much to ask for you eBook, just find similar book and price it the same. You can always change it later. Amazon will also give you guidance on pricing that is related to how much you want to earn per sale.

Benefits of Self Publishing a VMware eBook

The benefit I’ve gotten from publishing my VMware eBook on Amazon is more for my own confidence than anything else. I’ve also noticed people think more of my authority on the subject when they know I’ve published a book.

Other benefits from using the Kindle Self Publish Platform

  • You don’t need an agent or publishers approval (other than KDP)
  • Uses an already created Amazon account
  • Very easy interface to self-publish any kind of book
  • No ISDN required (required on iTunes)
  • Easy to sell your book in other countries
  • Easy pricing and good royalties
  • Start getting paid the month after your book sells copies
  • Millions of readers use Kindle devices and the Kindle App for Android and iPad
  • Self Publish as many books as you want

Lessons Learned from Self Publishing

  • Start blogging about the book you are going to write and get your audience primed and talking about it
  • Share your ideas, topics and artwork with you audience and get their feedback
  • If you’re going to use Fiverr for graphics, get multiple artists involved and let your audience help pick the cover
  • Do a Youtube video to promote your book before it’s released
  • Target keywords in you book description
  • Do a Press Release about your release
  • Get bloggers to review your book before it’s released

Conclusion

My goal was to self publish an eBook on Kindle about VMware in 2012 and I succeeded. Sure, the next time I’ll do things a little different but I am glad about doing it the way I did.

Do you have a VMware or virtualization “how to” book you want to self publish? Don’t spin your wheels until you have a perfect plan or you’ll never publish it.

Amazon makes it easy to self publish on Kindle Direct Publishing and the only thing you have to do is follow these easy steps…

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