Kindle Create Tutorial: Best Free Formatting Software?

Kindle Create is Amazon’s free book formatting software. You can use it to turn your manuscript into an ebook or print book ready for distribution to your readers. But getting used to it can be a little overwhelming. This is why I’ve created this Kindle Create Tutorial. I’ll take you step-by-step through the process of creating an ebook or print book ‌you can upload to Kindle Direct Publishing!

Important: If you plan on “going wide” and uploading your book to other online booksellers, you won’t be able to use Kindle Create to do so. This software only creates files to be used on KDP. For an all-purpose formatting software, check out our Atticus review. 

In this article, you will learn:
  1. Steps to use Kindle Create
  2. Limitations to keep in mind
  3. Who should use Kindle Create

This article works hand in hand with this video that I put out over on my YouTube channel. If you prefer visual mediums, allow me to walk you through Kindle Create here:

Want more videos like this? Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly videos!

Step 1: Download Kindle Create

kindle create download screen

The first step for using Kindle Create (KC) to format your manuscript is to download the software. To do this, either click the hyperlink above or do a Google search for “Kindle Create” or “Kindle Create Download.” It should be the first listing that comes up.

You’ll have to have an Amazon account to use Kindle Create. Of course, you’ll also need an account to upload your books onto Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Make sure you’re signed in to the proper account before continuing.  

You’ll have the option to download for Mac or PC. Choose the appropriate one. Then you’ll need to read and accept the terms of service before you download it. 

Step 2: Start Your Document

types of book in kindle create

Once the software has downloaded, you’ll be presented with an option to either create a new file or open an existing one. If this is your first time using Kindle Create, you won’t have an existing file to open, so you’ll need to create a new one.

You’ll then be taken to a screen where you’ll choose the type of format best for your book. Here are the three options:

  • Reflowable – Best for novels, biographies, essays, memoirs, and poetry. Allows you to create a print file for use on KDP Print.
  • Comic – Used for graphic novels. 
  • Print Replica – Used for textbooks, magazines, cookbooks, and other print-heavy books. 

Choose which one best suits your book. For this tutorial, we’ll be using the reflowable option. 

Once you select the correct format, you’ll need to upload the manuscript file from your computer by selecting “Choose File” from the bottom right corner of the window. This must be either a .DOC or .DOCX file. No other file types are compatible. 

Once you select the file, Kindle Create will take a few moments to convert it, checking for chapter headings and subtitles to create a table of contents. 

Step 3: Check the Contents

importing in kindle create

Once the software is done converting, you’ll see a pop-up box appear with all the chapter headings it found. It’s a good idea to go through them all and make sure they’re all chapter headings and not subchapters or scene breaks. If you find any that aren’t correct, you can deselect them from the pop-up box. 

Once you’re done with that, it’s time to check out the contents of your book and get familiar with the basic tools offered by Kindle Create. 

On the left side of the screen, you’ll see the “Front Matter,” “Body,” and “Back Matter” sections. Depending on how many chapters you have, you may need to place your mouse over that section and scroll down to see the “Back Matter” section. 

Using the little plus signs next to each section, you can add chapters or sections as needed. 

Front Matter sections include:

  • Copyright
  • Title Page
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Epigraph
  • Prologue
  • Preface

Important: Do not add your table of contents yet. There’s a step below on adding it to your book. 

Back Matter sections include:

  • About the Author
  • Books by Author
  • Books in Series
  • Praise for Author
  • Epilogue
  • Afterword
  • Acknowledgments

If you can’t see this pane on the left side of the window, click the “View” button in the top left corner. 

Step 4: Choose a Theme

themes in kindle create

Once you have the front matter, body, and back matter how you like it, you’ll want to choose a theme for the book. To do this, find and select the “Theme” button near the top right corner of the window. 

A window will come up, allowing you to choose and preview the four themes available. Once you select a theme, the pop-up window will close and the software will automatically change the major elements in your book according to that theme. 

Using the right toolbar, you can see what these elements are in the “Elements on Page” section. For most themes, these will be Chapter Title, Chapter Subtitle, and Chapter First Paragraph. 

Below this section, you’ll see the “Standard Elements” section. Standard elements include Subheadings, Block Quotes, and Separators (section breaks). 

Using these elements, you can go through your book and make sure everything looks correct. It’s important to make everything consistent. This will make the book look professional. 

If you want to change an element or add one, all you have to do is highlight the text you want to change and then click on the element you wish to change it to. Some elements, like separators, will only require that you put your cursor in the appropriate place and then click the element. 

If you’re unsure what element you’re looking at, highlight it or place the cursor there. Above the “Elements on Page” section, you’ll see the “Current Element” area, which will tell you what element you’re looking at. You’ll notice a “Clear” button in the “Current Element” section. Click that button if you want to clear the element formatting. 

You’ll also notice the handy “Undo” and “Redo” buttons on the top left of the window. Use them if you want to undo or redo changes you’ve just made. 

Step 5: Formatting Tweaks (If Necessary)

formatting tweaks in kindle create

Back in the right toolbar, you’ll see two tabs under the “Current Element” section. One says “Elements” and the other says “Formatting.” By clicking on the formatting tab, you’ll bring up some basic formatting options you can use to tweak your book, if need be. 

These include things like:

  • Font color
  • Font size
  • Bold, Italics, and Underlining
  • Paragraph options
  • Indents
  • Spacing

Since most of these things are pre-generated based on the theme you choose, you may not need to change any of them. But it’s always good to double-check and make sure before you move on. 

Step 6: Inserting Elements

kindle create elements

With Kindle Create, you have the option to insert various elements, like images and hyperlinks. To insert an image, place your cursor where the image will go. Then locate “Insert” in the top left corner of the window. Select “Image” from the dropdown menu. You’ll then be able to search for and upload the image from your computer. 

Once the image is uploaded, you’ll need to add an Alt Text description in the window in the right side toolbar. However, if you only want the image to show up in the print version of your book, you can click the box that reads “Exclude this image from the screen reader” so it won’t show up on e-readers. In this case, you don’t have to put a description in. 

Below, you’ll see that you have a few different options for size and position of the image. Remember that images can cause problems in reflowable Kindle Create books. Use the “Preview” option at the top right corner of the window to check and make sure your image looks good on the page. 

To insert a hyperlink, simply highlight the text you want to link. On a Mac, control-click. On a PC, simply right click to bring up the “Insert Hyperlink” option. Click on that option and then insert the link, making sure to include the https:// portion. 

Step 7: Adding Your Table of Contents and Saving Your Book

kindle create table of contents

Now that you’ve made sure all the elements of your book look good, it’s time to add your table of contents (ToC). If you haven’t already, go through and make sure all your chapter headings are set to the “Chapter Title” element. If they’re not, they won’t show up in your ToC. 

Once you’re sure they’re all set, click the plus sign at the “Front Matter” section on the left side of the window. A window will come up where you can check again before you select “OK.” You’ll then see the automatically generated table of contents. 

If you’ve made a mistake and need to generate the ToC again, simply right click on the section tab and click “Delete Section.” You can do this with any section in the front matter, back matter, or body sections. 

Saving Your Book

At this point, it’s a good idea to save your work. In the top right corner, there’s a “Save” button. Click on it, select a folder on your computer, enter the name of the file, and click save. You’ll need to save your work before you can export it to KDP for publishing

Step 8: Preparing Your Print Book (Optional)

Kindle Create is nice because it allows you to create a print-ready file without going through all the steps above again. You can simply generate a print file from the work you’ve already done to this point. 

Find and select the “Print Settings” button in the top right corner of the window. This will bring up a window with options for the layout of your print book. Select one that you like and hit “OK.”

If you aren’t planning on doing a print book, you can skip this step. 

Step 9: Preview Your Work

kindle create preview screen

Before you generate your ebook and/or print book, it’s good to preview your work. Click the preview button in the top right corner. A window will come up with options to preview how your book will look in three different formats. 

In the top left of the pop-up window, you’ll see a “Device Type” option. Using the dropdown menu, you can select to view your book on a tablet, a phone, and a Kindle e-reader. There are many more devices out there, but these three can give you a good idea of what your book will look like. 

If everything looks good, it’s time to generate your file!

Step 10: Generate Your Book File

saving file in kindle create

Click on the “Generate” button in the top right corner of the window. Select a file destination and name, then hit “Save.” The Kindle Create software will then generate a file you can use for both print and ebook publishing on KDP. 

For tips on publishing your book, browse our book publishing section

While the books Kindle Create generates are pretty basic, they are adequate for those on a budget or new authors who are itching to get their first book out into the world. 

However, there are some pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking about using this software. 

Kindle Create Limitations

Now that we’ve gone through formatting your book with Kindle Create, let’s take a look at some of its limitations. While Kindle Create is a good option for those on a shoestring budget, it is severely limited in several aspects. 

1. KPF Files Only

If you’re “going wide” as an author — which means selling your books on stores other than Amazon — you won’t be able to use the book files generated in Kindle Create. This is because they’re KPF files, which can only be used on Kindle Direct Publishing. 

This is another way that Amazon “encourages” you to stay exclusive to their platform. And while Amazon does have a massive audience, there’s an argument to be made for reaching all those people who buy books from Apple, Google, Kobo, and dozens of other online retailers. 

So if you want to publish your book with Amazon and those other stores, you’ll have to format your books in another program. Instead of doubling your work, you can use a program like Atticus that will give you EPUB and print-ready PDF files for publishing with all major stores

2. Does Not Support Footnotes, Endnotes, or Volumes and Parts

If you’re writing fiction, you probably don’t need footnotes and endnotes. But if you’re writing nonfiction, you just may need them. Unfortunately, Kindle Create doesn’t support them. The same goes for volumes and parts. 

If you’re writing in series and you want to create an ebook box set file, you can’t do so with Kindle Create. You’ll need to seek out formatting software like Atticus to create your box set!

3. Limited Formatting Options

With Amazon’s free formatting software, you’re severely limited when it comes to things like font, page separators/organic breaks, and margins. Your font selections are limited to a few options. With page separators and organic breaks, you can’t customize them to your liking. And you can’t adjust margins on your print book file. 

Essentially, if you don’t like what Amazon offers, you’ll either have to stick with formatting you don’t like or seek out another formatting tool. 

4. Large File Sizes Means Less Money For You

Another limitation with Kindle Create is file size. When we compared the file size of a book formatted by Kindle Create to that same book formatted by Atticus, we found that Amazon’s tool created a much larger file. The Atticus file was 2.25 times smaller than the Kindle Create file.  

This is important because Amazon charges a “delivery” fee of $0.15 per megabyte (MB) on every purchase/download. So when considering these two file sizes, Atticus formatting software would pay for itself in only 800 book sales. 

5. Limited Themes

As mentioned above, Kindle Create only has four total themes you can use for your book. And you can’t create your own custom theme. With Atticus, you have over a dozen themes to choose from — and it allows you to build your own custom themes. 

While on the subject of themes, it’s important to note that KC only has three preview options. This means you can only see how your book looks on a phone, a tablet, and a generic Kindle. Conversely, Atticus has far more preview options, including Android tablets, Apple products, print, Kobo readers, and Nook readers. 

6. Limited Editing Capabilities

It’s fairly common to find mistakes in your book, even during formatting. Using a professional editor and proofreader will help ensure limited mistakes, but they probably won’t catch everything. And if you’re formatting with Kindle Create, you’ll have a hard time fixing any errors you see. 

KC doesn’t have a find & replace feature. It also doesn’t have a spell check function. And if you’re wondering how many words are in a chapter (or the whole book), you’ll have to go back to your manuscript to find out. 

If you have to make any major changes to your manuscript, you’ll have to start over from scratch when using Kindle Create. But if you’re using Atticus, you’ll be able to fix issues in minutes instead of hours

7. Trouble With Images & Bullets

As mentioned above, images can be a little tricky on Kindle Create. If there’s a space at the bottom of the image, it can sometimes move that image to the next page, meaning your image won’t show up where you want it to. KC also doesn’t support full-bleed images for print books. 

If you have bullet points or lists in your book, you’ll have to copy them in and mess with the spacing until you have them where you want them. Atticus, however, makes image insertion easy. It also supports automatic lists and bullet points. 

8. No Cloud Storage

Kindle Create doesn’t provide cloud storage or backup. This means any files you create will be stored on your computer. It will be up to you to save a copy to the cloud so you don’t lose it if something happens to your computer. 

You can probably guess what I’m going to say here . . . Yes, Atticus provides automatic cloud storage backups. You can also save your work locally, as well. 

Kindle Create Works, Atticus Excels

mockup of beautiful chapter theme

Kindle Create is a good option for many authors just starting out or dipping their toes into the self-publishing world. It has kind of a clunky interface, but it gets the job done. And if you plan on publishing one or two books and sticking only to Amazon, KC is probably good enough for your needs. 

But if your goal is to make book writing a lucrative hobby or a full-time career, you’re better off starting with a professional-grade tool from the get-go. With Atticus, which is available for a one-time fee, you aren’t limited to just Amazon. You can branch out and reach readers in other markets. Plus, with smaller file sizes, you’ll see more money coming to your bank account as your sales increase, helping the software pay for itself. 

With a smooth interface, customization options, word count goal tracking, editing capabilities (including ProWritingAid integration), and timesaving features, can make formatting a breeze.

Check Out Atticus Today!

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