Kindle Publishing FAQ

Q. Why can’t I just upload my pdf version to Amazon?

A. For the user of a Kindle or any other eReader to have the ideal experience, content delivered to the device must be at a character level.  This allows the user to adjust font size, search, text, and perform other advanced functions specific to each device. Since page #’s are assigned by the device (depending on the size of the font the user selects and the size of the device screen), you must have your table of contents dynamically linked to each chapter. In addition, the scale of each font is determined by specific tags coded in the file itself.  This means that if you have a chapter header, and it is not tagged correctly, the font size will be the same as the rest of the text on the page, and thus the reader will not know that it is a chapter title.

Because so many authors/publishers have uploaded plain pdf’s & poorly formatted documents to Amazon, Amazon provides buyers a 7-day return policy on any Kindle title. You will get returns on your title (resulting in no royalty) if the title is not properly setup (resulting in a bad user experience). I can tell you from firsthand experience (as a publisher who originally did this the wrong way) that you will indeed get many returns and have unhappy readers.

Q. Why don’t I just use a service like Smashwords to convert my book to every format under the sun??

A. Well, you can. But this is exactly one of the pitfalls authors and publishers are falling into who are naively throwing their book into the ‘digital universe.’  Here’s the reality you need to understand; every single title uploaded to Smashwords is sold DRM free.  Which might seem great (from a buyers perspective) because you can read a book from Smashwords on the Kindle, on the Nook, your PC, and many other devices… but, did you know that you can also take that same file and forward it to as many friends as you wish? EBook file formats are small by design – this makes they are easy to attach to an email. DRM free makes it simply too easy for someone to buy one book and forward it to a hundred of their friends. While there are arguments on why authors might want to make their books DRM free, I believe those arguments only hold up if you are someone who is already selling a lot of books otherwise, someone who is getting paid speaking engagements, and already has a strong following. I believe that for the majority of us, DRM-Free is not in our best interests. It just makes it too easy for someone to steal your hard work.

Also, as someone who has experimented with Smashwords, the conversion leaves a lot to be desired… as the author of a book, I want the book to look the way I intended it to look, whether in print or electronically!

Q. Does my book need to already be in print?

A. Not at all!  In fact, most publishers are now releasing theirs books in digital form first. It allows them to see if there is enough demand for a title to justify taking it to print.

Q. Does Amazon charge a setup fee to sell on Amazon?

A. No. You can sign up for an account and publish titles to the Kindle Store at no cost. Only if you choose to be paid by check, will a small fee of $8 will be incurred for each royalty check issued.

Q. Do I need a new ISBN #?

A. Not for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble nook,  or Google Editions.  The Apple iBookstore however, does require a specific ISBN for your ebook (it can’t be the same as your print ISBN).

Q. What are the currently royalties paid to authors/publishers?

A. If you price your book between $2.99 & $9.99, you retain 70% of the purchase price.  If you price your book less than $2.99 or over $9.99, then you retain 35% of the price.

Q. How long does it take to get paid royalties for sales?

A. Amazon pays royalties approximately sixty (60) days following the end of the calendar month during which applicable sales of digital books occur.

Q. How are converted files delivered to me?

A. We deliver validated .epub & .mobi  files that can be uploaded directly to your Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble Pubit, Google Books, or Apple account. The format we provide is guaranteed to be compatible with all versions (past & future) of the Kindle.

Q. How much of my book will be available to preview for free?

A. Amazon gives anyone the first 10% to preview at no cost.  In fact, this is a very important aspect to grasp. Because you only get to show the prospective buyer the first 10% of your book, you want to be sure that 10% hooks the reader and gets to the heart of the content right away. Because of this, we will recommend you move sections like ‘Acknowledgments’ and ‘About the Author’ to the back of the book.  And add new sections such as ‘endorsements’ or ‘praise for ____.’  Doing so will help you sell more ebooks!

Q. How can I view ePub/mobi files on my Mac/PC?

A. The only way you can read an ePub on your Mac/PC is with Adobe Digital Editions.  I recommend you use Dropbox to make your epub/mobi files accessible across all your devices.  If so, you should see the folder on your mac with all your files. You can use the Kindle previewer to view the mobi file on your mac.  Please refer to my tutorials page for more help.

Q. Can I send my converted ePub/Mobi eBook files to reviewers?

A. You can send out the epub and mobi files – they are usually very small files.  Just keep in mind that when you do, there is no DRM on them – which means they could wind up in the wild and you can’t track who has ‘em! If you load it up to iBooks, they provide 50 promo codes you can send out to safely provide reviewers with a copy & still protect your files. Otherwise, what I do is offer to reimburse the reviewer for the cost of the eBook if they prefer to buy it on their Kindle or nook.

Q. How can I prevent people from  forwarding my eBook to others without my knowledge?

A. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is an option you will need to check when you setup your titles at Amazon, BN, and Apple.  As long as DRM is on them, there’s no way for them to share (or print) your eBook with anyone else (it’s locked to the device registered to the buyer).

Q. If I purchase an ISBN through your company, am I giving up any rights to my work?

A. No. The ISBN # is a technicality only required by iBooks – the fact I’m assigning you one of mine doesn’t mean you are giving up any rights. Technically, my publishing company, Wise Media Group, is assigned the ISBNs I purchased from Bowker (and from which I be assigning an ISBN # to you) – but Apple doesn’t do anything with it – it’s simply a means for them to filter out the serious authors from the people who feel they can publish anything they want.   If you do purchase an ISBN from us, Wise Media Group, LLC agrees to the following:

  1. To waive all right to publishing control of titles associated with ISBN(s) assigned to Author.
  2. To waive all rights to royalties – past, present, and future – from sale of titles associated with the ISBN number provided to Author.
  3. To register the ISBN in the Bowkerlink database upon completion of work  within 30 days.


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas Rampton December 8, 2010 at 11:22 am

An out of date website is at Several books published in print, one about bicycling in Viet Nam, several more are mile by mile river guides for river people. All have maps and photographs. Some photos black and white, others in color. River people would have to take Kindle in a waterproof bag.

I would rather do layout myself using InDesign with PDF output if that’s appropriate. Do I put the photos in a separate section, distribute throughout, or what? Same for maps. Question: Can a Kindle user easily switch back and forth between text and map pages? Between text and photos?

brian December 10, 2010 at 8:40 am


I’d recommend you use live hyperlinks from your .mobi & .epub files to the majority of the maps and photographs which indeed can exist online. When the mobi & epub files get too large (by incorporating lots of images/maps), your delivery fee goes up (the major resellers charge for bandwidth to deliver the book). I work with authors and publishers to create digital friendly layouts of their books – which takes into account different elements than the print edition. When done right, the digital version can be a nice compliment to the print version, in which case, you’ll be in a good position cross-sell more of both.

Feel free to contact us if we can assist further.
My best,
Brian Schwartz, Digital Publisher,

Cavla April 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm

My question is I read on here that kindle gives out isbn number how are they attained? Are they filled in automatically when your uploading your document? Is a isbn really needed for a ebook?

brian April 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm


Currently you don’t need an ISBN # for Amazon or Barnes & Noble – which are the two biggest marketplaces for ebooks (representing 90% of all ebook sales by my estimates). But Apple & Google Books do require an ISBN, but you can use the same ISBN # for both. I believe Google will assign one to you if you don’t already have one and I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t also use it for Apple as well. I’ll look into it and let you know. But my recommendation is you get your book up on Amazon first, then BN, then worry about the others once you’ve racked up some sales and can justify the $125 for an ISBN (assuming Google doesn’t give ’em out for free).

The danger in using someone else’s ISBN # is that they have to know how to setup your title at Bowkerlink – and if the title isn’t setup properly there, you gain zero value from having an ISBN # is the first place.

Hope that helps.

Angel June 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Hi. So did you find out if after Google assigns its ISBN, if a person can use that same number then for selling with required ISBN for Apple?

brian June 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Turns out Google Books does not assign you an ISBN after all, instead they’ll assign you their own special # (similar to BN & Amazon) if you don’t have a specific epub ISBN #. For now, I don’t recommend authors run out and buy an ISBN # unless they plan to publish through Apple iBooks. Unless you bought a block of ISBNs when you first published your book, you can publish to BN, Amazon, and Google Books without an e-Book specific ISBN.

Peter September 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Hi guys,
I’m looking at publishing on Kindle for the first time but also thinking of setting up a website to go along with it. I want to publish the book first, and am learning about that as I go. After that I plan to learn how to create websites. I’m wondering what the situation is regarding updating a kindle e-book;

If I wish to make changes to the original book, can I?
Is there a way to tell people who may have already purchased the book that there is an update, and can they recieve it for free?

brian May 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Amazon just released a new option to notify previous buyers of your Kindle book whenever you make a major update. It’s still a manual process however, whereby you have to contact Amazon and let them know a new edition has been uploaded. If the changes are significant enough (at their discretion), they’ll send an email to anyone who purchased your ebook previously that they can download the latest version. And yes, you can upload revisions as many times as you want.
My best,

Uli Iserloh November 6, 2012 at 6:47 am

if the revised version is substantially different (>30%) and Amazon emails all previous purchasers, can the previous purchasers download the revised version for free, or is it just a reminder that a revised version is available?


brian November 9, 2012 at 9:53 am

Uli – If there is a significant change – then you should notify Amazon through the ‘Contact Us’ tab (at the bottom of the page through your KDP account) that you would like previous buyers to be notified of the new edition. Amazon, at their discretion will notify all previous purchasers of your eBook than an updated edition is available and send them the new version. Unfortunately it’s still a manual process and Amazon says it can take up to 4 weeks. Remember to provide Amazon with the ASIN # of your Kindle book whenever you contact them. Hope that helps! My best, Brian

Charis L Browne October 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm

are you able to use google images in your kindle ebook?

brian November 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

Only if they are creative commons. Here’s a good site to try and filter out only creative common images from Google images: Good luck! My best, Brian

Vijai October 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Is there a “back cover with a synopsis of the book” requirement for a Kindle book as is the case with a paper version of a book?

Thank you.

brian November 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

Vijai – there’s no backcover in an eBook, although I do see people often include one. I’d suggest you transfer everything on the backcover and include it instead as a ‘synoposis’ chapter up front. In plain text so it’s readable on a small screen. One caution to share – and this is a reason NOT to include the backcover in an eBook; Apple iBooks policy is that no pricing information about the Book (print or eBook) shall be mentioned in the eBook itself – therefore, if there’s a price on the backcover (and there often is), then your eBook will be rejected by Apple if you include the backcover. My best, Brian

Vijai November 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

Brian…I managed to use Microsoft Pic Manager program and shrunk my pic file to 552 kb and somehow retain the 1563×2500 pixels requirement.

Have to see how acceptable this is with Kindle when I download this file and the book today……thanks for all your help and for being there for lesser techy folks like myself…have a lovely day.