Self-publishing has been a game-changer for new authors and aspiring writers. It has opened doors to new publishing opportunities and given more ways to authors to get their stories heard. Unlike traditional publishing where you have to go miles to satisfy the strict publishing guidelines to receive a contract, anyone can self-publish a book regardless of where they come from.
There are various digital platforms where you can self-publish your own book and earn money through royalties. Some of the popular sites are Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, and Barnes & Noble, of which Amazon has undoubtedly remained the most sought-after platform given the fact that it’s the largest online book-publishing marketplace.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to publish your book just by signing up for an Amazon account and uploading your book draft according to the kindle book formatting guidelines. If you have written a story and want to know how to publish a book on Amazon, we have made it simple through this guide. Here, you’ll learn everything from formatting your draft to uploading a kindle eBook to knowing more about this largest online marketplace and making the most out of your self-publishing career.
Follow the steps to format and publish your book with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing:
What is KDP?
Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, is a publishing platform from Amazon that allows authors and publishers to make their books available for readers all over the world. Your print books and eBooks can be made available in Kindle eBook format, which your readers can download and read using Kindle devices or free reading apps.
Amazon Kindle book is one of the top self-publishing companies and holds at least 80% of the eBook market. Since its launch in 2007, many modern writers have been exposed to a flexible and easy way to publish their books on Amazon through Kindle Publishing.
When uploading your book on Amazon, you can also have your book converted to other formats so it’s compatible with devices such as Nook, Apple iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, or Sony Reader. Once your book is uploaded and published, it will appear in Amazon KDP’s catalog within 24 hours.
When you publish with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you are assigned an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for your book, which appears on its metadata when customers search for your title. Without an ISBN number, your book title won’t show up when customers search online.
How does KDP Publishing work?
When you choose to publish your book with KDP, it allows you two options to distribute your books to a global audience.
For eBooks, you simply have to upload your eBook manuscript in the format required by KDP. Within 24 hours, your Kindle eBook is uploaded to the Kindle store and made available for purchase by your online readers.
For paperbacks, KDP Publishing uses print-on-demand (POD) to print your uploaded book files into paperback after a customer makes a purchase. The printing costs are deducted from the royalties you earn from selling your Kindle books.
Here’s how publishing books on KDP works:
What are the benefits of publishing with KDP?
Amazon has revolutionized the publishing industry by giving every author a chance to publish their fiction book and access an increasingly growing platform. Following are the features that give Amazon KDP an edge over other online marketplaces:
Kindle Direct Publishing allows independent readers a platform to connect with millions of readers and sell their books to a large audience. Unlike the traditional press, you don’t have to go through the hassle of fulfilling strict publishing requirements before having your book sold to readers.
Ease of publishing
KDP provides a much easier way to publish your book online to the largest marketplace in the world. In a matter of a few hours, you can set up an Amazon KDP account, fill up your contact details, upload your book file, and publish your book.
One of the top features that have made KDP the most sought-after place is the ease of self-publishing for every author, no matter the genre or popularity of the kind of story they write. When weighing the benefits of self-publishing on Amazon over traditional publishing, the former offers more freedom and no competitive hoops to go through.
Another great benefit that comes as the most lucrative feature for authors is that they can keep up to 70% of royalties earned through the purchase and distribution of their books. KDP sells your books as eBooks and paperbacks that provide you with royalty rates per book sold.
You set your own prices, keep 70% of what you earn from each sale, and there are no upfront costs. Moreover, Kindle Direct Publishing means your book will be displayed prominently in the bookstore alongside books from big publishers.
Access to marketing tools: Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Countdown Deals
You can’t just upload your book and wish for readers to magically view and purchase it. Each published book needs to be marketed to reach a wider audience and make the sales it deserves. Amazon KDP makes it easy for authors to market their books by giving them access to its marketing tools that help them reach the target audience and promote their books.
Using Amazon advertising, you can feature your books as sponsored products on the pages allowed by Amazon. Moreover, you can also access free promotional options using the KDP Select program.
Here are some great advertising tools you can use through Amazon KDP and KDP Select:
- Kindle Unlimited: It’s like Netflix for books and is a subscription-based service by Amazon.
- Kindle Countdown Deals: Kindle store has a Countdown Deals section where you can run a week-long price drop that will promote your book.
- Free Promotions: To boost your downloads, you can make your book available for free.
What are the drawbacks of KDP?
Though Amazon KDP has numerous benefits especially for new authors, not everything is gold and does come with its cons. There are some drawbacks to publishing your books on the KDP platform.
- Limits to royalty rates: On Kindle, your royalty rate drops to 35% once you price your book above $9.99. It may work for some authors and if your book costs more than $10, there may be something amiss, but if you’re selling a box set – where several books are bundled into one – you can face penalty by Amazon. Kobo and Apple Books, however, do not impose a price cap.
- Exclusivity clauses: If you decide to publish your book on Amazon and enroll in KDP Select program, you can only sell your book exclusively on Amazon and nowhere else. Fortunately, this exclusivity only applied to eBook published through KDP Select and not to paperbacks which allows the authors an option to get their printed versions accessible through other platforms.
What is KDP Select?
KDP is a program by Amazon that requires authors to grant Amazon exclusive rights to sell their eBooks on the Kindle platform only. As a result, the author’s eBook will only be available for sale on Amazon KDP and the author cannot distribute it on another self-publishing platform.
In order to publish a book through KDP, you have to join KDP Select and create your account. This program allows authors and publishers access to free promotion days that can allow your eBook increased visibility and even increased sales. In exchange for the exclusivity, you receive access to free book advertising tools by Amazon (as discussed above) that allow you to market your book for greater visibility.
Amazon KDP gives you 90 days to enjoy these benefits that can be auto-renewed once this period is over. Authors will likely want to take advantage of these free promotion days because it means you get five days per 90-day period where your eBook is available at no cost. Any books published through KDP during these free periods will be promoted through special offers and discounts and may be included in Kindle Countdown Deals or Free Book Promotions, which could significantly increase visibility and potentially encourage more downloads.
KDP Publishing cost and royalties
Before publishing your book on Kindle Direct Publishing, you must know what are your costs and how much you can earn. When publishing your book, you need to register an account at KDP. After that, KDP allows you to choose from two types of royalty plans – 35% or 70%.
With the 70% royalty plan, you will be responsible for handling the printing and shipping costs. On the flip side, the 30% royalty option doesn’t account for such fees.
The royalties that you earn will be dependent upon factors like the number of books sold and the countries where your book is available. This percentage also depends on the number of pages in your manuscript. If you are willing to go through more rounds of book editing for improving quality then more chances are that higher royalties will be earned by you.
When does Amazon KDP pay you?
Amazon KDP has a 60-day window where authors are paid 60 days after they make their earnings. For example, if you make $150 in July, you will receive it in September and not before that. However, that payment is reliable and hence a good option to consider without a second thought.
Here is a summary of all the costs and royalties by Amazon KDP self-publishing:
|Printing Cost:||Fixed cost + page count * per page cost|
|eBook Royalties:||35% or 70%|
|Paperback Book Royalties:||60%|
|Fee Schedule:||KDP pays royalties every month; received after 60 days of the month in which they were earned|
How to self-publish your book on Amazon?
Now that you know how to weigh the ins and outs of self-publishing on Amazon, let’s get started with a step-by-step guide where we move you through all the essential steps to get your book published on Amazon KDP.
1. Format your book file according to KDP formatting guidelines
First and foremost, every self-publishing platform has some formatting rules that you need to follow before uploading your book file. There are some technical eBook Amazon formatting requirements that need to be followed to make your book file well-formatted and compatible with Kindle devices. We will go into much detail about how to format your book, but give you a quick rundown on important formatting steps below.
4. Add chapter titles and organize your book with proper alignments and headings.
5. If you’re uploading a non-fiction book, insert any infographics, tables, or charts into your book.
2. Set up a KDP account
After you’re done formatting your book and ready to upload your book file, you will need to create a Kindle Direct Publishing account or sign in to your existing Amazon account. Once you have created it, add the following KDP account information:
- Author or Publisher information: Enter your full legal name, phone number, and address. Your pen name is not applicable here.
- Payment information: This would be your bank account details through which you’ll receive your royalties.
- Tax information: Here you will add information regarding your tax through a small and quick tax interview.
After you have added all the account info, it’s time to do the fun thing, which is adding the contents of your book!
3. Create a title and enter book description
On the KDP webpage, go to the “Create a Title” page on the top. Here, you will see two options to choose from: create a Kindle eBook or paperback, you can choose either based on the type of book you want to sell.
Next, you’ll be directed to the Kindle eBook Details tab where you can add your book description and subtitle. Amazon descriptions are exactly like the ones on the back cover of a paperback. Write a visually appealing book description by using bold and italics that can grab your readers’ attention. Many traditionally bestselling books use a bold statement and a hook in their descriptions that you can employ in yours.
4. Select your keywords and categories
The next important thing to add is keywords and categories to ensure a successful self-publishing journey. Other than the book description, your chosen keywords allow the readers to find your book and know what it is about. Keywords are also important for the search engines to find your book and rank it.
To find the right keywords and categories to use for your book, dig up the Kindle store and have a look at the successful titles and their keywords to ensure what makes your book a perfect fit. Choosing two or more categories with less competition will also make your book rank better.
Next, on the Kindle eBook Content tab, you can choose to enable digital rights management which will allow you the control to give your readers the option of freely sharing complete book versions.
5. Upload eBook manuscript in epub format
On the next tab, upload your book file in Kindle format. KDP allows you to upload your book file in DOC, DOCX, RTF, TXT, and PDF and epub, but we recommend that you upload it as an epub file. If you haven’t already formatted your book using Word, you can also use Amazon’s Kindle Create program to format your manuscript.
6. Upload your book cover in jpeg version
To have a cover design for your book, you can either choose to upload your own cover created by a professional graphic designer or create your own if you want something light and cool. Amazon gives you an option to create your book cover through its tool called Cover Creator that you can easily launch on the KDP dashboard.
Click on “Upload your cover file” and upload your book cover in jpeg or tiff version that are the only compatible versions for Amazon.
When you’re done with uploading your book content and cover, you’ll be able to preview your eBook file to double-check everything and ensure that there are no errors.
7. Set your eBook price between $2.99 and $9.99
Now is the time to set the price of your book. Remember that Amazon provides 70% royalties on eBooks that are priced between the range of $2.99 and $9.99. Any price outside this range will set the royalty rate to 35%.
Many authors may wish to go below the range to attract more eBook sales or go above the range as well. But if you’re a new author, just go with the given range so you can enjoy maximum royalties from your book sales.
When you set the eBook price, Amazon will provide you with estimated royalties and shipping rates that you can view on your tab. You can set different prices for the international countries you want to sell your books to.
8. Finally, publish your Kindle eBook
You’ve finally reached the stage you’ve been waiting for! Hit the publish button once you’ve made sure everything looks good and neat without any errors. You can edit the details after publishing as well but it’s better to have everything set before you do that.
If you’re not quite sure about publishing yet, you can save the draft and come back later to publish it.
And congratulations! You can now call yourself a self-published author on Amazon KDP!
Publishing your eBook on Amazon KDP isn’t as scary as you may have thought. If you follow all the steps and upload a perfectly formatted book file that fulfills the KDP guidelines, there’s nothing that can stop you from becoming a successfully self-published author on Amazon.