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Publishing Your Book on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Platform (KDP)

Congratulations! You’ve finally typed “THE END” and are ready to get your book out in the world!

 

So, what now? 

 

If you’ve decided to self-publish, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform is the fastest and easiest way. This platform revolutionizes publishing by empowering authors to self-publish their work directly to a global audience. Amazon KDP offers multiple benefits:

 

  • Control Over Your Work: Unlike traditionally published books, you keep your creative rights and set your own list prices.

  • High Royalties: You can earn up to 70% on sales to customers in certain countries.

  • Fast Publishing: Books can go live worldwide in as little as 24-72 hours.

Imagine your book, available across continents, ready to be discovered by readers from all walks of life. The reach of Amazon KDP is massive, putting you in the driver's seat on the road to potential literary success.


Ready for action? This post dives deep into every step of publishing your book on Amazon KDP and by the end, you'll have the know-how to debut your book on Kindle and charm an extensive network of readers.

 

1. Getting Started with Amazon KDP

 

Are you ready to dive in?

 

Step 1: Creating an Account on Amazon KDP

 

First things first, you need a KDP account. If you already have an Amazon account, great! You can use the same login credentials. If not, creating one is easy-peasy. Visit the KDP website, click 'Sign up,' and follow the prompts. Remember to provide accurate information - you'll need it when it's time to reap your royalties!

 

Step 2: Navigating the Amazon Author Dashboard

 

Once you're logged in, you'll find yourself at the heart of your publishing journey - the KDP dashboard. It might seem overwhelming at first glance but fear not! Here's a quick rundown of its key features:


  • Bookshelf: This is where all your published and draft books live. You can add a new title or manage existing ones from here.

  • Reports: Keep track of how well your books are performing in terms of sales and royalties.

  • Community: The Kindle Direct Publishing Support Forum

  • Marketing & Advertising: Discover tools and services to help promote your book and find new readers.



Screenshot of the KDP Home Page


So, there you have it - your first steps into the world of Amazon KDP!


2. Preparing Your Book for Publication

 

Ready to take the next step in your self-publishing journey on Amazon KDP? Let's talk about preparing your book for publication.

 

Formatting your manuscript

 

Whether you're publishing an eBook or using Amazon's print-on-demand service, formatting is crucial. It affects readability and the overall reader experience. Some things to keep in mind are:

 

  • eBook: For eBooks, your text should be reflowable, meaning it adjusts to fit different screen sizes. You can use a tool like Kindle Create, which helps format and design eBooks within Amazon's guidelines.

 

We, personally, like outside formatting programs. If you’re a PC user, we recommend Atticus and if you’re a MAC user, we recommend Vellum.

 

Or, if you’re not a do-it-yourself kind of author, you can hire someone to format your books for you. We recommend Jasmine of The Open Bookish Mom PA Services! You can email her directly at obmpaservices@gmail.com.

 

  • Print-on-demand: For print books, consider factors such as margins, headers, footers, and page numbers. Pay attention to bleed settings if your book has images that reach the edge of the pages. More on this later in the post.

 

 Designing an eye-catching book cover

 

People do judge books by their covers! Your cover serves as the first impression and can significantly impact whether a potential reader clicks on your book or moves on to the next one. Remember:

 

  • Keep it simple but compelling.

  • Ensure the title is legible even in thumbnail size.

  • If you want to take a shot at doing it yourself, you can use a program like Canva to do it. Canva is user friendly and has a free version, though we recommend the (affordable!) Pro version because of the quality and quantity of photos and design elements that you’ll have access to! We have a Canva Basics Guide to help you get started!

  • If you can’t find a cover model/photo you like in Canva, there are two highly recommended stock photo sites:  depositphotos and ShutterStock.

  • Again, if you’re not really a do-it-yourself kind of person, consider hiring a professional designer. We love the designs over at Y’all That Graphic! Kate has some of the most gorgeous pre-made covers I’ve ever seen and her custom covers are amazing!


We put together a Moodboard Creator to help either you or your designer create the book cover of your dreams!

 

Securing an ISBN for your self-published book


An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is not required when publishing with Amazon KDP since they assign an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) to each eBook. However, if you plan to make your book available through other retailers or libraries, you'll need an ISBN. You can purchase one through agencies like Bowker (for US authors) or check with your country's ISBN agency.


With these preparations complete, you're well on your way to becoming a published author on Amazon KDP!


3. Uploading and Publishing Your Book on Amazon KDP

 

Now that your book is formatted, has a captivating cover, and an ISBN (if you aren’t keeping your book Amazon exclusive), it's time to dive into the publishing process with Amazon KDP.

 

Creating Your eBook


The first task is uploading your book file to Amazon KDP. Here's how:


  1. Navigate to your dashboard.

  2. Click on "Create new Kindle eBook."

  3. Fill in all the necessary details like language, title, subtitle, author name, description, and keywords. More on keywords in our 2/21 blog post about marketing your book.

  4. Set the desired price.


Here's a short video showing these steps in action (video has no sound):


 

Kindle Unlimited: An Optional Opportunity

 

Consider enrolling in the Kindle Select program. It's an optional service that gives your book increased visibility and allows you to earn royalties based on how many pages subscribers read. With millions of readers using Kindle Unlimited, it can be a fantastic way to boost your book’s reach.

 

We always recommend this option to new authors. Readers are much more likely to give a new author a shot if your book is in the Kindle Unlimited program.  When adding the details of your book, though, the box is small and can easily be missed.  Here is a screenshot of what you should be looking for:



KDP Select Enrollment Screenshot

 

For more information on how the Kindle Select program works, you can visit the Amazon KDP Select help page.

 

Understanding The Publishing Review Process


After you've uploaded your manuscript and cover, it enters the publishing review process. Amazon's team checks for any issues that might affect the reader experience. This process usually takes about 72 hours but could take longer during busy periods. Once approved, your book will go live on the platform, and you'll officially be a published author!


Remember, each step in this process is critical to ensuring that your book reaches its full potential on Amazon KDP.

 

4. Maximizing Your Earnings with Proper Pricing and Royalty Optimization

 

As you've explored the Amazon KDP platform, you may have noticed that pricing plays a big role in how well your eBook does. It not only affects whether people decide to buy your book or not, but it also determines how much money you make from each sale.

 

Let's take a closer look at this.

 

Balancing Reader Attraction and Royalties

 

Finding the right price for your book is key. If you set it too high, people might think it's too expensive and not buy it. If you set it too low, they might think it's not good quality and not buy it. You need to find a balance where your book is affordable enough to attract readers, but also priced in a way that makes sure you get paid fairly for your hard work.

 

We have found that new authors get the best results when their first ebook is priced at $2.99. Depending on how your book does, you can keep your future ebooks the same price or raise it by $1.00 until you reach $5.99, which, in our experience, has been the maximum amount readers will spend on indie author books. This does not really apply to the super well-known authors, as they have an embedded fandom who are willing to pay whatever the author is asking.

 

Deciphering Amazon's Royalty Structure

 

When it comes to royalties (the money you earn from each sale), Amazon gives you two options: 35% and 70%. Which one you get depends on a few different things, like how much your book costs and how big the file size is.

Here's what you need to know:


  1. The 35% option is for books priced between $0.99 and $200.00.

  2. The 70% option is for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.

  3. With the 70% option, there will be a small “delivery fee” assessed on each download. The fee will be listed on the pricing page, and you’ll know exactly how much will be earned.

 

Knowing all this will help you figure out the best way to price your book and make as much money as possible through Amazon KDP.

 

5. Expanding Your Reach Beyond eBooks: Print Book Publishing on Amazon KDP


While eBooks are great for convenience and accessibility, many readers still enjoy the experience of holding a physical book. To cater to this audience, Amazon KDP offers print-on-demand (POD) services, allowing authors to publish paperbacks alongside their digital versions. This means you can have your book available in both formats without worrying about upfront printing costs.


Offering a Paperback Edition Through Amazon KDP's Print-On-Demand Services


Here are some advantages of using Amazon KDP's print-on-demand services:

 

  • Print-On-Demand: Books are printed as they are ordered, eliminating the need for inventory.

  • Cost-effective: There's no need for an initial investment, making it a risk-free option.

  • Royalties: You earn money from each sale, without having to purchase or store bulk copies.

 

Key Differences in Formatting Guidelines and Cover Design


When it comes to publishing a print book, there are a few things you need to keep in mind regarding formatting and cover design.

 

Formatting


Print books require precise formatting with attention to margins, headers, footers, and page numbers. Unlike eBooks, where text reflows regardless of the device, each page in print must be meticulously laid out to ensure a professional look. Here are two important aspects of formatting for print books:


  1. Trim size: Selecting the correct trim size from the options provided affects the book’s appearance and cost.

  2. Bleed settings: Necessary when images reach the edge of pages.

 

The most common trim size for books in the U.S. is 6”x9” and is a regular trim size. When setting up your book, this is the default in the “Print Options” section of the Content tab. If you want a different trim size, click Select a different size. Make sure your settings match in your formatting program and in KDP.

 

 Cover Design


Designing a cover for a print book is different from designing one for an eBook. In addition to the front cover, you also need to consider the spine and back cover. Here are two key elements of print book cover design:

 

  1. Spine specifications: The width of the spine depends on the page count and whether the interior is in color or black and white.

  2. Barcode placement: The back cover must have space for an ISBN and barcode, usually positioned at the bottom right corner.

 

If you are making your own cover, you can access the KDP cover template calculator right in KDP where you upload your cover.  This will give you the exact dimensions you’ll need to create your print cover.



Print Cover Template Screenshot

 


If you’re creating your own cover in Canva, we have downloaded the JPG/PNG template and uploaded it to Canva, using it as a guide by overlaying it on the cover we’re creating to make sure all of our measurements line up.



Canva cover with template overlay


 

When considering publishing rights and restrictions, remember that opting for POD on Amazon KDP doesn't compromise your ownership over your work. You retain full rights to your content while benefiting from Amazon's extensive distribution network.


By expanding into print book publishing and using Amazon's system, you increase your visibility in the reader's world—both digital and physical. Plus, with Amazon handling the production logistics, you can spend more time doing what you love—writing.


Here's a short video showing these steps in action (video has no sound):





6. Beyond Amazon: Diversifying Your eBook Distribution Strategy

 

Think Amazon KDP is your only option for publishing eBooks? Think again! While Amazon commands a large share of the eBook market, it's not the only player in the game. There are numerous other eBook distribution platforms like Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Smashwords that can help you tap into a wider audience.

 

Wide vs Exclusive Publishing


Here, we hit a crossroads. Do you enroll in KDP Select and enjoy exclusivity benefits on Amazon? Or do you go wide and distribute your eBooks across multiple platforms?

 

Enrolling in KDP Select makes your book available in Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners' Lending Library, providing an opportunity for increased visibility and potential royalties through page reads. However, it comes with a catch - your eBook must be exclusively available on Amazon for at least 90 days.


On the other hand, going wide by distributing your book on multiple platforms can increase your book's exposure and allows you to reach readers who prefer other eBook platforms. This strategy can be especially beneficial if you have a series of books or cater to a niche audience that may frequent specific platforms.


Consider these points:

 

  • Visibility: Multiple platforms mean more visibility. You're not limiting your work to Amazon's ecosystem.

  • Readership: Not all readers use Kindle. By going wide, you cater to those who prefer other eReaders.

  • Risk Diversification: If one platform changes its policies or experiences downturns, your book's performance on other platforms might compensate.

It's essential to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each approach based on your specific needs and goals as an author. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy - what matters most is finding what works best for you and your book.


There are quite a few authors who are enrolling their new releases in KU for the first 90 days and then taking their books wide for that same amount of time to see which option is working best for them. If wide doesn’t work for you, you can always take your book off wide distribution and re-enroll in KU.


7. The Future of Self-Publishing and Amazon's Role in It

 

As the digital age continues its unstoppable march, the landscape of self-publishing constantly evolves. Here are some trends in self-publishing and how Amazon KDP fits into them:

 

Audiobooks

These are not just passing fads. With the rise in popularity of platforms like Audible and iTunes, more and more readers are turning to audiobooks for their literary fix. As a self-published author, consider creating an audio version of your book to tap into this growing market.


KDP has an indie author platform available called ACX. You can find more info on that here.


International Markets

 

E-books have made it possible for authors to reach readers beyond their geographical boundaries. With Amazon KDP's global distribution, your book can be read by someone on the other side of the planet as easily as by your neighbor next door. As more people gain access to e-readers worldwide, expect international markets to play an even larger role in the self-publishing industry.


But what about Amazon KDP? Will it still be relevant?


Absolutely! Amazon KDP has been a game-changer for indie authors, providing them with a platform to reach readers globally. And it's not stopping there.


Amazon continually invests in innovative tools and services to help authors succeed. For example, Kindle Create simplifies the process of formatting your e-book, while KDP Select offers promotional opportunities that can boost your book's visibility.


Looking forward, expect Amazon KDP to continue evolving with the industry, finding new ways to empower you as an author and deliver value for your readers.


Conclusion

 

Ready to see your book title live on Amazon? Now's the time to make it happen! Dive into the world of self-publishing by setting up your Amazon KDP account and take advantage of the platform's global scale to reach readers.


Remember, a successful author doesn't just happen overnight. Here's what you need to keep in mind:

Quality Writing

 

Ensure your book stands out for its content, not just its cover. Do your due diligence and make sure that your book is thoroughly edited. We have an upcoming blog post on The Business of Being an Author and budgeting properly for your release is as important as the release itself.

 

Strategic Planning

 

Develop a comprehensive marketing plan. More on that in our next blog post!


Embrace the journey of self-publishing with Amazon KDP—your story deserves to be shared. Don't wait for the perfect moment; use the insights from this post and start your publishing adventure today!

 

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