Getting the words write: making a start!

Ernest Hemmingway, the famous American author of A Farewell to Arms, was once asked what the hardest part of writing a book was. He replied:

“Getting the words right.”

There was a time, as recent as 12 years ago, when the idea of an everyday Joe – English slang for ‘the ordinary man’ – publishing a book practically for free was an alien concept.

To get published you needed to be a politician (here’s looking at you Jeffrey Archer), a celebrity (take your pick) or have achieved some great feat – or endured a great tragedy.

The big publishing houses controlled which books got into the bookstores and, although vanity publishing was available – paying a printer to print your books for you – the cost of this was very high and out of the reach of most people.

Then came Amazon Kindle – and before long – the ability to publish your book in electronic form. So long as you could put together a cover and upload your manuscript you would be amongst the first in a growing market for e-books.

Fast-forward 12 years to 2019 and you can still do that! If you just want to publish your book – then the barriers to entry are now VERY low. I stress this point because – the other parts of sucessfully launching and promoting your book take a lot more learning – but if you have always desired to see your magnum opus in print – it is easier than ever.

I mention print because Kindle Direct Publishing – the online website where you will upload your manuscript and cover – now publishes print versions as well. You do not pay a penny for this until someone buys your book – and then Amazon will take a chunk of your profit to cover their costs.

To be perfectly explicit about it – here is the minimum list of things you will need to do to get a book into print.

  • Write your book and type it into a word processing software. MS Word is best but Kingsoft Office is free and pretty good.
  • Join Amazon at, or .com,.ca, .fr, .de etc
  • Join Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing by signing into it with your Amazon account details. Join here:
  • Design a front cover (if you are just publishing electronically) or a front and back cover joined together if you are publishing a print version. You can download for free and get free pictures from sites like Admittedly, this is not so easy to do – so you can pay someone on to do if if you wish. Quality often varies with price but for less than $20 you can get a cover made. If you want a cover drawn, be prepared to pay a lot more.I will admit that uploading covers to KDP has recently become a real pain – so if you are paying someone – ask them to convert to PDF format for you to save you the bother.
  • Start a book title on Amazon KDP, answer all the questions and upload your cover and manuscript. Set the price, click go.
  • Within 48 hours as long as KDP don’t find anything drastically wrong – you have published a book.

It’s too complicated is no longer an excuse. Did I mention there are lots of writers groups on FB who would answer questions you have?

So – for now – Hemmingway is still right. The hardest part of writing a book is still “Getting the words right”. But if having a copy of “30 recipies my grandmother swore by” on your shelf is that important to you – then go for it!

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