Sunday, October 6, 2013

Self-Publishing on the Kindle Platform


Success ... Last week I uploaded Rita's first Kindle e-Book (Rita Galieh’s Signed Sealed Delivered). I am usually pretty good with these things, but it took me half a day just to wade through all the preliminaries, and then a few more hours before the book was actually online. I know that many people have already written about this topic, but I thought you might appreciate some sequenced shortcuts and pro-active tips.

Tips for obtaining a US Tax ID: 
Before you can do anything else, you need a US tax ID. After sifting through all sorts of IRS forms, related sites and forums, I finally found some good news: to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as Federal Tax Identification Number, is easy.  If you have a registered business name here in Australia you can get this number for your business. If not, you can get it in your own name as a personal identity. You do not have to employ anyone to receive an EIN.
  • Here’s what to do: call the IRS on 267-941-1099 (use a world clock to find the time difference) and ask for an EIN.  For the cheapest way to ring the US, use Skype or a similar service. You will need your Australian TFN and answer a few questions before they can issue your EIN over the phone. The official confirmation may take up to 3 weeks to arrive in the mail. Your EIN will last for life, so you will only ever have to do this once.

Tips for W-8BEN Form
Once you have an EIN, you can use it to fill out the W-8BEN form required for any publishing done in the US. Some online publishers want you to mail the completed W-8BEN, others let you upload a PDF, and Kindle KDP will do it for you online during your account registration process. Download the actual form: For instructions regarding this form: 
  • Part I, number 6 of the form: This is where you write your EIN number and tick the EIN box. By the way, an SSN or ITIN is an Individual Tax File Number, which you DON’T need (
  • Part II, number 10: In order to pay only 5% withholding tax on book royalties, you need to claim the relevant tax treaty between the US and Australia in Part II, point 10, of the W-8BEN. This treaty is Article 12. If you are using the hard copy form to send by mail, for the reason you are using the W-8BEN form, write "Australian author self -publishing via US distributor." When going through the kindle process, this isn’t necessary. They know this is your reason :)

Tips for Kindle Account and Upload: 
  • Go to and sign in with your Amazon account. If you don't have one, you can sign up for a new account on that page. Simply follow the prompts. 
  • You will arrive at the kindle direct publishing page showing your Bookshelf. If this is your first book to be published, this page will be empty.
  • Remember that you don't have to sign up for KDP Select at this stage. This is the program where you allow kindle exclusive rights for 90 days so that you can offer your book for free for up to 5 days. I would suggest to start with the standard process and select 35% royalties. If you change your mind later, you can enroll in the KDP Select program at any time on your Bookshelf page.
  • Now finish setting up your publishing account. At the top right hand corner of your Bookshelf page you will see a notice saying, Your account information is incomplete.’ Click ‘Update Now’. This process will take you through your personal information and automatically produce the W-8BEN form. You will need to agree to the digital signature and have your EIN and Australian TFN ready. Bank Account details can be omitted as non-US residents will be paid by cheque anyway (ensure that your mailing address is correct). 
  • Before starting the actual upload, it would be helpful to have the following ready to go: the formatted manuscript according to Kindle guidelines (Word docx works well), a good quality cover picture, which is at least 1000 px along the longest side, your ISBN if you have purchased one (not essential), author and other contributor information, and your book description.
  • Do a quick trial on your own kindle. Send your formatted Word doc to your kindle via email and see how it looks on the actual device (easiest if you have the kindle app on your PC or laptop – right click – send to kindle). It's a good idea to do this trial also for your iPad/Android Tablet and smartphone. If you don’t like something on any of those devices, you can play around with changing it in your Word (or other format) document BEFORE the actual upload.
  • Uploading your book is easy. On your Bookshelf Page, click 'Add new title' (yellow field, next to 'Actions'), and simply follow the prompts ... easy ... you're done.

I hope this post will be helpful to those of you who are thinking about self-publishing. I certainly wish that someone had posted something like this BEFORE I made my first attempt :)

Margaret Lepke is a counsellor, educator and freelance writer. Find out more about her at 


  1. Formatting I found was a bit of a trial with KDP. I guess it pays to keep things super simple. I was thinking about the benefits of being on Kindle and I guess the main thing is connecting with a broader audience, but to do that you really do have to do a lot of the leg work yourself in terms of promotions. So really, KDP offers us another work horse to slave on. But I guess that is the life of the author chasing the elusive reader. :) Thanks for sharing, Margaret.

  2. I'm so glad I sat next to Margaret while she was doing the uploading of my Signed Sealed Delivered novel. It was a real adventure for me to watch all the steps involved. I also enjoyed making the US phone call to the IRS. A no nonsense lady picked up and took all my details and promised to send my form. I rang at 7am to catch the office around 5pm before closing. And yes, Hayley, we do seek our elusive readers.

  3. Thanks so much Margaret for an informative post. I haven't as yet made my book available in ebook format... but one day I shall. So your post will help me a lot. Bless you.

  4. Yes, Hayley, I know it's a hard slog doing EVERYTHING yourself but... if the Lord is in it, whatever we dedicate to Him will get to the right readers, be they ever so small in number :)
    Rita, thanks for adding your comments! I was so tired last night when writing this post, I totally forgot to mention that... I pray that ALL of your books will reach a large audience!
    Anusha, thanks for responding. Some people much prefer paper editions while others love the e-book market. There is room for everyone :)

  5. Great info, Margaret, glad you got Rita's book uploaded for her. :)

  6. Thanks, Lee. Are you still taking new books on board for publishing?

  7. Thanks, Margaret. I've never actually uploaded one myself but intend to soon, so this is very useful info.

  8. Wish you the best of success, Paula!

  9. This is a great simple guide. All that tax stuff is a bit overwhelming. I'll definitely be referring back to this post if I go down the self-publishing route.