Using Amazon Self-Publishing to Make Awesome Beta Reader Copies: A Guest Post by Keri Williams

Want to make your beta readers excited to dive into your book? Keri Williams has a great way to make your betas' reading experience even better.

There’s little I enjoy more than curling up on the couch with a great book. Sometimes I’ll devour a book in one sitting, forgetting about laundry, meals and errands. That’s the type of book I want to write  – one readers can’t put down.

I’ve been working on a memoir, about raising my adopted son, for two years. My story has greatly improved with notes from my coach and critique group  – all writers. But, as my manuscript has become more polished, I’ve been itching to get feedback from readers.

I soon realized that while fellow writers are used to working off computer screens and printer pages, readers find them distracting, even annoying. Scrolling down a clunky document file or sifting through printer pages lurches them out of the story, because it doesn’t mimic their normal reading experience.

Recently, I stumbled on an affordable solution to this problem. I was able to use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) print on-demand services to create beautiful paperback copies of my memoir draft for beta readers.

For less than $5 a copy, I transformed my manuscript into an appealing book for my beta readers, and you can too.


How to Get Started

You’ll need to create a KDP account here. Next, format your manuscript using a template. For memoir I like the 5.25 x 8 size. Using these templates is as simple as copying and pasting your manuscript.

I suggest adhering to standard publishing format:

  • Use a 10pt Serif font
  • Full justify your text
  • Start each chapter on a new page
  • Insert page numbers
  • Single space content
KDP provides detailed instructions on this type of formatting. You can also find tutorials on YouTube.

Once your manuscript is formatted, click on your Bookshelf and find the icon to Create a Paperback. Under Paperback Details fill out the required information (Title, Author, etc) then Save and Continue.

Under Paperback Content configure your book. KDP will assign a free ISBN (only used if you actually publish the book). For print options, I like Black & White Interior with Cream Paper and a Glossy cover. Be sure to select the Trim Size that corresponds to the template you’re using. Next, upload your manuscript file.

Use the Cover Creator, a super simple wizard, to create an appealing cover for your book in minutes. You can select from preconfigured options or upload a logo or image.

Launch the previewer and once your book is displayed, flip through the pages to confirm there aren't any formatting mistakes. Reconfigure your manuscript and cover until you're happy with them, then approve.

To place an order for proof copies go to your Bookshelf and hover over the ellipsis (...) button. Select the option to Request Printed Proofs. These copies are provided at cost to authors and will have a Not For Resale watermark printed on the cover.

When the books arrive on your doorstep, take a few moments to admire your hard work. There’s nothing quite like seeing your manuscript in paperback.

Here’s a few tips to make your beta-read successful:

  • Slip a Starbucks gift card inside as a bookmark to show your appreciation.
  • Give readers a deadline for when you’d like their feedback.
  • Provide questions to readers after they’ve finished reading so as not to influence them.
  • Collect the books back so old copies aren’t floating around when you become a world-famous author.
Be sure to order a proof copy for yourself too. Then curl up on your couch and enjoy your manuscript as a reader. Along with feedback from your beta readers, this is a sure way to identify ways to revise your manuscript. And you’ll be one step closer to having a book readers can’t put down.



Keri Williams lives with her family in Charlotte, N.C., and is working on a memoir about raising her adopted son. Find her at www.raisingdevon.com and on social media @RaisingDevon.

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1 comment:

  1. This was an interesting and informative post. I shall keep it in mind for the future!

    ReplyDelete