How to publish a book yourself on Amazon for FREE

book cover design publishing

Publishing a book is all about book design. All you really need to publish is a formatted book that’s professionally laid out for print, with smart font choices that match your genre or subject. Then you can convert your manuscript in ebook formats (epub and mobi) – I even have a free ebook conversion tool.

Next you’ll need a Kindle ebook cover (about 1600 x 2700 pixels, which equals 6″x9″ @300dpi).
If you don’t have photoshop, you can get a cheap cover on Fiverr (which aren’t great) or use my free book cover design templates to make your own.

That’s enough to set up on KDP for the Kindle version – you could also use Draft2Digital to distribute your ebook (though I prefer Kindle Unlimited’s Select program). Print books are more complicated, because you need to calculate the spine width based on page count, and get the trim right, and it has to be precise or Amazon will reject the files (Createspace is more forgiving if you skip the automatic previewer. KDP print is picky).

Upload your files, congrats, you’re published!

Why I disagree with Amazon’s recommended book cover dimensions

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An author I work with recently asked me to modify her book cover to comply with Amazon’s size and ratio recommendations. I was happy to do so, and I’ve faced this issue in the past, but I’d like to share why I don’t just make all my book covers at Amazon’s recommended book cover dimensions.

Consider the two book covers above.

The one on the left is Amazon’s recommended height and width dimensions; it’s a ratio of 1.6 with 2500pixels on the long side.

1.6 is the same ratio as a 5″x8″ book, so if you designed a cover for 5″x8″, you’d be done – just use the same front cover. But most of my authors are choosing 6″x9″ books, which is a 1.5 ratio (the one on the right).

Personally, I think Amazon’s preferred ratio is too tall and thin, and a ratio of 1.5 looks more like a traditional book to me. My guess is Amazon wants books to look good on smartphones, especially iPhones, and the deviously tricky iPhone5, which has a very tall, narrow screen.

Maybe Amazon is expecting all digital devices to copy the iPhone 5, but that’s probably not going to happen. Maybe they are pushing to get people reading on their smartphones instead of Kindles devices, because millions and millions of people use only their smartphone and will not buy a digital book reader.


But for the people who do have Kindles and other e-reading devices, Amazon’s preferred 1.6 ratio is an ill-fit, leaving too much space on the sides. And even on cell phones, where the display size is already pretty small, the 1.6 ratio has drawbacks: to fit in the extra height, the book cover displays even smaller, making the text more difficult to read.

This is probably why most traditional publishers and major bestsellers ignore Amazon’s recommended ratio.

1.5, or even wider, almost square-shaped covers, are far more common.

Interestingly it seems self-published and indie books are more likely to use Amazon’s 1.6 standards, because they are concerned with doing everything just right, and have less confidence to ignore recommendations.

This paradoxically means self-publishing authors are making their books appear self-published by following rather than flouting Amazon’s advice.

And it really doesn’t matter!

Amazon’s recommended book cover ratio doesn’t really matter at all, because Amazon is not the only player in the ebook publishing wars. This means that all devices need to be able to handle all different kinds of books. So what you actually see on ebook readers is that they automatically adjust to display covers of a variety of sizes and ratios.


In this picture, the 2nd book “Trust the Process” which is one of the thinnest book on my Kindle, is still not quite as thin as a 1.6 ratio. “The Business of Belief” is probably 1.5, and most of the others look even more box-shaped, and may be 1.4 or so.

On the bottom row, “Amazon Secrets Exposed” and “Fortune Cookie Principle” are 1.6.

And actually, they all look fine. I don’t think you can argue that one dimension ratio looks better and will sell more books.


Does the book cover matter?

I’d like to say, “absolutely!” but my actions disagree. I bought Michael Thomas’ book (above) even though the cover is unattractive, because it has a bold, compelling title and subtitle. The next two books (Websites that Sell and the Fortune Cookie Principle), I bought for the content, not the covers. (Even though the covers are nice, I didn’t buy them for the covers, but for what I hoped to learn).

On the other hand, I rarely buy a fiction book that has an ugly cover.

I think the reason is: a non-fiction book can provide useful material even if the writing isn’t great or there are typos. But a fiction book is all about the writing. There is nothing else. And a book with a great cover is probably more likely to have been carefully written and professionally edited (although I would still read the reviews before buying).

What’s all this mean for you?

If you’re a fiction writer, get a great cover and excellent reviews. A  nice cover alone can drastically improve sales.

If you’re a non-fiction writer, focus on the title and subtitle by promising benefits. Do the best you can with the cover, but recognize that the title and subtitle are probably more powerful than a beautiful cover design.

In both cases, focus on designing a great cover for the book size you plan to print at (8×5.25, 6×9, 5×5 or whatever) and just use the same ratio for your Kindle book. Don’t worry about the ratio and specifications, because it totally doesn’t matter: what matters is a strong, clean cover design (and of course a great book, excellent reviews, and high-conversion book description.)

What size should my ebook cover be? Best ebook cover size for kindle, amazon, barnes and noble, etc.

After finishing a recent project, the author read an article  by Natasha Fondren about optimum size specifications for amazon kindle, bn, nook, ibookstore and ipad formats.

Based on the advice of this article, the author asked if I could resize the ebook cover for the specifications of each ebook site.

The original article says “Again, 600px x 800px will pretty much cover your bases, so if you choose one size, I suggest that one.”

Here’s a handy chart to prove this point true:

  • EC = Embedded Cover (give to ebook formatter to embed)
  • CC = Catalog Cover (you’ll upload separate from ebook)
  • n/s = Not Specified
Format Size in px Resolution File Size
Kindle CC JPG, TIFF min 500px max 1280px 72 dpi n/s
Kindle EC JPG 600 x 800 167ppi – 300dpi 127kb
B&N/Nook CC JPG, GIF, PNG 600 x 730 n/s n/s
B&N/Nook EC JPG, GIF, PNG 600 x 1024 170 ppi 300kb
iPad EC JPG, GIF, PNG 600 x 860 132 ppi 200kb

Is 600×800 the “right size” for ebook covers?

This is fairly good advice – just make sure you tell your designer at the beginning of the process of you want your cover to be exactly 600×800. Many designers however, myself included, don’t use a default maximally optimal look good everywhere width-height ratio. Why not?

A) Each cover is unique. I could, and probably should, cram all the cover elements together to make them fit a standard output. But all my covers are a little different. They range usually from somewhere between 600×800~600x900px. I focus on aesthetics, not format.

B) Personally, I don’t like 600×800 – it looks more like a box than a book. Yes, it might fit snugly into every px of space allowable, but you’ll still get a box shaped, ebook-looking cover. Real book covers are tall and narrow.


What difference does it make?

On my Kindle Fire, different books have an assortment of different size ratios. I hadn’t even noticed until just now, when I picked it up to check. Some are lean and tall. Some are fat and square. My covers are lean and tall – this makes them look, in my opinion, more professional than the bulky/shorter 600×800 ones. Most of the ugly, obviously self-published books have strange little square covers.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter. Big publishers aren’t worrying about this – why should indie authors? If you have a vaguely book shaped cover that looks good on your computer, it will almost certainly look fine across most of the ebook devices. What you need to worry about is having an amazing book, with a beautiful cover, and getting lots of reviews.



Original article here: