Amazon KDP is the best-selling and most successful self-publishing platform over the last decade, making it home to amateur and professional writers from all over the world. If you’re planning to self-publish your work so you don’t have to rely on publishers, it’s time to learn how to publish a book on Amazon KDP.
Here’s everything you need to know to publish and sell on Amazon. In this article you will find how to publish a book on Amazon, we will clarify the most frequent doubts that arise around self-publishing on this platform, we will point out how to sell books on Amazon to increase competitiveness, what are the most common mistakes and clarify whether it is profitable to publish a book on Amazon. Okay, let’s get started!
Is it possible to self-publish on Amazon?
During the last decade, Amazon became the best e-commerce platform to publish original works, thanks to its global reach, it does not charge any commission to publish and royalties are higher than in traditional publishing houses. In fact, statistics reveal that most independent authors have achieved success by publishing on this platform.
Amazon gives writers the possibility to self-publish their works, in order to reach buyers from all over the world. Below, we will show you all the benefits you can get if you decide to sell on Amazon.
What is Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)?
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the self-publishing platform belonging to the e-commerce company, which allows independent authors to publish their works to sell on Amazon.
This service was created in 2000 with the intention of offering consumers a space where they could find books in digital format, at that time publishers were reluctant to use this format.
Over the years, e-books became increasingly popular, and independent authors discovered that they could self-publish their works without the need for a publisher. In this way, creators found a space where they could make themselves known and sell on their own.
Currently, it is estimated that Amazon KDP controls more than 80% of the market in the United States, leaving a smaller percentage to Apple’s iBooks and other publishers.
This means that Amazon KDP is the potential main source of sales for independent authors or anyone who wants to write a book or graphic novel. Every year Amazon’s catalog of books expands, so today we can find publications on all kinds of genres, categories, and topics.
How Amazon KDP works
Amazon KDP is a tool that allows writers to self-publish their books to sell on Amazon global, through an extremely simple and intuitive procedure. To self-publish a book, they will only need:
- The book is to be published, in paper or e-book format.
- The cover of the volume.
- An Amazon or Amazon KDP account.
- Additionally, independent authors who publish their books on Amazon will enjoy the following advantages:
- Digital self-publishing is simple and fast.
- The book will be available for sale worldwide in a maximum of 72 hours through Amazon Kindle.
- They will be able to publish books in e-book format or printed in paperback.
- They will earn up to 70% of royalties on sales.
- They can make changes to publications at any time.
- They have control over their copyrights and sales.
- They can set the selling price.
- They will be able to create their own self-publishing page on Amazon’s platform.
- Books published in the Kindle store have a set of tools that increase the likelihood of generating sales.
How much does it cost to publish a book on Amazon?
Publishing a print book or e-book on Amazon KDP is completely free. The platform does not charge any fees for publishing the book for sale, but it does set royalties concerning sales.
However, the books published on Amazon must have an excellent edition; due to the great competition that exists in the field. Therefore, it is recommended to perform or invest in editing services that focus on the following aspects: proofreading, reading report, layout, cover design, marketing, and ISBN, among others. It should be noted that self-publishing publishers do not ask for a percentage of sales of the copies sold on Amazon KDP, and it is the authors who are in charge of controlling their income by themselves.
Steps to publish a book on Amazon
Publishing books on Amazon is easier than you might think, the process is similar to publishing any product on the platform. Below, we will show you how to publish a book on Amazon KDP in a simple way for any format:
1: Registering and setting up Amazon KDP
a. Create an Amazon KDP account: Go to the Amazon KDP page and register with your name, email, and password. If they already have an Amazon account, they will be able to log in using the same email and password.
b. Set up the KDP account: Once the two-step verification is completed, the account is set up, providing the necessary data to set up the collection methods and tax charges. Information such as: country of residence, complete address, author information, tax information, and bank information for billing and payments will be requested. Once all form data has been entered, the system will offer a preview of the questionnaire before validating it.
Authors residing in the United States, Europe, or Mexico may collect royalties by wire transfer or electronic funds transfer (EFT).
If they live in another country, the platform will send them a bank check to their home address when the royalties reach the minimum amount of $100 USD or EUR. They can also receive their royalties by transferring to a Payoneer account in any country in the world.
2: How to publish a book on Amazon
There are two options when it comes to publishing on Amazon:
- Physical paperback book
- Digital or e-books
The process to self-publish on Amazon is similar, regardless of the format, so the following steps can be adapted accordingly:
- Login to Amazon KDP: Login to the platform, and a window will appear where you can start the upload process.
- Select the book format: Click on the type of book to publish, paperback or Kindle e-book.
- Details of the book in Kindle: Amazon KDP will ask you to complete a form with data such as language, title, author, contributors, subtitle (optional), among others, series (optional), i.e., the name of the series and volume number, if a saga is published.
The edition number is also considered, in case it is a new edition of an existing title. The description is the information that will appear on the details page of the book, it is important to take advantage of this section to provide readers with valuable information, the maximum length is 4000 characters.
For the publication rights, you must select if you have all the required copyrights and publication rights, or leave it for the public domain.
Keywords, you can include up to 7 keywords that describe the book, this way users will find it when searching on Amazon, as well as categories, it is recommended to select a maximum of 2.
When requesting age range in children’s categories (optional), you should only select as appropriate.
And for publishing options, they are activated only for copyrighted works. This option offers the possibility to put the books on pre-sale.
- Book content: In this section, you must enter all the information related to the content of the book:
Manuscript: the content is attached, without covers or additional information. The platform supports Microsoft Word (DOC/DOCX), Kindle Create (KPF), Adobe PDF (PDF), Plain Text (TXT), MOBI, EPUB, Rich Text Format (RTF), and HTML (HTM, HTML or ZIP) files.
Indicate if they have digital rights management (DRM).
Book cover: upload the cover image, preferably in JPEG, TIFF, or PNG format.
Book preview: Shows the preview of the books, as they appear on Kindle reading devices, smartphones, and tablets.
Kindle e-book ISBN (optional): To publish an e-book in Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), it is not necessary to have an ISBN. When the content is published on KDP, the platform assigns a 10-digit ASIN code (Amazon’s standard identification number) that is unique to e-books and is considered the Kindle book’s identification on Amazon. In case the e-book has an ISBN, you may include it in this section. The ISBN of a physical version of the book should not be used, since those of e-books must be special for digital formats. ISBNs can be purchased from various websites, such as the official ISBN agency.
Once finished, save and the tool will start converting the file, the process may take several minutes.
- Book rights and price: When publishing a book in Amazon KDP, authors can set the selling price of the book. To configure this section, it will be necessary to complete the form fields:
- Enrollment in KDP Select (optional): With this option, the book will be Kindle exclusive for 90 days, with the option to place the e-book free for 5 days to attract customers. In case you are only going to publish your book on Amazon, it is best to enroll in the KDP Select program.
- Territories: The best option is to check all territories so that they will be distributed worldwide on the Amazon.com page, although they can also choose to sell it only in your country by checking Amazon.[country domain extension] box. However, they can also select individual territories.
- Royalties and pricing: They can choose between 35% and 70% royalties, but, in the case of e-books, they will be assigned 35% by default.
- Set the price: In addition to the format, the royalties will also vary according to the weight of the file, the selector will indicate the minimum and maximum price in which they can place the range. Editing the price will automatically change the royalty.
- Kindle Matchbook: This option offers customers a copy of the book in e-book format, after purchasing the paper version.
- Book lending: By enabling this option, customers who purchase the book in Kindle e-book format can lend it to their acquaintances for 14 days.
- Wait for Amazon KDP Direct approval: The platform will have the title available for sale within 72 hours. Once published, they will receive an email informing them of the approval.
The book will be published on the main Amazon.com site, then it will appear on Amazon.es and the company’s other stores.
- Promote the book: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing offers authors the following tools to publicize books:
- Run a price promotion leveraging Kindle Countdown Deals resources.
- Launch an advertising campaign: Amazon Advertising, allows you to create a campaign, segment your customers, the duration of the campaign, and the allocated budget, in addition, you only pay when users click on one of your ads. To create a campaign with Amazon Ads, choose the stores on the platform where you would like your book ad to appear and follow the steps indicated.
- Private campaigns: In addition to Amazon’s tools, you can promote the book on your own social networks, website, blog or digital assets. This way, they will get more people to interact with your content.
- Royalties when publishing a book independently.
- One of the main advantages of selling books through Amazon is that authors can make all the decisions that revolve around the publication of their books, such as: the design, content, price, and royalties generated from sales.
- Royalties, also called royalties, are the payments that authors receive for the sale of their books. In the creative context, they are the consideration paid to content creators for the use and exploitation of the work by third parties.
- Although authors can decide the selling price of their books, Amazon KDP is in charge of establishing the percentage of royalties that creators will receive depending on the number of sales.
The two available alternatives are as follows:
1. 70% royalties: books priced between $2.69 and $9.99 USD will receive 70% of the royalties for each sale, but, the platform deducts a small amount from the earnings for shipping costs for paper editions (delivery free).
Royalties for e-books are calculated according to the store where the sale was made, multiplying the number of megabytes the file weighs by the following figures:
- Amazon.com: $ 0.15 USD per MB.
- Amazon.es: $ 0.12 USD per MB.
- Amazon.com.mx: 1 MXN per MB.
2. 35% royalties: Even if the price of the book is in the range established by Amazon, in some cases only 35% of the royalties will be charged, this happens when sales come from Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
However, only 35% of the royalties will also be collected for books that are not enrolled in the KDP Select program, which raises the commission to 70%. It should be noted that the 35% royalty does not generate shipping costs for the author.
In order to collect royalties, 60 days must elapse and the amount must exceed $100 USD or EUR. Otherwise, the platform will defer payment for the months necessary to reach the minimum payment amount.
Common mistakes when self-publishing a book
Although self-publishing a book on Amazon is a simple process, there are many mistakes we can make that end up hurting the growth or sales of the work. Therefore, the following should be avoided:
- Spelling and syntax errors: Readers usually have a broad knowledge of the language and do not admit errors in the content. As writers, the best decision is to use proofreaders or editors, so that they can correct wording, grammatical concordance, accents, and syntax.
- Poor quality of content: This situation can present itself in: disappointing endings, unattractive beginnings, or poorly structured content.
- Poor layout and cover: Amazon’s cover creation tool can be useful for novices, but professionals will require the services of graphic designers to create layouts that catch the eye of consumers.
- Keywords and categorization: All commercial products require proper categorization, as it makes it easier for the target audience to find them. Wrong categorization can recommend the book to consumers who are not interested.
- Bad description: Book descriptions should be optimized to attract potential buyers and to catch the attention of Google’s algorithm. A well-written description can considerably increase the chances of appearing in Google’s search results and thus increase sales.
- No advertising: To generate sales it is essential that people know about the books offered since no product sells by itself. It is necessary to design a marketing plan that allows you to spread your book to consumers, either using Google Ads, Facebook Ads, traditional advertising or social networks.
- Lack of complementary content: The lack of investment in the process that encompasses the book can diminish the impact of the work, so it is often necessary to have editors, linguistic correctors, and graphic designers, and pay for various advertising channels.
Copyright in self-publishing
Many indie authors know they can self-publish and sell books on Amazon KDP for free but are wary because they are unaware of the potential terms hidden among the “fine print” of the platform’s publishing terms.
For their creative peace of mind, publishing a book does not affect the transfer of any of the copyright. In standard publishing, the exclusivity of distribution of the book is not assigned to Amazon, so they can market copies in other stores without any legal implications. However, enrollment in the Amazon KDP Select program does grant exclusivity of sale to the platform for a period of 90 days.
FAQ about selling books on Amazon
It is normal to have doubts about how to sell books on Amazon, especially those who want to publish their first work without the support of a publishing house. To clarify them, we will provide a list of the most frequently asked questions related to selling books through Amazon KDP:
The platform does not charge any kind of fee for publishing a book and offers authors tools to self-publish the content, design the cover and promote the work completely free of charge.
However, Amazon establishes the percentage of royalties that the author will receive according to the list price, book format, and shipping costs. In this way, the company profits from the sales produced on its platform.
Yes, in fact, this is one of the features most appreciated by writers. The platform offers the possibility of editing the e-books already published, so they can correct errors, add information or modify elements whenever they wish.
Of course, both can be published for sale on Amazon. The platform has a special program to offer each format simultaneously, which is able to increase sales considerably.
On the other hand, when a user purchases a paper copy, it is printed in one of the eight countries where Amazon has printers and shipped to the buyer’s home.
For example, if the purchase is made from Latin America, the book will be printed in the United States, since it is the closest one.
Book prices are set by the author, ranging from $0.99 to $200 USD. However, it is important to choose the cost of sale wisely, since e-book royalties vary according to the weight of the files, and paper books deduct the cost of printing.
The platform offers the option of printing the copies and shipping them to the buyer’s country of residence, both costs are deducted from the author’s royalties, as the case may be.
Yes! In fact, Amazon offers authors the possibility to publish their books for free for five days. This option is available for titles enrolled in the KDP Select program and is re-enabled every ninety days.
This alternative allows authors to gain a wider audience, which will enable them to obtain reviews and strengthen the bond with their readers. All this will allow them to get new clients and increase their reach.
Selling books on Amazon from Venezuela follows the same protocol as in other Latin American countries. The copies are printed in the country where Amazon has the closest print shop to the buyer’s residence, and then shipped according to the platform’s instructions.
Is it profitable to publish a book on Amazon?
Currently, Amazon is the best e-commerce platform for publishing books and other creative works, due to the fact that its sales volume is the highest in the market. According to a statistic provided by the platform, more than 1 million sales of books alone are made daily, so there is no better place to publish and sell.
However, you should consider that you will not receive 100% of the royalties generated by each sale, because the platform keeps a percentage of the profits that cover management, printing, and distribution. Even so, selling books on Amazon Kindle is more profitable than selling them on a traditional publishing house, since these usually offer 30% royalties and require absolute exclusivity on the work.
Selling on Amazon is probably the best alternative for writers who want to publish their works without the intervention of traditional publishers, and they can manage the entire process on their own and without making any investment. In addition, selling books on Amazon can be used by amateur and professional writers alike, since anyone can self-publish their titles to start selling regardless of their country of residence.
On the other hand, Amazon’s exorbitant flow of consumers increases the likelihood that published books will be found by readers who belong to the target audience, an action that will help boost sales and make the most of it.
For these reasons, we can conclude that it is profitable to publish a book on Amazon.
Now that you know how to publish a book on Amazon KDP, what are you waiting for to start making your dreams come true?