Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on eBook Publishing

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 Kindle Books?

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. No.  Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Google Editions will assign their own #. For the Apple iBookstore however, you do need 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 DTP, 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 do I upload a NEW version of my book to Amazon? And will Amazon notify my buyers that a new version is available?

See my tutorial on uploading a new file to your Amazon KDP account. Amazon will not automatically notify buyers that a new version is available, but from the point forward that your new file is available, every new buyer will receive the new file.  If you do want Amazon to notify prior buyers that a new edition is available, you must follow the guidelines listed here.

8 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on eBook Publishing

  1. Thomas Rampton

    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?

    1. brian Post author


      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,

  2. Cavla

    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?

    1. brian Post author


      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.

      1. Angel

        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?

        1. brian Post author

          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.

  3. Peter

    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?

    1. brian Post author

      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,


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