How to Publish with KDP: Part One

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Hello SErs. Harmony here. As promised in December, I am embarking on running a post series dedicated to taking a step-by-step look at how to get your finished manuscript from your computer and on sale on Amazon in both ebook and paperback. As I mentioned back before Christmas, some of us do that ourselves already, and for those of you who know all this, then you have my apologies, again, lol. For those of you who hire this out, or do it yourself but you’re not that confident, then it is my hope that this series will prove invaluable for you.

If you’d like to take a look back at the planned outline in that post, then here’s the shortlink: To make it easy to browse back and forth, I’ve set all links to open in new tabs. As this series progresses, I will update the links for you so that each post includes links to all past posts in the series.

So, here’s Part One: The Best Software for writing Your Manuscript

For the easiest formatting experience, you’ll want to get your software correct even at this early stage. Most of us grew up writing in MS Word, myself included. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best software for you … in fact, I might go so far as to say it’s one of the worst. Sorry, folks.

Why do I say this? Well, MS Word was never designed to hold hundreds of pages of text, or to deal with that level of formatting. The result is that it breaks often.

If all you want is a block of text for page after page, then you’re fine. But this will make a lot of work later on for you. While you can format in MS Word, it proves clunky and clumsy to use. I know, I’ve done this a lot. Not just for myself but for many other authors, too. I’ve lost count of the number of times I would add page headers/footers and nice formatting settings and image placements, only to have Word undo it all–and I mean undo EVERYTHING–as soon as I made one single change to one single word anywhere in the text. This is a well-known glitch. On top of all of that, MS Word is not a cheap option for you.

At the time of writing, a basic Word package, without the Office component, will set you back around £109.99. A full package of Office 365, which includes Excel and many other programs, is £59.99 per year for a Personal (single user) package, or £79.99 per year for a Home (six user) package.

Many of you might well have used and published from MS Word for years without any hiccups. If so, you’ve been lucky so far. If it works for you, then great. If not, then I list alternative software for you below.

Simply put, a Word Processor is not the best app for writing your book.

The Best Writing Software:

  1. Scrivener (Offline desktop writing through to publishing)
  2. Vellum (Offline desktop publishing)
  3. Shaxpir (Online and Offline writing through to publishing)

Yes, currently, the list is that short. All three offer limited free trial versions. In order of cost, here they are–with the most expensive first:

  1. Shaxpir @ $7.99 per month (approx $95.88 per annum)
  2. Vellum @ $249.99 lifetime
  3. Scrivener @ £47.00 lifetime

[Please note: All prices are correct at the time of writing this post, and are what I found online–hence the mix of dollars and pounds in there.]

For a whole package from writing your first word to publishing your beautiful manuscript, Scrivener has everything you need. For functionality along with cost, Scrivener comes in as the best investment.

However, Vellum offers a lot more functionality for the final publishing stages. The drawback is that you need an MS Word file to import. So, you have two costs, but incredibly easy and detailed formatting with this option.

Personally, I now write in Scrivener and export to MS Word, so that I can then import into Vellum for the final publishing work. Though convoluted, and pricey, it offers me the most flexibility by far, and is the quickest and easiest method I’ve found.  And it avoids the need for messing about with Word’s cumbersome formatting processes because Scrivener and Vellum do it all for you.

It’s worth noting that if you currently hire out to a formatter to design your book interior for you, then after two or three books you’ve done yourself using this software, you’ve earned back your software costs by what you’ve saved on your hiring out fees. Of course, a big sticking point is that you would need to pay this lump sum up front and in one go, which isn’t great for a lot of us.

If you’re interested, here are the links to the three websites:

  1. Scrivener:
  2. Vellum:
  3. Shaxpir:

None of the above are affiliate links, and I do not receive any benefit from listing them in this post.

If you’re sticking with MS Word, or other basic Word Processors, then don’t worry … this series will show you how to format your word-processed manuscript and how to convert that into both ebook format and PDF using FREE downloadable software. The task is a lot more involved and takes much longer to complete, but it is more than possible, and it’s on a lower budget than the above options.

Also, check out my article from last year on using Kindle Create. While this does lock you in to Amazon (Kindle) only, it offers a conversion from Word to Mobi and is free to download. Here’s the link:

That’s it from me for today. I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and I’ll see you all again on Monday, January 20th.

©Harmony Kent 2020

(If you're reading this post on or after January 20th, 2020, then here's the link for Part 2 in the How to Publish with KDP series: Please note, the link won't work until January 20th, 2020.)

41 thoughts on “How to Publish with KDP: Part One

  1. Pingback: How to use Mac in Cloud for working with Mac-only Software on a PC | Story Empire

  2. I use Word, and after my initial learning curve (and following the directions I got from Smashword’s free manual), I haven’t had a problem. For each new novel, I just take an old one, save it under a new name, erase the chapter details and write the new story. I already know the formatting is good, so no headaches. Lol! I downloaded Scrivener once and opened it… and then shut it. It just seemed like more work to learn a new format than just using what worked for me. If Word ever becomes frustrating for me, maybe I will try it again, but so long as my method works, I’m good. Lol! 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A most interesting post, Harmony. I have learned a lot about Scrivner here on S.E. with P.H. Solomon’s posts, but as of now, I still write everything in Word. Maybe someday I’ll try Scrivner. 🙂 Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I use WORD for formatting and I’ve never had a serious problem or lost my formatting. I have tried Scrivner and hated it. Perhaps it’s time to try again. I’ve also heard a lot about Vellum, sadly no Apple Computer.

    I find if i use WORD templates there are no real issues and like you, I have formatted for a lot of other authors.

    Looking forward to the rest of this series and will be reblogging on when I find them.

    Thank you for the great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I write my books on MS word on my Mac. I then use my PC for edits and formatting and final publishing. For some reason, the mac is not reliable with KDP for publishing. I have tried but always get some weird warnings. I have decided to just use the PC for all the publishing work. Thanks for doing this, Harmony.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As Joan said, Vellum is only available for Apple, and they have no plans to make it available for PC currently.
    This sounds like a good series, Harmony. I can’t wait to read more.
    I use Scrivener to do my writing, but find that exporting to MS Word has some glitches. I guess nothing is perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I finally did the one hour tutorial for Scrivener a few weeks ago. I bought the softwate after NaNo, but the jury’s still out. There are certain aspects of it I found appealing, but I’ve used Word for decades, so it’s possible I may remain an MS user.

    I’ll be indie publishing this year, so I’m looking forward to this series of posts. I just formatted a short story in HTML and it looks great in Kindle Previewer, but I’m still finagling some other things. I may source out my formatting for the book I plan later in the year. It depends how well things go with the short when I release it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I started with one prior to WordPerfect. It may have been called Word Star. These days I use Apple Pages and farm the final formatting out. I can place graphics in my stories about Lizzie and The Hat, but my formatter usually has to work on them. It was the table of contents that ultimately did me in.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This series is going to be very useful for many users. I write in Scrivener and export to Word for editing. I can’t imagine using anything else to write a long novel. My publisher uses Vellum and I love the way it formats. Of note, it’s only available for Mac users, so people who use PCs don’t have an option. 😦

    I have not heard of Shaxpir.

    Very informative post, Harmony.

    Liked by 2 people

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