Your Own Publishing Company
Here's something you've probably never thought you would do as a writer: Because there is still a stigma associated with self-publishing, it's a good idea to start your own publishing company.
Choose a name that is not your own name, not your business name and not your pen name. You don't want an obvious link to yourself because your goal is to make it sound like the publishing company is not your own, thus making you look like a published author rather than a self-published one.
When choosing your publishing company name, think about your branding. It's entirely possible that as you grow and expand your book series, you might want to publish other authors as well as expanding into audio and print.
You can also choose a color scheme associated with your publishing company as well as a logo.
Legal Stuff (This is NOT legal advice)
When selling on Kindle in the USA, you can use a DBA (doing business as) which requires no legal registration. There is a field in the Kindle set up where you will enter your "publishing company name (optional). You can put anything you want in this field because Amazon doesn't care what it is or if it is registered.
The ASIN is an internal number specific to Amazon and assigned to your book by Amazon. You don't need to do anything to get it, and if you only sell through Kindle, then you only need to upload your book and they will auto assign the ASIN for tracking purposes.
But if you publish outside of Kindle, then you are going to need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). This is the number that appears above the barcode on the book back cover. Book sellers use it to track sales and it's a requirement for print books. But because for now you're just publishing on Kindle, you can think about that later if you decide to expand.
Legal company registration is not required to publish on Kindle, so for the time being you can simply use your DBA.
A tax ID is required. It doesn't need to be a FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) unless you are a legally registered company, but if you don't have a FEIN, you will need to use your Social Security number if you live in the US.
If you live in another country, you'll need to see what Amazon asks you for in terms of tax ID. In some countries you might need to obtain an EIN. If you do, call the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and ask for help setting up an EIN. Tell them, "I am a foreign business complying with withholding regulations." They will walk you through the process and give you an EIN over the phone.
Please note that I'm not a lawyer so please do not consider any of this to be legal advice because it's not.
Your Book Cover
As you know, people do judge a book by its cover. A lousy cover will translate into lousy sales no matter how great the content might be. That's why, unless you're a graphic artist, you'll want to hire someone to create your book cover for you.
Book Cover Illustration - choose something that is highly appropriate to your topic and helps to sell the book. It's entirely possible to find stock images that work, or you might want to use a professional photograph or even hire someone to create an illustration. Use high quality images with a 300 ppi minimum. High resolution images will pop and look professional. And please make sure you have the rights to use the illustration, too.
Color scheme - again, it's best to have professional help with the color scheme because it needs to fit perfectly with the image and the text. If you dig deep on Amazon to find the books that aren't selling, you'll see crazy color schemes that scream 'amateur hour'.
Fonts - use nothing weird or unusual and don't use more than three. The title can be one font, the subtitle a second font and the author's name a third font, but all three must blend seamlessly. Dark text on a light background is best because it's easier to read. If you do use light text on a dark background, make sure the font is super crisp and easy to read.
Remember that your book cover is going to be shrunk down to a thumbnail. Even at thumbnail size, the title should be 100% legible and the illustration (if there is one) should be readily identifiable.
If you are doing a book series, then the goal is to get your audience to come back and buy more of your books. When planning a series, keep in mind…
Branding - Your books need to have a consistent look all the way through the series. The titles should generally all be the same color in the same font and in the same position. The exception is if you are using the same background color for each book but changing the color of the titles. If there is an illustration, it needs to be in the same location and consistent with the others.
Color - You have two options here: You can either use the same background color for each book in the series, or you can use complimentary colors and make each one different but consistent in appearance. For example, your series might all have light blue backgrounds with black titles and a different illustration on each. Or you might make each edition a different color background, such as red, blue, green, etc. Plan this ahead.
Logo - if you're using a logo, place it in the same place for each book. Also place the author's name in the same place as well as the title and subtitle.
Fonts - Use the exact same fonts on each book in the series.
It should be extremely easy to tell that any one book in the series goes with the others. If there is the slightest question, go back to your branding and use more consistency.
Images Inside Your Book
Should you include images inside your Kindle book?
That depends. While most Kindle books don't have them, it is true that images can greatly enhance the reader's experience. Images can help to explain points and break up the monotony of black words on a white page.
Images also increase memory retention which can be truly helpful in a non-fiction book.
And if you're explaining anything step-by-step, images can make it easier to understand, too.
The key is to use images that truly enhance the reading experience and make sense in context.
The image formats you can use on Kindle are:
.gif (up to 5mb, not animated)
.jpg (up to 5mb. This is the most popular format to use and tends to look the best inside a Kindle book)
Kindle Fire shows full color images, so when in doubt, use color images.
Use 300 dpi resolution for Kindle. Why? Because when your book is uploaded, it is compressed. And when it's compressed, information is removed from it and quality image goes down.
Think about the book making process… when you upload your image to your working file, it's compressed. Then when you save it to .pdf or .mobi, it's compressed again. Then when you upload the file to Kindle, it's compressed a third time. And it might even be compressed one more time when the reader downloads and opens the file on their device. That's why Amazon requires 300 dpi images.
If you start with a better-quality image then you will finish with a better quality image.
Full image height is 1200 px high. This will show your image at full height of the screen when it's held in a vertical orientation. When you download an image from a stock site, choose the original or large size. This is even more important if you ever print your book, too.
Do not use Kindle Preview on your computer because it will not correctly show images. Instead, always check your .mobi file on a real Kindle for accuracy.
You can use your own images, or you can purchase stock photography. If you download images from a website, be sure to give attribution according to the rules of that website.
Formatting Your Manuscript
You want to create a clean document to give a better reader experience and make your book look like it was professionally formatted and published.