Kindle Unlimited: What was the KENP rate for July, 2019?

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ FOR JULY, 2019

The KENP rate for pages read in Kindle Unlimited in July, 2019 was $0.00439.

It’s a small drop (roughly 5%) compared to June’s rate of $0.00464.

However, Amazon actually paid out more royalties overall in July than in June.

That’s because the KDP Select Global Fund rose from $24.9 million to a record $25.6 million.

Perhaps Amazon Prime Day had a small impact. If, for example, Amazon sold many Kindle ereaders, there may be new customers using their free month of Kindle Unlimited.

Whatever the reason, the per-page rate does tend to vary a bit, although it has been relatively stable for much of 2019.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

The Amazon Giveaway Experience

 

AMAZON GIVEAWAYS

I’ve spent the past week entering a variety of Amazon Giveaways.

Over the years, I have given away several books through Amazon Giveaways.

So now I have experience with both sides of this program.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

When I was browsing and entering the giveaways, here is some of what I experienced:

  • My first thought was that there are a ton of giveaways. Right now, there are 4000 results showing on 200 pages.
  • But one day, I actually browsed through the entire list in less than an hour. So even the giveaways that are hidden way back aren’t as inaccessible as they may at first seem.
  • There are a variety of products, and several popular products seem to land on the first pages. The value of some of the prizes is higher than I had expected.
  • If you look at the fine print though, you’ll see that the most popular products with the higher price points have much higher odds.
  • Products like books with lower price points tend to have more favorable odds. Some of the Kindle ebook giveaways have odds as good as 1 out of 100.
  • If you enter the giveaways, you quickly learn that some require you to watch a short video or follow an author. If you prefer not to do either of these, you start to look for the label, “No entry requirement.”
  • (Well, nothing prevents you from unfollowing afterward, except that you need to figure out how.)
  • Even if you don’t intend to rack up a large number of Follows, some of the books look so compelling… I followed a few authors I don’t know just because the covers really grabbed me.
  • You only see the picture and title. For a book, that’s the cover and title plus subtitle.
  • Sometimes, I was intrigued by a cover, but the cover and title didn’t really tell me what the genre was, and I didn’t want to take a chance and win a book that might not be in a genre that I read. (And it’s extra work to visit the product page to find out.)
  • In a few cases, the author/publisher had included a subtitle that clarified the genre. This was handy. In the best cases, the cover made this abundantly clear, so it wasn’t necessary.
  • For some products, if you lose the giveaway, Amazon offers you a discount if you proceed to make a purchase. So even if you don’t win giveaways, you can take advantage of discounts.
  • Only one time did I try to enter a giveaway, but receive a message that all of the prizes had already been claimed. With my luck, one second before I clicked the box, somebody else probably won.
  • However, if you come back the next day, you can easily run into a message saying that you didn’t win. That means you already tried to win that product previously. You need to remember which giveaways you entered previously in order to avoid this.
  • There is a simple solution: Look at the top right of the giveaways page for a link called, “Subscribe to never miss another giveaway.”
  • I wish I could tell you what it was like to win, but I wasn’t that lucky. (Maybe someone who has won before will be kind enough to describe this in the comments.)

If you really want to know what it’s like, go check it out. Here’s the link:

https://www.amazon.com/ga/giveaways/?pageId=1

THE AUTHOR’S/SELLER’S POINT OF VIEW

Here are some features that I like about Amazon Giveaways:

  • Your giveaways page shows you how many hits, entrants, and product page visits you’ve had. It’s interesting to compare the product page visits to the hits. It’s nice to get some data for how customers react to your book.
  • Setting up the giveaway is easy. Just visit the Amazon product page. (This works for products sold in the US store, anyway.)
  • Amazon fulfills the giveaway. You don’t have to do anything, except setup the giveaway (and pay for the products and shipping).
  • One time, a customer left a review saying that they discovered the book from the Amazon Giveaways page. That customer actually lost the giveaway and proceeded to purchase the book (I only know this because the customer left a review saying so). That was cool. (But I have no idea if anyone who has ever won an Amazon Giveaway has left a review. I would only know if the person happened to mention this in the review, but that part has never happened. However, a few Goodreads Giveaway winners have mentioned in reviews where they won the books.)
  • For paperback books, Amazon Giveaways are more cost-effective and also more convenient than Goodreads Giveaways. (However, if you give away 100 Kindle ebooks at Goodreads, since you don’t have to pay for the ebooks after paying the giveaway cost, it can be more cost-effective to run Kindle giveaways at Goodreads.)
  • You can require entrants to follow you at Amazon, if you wish. (Usually, I choose “no entry requirement” to maximize participation.)
  • Occasionally, there isn’t a winner. Personally, I prefer to have a winner; I want someone to enjoy the prize. But when there isn’t a winner, you got some free exposure. You can’t complain about that. (But for a Kindle ebook, you don’t get a refund. In that case, you need to run the giveaway again, at no added cost. Which gives you added exposure.)
  • A few authors have found creative ways to use giveaways. I don’t know if it’s worth doing, but I noticed that a few authors list a giveaway for a popular product, and require entrants to follow them. Suppose that your books is similar to Harry Potter in some ways. You could potentially run a Harry Potter giveaway and have entrants follow you. Those entrants potentially have an interest in books like yours. But some authors run a giveaway for an Amazon gift card or even a Kindle. Again, I’m not saying it’s worth doing (and haven’t tried it myself), I’m just noting that it’s been done.
  • You really need an effective cover. With thousands of results showing in a couple of hundred pages, by the time entrants reach your giveaway, your book cover really needs to call attention to people who may have an interest in it. I noticed some amazing covers while I was browsing. Book covers that aren’t so amazing, well, let’s just say that they often appear right beside book covers that look amazing.

Of course, you can always ask for things to be better:

  • Amazon Sellers who sell a variety of products (like housewares) can create promotional codes and offer discounts to entrants. They can also track their sales. But authors/publishers can’t.
  • It would be great if KDP authors/publishers could offer discounts to entrants who lose the giveaways and if they could track sales that result from the giveaway. I submitted this suggestion to KDP. If you have any suggestions (or if you also want to suggest the discount option), feel free to use the Contact Us button at KDP.
  • There are only a couple of options for the odds of the giveaway. It varies from book to book, depending perhaps in part on the value of the prize. The odds used to be much more flexible. I can see Amazon not wanting you to set outrageous odds that would prevent a winner, but why can’t we make the odds more favorable? For a few books, it’s not easy to get a winner. And if you want to have more than just a handful of winners, well you usually can’t make the odds favorable enough to give away 10 or more products in a single contest.
  • Entrants must be residents of the US or the District of Columbia. I believe authors can setup giveaways even if they reside in other countries, provided that they setup the giveaway from the US site, but entrants must be residents of the US. Maybe this is restricted from a legal standpoint; in some countries, the rules governing giveaways may add unnecessary complications. I’m sure someone in another country is thinking, “That’s not the case where I live.” Remember, if you want to make a suggestion to KDP, you’re welcome to use the Contact Us button.
  • Unfortunately, if you’re an Amazon Prime customer, you still have to pay for shipping/handling for physical prizes (but there are no shipping charges for Kindle ebooks) on top of paying for the prizes (and any tax). The shipping/handling is sometimes more than you might expect. (There was a brief period where it hadn’t been charging for shipping if you had Prime. Either that was a glitch that lasted a couple of weeks, or Amazon was testing that out and it didn’t work out well enough to maintain it.)
  • When I click the link to enter the giveaway, I just see the book cover and title. I don’t see the category or a description. Yet I’m often deciding, do I want to follow the author in order to enter this giveaway (because I’m not inclined to follow hundreds of authors just to enter giveaways, which of course makes the Follow more valuable)? It would be nice to see part of the description or the category. Of course, the curious entrant can still find these things by visiting your product page.

MY GIVEAWAY

Here is a link to a giveaway for my Grade 6 math workbook, ending on August 11, 2019:

https://www.amazon.com/ga/p/32efe68a5b58e615

If you enter, good luck.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Finding Fonts for Books or Covers (allowing Commercial Use)

 

FONTS FOR BOOKS AND BOOK COVERS

I’ve been using the Adobe Creative Cloud for years now, which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and many other great tools for publishing books or graphic design.

One of my favorite tools is Adobe’s Typekit. It is included with my Creative Cloud subscription, but you can get Typekit even with a small subscription (you don’t need the whole Creative Cloud to get it).

What’s cool is that Adobe comes right up front and tells you that their fonts permit commercial use, and it clearly states that this includes books (with no limit on the number of sales). If you’re a graphic designer making book covers, for example, the author who purchases your finished product doesn’t need a separate license (provided that the author doesn’t need to edit your design).

With Typekit, you don’t actually install the fonts on your computer. (Note that if you did install the fonts on your computer, the same licensing would no longer apply.)

Rather, you just install the Adobe app, and the Typekit fonts automatically work with Adobe products and Microsoft Word (for other software, there may be limitations; you should look into that if using other programs). Just make sure that you’re logged into the Adobe app before you open Microsoft Word (if that’s what you’re using); otherwise, Word will automatically substitute another font without even telling you. You don’t need to remain online while you work, once you’ve successfully logged into the Adobe app.

There are several great fonts at Typekit.

For the body text of most books, including novels as well as nonfiction, you want a font that reads well. Adobe has some Garamond fonts, including Garamond Premier, and Garamond is one of the popular fonts for novels. You can get an entire family of Garamond fonts, so if you normally feel that Garamond is a bit light, you can find a darker version.

Another good font for body text is Minion, which I was excited to discover was included with Typekit.

If you’re designing an educational book for K-12, you might consider SchoolBook. There are a few other fonts similar to SchoolBook, too.

But there are numerous fonts that would work for body text paragraphs. I have a few tips for searching for fonts for body text:

  • Serif fonts are commonly recommended for body text.
  • Think of letters and punctuation marks that are important to you. I’ve encountered fonts where I didn’t like the lowercase r, the lowercase a, the lowercase f, the uppercase R, the colon, or the curly apostrophe (don’t type a straight apostrophe from your keyboard, that’s different; first get one in Word and then copy/paste), for example. If you may be typing digits, remember to check the numbers, too. Type these in the sample text.
  • Once you narrow it down to a few fonts, add them all. Open a file with plenty of sample text and test each font out. It just takes one letter or punctuation to spoil a font, and you want to catch that before you format an entire book that way.

(For fonts inside of the book, my recommendations are for paperback books. For ebooks, I recommend not trying to embed fonts. But for ebook covers, see below.)

For headings, you might go with a sans serif font. Myriad is a good simple sans serif font, but there are plenty of others to choose from.

For book covers, you might want a very bold font for keywords, such as Azo Sans or Jubilat, to really help the two or three most important words to stand out, especially for a nonfiction book where it’s really important for the cover to spell out the most important words.

For novels, you want to find a font for the book cover that spells out a particular genre, like Lust or one of the script-like fonts for romance. But remember that it’s more important that the font can be read easily on the small thumbnail. If you get carried away, you can wind up sacrificing the readability. Try to avoid having more than three different fonts included on the front cover.

Another option is to search through websites dedicated to free fonts.

Good luck and happy font searching.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Amazon Coupons (even on one of my books)

 

SAVE $1.00 WITH COUPON AT AMAZON (LIMITED TIME)

Have you seen those green (or orange) coupons at Amazon, where you can save a little money by clipping the coupon?

In search results, I sometimes see it in green highlighting, like Save $1.00.

On the product page, below where it says In Stock, I sometimes see Coupon with orange highlighting and a box to check next to green writing.

Be sure to click the box to apply the coupon.

I’ve seen these on a number of household items that I buy regularly, including Amazon Pantry and Amazon Fresh.

It’s nice to save a little money, and the coupon sometimes affects my decision on which product to buy (usually, when it wasn’t an easy decision to begin with).

Yesterday, for the first time, I happened to see one of these coupon offers for one of my books (the paperback edition).

I haven’t seen it for any of my other books yet, and this might not last long for the book it does show on. But it was a nice surprise.

Maybe Amazon is testing this out on a small number of books to see how it goes.

Discounts at Amazon have changed considerably throughout the years.

  • When I published my first book back in 2008 (wow, that was over ten years ago), there used to be 4-for-3 offers on many books (including mine, back then). I often bought 4 books at a time in those days. But then the 4-for-3 program disappeared. That was a pretty big discount, so it’s no surprise if it wasn’t sustainable.
  • Shortly thereafter, many books went on sale sporadically. There were times when many of my books were on sale, and times (like the holidays) where almost none of my books were on sale.
  • The new thing seems to be coupons to clip. (I like this idea better than, say, the Countdown Deal idea.)

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

How much did Amazon pay for Kindle Unlimited pages read in June, 2019?

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ FOR JUNE, 2019

The rate was $0.00464 per page for pages read through Kindle Unlimited in June, 2019.

The per-page rate has been very stable from March thru June. For example, it was $0.00466 in May.

The KDP Select Global Fund rose to $24.9 million for June. It continues to climb. The Global Fund was $24.6 million in May.

Happy Amazon Prime Days (July 15 thru July 16, 2019)!

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Amazon Prime Day, 2019: July 15-16

JULY 15-16, 2019: AMAZON PRIME DAY

Every July, Amazon has a special day of deals just for Prime members.

This year (2019), the event will actually span two days: Monday, July 15, to Tuesday, July 16.

It’s like a Black Friday in the summer just for Amazon Prime customers.

The event attracts much attention.

There are millions of customers who have Amazon Prime.

If you have that membership, naturally you want to make the most of it.

And thus you are enticed to check out Amazon on Prime Day, to see if there might be a good deal on something that you’d like to buy.

Occasionally, Prime Day, Black Friday, or even Cyber Monday can be very big even for Amazon.

Not only does Amazon often achieve record sales of some sort (like Kindle devices), but sometimes there is so much traffic early on that customers have to wait patiently for little delays relating to internet usage. Amazon surely works hard to resolve and prevent such issues, since these are huge sales days for Amazon. But even Amazon can occasionally be surprised by a huge surge in customer activity.

Many customers associate Amazon with books and ebooks, but Amazon has a huge inventory of all kinds of products.

More customers are regularly shopping on Amazon for birthday presents, holiday gifts, household items (with Subscribe & Save benefits), groceries (if you live in a metropolitan area where Amazon Fresh is available), and much more. You can even buy services from Amazon, like getting a ceiling fan installed.

It reminds me of Robert A. Heinlein’s hard-to-find short story, “We Also Walk Dogs” (one of my favorite stories).

Amazon’s big sale days, such as Amazon Prime Day, encourage more customers to explore Amazon’s other products (that is, way beyond just books).

Though you can usually find some books on sale, too.

Unfortunately, Amazon really hasn’t tapped into its KDP author base on the big holidays.

Even if an author’s KDP published print books are periodically on sale at Amazon (with Amazon paying the full royalty even when it’s on sale), they have seldom been on sale on the big sale days.

Kindle authors can run a Countdown Deal (if in KDP Select) or a temporary price reduction (though in this case it isn’t obvious that the book is on sale), but it may actually be better to schedule the promotional price at another time. Many customers are too busy chasing the main deals of the day. At another time, your book might be more likely to get noticed, or your own marketing might be more effective.

I keep waiting. One of these years, Amazon will announce to KDP authors when Prime Day is coming, along with plans to include some KDP books, encouraging KDP authors to help spread the word. Or at least include more of the KDP paperbacks on sale. I can list dozens of amazing ways that Amazon has improved KDP over the past ten years, including things many people said would never happen (like the ability to make a preorder, advertise KDP books, or add x-ray features to Kindle ebooks). So maybe including KDP authors with Prime Day will be one of those things someday. With over a million authors, there sure is potential to help market millions of books along with the big day.

Well, a couple of times over the years, CreateSpace or KDP has preordered one (or more) of my books for Amazon Prime Day. Like Amazon does for the holidays, stocking up on its better selling books helps Amazon meet its logistical challenges. I appreciate that the preorders help keep better selling books available during peak sales days. That’s a great start.

In the meantime, as a Prime customer, I will check out the event and see if any of the deals interest me this year.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Fun with Google Translate

 

FUN WITH GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Google Translate is actually pretty handy as an informal tool.

There have been times where I have wanted to have at least a partial understanding of something that I read in another language online, and Google Translate has helped me with that.

I’m also a little rusty with French, and Google Translate has helped to fill in some of my gaps.

But if you wrote something and wanted to have a professional translation of your writing into another language, well, as you will see in this article, that could result in some interesting consequences.

TRANSLATION EXPERIMENT

What I will do is type a variety of expressions in English.

I will copy and paste these expressions into Google Translate, and have them translated into a different language.

Then I will have them translated back into English.

(Isn’t this what everybody does when they feel like having some fun?)

LET’S START WITH SOMETHING EASY

We will start with a simple opinion in English. (As a person’s opinion, it is informal, not proper grammar.)

I strongly prefer slacks over blue jeans on the golf course.

I copied and pasted the above text into Google Translate.

https://translate.google.com/

I had the text translated from English to Chinese (traditional).

我非常喜歡高爾夫球場上的藍色牛仔褲。

Next I copied the Chinese text, deleted the original English text, and pasted the Chinese text into Google Translate.

I really like the blue jeans on the golf course.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the opposite of the original statement.

Let’s see if we can find some good sentences to translate.

SO CLICHÉ

Input. (Imagine a far too clichéd romance novel.)

Meet Chloe, a blond bombshell dressed to the nines.

Translated to Russian.

Познакомьтесь с Хлоей, белокурой бомбой, одетой в пух и прах.

Back to English.

Meet Chloe, a blonde bomb dressed in lint and dust.

(Hey, maybe the novel would be better this way…)

POETRY, ANYONE?

Input. (The awful, Vogon variety.) I put all of this into a single line of text (with spaces in place of the line breaks).

How did I get into this bad romance

He is so handsome but too psycho

How much I wish I could turn back time

And not ride on his motorcycle

Translated to Hindi.

मैं इस बुरे रोमांस में कैसे आया वह इतना सुंदर है, लेकिन बहुत ही मनोहर है कि मैं चाहता हूं कि मैं अपनी मोटरसाइकिल पर वापस समय बदल सकता हूं और नहीं

Back to English.

How did I come to this bad romance

is so beautiful, but very handsome

that I want to change my time

on my motorcycle and not

(It started out so well, too.)

You could imagine that song lyrics are even better.

SIMPLE SHOULD BE BETTER, RIGHT?

Input. Imagine that we’re making a very simple children’s book for beginning readers.

See Jeff. See Amazon. See Jeff run Amazon.

Translated to Latin.

Jeff videre. Vide Amazon. Jeff videre current Amazon.

Back to English.

Jeff further. Know Amazon. Jeff further current Amazon.

It’s interesting what a difference the middleman makes. When I tried using Japanese, it came out almost perfectly.

I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST

I bought a bicycle for my daughter on Amazon last year.

It was difficult to find the right color in the right price range.

When I finally did, there were several 5-star reviews with names that seemed indicative of a certain language (I won’t say which).

But there were a few 1-star reviews claiming that the instructions were virtually impossible to read.

Well, I have a Ph.D. in physics, so I figured I could assemble a bicycle myself.

My family had a blast reading the instruction manual. I’ve never read anything so funny!

It’s like someone typed the instructions in another language (still not saying!) and used Google Translate to turn them into English.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s what actually happened.

Let me share a few goodies from these instructions. I took care to copy all of the typos correctly, including the punctuation issues.

  • By now, there should not any touching between bicycle and your body.
  • The leg–length of a rider should be at least 2.54cm.
  • As photo shows,put the stem into head tube,adjust proper depth,before tighten stem binder bolt(not less than 18N.m)adjust handlebar perpendicular to forward direction,then tighten four bolts on aluminum cap orderly
  • If adjust slightly loose the adjusting nut and bolt, then lock nut. If adjust largely, loose nut ( as pic ), the loose or fasten brake line, then fasten nut.
  • BBzxle adjustment: loosethe left lock nut of BB axle adjust the space between “stationary cone” and “bearing and retainer” to the smallest,the tighten the nut
  • Do not use this bicycle as a transport facilities.

I kid you not. (I wish I were.)

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read Rate for May, 2019

MAY, 2019 KINDLE UNLIMITED PER PAGE RATE

For May, 2019, the KENP per-page rate for pages read through Kindle Unlimited was $0.00466.

This is nearly identical to what it was in April, and is a small improvement over March.

In May, the KDP Select Global fund climbed up to $24.6 million.

The Global fund was $24.1 in April and $24.0 million in March.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

Word Search Puzzle for Book Lovers (Plus, How to Make One)

 

WORD SEARCH FOR READERS/AUTHORS

I made a word search puzzle for anyone who appreciates books.

Later, I will also show you how I made the puzzle.

First, here is the puzzle.

Here is the word list:

  • AMAZON
  • ANTAGONIST
  • AUTHOR
  • BESTSELLER
  • BLOG
  • BLURB
  • BOOKMARK
  • BOOKSTORE
  • CHAPTER
  • CHARACTER
  • CLASSIC
  • CLIMAX
  • CONTENTS
  • COVER
  • DESIGNER
  • EDITION
  • EDITOR
  • FANTASY
  • FICTION
  • FONT
  • GLOSSARY
  • GRAMMAR
  • HERO
  • INDEX
  • ISBN
  • JUSTIFIED
  • KINDLE
  • LEAF
  • MARGINS
  • MYSTERY
  • NICHE
  • OUTLINE
  • PAGE
  • PLOT
  • POEM
  • POET
  • PROTAGONIST
  • PUBLISH
  • QUOTE
  • READ
  • REVIEW
  • ROMANCE
  • SERIES
  • SETTING
  • SPINE
  • SUSPENSE
  • SYNOPSIS
  • TITLE
  • TRILOGY
  • TYPE
  • TYPO
  • UNIT
  • VOLUME
  • WORDS
  • WRITER

HOW TO MAKE A WORD SEARCH PUZZLE

I will show you how to make a word search puzzle in Microsoft Word or Excel.

I will focus specifically on Word for Windows, though Excel is very similar.

There are a few differences.

  • Word lets you enter the width of the columns and the height of the rows in inches so that you know they are exactly the same. The numerical measures for these values in Excel can be confusing, and unless you research what they mean you need to eyeball it. But you can still get them close enough that it doesn’t matter.
  • Word has a few formatting issues (like line spacing and cell margins) that can be problematic for the table, but I’ll show you how to deal with them.
  • If you’re trying to make a book, Excel can cause trouble trying to get predictable and consistent page margins, page headers, etc. on the final printed product. But a Word file with dozens of tables becomes a complex file prone to being slow to work with and becoming corrupt. For a book, if you can convert the tables individually into high-quality JPEGS (300 DPI) and insert these into Word (after researching the tricks to avoid having the pictures compressed), the file will be much more manageable. You can also separate the book into several smaller files and combine them together into a single PDF if you have access to Adobe Acrobat DC (not to be confused with the free Adobe Reader). Beware that many Word to PDF converters don’t have this capability, so find out what you have access to before working with a bunch of small files.

The first thing I did was come up with a list of related words. I made a list of words that relate to books, like “Kindle” and “poem.”

Next, I inserted a table in Microsoft Word using Insert > Table > Insert Table. My table has 18 rows and 18 columns, but you should pick the size that suits your table. If you need a smaller or larger table, you can easily insert or delete rows/columns as needed.

The default table has unequal column width and row height, so I adjusted this. I highlighted the entire table (but not beyond the table) and clicked the Layout tab on the top of the screen. I changed the Height and Width of all of my rows and columns to 0.25″. Depending on your font size, font style, and what suits your eye, you may need different values.

With the entire table highlighted, I also changed the font style to Courier New and the font size to 12 points on the Home ribbon. You can use a different font style or size. What I like about Courier New for a word search is that all of the letters are the same width. However, the font is a little light, so it’s not perfect. I suggest playing around with the font options, and print out a sample on paper before you commit.

There are two things you need to do in order to have good spacing and centering:

  • With the whole table highlighted (but not beyond the table), on the Layout tab select the center/middle alignment on the tic-tac-toe grid of icons in the Alignment group. This centers every cell horizontally and vertically, but it won’t be perfect unless you also complete the next step.
  • With the entire table highlighted, click the little arrow-like icon on the bottom right corner of the Paragraph group on the Home ribbon. This opens up the paragraph properties box. Set the line spacing to Single, and the Spacing Before and After to zero. Special should be set to None and the Indentation settings should be zero.

I put the CAPS lock on my keyboard since I prefer a word search with uppercase letters.

I started typing in words horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, forward and backward. I challenged myself to see how many words relating to books I could squeeze into the puzzle, and I managed to use words beginning with every letter of the alphabet from A thru W. It’s not necessarily the way to go; I just had fun doing it.

At this stage, my puzzle looked like this:

Next I added letters to the blank cells. I studied my word list, trying to create letter sequences that might make the word search slightly more challenging, and add a few letters that hadn’t been used much (like X). If you’re looking for BOOK and you see BOOI, for example, your eye and mind can get fixated on the wrong sequence and not find the right one as quickly. The more experience you have solving word searches, the more you learn about the kinds of things that affect you while solving the puzzle. But remember that other people may think differently.

Now I highlighted the entire table, went to the Design tab, clicked the little arrow beneath Borders, and selected No Border.

Then I changed the pen thickness to 1 pt (the default was 1/2 pt). If you plan to publish a book, Amazon KDP (for example) recommends a minimum of 1 pt for the thickness of line drawings.

Next, highlight the entire table, go back to Borders, and select Outside Borders. Your puzzle should look like this:

I zoomed in as far as I could and still see the whole table and used the Snapshot tool to take a picture of the table. (Pro tip: Make sure your cursor is below or above the table so that the cursor doesn’t show up in the picture of your table.) If making a book, you could change this to 300 DPI using image software like Photoshop. Beware that increasing the DPI isn’t magic: If it has to invent pixels, the picture may look blurry or pixilated. My computer takes 192 DPI snapshots, whereas some are much lower (72 or 96 DPI). I also have a very large monitor, so when I zoom in, I have a very large picture on my screen. Depending on your computer, you might get more or fewer pixels.

If your picture is larger in inches than you need, when you increase the DPI, if you also decrease the dimensions in inches, you might already have enough pixels that you don’t get a blurry or pixilated image. If you plan to make a book, you need to test this out, especially print out a page on a deskjet printer as a sample.

Since I just did this for my blog, not a book, I didn’t bother so much with this one.

Next I inserted the picture of the table into a Word file and added my word list to it, like the picture below. There is no particular reason that I put words on both sides of the table. I would recommend reading a few word search puzzle books and getting ideas for what formatting appeals to you.

Now there is the issue of making an answer key.

There are a few ways to go about this. You could just highlight the letters in the table and change the colors of those cells (for example, to a shading of 25% gray using the Design ribbon).

If you try to use Word’s drawing tools to create rounded rectangles, beware that some letters may actually move around and row heights or column widths may change slightly.

Well, there is a way around that. Insert the picture of the table into a new file in JPEG format (wrapped In Line With Text, on its own “paragraph”). Then you can make rounded rectangles and lay them over the picture without having to worry about the format of the table changing.

I created rounded rectangles (using Insert > Shapes) with a width of 0.18″. If you use a different font style or size, you may need a different width. For the diagonals, I clicked the little arrow-like icon beside Size on the Format ribbon (when the rounded rectangle was selected) and changed the rotation angle to 45 or 315 degrees.

I used a lot of copy/paste to make other rounded rectangles, trying to be consistent with alignment and positioning.

Here is the solution to my word search puzzle:

It would be very easy to make mistakes trying to make a word search puzzle book.

Beta readers would be great for creating a puzzle book, to help you catch important little details. They could also help you create buzz for your book.

There may or may not be demand for such a puzzle book, but if you really love puzzles, you would surely enjoy making the puzzles and sharing them with others.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides