Best Banana Bread Recipe

Best Banana Bread Recipe

I’m not one to spend much time in the kitchen, but I will not hesitate to tell you that I have figured out the world’s best banana bread recipe. Through much trial-and-error, I’ve finally created a banana bread recipe that will without fail result in the most moist, delectable, can’t-stop-eating-it banana bread you’ve ever had. In fact, I’m inhaling an incredible slice as I write this and thinking thank goodness I know how to get paid to lose weight, because I literally can’t stop eating this banana bread.

Best Banana Bread Recipe

This banana bread recipe calls for some pretty specific steps. Toy with them if you must, but if you want the best banana bread, you need to follow this recipe closely. I set out my eggs and butter the night before if plan on baking in the morning. This recipe calls for three mixing bowls, beaters, a sifter, measuring cup, tsp/TBS measuring, and a loaf pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas + pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs (room temperature because we don’t bake with cold ingredients!)
  • 1 stick of butter (again – room temperature)
  • 2 tsp Penzey’s Cake Spice – I’m not affiliated with Penzey’s, but believe me when I say this spice is an absolute MUST! Don’t try just doing cinnamon if you want the BEST banana bread.
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBS almond milk (regular milk is fine, too)
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Sugar topping (if desired)

  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS water

Preheat over to 325. Mash your bananas in a bowl with the Penzey’s cake spice and a pinch of salt. I like to use my beaters to mix this up well. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes. I usually do this and then get the rest of my ingredients measured out and ready.

In a separate bowl, cream together your sugar and butter until smooth. Save your butter wrapper to butter your loaf pan. Add in your 2 eggs and mix until combined. Add in your splash of vanilla and give it a quick mix. Add in bananas and your tablespoon of milk. Mix until combined.

In another separate bowl, mix together your 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt.

Add wet to dry and mix until combined. I recommend using a rubber spatula to really get in there, as the flour tends to hide in pockets sometimes.

Butter your loaf pan well and pour in the batter. Bake 65-70 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool (if you can!) before cutting into it.

Banana Bread Topping

I also really like making a sugar drizzle to go on top. You can do this quickly by melting 2 TBS butter in a microwave safe mug then stirring in 2 TBS of brown sugar and drizzling over. If you prefer to do it on your stove top, I like to add in a tablespoon of water at the end for an easier drizzle.

It’s hard to say whether this or my overnight french toast is my family’s favorite, but for me? This is truly the best banana bread recipe and if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to grab another slice.

World's Best Banana Bread Recipe

Why I Follow the Montessori(ish) Method

Why I Follow the Montessori(ish) Method

Despite being over 100 years old, the Montessori Method seems to be gaining in popularity. It’s no wonder, though – Montessori has a lot to offer! While I wouldn’t say I’m a strict Montessori mom, there are definitely pieces of the Montessori philosophies that I have incorporated into our lives, even when my children were babies.

What is the Montessori method?

The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907. Italy’s first female doctor, Dr. Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini as a way to provide education to low-income children in Rome. Instead of using traditional teaching methods though, Dr. Montessori decided to test her own educational theories in the classroom. These eventually developed into the child,-centered educational theories we now most commonly know as the Montessori Method. 

Isn’t Montessori only for rich people?

When I first looked at potentially sending my children to a Montessori preschool in our area, the tuition floored me. I had heard that Montessori was expensive, but yikes…

Deciding I neither wanted to sell my kidneys nor commit wire fraud, I felt the next best thing was to start to incorporate Montessori at home.

It was when I was researching Montessori that I learned about Maria Montessori, developing her teaching methods in some of the poorest districts in Italy. It’s interesting that while modern Montessori schools tend to be pricey, the roots of this teaching style are the exact opposite of elitist.

Incorporating Montessori at Home

In the interest of being thrifty, the idea of going out and buying a bunch of furniture/toys/supplies that was supposedly “Montessori” didn’t sit well with me. This is where the Montessori(ISH) comes into play as I began to incorporate Montessori without going all in.

Keeping Things Accessible

With Montessori, I loved the idea of children being independent and free to learn/explore at their own pace. So even as babies, I let my children guide the way (while keeping them safe, of course!)

By following their lead, they were able to learn in a way that kept them excited and curious. In Montessori, this is called having a “prepared environment.”

What is a Montessori Prepared Environment?

A prepared environment is Dr. Montessori’s idea that a child’s surroundings can be designed to allow for maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. 

The 6 main elements include:

  • Freedom
  • Structure and order
  • Beauty
  • Nature and reality
  • Social environment
  • Intellectual environment

Basically it’s the idea that you create space for your child that is meaningfully structured. Everything within their space should have a purpose and nothing should be such that it’s overwhelming to the child.

Do Montessori children play pretend?

Research shows that children under the age of six have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. This is why it’s so easy for children to believe in the idea of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.

As such, Montessori encourages play to be rooted in reality. Think actually baking cookies rather than “playing restaurant”.

Personally, while I appreciate the concept, this is again where I don’t necessarily go all in when it comes to Montessori.

Playing School

Here’s a great example of why I think one can pull from Montessori without necessarily being strict with it.

My kids have always been very into playing baby dolls, which is technically discouraged by Montessori, but never by me.

My daughter is now in first grade, and still very much plays with her baby dolls. But now, every day after school and for a lot of the time on the weekends, she plays school with her dolls. She teaches them exactly what it is. She learned in school that week. From her hundreds chart and other mathematical facts to grace and courtesy and being kind to one another.

She is unknowingly reinforcing that which she is learning. Completely on her own…well unless you count the dolls. 😉

It’s a great example of how Montessori and traditional schooling can overlap in a beautiful way.

Discipline in Montessori

I was very blessed in that my children ended up at a preschool that – like me – is Montessori(ISH). 

And one of the first concepts that was instilled at this preschool is the idea of positive reinforcement and conscious discipline.

As someone who was raised by a yeller, I knew that was never the kind of mom I wanted to be.

So while I was very cognizant of the tone and words I would use with my children, the Montessori(ish) preschool that my kids went to helped further develop that skill set.

When it comes to discipline within the Montessori method, it’s true in that punishment isn’t a part of the experience. There are no timeouts or groundings. Instead, it is on the parents or other adults in the child’s life to model ideal behavior and gently guide the children back on track should they stray with misbehavior.

Leading by Example

I’ve always found it interesting that many adults seem to hold their children to a higher standard than they hold themselves. It’s this idea of the adults demanding respect, despite not showing it themselves… Which is probably a whole ‘nother blog post in and of itself. 

But how can we expect children to self-regulate with their emotions if we do not model how to do such? If we are constantly yelling, why would the children not then do the same? If we name call, gossip, degrade ourselves or others… Children will of course mirror those behaviors.

In that same vein, though, when we lead with kindness, children will follow suit.

And that’s a big part of the Montessori method that I’ve always found to be the most attractive – It’s on the adults to model ideal behavior to children and to use kind, respectful words to show children how to take care of themselves, their possessions, and the world around them. 

Being Montessori-Ish

No matter the age of your child, it’s worth looking into Montessori and pulling from it that which you might find useful in how your parenting. Because keep in mind – Montessori is a collection of theories and principles, it’s not a list of hard and fast rules that you must follow in order to “be the best.”

When it comes down to it, Montessori is about following your child’s lead. Even if you enroll your children in traditional schooling, as I did mine, there’s much to be said about how Montessori can support their education outside of school.

I’m absolutely going to take a minute to brag on my own children, in that they are two of the brightest, most incredible kids. They love to learn. Their reading levels far surpass those of their peers. They are brilliantly creative in ways that blow my mind each and every single day. I fully expect them to have a better grasp on mathematical concepts than I do in the next year or two… Hehe though to be fair, I was in English major, math has never been my strong suit. 

You can be Montessori(ish) and still reap so many of the benefits that come with following the Montessori Method. Believe me when I say that doing so will not only benefit your children, but your family as a whole. 

Above all else – have fun with it!

Throwing a Sloth Themed Birthday Party

Throwing a Sloth Themed Birthday Party

My daughter is obsessed with sloths so for her 7th birthday, we of course had to throw a sloth themed birthday party! While sloths are absolutely adorable and seem to be trending, I found there wasn’t a lot in terms of sloth themed birthday party ideas. So if you’ve got a kid like me – or you are sloth obsessed yourself- check out these party ideas!

Throwing a Sloth Themed Birthday Party

Do you have a zoo or aquarium nearby? If you’re lucky, you might be able to set up a sloth encounter with a real life sloth! Now this isn’t one we were able to take advantage of ourselves, but I did do an opossum encounter for my 32nd birthday – Yes an opossum. Yes for my birthday. Zoo encounters are an absolutely wonderful way to celebrate a birthday! Fair warning – if you bring a sloth (or an opossum) to a birthday party, good luck ever throwing a better party. But it’ll certainly to be one to remember!

DIY Sloth Decorations

If you like to go the DIY route, DIY sloth decorations are easier than you might think.

If you have a cricket or silhouette machine, you could certainly do some screen printed napkins. Alas, I am not lucky enough to yet have a machine like this, but I did pick up a sloth stamp to add to the corner of our party napkins. It’s a sweet touch, that adds to the overall sloth theme.

Another idea is to print out sloths onto clear vinyl stickers to add to party cups or party hats. A pack of these is super affordable! And these usually work with most printers, no special machinery required. Click here to get your sloth sticker set for only $1!

Sloth Goody Bags

Naturally we had to go all out for the goody bags. There are these pre-made sloth goody bags if you don’t want to go the DIY route:

See on Amazon

But personally I didn’t want to spend the money on buying the pre-made ones, so I decided to take a chance at making them myself. I think they turned out pretty great! In fact, you can get the sloth template I made and used here for only $1!

Sloth goodie bag - DIY TemplateBuy My Template - $1

You can print the template on bright white cardstock, have the kids help color in the hats and bow tie/ bows or you can trace onto construction paper. I used this pack of construction paper for the goodie bags pictured above.

Sloth Trinkets + Treats

I try to be really intentional in picking candy alternatives for goodie bags, so I went with as many sloth-themed trinkets as I could find.

Target had some really great wind up sloth toys:

Sloth wind-up toys for goody bags

I also picked up these amazing vinyl sloth stickers:

See on Amazon

My daughter really enjoyed deciding what stickers would go in goodie bags versus which she would keep for her own collection, and goodness knows there were plenty left over! 

We also got sloth stamps and sloth pens. Oriental Trading often has some great sloth themed toys! I can’t lie, I was really tempted to pick up these hugging stuffed sloth slap bracelets, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend $5+ per goody bag.

While not always in stock, it’s worth checking out:

  • Sloth Bendables – so cute and so fun to play with!
  • Growing Sloths – stick ’em in water and watch them grow!
  • Sloth Bracelets realllllly wanted to buy these for myself if nothing else! I mean c’mon…look how cute!!

hugging sloth bracelet

Sloth Slime

I also toyed with the idea of doing some fun sloth slime. In the end, I decided against it, because I didn’t want the other parents to hate me. But if you don’t care, or perhaps want to get payback for someone sending slime home with your own kids, this is a fun add to a goodie bag.

Simply have your kids make a big batch of slime and then divvy it up into small 2oz containers. Use this sticker template for the tops of the jars:

sloth sticker circles printable

Download My Sloth Sticker Set!

You can also pick up the sticker template to have for just that – stickers! And let’s be honest, everyone loves stickers. Especially those parents who might otherwise hate you for the slime. 

You might also think about adding this sloth party coloring page to the goodie bags. You can pick up a bulk set of crayons and every kid is sure to enjoy this fun sloth activity. Click to download a free set of sloth coloring pages!

Target also has a super fun sloth mask activity. All you need is scissors, fabric, glue, felt, and ribbon or string. Each child can then have their own adorable sloth mask! Target even has a sloth mask template you can download for free!

sloth mask craft for kids

Of course we can’t forget the invitations! These are pretty simple to DIY yourself using Canva, but again, you can pick up my template to customize and print your own here for only a dollar!

Download Sloth Invites Template Now!

Another simple DIY idea for your sloth themed birthday party is to simply create branches out of brown craft paper. If your child is anything like mine, you probably already have a few sloth stuffed animals. Roll up the brown craft paper to make branches and simply hang the stuffies from there. Goodness knows your child will be extra excited to have these guests at her party! 

sloth craft using brown paper as branches

Sloth Birthday Party Decorations

I did end up purchasing a few different sloth themed decoration so that I didn’t have to DIY at all. I got these great sloth balloons:

See on Amazon

This fun cake topper:

See on Amazon

These sloths swirl decorations:

See on Amazon

I did decide to get extra cheesy in that our family decided to wear sloth T-shirts. While I was tempted to make us all match, I decided to mix it up. There are a surprising amount of sloth t-shirt styles available! 

I couldn’t get my daughter on board with a sloth pinata, but they do make them! And just like the t-shirts, there are quite a few options to choose from. I personally love this one:

See on Amazon

Don’t have the time to get crafty or simply just not your thing? Purchase pre-made leaves and scatter them on tables or hang them from the ceiling and walls. 

See on Amazon

Sloth Party Food Ideas

When it comes to the food and treats, there’s a number of sloth themed options.

I really love these Tootsie roll Rice Krispies. They’re fairly quick and easy to make, but look like you special ordered them.

rice krispy sloth treats with tootsie rolls

These Oreo cookies are also an absolute delight. Plus who doesn’t love chocolate covered Oreos!

sloth oreo cookies

And of course, for the main event, you can do a sloth cake:

Or these absolutely adorable sloth cupcakes:

Or if you really want to? Wow your guests, perhaps try your hand at these sloth cake pops:

I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for throwing your own sloth themed birthday party. From DIY decor to goodie bag fun, and so much more, I hope you have the best sloth party. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @amber_temerity if you use any of these ideas at your next sloth party!

Throwing a Sloth Themed Birthday Party

10 Quick, Refreshing Brain Breaks Online for Moms

10 Quick, Refreshing Brain Breaks Online for Moms

When it comes to taking a break, most encourage you to step away from the screen. Whether you’re helping your child with online homework or powering through a day of remote work, being on the computer can be draining. But taking a brain break online can be beneficial when done right! And by this I mean – don’t get lost! Take a 5-minute brain break online and see how it can improve your productivity.

10 Quick, Refreshing Brain Breaks Online for Moms

What can you accomplish in 5 minutes? Better focus and less stress, for starters, as well as better energy levels and elevated mood all day. You might be tempted to grab your phone and check out Youtube or TikTok, but those aren’t the best choices. It’s super easy to fall down a rabbit hole and spend the next hour looking at cat videos.

Instead, use these 10 simple, quick, brain-energizing breaks to refresh your mind and help you focus. You’ll see fewer cats, but you won’t spiral for hours beholden to Tiktok’s algorithm either.

Top Websites to Take a Break With

Online games vary widely from pointless clicking endeavors to actually training your brain. Lumosity falls into the latter category, with free exercises to help sharpen your mind. Taking a break here can help improve your focus and, over time, improve concentration and memory. It’s absolutely worth your time to check it out!

Do literally nothing for 2 minutes

We’re bombarded with suggestions to incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives, but it can be hard to simply remember. Meditation is one thing; the benefits can’t be argued against. But even a few minutes of quiet can reduce stress and improve our mood.

Thankfully, there’s a website for that! Do Nothing For 2 Minutes (yes, that’s actually the site) actually forces you to sit still for 2 minutes. If you even touch your mouse or keyboard, the timer resets. During the 2 minutes, you listen to the relaxing waves and close your eyes, or look at the beautiful ocean image on the page. Either way, you’re going to sit and relax for 2 full minutes and reap the rewards of quite literally doing nothing.

Get it off your chest

Talking with others is a fantastic way to work through your problems, but sometimes you just need to say something to anyone who will listen. Novni is an anonymous site that allows you to vent, and for strangers to give positive feedback. If you’re needing less support and feel like propping others up, you can instead comment and give advice on other posts.

Novni is a great way to spend 5 minutes helping others or getting some uplifting support yourself.

Learn how fast you read

Data that is specific to you, no matter how minor, can be fun to have. How Long To Read is a site that gives you a section of a book and measures how long it takes you to read it. From there, it gives you estimates as to how long it will take you to read full books. Their database includes over 12 million books, so it can help you plan break-time reading for decades to come.

Unwind with a classic

If you grew up in the 90s or 2000s, you probably played a lot of Minesweeper and solitaire on your computer (while you were supposed to be doing other stuff). Solitaire is a great game where you compete against yourself, essentially; it’s a great way to sharpen your mind while you take a break.

Taking a moment to play classic solitaire or variants like Klondike or Spider will challenge you while allowing your brain time to untangle from work. Solitaire.org also has a variety of logic puzzles like sudoku, and other classic games that challenge your intellect.

Get a boost of positivity

For a daily dose of good vibes and practical tools to more happiness, you can’t go wrong with Positivity Blog. This website offers up a daily post outlining strategies to live a more focused, happier version of yourself. Since each day presents a snapshot, you can use your break to go through an article and come back later for more if you’re inclined.

If you want to take a break from work, uplifting your spirits is a great place to start.

Learn a new language, one break at a time

Duolingo is one of the most accessible, easy-to-use methods to learn a new language. Their lessons are broken down into quick practice sessions that are fun, colorful, and effective. You can spend a few minutes each day going through a lesson or two, and in a few months, you’ll find yourself progressing towards mastery of a new language.

Make a cat song!

If you’ve ever wanted to craft a song with short clips of cat meows – and who hasn’t – then Cat Soundboard is your perfect destination. Each picture of a cat or kitten has a meow that you can mix and match to make a little tune. It’s fun, furry, and full of cats; pretty much the internet condensed down into a five-minute meow-filled jam session.

Just relax

Allolu is the perfect place to listen to the sounds of nature and just vibe. Choose from one of many daily photos that correspond to a natural sound and just let the stress melt away.

You might want to set an alarm, though, as you could get lost in the peaceful sounds and forget about your afternoon meeting!

Play some piano…with other people

Assuming you’re like most people, you’ve often wondered what it’s like to make a piano masterpiece with dozens of other pianists online. Oh, you say you haven’t? While maybe it’s only because you’ve never considered how awesome it would be.

Multiplayer Piano is a site that lets you bang on a keyboard while other people do, too. You can even record a snippet of it, capturing the chaotic beauty of many people playing piano simultaneously. It can be incredible and also hilarious, the perfect mid-morning brain break.

Give yourself a quality break today

There’s nothing wrong with watching Youtube or surfing social media in measured doses, but it’s hard simply to watch for 5 minutes. Our brains are wired to want more and more, and before you know it, you’ve spent a half-hour wasting time.

Constructive breaks are far better at refreshing your mind and getting you back to work focused and alert. These ten sites are my favorites for energizing my brain and making me smile. Some might even have a profound impact on the way you view the world.

Make Money in Self Publishing with Amazon KDP

Make Money in Self Publishing with Amazon KDP

When it comes to self publishing through Amazon, otherwise known as KDP, there are far too many touting how easy it is to make money. Can you make money self publishing through Amazon? Absolutely. But is it easy money? Well…let’s talk about that.

What is KDP?

KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing and is operated through Amazon. It’s a platform that allows writers, even new ones, to self publish their works online. Authors can publish and sell their books in digital, hardcover, and paperback form. Once live, these books are available directly to customers on the Amazon site using its KDP platform.

KDP VS KDP Select

As you get started on your journey to make money self publishing, you might notice that there’s a difference between KDP and KDP Select.

KDP is as described above – a simple way to publish your book.

With KDP Select, though, you can increase your royalties and thereby increase the money you make self publishing your ebooks. With KDP Select, you are giving Amazon exclusivity rights. This means your ebook is available exclusively through KDP. You can’t, for example, offer a free copy to e-mail subscribers or give away a free PDF version in a contest. Fortunately these exclusivity rights are only 3 months at a time, but it’s certainly something to consider. KDP Select does offer the benefits of being included on Kindle Unlimited should you be publishing an ebook. Along those lines, KDP Select also makes your book available on the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Is KDP still profitable in 2022?

If you’re on TikTok and interested in self-publishing even the slightest bit, you’ve probably had dozens of videos pop up on KDP. It probably makes you wonder – is KDP even still profitable with the amount of competition out there? The answer to that is a resounding yes – I wouldn’t be sharing this post otherwise! But it comes down to finding a niche that is relevant and not super competitive. Long gone are the days of putting together a low content book with a generic cover and calling it a day.

Not to mention once Amazon takes its cut, you can’t expect it to be easy to make money with self publishing on a long term basis. And certainly not great money, at that…

example of money earned through KDP self publishing

That said, there are definitely some solid reasons as to why KDP is an income stream still worth looking into.

Low Upfront Cost

The upfront cost to publish with KDP can be literally zero if you’re decent at graphic design. If you have the time to manage each piece of your publishing – writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing – then that’s all it’ll cost you: time.

Even if you need to outsource a few pieces, the cost is minimal compared to traditional publishing. As an online business strategist, I’ve personally helped clients put together books in which the only part they did was writing it, and it still only cost them around $300 to publish.

No Physical Inventory

You also don’t have to worry about investing in or maintaining an inventory. KDP is POD (print on demand). The only time a book is printed is when an order is made. And of course you can – and should – have ebook versions, too! You can order author copies at print cost plus shipping if you did want to maintain a small inventory. This is nice to have should you want to offer signed copies of your book or do an in-person book reading.

Publishing is quick

Publishing a book through KDP is typically a fairly quick process. I will say that I’ve noticed low content books tend to take longer, but in general you can expect a less than 72 hour turnaround time. Traditional publishing usually means waiting months to launch your book! One thing to note, though, is that you cannot make any edits or adjustments during the review process. So make sure you triple check everything before hitting that button so that you don’t extend your review time.

So do low content books sell?

Low content books are typically lined books with a cute cover, but can also be things like coloring or activity books.

Examples of low content books include:

  • Journals/Diaries
  • Guest books
  • Planners
  • Adult coloring books
  • Kids activity books
  • Accounting ledgers
  • Workout log book
  • Travel journals

These low/no content books used to be a way to make money self publishing in a very short amount of time. But as mentioned above, that’s no longer the case given how many people have jumped into the fray. That’s not to say low content books can’t be profitable. It comes back to finding a niche or being super creative in your design.

For example, this journal is simply a lined notebook but if you’re someone who happens to love opossums and be notebook obsessed, it’s an absolutely perfect gift:

See on Amazon

Me – it’s me. I’m opossum and notebook obsessed…but I’m also the creator of said notebook. 😉

Validating Your Book Idea

Regardless of what kind of book you want to publish through KDP, validating your idea is essential. If you want your book read by the masses, you need to make sure those masses want to read your book!

To validate your book idea and actually make money self publishing through KDP, ask yourself these simple questions:

Are there similar books to yours already published?

There’s so such thing as an original thought. Harsh, but true. If there aren’t at least a dozen books similar to yours available on Amazon, it’s because your book…well your book idea probably isn’t too great. That’s not to say there have to be books that are exactly like yours. For example, if you’re planning to publish a cookbook on teaching kids to make macarons, you can count books like “teaching kids to bake” and “the art of macarons” as similar enough.

Are there enough buyers?

Obviously you want to find that sweet spot between narrowing in on a specific niche and making it something people actually want to buy. This goes back to making sure there are books similar to yours available, and that people are actually buying them. Which brings us to the final question –

Can you compete?

Hopefully you have – or hire someone to help with – a marketing plan for your book. But before you even get into that, you need to make sure you can in fact compete in the marketplace. For this, you’ll want to look at the best seller rankings of the top books in whatever category you’re publishing in. So after finding those similar books we talked about above, look under their product details and locate “Amazon Best Sellers Rank.”

amazon best sellers ranking example

The higher the rank for these books, the better they sells – but also the harder they’ll be to compete with. You want to make sure your book falls into a category where the average rank is neither too high nor too low. As a general rule, look for rankings from 1,000 to 30,000 with those top books. Anything less than 1,000 and you’re looking at great sales, but incredibly competitive. Anything over 30,000 and it may not be competitive, but it also probably doesn’t sell well.

Creating Your Book

Creating your book typically goes one of two ways – Microsoft Word or Canva. If you are creating a mainly text only book, Microsoft Word is absolutely the way to go. Start the document in the size your book will be, typically 6×9. Once your book is written, proofread, and edited, you can save it as a PDF and you’re basically good to go.

If you are creating a book that involve graphics – ie cookbooks, journals, workbooks, children’s stories, etc. – then trust me when I say you want to just go ahead and start in Canva. Again you’ll set the design to be the size you need and just get started. Make sure you’re using images you have a license to use or ones that you yourself took. Then download as a PDF and you’re all set.

Creating the Cover

Creating the cover can be a bit trickier if you’re not familiar with graphic design. Fortunately KDP offers cover templates that make this process a lot easier. This is again something you can do in Canva. Once you have your template as a PNG file, upload it to Canva. Design your cover over that upload and then delete the template once everything is in place. You’ll be able to proof both this and your actual book once uploaded within Amazon, so don’t worry if you’re not 100% confident in the trim or margins. Amazon will let you know before you even submit for publishing whether or not there’s a glaring error like that.

Publishing Your Book

When it comes to actually getting started with the publishing process, the best place to start is of course on the KDP website. They have quite a few great tutorials to help you get started. 

Once you’re in the “Bookshelf” area, simply hit the plus sign over whichever format you plan to first publish in. From there, you’ll fill in the details on your book’s title, description, categories, and keywords.

It’s important to use well researched keywords to better assist your book in ranking well organically. This goes for both the keyword section itself and what you’re writing within the actual description section. I very much recommend including a Table of Contents when applicable.

You also want to choose categories that help Amazon better figure out the kind of book you’re publishing.

Note: These categories are not the same categories as those shown on the book detail’s section. Amazon decides those, these two categories you’re setting now are strictly for the back-end.

Do I need to buy an ISBN?

Once you’ve completed that first page, you’ll move onto the content page. The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether to use the free ISBN or your own.

ISBN stands for Industry Standard Book Number, a unique number assigned to each version of every published book. This also includes every version of every published book. So each paperback, hardcover, ebook, and audiobook edition would each have their own unique ISBN. The nice thing about publishing through Amazon KDP is that you don’t have to buy an ISBN. KDP provides a free ISBN. Now some might want to go the route of paying for an ISBN. There are those who believe a book displaying the name of a self-publisher means bookstores and the like won’t take you seriously. Personally I feel this to be false as we move into an era of self-publishing being the norm and outperforming traditional publishing houses.

Pricing + Royalty Rates

I always recommend to my clients to start as low as possible when pricing their books. Not only does this mean people are more apt to buy it when you first launch, but it gives you room to grow. Why is this important? Because one of the best ways to make a sale once you have an audience established is to say “Hey! Price is going up in X days, make sure to tell your friends!” And we’re all about setting you up to make money self publishing for years to come.

Obviously you’ll also want to check the going rates in your category. If you price too low, people might assume your book is cheap in that it’s low quality. Price it too high, though, and your competitors will win out every time.

Books priced between $2.99-$9.99 are eligible for a 70% royalty minus fees, save for countries in which the 70% is restricted. Over $9.99 and you’re looking at a 35% royalty rate. You can always change your price at any time so it’s worth tweaking until you hit a sweet spot.

Marketing Your Book

The launch of your book will absolutely determine how easy it is to make money with self-publishing. If you think you can hit publish and watch the money flow…well you haven’t been paying attention.

Please do NOT wait until the last minute to plan your book launch!

Instead, take the time to have a plan in place weeks before you ever start the KDP process. I’m not saying go crazy and throw a book launch party – though if you do, I hope I’m invited! But there are certainly a few steps you can take to ensure a successful launch, such as:

Build a Launch Team

Before you hit “publish” on that book, assemble a team to help you promote your launch. This can be a group of family, friends, and those in your network that would enjoy sharing your book with others. If you’re like me and have a blog, send out an email to recruit help. And of course don’t negate your solid social media presence, put it out there – make the ask! See who in your network would be interested in helping to promote your book.

You should also create a swipe file for your team. This file can be something stored on Google Drive or Dropbox. It houses marketing materials that they can use to keep things easy on them. The easier you make promoting, the more likely your team will be to follow through. Provide them with graphics, copy ideas for social media shares, and a few mock-up images of your book. Those can be made free on sites like Canva or DIY Book Design.

It’s also worth incentivizing your launch team. Offer them a pre-release copy so they can write actual reviews they share via social media. I would also recommend – when budget allows – that you buy author copies to distribute to your launch team once everything is live.

Do Your Own PR

In this day and age, it’s easier than you might think to get some good PR going. Reach out to bloggers who might be willing to allow you to guest post on your site. You are a writer after all! Another great way to generate buzz is to send a quick press release to your local news and radio stations. You can easily find contact emails on most of their websites. Then just look up templates to use online or follow something like this:

press release example for self published cookbook

Ask for Reviews

Once your book is live, make sure you’re asking for those reviews! Those first few days that the book is live are critical to long-term success and rankings. If you don’t have anyone leaving reviews within the first few days of going live, the chances of it doing well organically are exceedingly low. This is why having a launch team is essential! It also speaks to ideally having an ebook version whenever possible. You do not want anyone leaving a review without first having the book in hand. If you don’t want them to have to pay for the actual book and don’t have an ebook option, they can still leave a review. Amazon just won’t give it as much credence as verified buyers.

NetGalley + Kindle Select

Here’s a “behind the scenes” tip that I typically only give paying clients – utilize NetGalley and Kindle Select when possible! NetGalley is a website that helps authors promote digital review copies to book lovers and industry professionals. The pricing with NetGalley varies, but it’s worth it when budget allows. There’s a two-fold benefit here:

1. NetGalley means more eyes on your book sooner, providing you with reviews you can use during the launch phase.

2. KDP Select means you can make your ebook free for the first few days, so anyone who has already read it can “buy” it and leave a review a few hours later.

Note: Buyers do not have to have a Kindle to purchase your ebook. Kindle books can be read on Apple and Android products, as well as PCs and most other tablets.

Is self-publishing actually passive income?

We’re over 2,500 words in and I could easily do another 2,500..what do you think?

While you can absolutely make money self publishing through Amazon KDP, don’t go into it thinking it’s passive income or easy money. However, much like blogging, I will say that if this is something you’re passionate about, jump in and trust the money to follow. I truly believe every person on earth has a story worth sharing. I so very much hope this article has inspired you to get started on the path toward sharing yours!