Saturday, 29 December 2018

Hints and tips on publishing a book with KDP

This is an aid memoire for me in case I decide to do it again, but i thought others might be interested, which is why it is here on my blog. Of course, by the time I decide I want to do it again, the KDP structure might have changed….but currently, this is the link to the User Guide:

 You ought to read it before you start! 
By using the headings function on your computer you can format every chapter heading as Heading 1, and this makes it very easy for the system to produce a table of contents for you. You need the cleanest story before you commit to KDP - checked for mistakes and for basics such as the same font throughout, correct  punctuation, paragraph spacing.  Load Kindle Create to your computer from the KDP site and copy and paste your story into it. 

Be patient and wait for it to do the basic formatting. Then have a look at the style choices. There is not much in the way of instruction, but the system works quite well if you use trial and error. There are 4 options for a basic style, and once you have chosen the one you prefer, your story will be formatted in that style. It isn’t fixed in stone. You can choose again and again until you decide which is the one for you. 

You can make more decisions about font and size, dropped caps, separators (scene break symbols). It is fun to see what you can do, but eventually you will be ready to move on; once you are absolutely certain you have everything as you intended,  press the PUBLISH button and you get a version saved into your files identified by a brown circle. This is what you upload on the normal KDP site - the one you may have used before to self publish. Upload your cover separately, as you used to, and they will be matched together. This had me puzzled for a while until I understood the cover still went through separately.

Now for the paperback. Once the Kindle is complete, KDP offer to do your paperback as well. Take the offer, as it makes it easier than doing it from scratch. Not all the e-book style formats are available, but a good few are. You can still have dropped caps, but the separators revert to ***. 

Doing the content is fairly straight forward, but it is best to decide the page size before you begin. A 6”x9” paperback is popular these days. Remember the margins will dictate the number of pages in your book, so you may need to fiddle with them on your original file until you get what you want. The number of pages dictates the size of the spine (and also the cost!) when it comes to the cover, so that is important, too. My last effort had margins so wide my paperback looked like a large-print version.

You don’t need a Contents page in a paperback, but you do need page numbers. Leave the front matter pages unnumbered; make a section break on the final front matter page, do not link the sections, and then start numbering on the opening page of your story so you will have Chapter One, page 1.

Some people like to put the author name and title in headers on alternate pages, but I don’t think it is necessary, and offers more chances for things to go wrong!) I add in my other titles list, and how to contact mein either the front matter or the end pages. I contemplated adding in a cjapter of the next book, but since I don't hae one ready, I let the opportunity go this time. 

Once you are happy with the content, upload it on the KDP site. You will be told if there are spelling errors or other glitches and given the opportunity to check and OK them.

Then comes the tricky bit. You need a cover. Not just a front cover as for Kindle, but a front, back and spine too. All in the size you have chosen for your book. I used Photoshop to do mine. Download the KDP template, which looks like this 
~ in the size you have decided upon for the cover, 

It took me a while to discover that the template size is not fixed; I was required to resize it in Photoshop from 13.27” to 13.47” before it was accepted. It seemed a tiny change, but it was necesary. Ensure your cover pics reach right to the edge of the red zone. Remember your spine cover size depends on the  number of pages in your book. 

If you want to add an ISBN (purchased by you) you will need to use a barcode generator like and get the barcode e-mailed to you; transfer it to your cover and place it bottom right, very close to the spine fold. It took me some time to realise they wanted a “real” barcode; in Createspace I think I only had to input the barcode number and they added the barcode.  It is probably easier to ask them to add one for you, but I already had the (expensive) barcode and was determined to use it. 

If you are happy with your cover, save it at 300dpi in PDF format and upload it to KDP. I learned the hard way to save it in Jpeg format as well, in case alterations were needed. In my case, they were!

You might get the cover thrown back at you a few times. They will tell you where you are going wrong with it, and you must correct the original and try uploading it again. And again. It takes patience and a lot of time, but is well worth it. 

Thursday, 20 December 2018

A true heroine

Everyone knows the story of Mary Queen of Scots, but how many could cite details about her mother, Marie de Guise?





Corneille de Lyon - Portrait of Marie de Guise - 2017.88 - Indianapolis Museum of Art

James V of Scotland followed the Royal Scots tradition of marrying French brides when he persuaded Francis I to part with his sickly daughter Princess Madeleine. Unhappily she did not thrive in the Scottish climate and died within weeks of her arrival. Reluctant to part with a second daughter, Francis I offered James sound financial inducements to accept the recently widowed Marie de Guise as his second bride.
The de Guise family had only recently been elevated to the dukedom, but on the plus side Marie had proved her ability to produce sons. A cultured, intelligent woman familiar with the French Court, she was well able to fulfil the role of Queen of Scotland as intercessor, peacemaker, and mediator as well as ornament of the court and a shining model of piety. How much she missed her eldest son, who remained in France with his grandmother, is not recorded.
Her life in Scotland began in 1538 when she was 23. By 1542 she had given James two sons and by the middle of the year was expecting a third child. However, tragedy struck when the Scottish princes died with days of each other. Both parents were distraught. In November, Marie’s fifth child was born only days after the disastrous battle at Solway Moss in which the Scots were roundly defeated by the English. In Falkland Palace, James V reputedly turned his face to the wall in despair. Aged 30, he died on the 14th December, leaving the nation in sad disarray and his no doubt distraught wife alone with their new child at Linlithgow. His only surviving legitimate child, Mary, became Queen on his death.
Recovering from childbirth while in mourning for her husband, Marie, as a foreigner in a war-ravaged land, might have felt insecure enough to retreat, with her precious child, behind the walls of the strongest castle in Scotland.
The times were dangerous, and not everyone was helpful. The child’s closest relative, the Earl of Arran, wanted her to marry his son. Henry Tudor wanted her to marry the English Prince Edward and Francis I was determined that should not happen.  
Marie de Guise, as Dowager Queen of Scotland, refused to be elbowed aside; she gathered loyal supporters of the crown around her and very soon the Great Seal had been amended and documents were issued in Mary’s name. Mary Stewart’s coronation was held on 9th September the following year.
Living in Scotland for less than five years, Marie de Guise had an admirable grasp of Scottish politics and managed to safeguard herself and her daughter. Slowly and surely she built up French support and in 1547 she deemed it wise to send Mary to France where she married the heir to the French throne
Standing firm and alone, visiting her daughter only once, Marie de Guise continued to rule as Regent in Scotland. Over time Scots feeling grew against the French; they disliked being thought a subsidiary of France and deposed Marie in 1559; her death in June 1560 was followed by the death of her son-in-law, Francis II of France and by December, Mary was no longer Queen of France. Mary returned to Scottish shores in August 1561.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Self-publishing loses it s appeal

The saga of publishing a paperback copy of The Queen's Letters goes on and on.

After receiving a proof copy I have redesigned the inner content, and thought all was done. Set to Publish. Back comes an email saying I have loaded the barcode in the wrong place. So I redesign the back cover, which means rejigging the whole back, spine and front cover and carefully re-position the barcode and send it off. Now they are telling me the barcode is not there. What do they want? I can't stick a real barcode on the cover when I'm working online, now can I? It seems an impossible task.

I don't recall having this problem with Createspace. And now this morning they have decided that I need to update tax information because I have relocated from Createspace to KDP. Suddenly self-publishing loses its appeal.

Saturday, 15 December 2018


Have you ever had the feeling the year is marching on without you? Every time I look at the calendar we are closer to Christmas and I still have to get my paperback published. When I first declared it would certainly be out before Christmas, I felt that I had loads of time. Now I am starting to panic. I blame my current addiction to FindmyPast!

One of the things I have learned from using the database is that my ancestors could not remember how old they were or when they were born.  In all fairness I must add that while the dates quoted by men vary by two or sometimes three years, those quoted by ladies can vary by seven or eight years and one has to wonder if there is a little judicious annotation going on there - especially when the lady is quoted as older than her husband!

Pre-1840 there was no obligation to record any of the important milestones in life - birth, marriage, death, and many did not bother, especially if there was a fee to be paid. Lack of diaries, calendars, literacy and remoteness of some communities, especially in upper Teesdale, where many of my folk lived, would all contribute. So far I have records back to 1807 and in  one case 1756 but proving the link to newer generations is difficult. There must be a link between  and Richard and Thomas Dixon, for when Thomas died aged 85 he was living with Richard Dixon - but I do not know if that Richard was a son, gransdon or nephew. Trying to prove the link is fascinating.

The lady in the hat is my paternal grandmother: Mary Weston Wilson, born 1869.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Future of self-publishing

Major re-work on the Paperback copy of my latest : the font and margins have been reduced and now my book looks less like a Large Print edition and comes in at 317 pages instead of 410. Which means the price will be a reasonable £7.95.

So, not many days to go to Christmas. I'd better pick a date and work to getting it released instead of enjoying myself tracking my ancestors via FacemyPast. Who knew there could be so many people called Thomas Dixon in the country?

I am wondering about the future of self-publishing. Sales are the lowest they have ever been, and though people rushed to download the free Kindle version - no one seems to have read it yet. I know I am not alone with this because other witers are reporting the same facts. For me it is only worth the effort  if someone somewhere is reading what I write.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Time and my CD-player

My proof copy of The Queen's Letters arrived today from Amazon and I see I have alterations to make. The font is too big, by far, and the the margins could be smaller. That will reduce the page count somewhat, so I may need to adjust the cover when I'm done fixing the interior. Good Job I sent off for the proof.

I am on the hunt for a CD-player that will fit not too obtrusively with the double cassette deck, tuner and amplifier from my Technics mini system - which all still work splendidly. The whole system is at least 40 years old, but gives me, or rather. gave me, exactly what I wanted. Only the laser that reads the cd has given up the ghost, and there are no replacement parts to be found. I suppose lasers will still pretty new back in the earlu 80s.

This is the first time I have sat down in front of my compueter today, and it is 4.37pm! We had friends for a meal last night, drank lots of wine and slept late this morning, then walked Tim, had lunch and then off to pick up the hi fi system from the repair shop. Then a quick whiz around the MetroCentre only to discover it has no hi fi shops at all! Lintone has gone, no one else keeps it either, not Currys, Debenhams, House of Fraser - though I did note that a lot of the HoF stuff is 50% discounted because the store is closing down. Maybe time for some new towels, or duvet covers?

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Car woes

This dank, dismal weather is awful and probably accounts for a lot of winter depression. Even the dog doesn't really want to go out in it. So I spent most of today indoors, re-checking the proofs for the paperback version of The Queen's Letters and longing for the summer - hence the pic, which was taken on the cliff path outside Mullion Cove a few years ago.
That was the year our lovely bright yellow Honda 2000 Sports car conked out on the cliff at Land's End.  An electrical glitch; simply refused to switch the engine on. 6pm and everyone else leaving --- how do we get back to Mullion and our cottage? There is nothing more panicking than thinking you'll be out in the windy darkness all night - unless it is the blank refusal you get when a PC or laptop refuses to co-operate.

A hike down the cliff to the gift shop, which was locking up for the night, and a swift phone call to the local garage promised relief. A long hike back up the cliff - this is me and not my other half - and we got towed to the garage. I feel sure the garage owner was laughing at us all the time! He said he only came because he thought I sounded local! Ignominious journey indeed.

The car was taken  to the Honda dealer in town and we followed on the bus - two buses, first to Helston, then to Truro. Car repaired, they said, paid another huge bill and off we went. Next day, the same thing happened. Better half  took car apart and discovered poor electrical connection under the driver seat. Twist it one way and everything died; twist it another way, and everything woke up. Stopping for petrol was nerve-wracking because when we switched off we were never sure it would start again.
The journey home I was due to do on my own. Cornwall to Newcastle, with other half meeting a friend at Bristol and driving to France. We made plans; fill the car with petrol at Bristol, I would drop Bill at the station, where he would be picked up by friend, and I was to set off and drive up the M6 without stopping til I got home. I tell you, I was vastly relieved to roll up onto the drive at home.

Car to garage again, fault discussed, repaired, another bill paid - and two days later the same problem occurred. I was sent home on the bus, to get the mini out and drive back to Bill. When I got there, he'd got it running again, but next day he drove our beautiful yellow sports car to the Honda main dealer and said Make me an offer. We came out with a red Honda Civic!
I still miss the wonderful sound of that engine as I roared up Blaydon bank. I don't think we ever had it running flat out. Should have gone to Germany and the autobahns.

Lost dog!

Sunday 8 th May Slow start to a sunny day with a promise of high temperatures. Bill took Perla out at 7.30 as he has done all this month ...