Issue #21

Kindle Direct Publishing: How to publish a book on Amazon

Content Marketing
11 min read

Decades ago, aspiring authors dreamed of closing a book deal with a traditional publisher so their words could be held in the hands of people all across the world.

It seemed to be the only real way to bring your book to life before the digital age.

Now that we have tablets, phones, and other mobile devices, it’s become easier than ever to access books online. And with greater access comes higher demand.

Instead of having to wait for a publishing house to take notice of your book idea, you have full power to create an eBook and start collecting sales in minutes with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.Amazon kindle direct publishing

This is great news since 90% of book proposals submitted to traditional publishing houses are thrown out with even fewer making it into the negotiation phase. You can bypass this phase by going directly to the consumers yourself.

That’s why it’s so powerful to have a strong personal brand and online presence. You can create your own self publishing destiny!

It’s easier than ever to get started with self publishing, but where should you ifocus your efforts?

It’s no secret that Amazon dominates the book market, not only for printed book sales but also in digital Kindle book sales. Instead of consumers having to carry around a stack of books to read on vacation or on their commute, they can take a mobile Kindle reading device wherever they go with ease.

Key benefits of using Kindle Direct Publishing

There are more benefits to using Kindle Direct Publishing than your customers being able to take your book with them on-the-go.

You’ll also put your book among the digital shelves of some of the greatest books that have ever been written, and there’s an active base of consumers already searching for your book genre.

People flock to Amazon to buy books, so why not have your book featured where they are already looking? It just makes sense. You can tap into a high level of creative freedom and flexibility when you use Kindle Direct Publishing to publish your eBook.

Here are some other reasons why it may be a good fit for your book idea.

You can publish your book in minutes

Benefits of using Kindle Direct Publishing- fast publishingSince you aren’t dealing with printing dimensions and book cover selections, it eliminates the extra time investment. Amazon says that you can get started with Kindle Direct Publishing in five minutes. They’ve made their platform extremely easy to use.

After you publish your eBook on Kindle, it only takes 24-48 hours for it to show up on Amazon. Since the wait time is low, you don’t have to worry about how it will affect your overall book launch strategy.

You retain your rights as the creator

You’ve put countless hours into envisioning, outlining, writing, and editing your eBook, so it only makes sense that you get to keep the full copyright of your book. Amazon doesn’t own your book just because you use Kindle Direct Publishing.

It’s still your story; Amazon just becomes the main marketplace for buying it.

You can set your own prices

Benefits of using Kindle Direct Publishing- set your own priceAmazon doesn’t force you to choose a specific price for your eBook. You have full freedom to choose a price that fits your needs. You can set a one-time price that feels fair to your audience, or you can edit the price on occasion and do special deals. x

You may have the strategy of launching the eBook with a lower price to build buzz around the book to sustain sales as you increase the price. Maybe you’d rather start with a higher price but include bonuses to the first few people who buy your eBook.

No matter what you decide to do, Kindle Direct Publishing makes it easy for you to set a price you can feel good about and make adjustments as you go.

You can earn up to 70% in royalties

Benefits of using Kindle Direct Publishing- earn more royaltiesAmazon has created two royalty levels for self publishing authors that equal to 35% and 70% of the book sales, depending on if the author meets certain criteria. This is determined by your customer’s location among other factors. More information can be found here.

If you sell an eBook for the same price as a printed book, you’d make more with the eBook sales because you don’t have to factor in printed costs. Keep this in mind as you determine what price you want to set.

You get to choose between KDP or KDP Select

When you decide to self publish your book with Kindle Direct Publishing, it’s a non-exclusive partnership between you and Amazon. When you choose KDP Select, however, you give Amazon rights to exclusively sell your eBook on their platform.

Benefits of using Kindle Direct Publishing- kdp vs kdp selectThis means you can’t go to another online retailer to sell your eBook. You also cannot sell it on your own website through another third party system. All book sales must go through Amazon.

If you want your book to be published with as many retailers as possible, KDP Select won’t be your greatest option. However, if you are hoping for your book to be read by Kindle Unlimited readers, you’ll want to look into KDP Select since it’s only available to exclusive partners.

If you are having trouble making your decision, here is a resource that can help.

A guide on how to publish a book on Amazon

Even though Amazon assures you that it only takes a few minutes to publish your eBook on their platform, there are still a few things you need to have before you dive in. One thing, of course, is an actual book to sell!

This is usually where most entrepreneurs and creators get overwhelmed, but when you have a foolproof process to follow, it will help you get everything in place before self publishing your book.

What you need to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing

As you dive into the platform, you may notice that Kindle Direct Publishing asks for some initial information. By reading through the checklist below, you’ll be able to prepare everything you need before you sign up to be a partner on their platform.

How to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing- set up accountSet up an account

It only takes a few steps to get set up with a Kindle Direct Publishing account. You only need an email address, password, and a few personal details to get started.

Once you have an account, you can keep yourself logged in so you can update your account as you prepare your eBook.

How to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing- write book descriptionBook description

Your eBook description is one of the most important things you’ll write.

Think about the last time you searched for a book on Amazon. You probably skimmed the book description before adding the book to your cart. That’s because book descriptions tell us a lot about what we’ll find inside.

Your book description can include:

  • What the book is about
  • Who it was written for
  • Why it was written
  • What inspired the book
  • Genre of the book
  • Key takeaways from the book (usually in non-fiction)
  • What readers will walk away with

Book descriptions are meant to be a short paragraph that summarizes the book. The intent is to not only inform the reader but also to persuade them that this is a book worth buying.

For traditional paperback and hardcover books, you’ll usually see the summary on the back cover of the book.

Since you are self publishing an eBook, the book description will be placed right next to the book cover and add-to-cart button.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that Amazon only shows four lines before the visitor needs to click the “Read More” link to show the rest. You need to make a statement with the first four lines so that readers are interested to learn even more.

How to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing- upload manuscriptManuscript

If there’s no manuscript, there’s no book! This is one of the most crucial things you need to have nailed down before you look into publishing your book on Kindle.

You can start by creating a first draft and then entering the editing phase. You can edit the book yourself, but it’s also helpful to have other people’s eyes on your book.

If you have the budget, you can hire an editor or proofreader to help you polish your manuscript. Otherwise you can enlist a few friends to read an early copy of your book and give feedback.

Make sure to set expectations for the kind of feedback you are looking for before they start reading.

Try to run through your own book at least three times to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Once you are ready to finalize your manuscript,  save the file in multiple places (cloud storage, external hard drive, your computer, etc.). You don’t want to lose all of your hard work!

Think you need fancy software or file formats to get started? That’s not the case with Kindle Direct Publishing. You can simply upload a Microsoft Word document file with your formatted manuscript so it’s Kindle-ready.

How to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing- add cover artCover art

There’s no doubt that what’s inside the book is important, but the first thing a consumer will see is usually your cover art. Since 90% of all communication is visual, we should pay close attention to the cover of our book.

You have a few different options when it comes to cover art:

  • If you have no budget, you can DIY your book cover by using a template on a free platform like Canva. Just know that it may look similar to other books since other authors can use the same freely available template. You can also use free stock photo websites like Unsplash to collect images that are free for you to use.
  • If you have a small budget, you can look into purchasing a designer-made template on sites like Creative Market or Etsy. You still run the risk of someone else using the same template, but it won’t be as common as a template available on a free platform like Canva.
  • If you want to look as professional as possible, it’s best to invest in a custom design for your cover art. This is especially helpful for book creators who have a specific vision for what they would like the book cover art to look like but don’t have the technical skills to bring it to life. You can hire a graphic designer or illustrator, or maybe you can find a way to trade your services with someone who can benefit from what you provide.

Once you have a book cover idea in mind, make sure you follow Amazon’s eBook cover dimension recommendations.

The ideal ratio of your book cover is 1.6:1, meaning for every 1,000 pixels in width, the image should be 1,600 pixels in height. Also, save the file as a JPEG before uploading it.

How to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing- choose pricePrice

Amazon has a minimum price of 99 cents, but you can choose any price you want above that number. You can look at how your competitors have priced their books in a similar industry or genre, but it’s also important to know how much your audience is willing to pay.

To do this, you can:

  • Send a quick survey to your email subscribers using ConvertKit and Typeform to ask them what price they would be willing to pay for your eBook (Psst… this is also a great way to validate your book idea!)
  • Create a poll in Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to collect answers from audience members that are following you
  • Directly ask people who fit the book audience you will be selling to what they think of the book idea and how much they’d pay for your story, advice, etc.

Remember you can always change your price over time too! It’s not set in stone so you have some flexibility when you first start out.How to publish a book on Amazon

Ready to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing?

If your manuscript is all finished, you could have your book available to potential readers in just a few minutes. So what are you waiting for?  

Hop over to now to start uploading your book.

Take the next step on your creator journey

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Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

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