In a world where millions of stories are waiting to be told, publishing on Amazon has become one of the most powerful ways to share your story, amplify your voice and gain access to a global audience.
As the world’s largest digital publishing platform, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has ensured that the dream of becoming an author is no longer reserved for a select few people or legacy publishing houses.
It has provided a platform for many unknown writers to experience the thrill of using their words to captivate, inspire and transform lives just like you will.
As an author, getting my books on Amazon’s KDP kick started one of the biggest turning points for me. I’ve noticed this has also been the same story for many of the authors I’ve worked with.
And for aspiring authors reading this, you’re about to learn the steps to break free from the long wait, get your work out on Amazon KDP, access a global audience and build massive success on your own terms
Why you Should Publish Online
Table of Contents
When it comes to why you should publish your book on Amazon KDP, the question is not always about whether you should publish or not, it is always a straight forward question that goes, why haven’t you considered publishing your book online?
If you’re currently having this question right now, the following are some reasons to consider online publishing;
The continuous growth in digital publishing and widespread acceptance of publishing platforms like Amazon’s KDP, Lulu, Smashwords etc., has made it easier for even more people to embrace self published authors.
Faster & Easy to Publish
Another reason to consider using Digital Platforms like Amazon KDP is because online publishing is much more faster and straightforward, compared to traditional publishing.
With Digital publishing you don’t have to go through the rigorous process of having your manuscript reviewed and accepted or rejected by a publishing house. You make the final decisions.
Compared to traditional publishing houses, most online publishing companies offer better royalty packages for their authors. From KDP to Lulu and others, you gain access to a higher royalty as a self published author.
Although this comes with you having to put in more work in terms of promotion of the book.
Zero Set Up Fees
Most online publishing websites like Amazon KDP will not request that you pay any set up fees or make upfront payment before using their platforms.
In most cases, you’re only charged a certain fee after a user buys your book.
Top Reasons to Publish on Amazon
The following are some of the many reasons you should publish your book on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing…
1. Publishing on Amazon KDP is free. You don’t pay anything upfront, to get your book published and ready for sales around the world.
2. No agent will ask you to wait for some time or provide any credentials before getting started. With Amazon KDP, you or any John Doe can get published whether you just wrote your first ever article today or you’ve been writing for a millennium.
3. KDP Publishing is fast and simple. It takes approximately between 24 to 72 hours to get your book approved and live on Amazon, when everything is all set up correctly.
And it’s pretty straightforward, even for a non-techie person.
4. It takes about a maximum of 72 hours to get your book live and accessible to people all over the world, after your final draft has been submitted for final review by KDP publishing team.
5. Make money selling your digital books online. You can make up to 70 percent per sales as royalty on Amazon when people buy your ebooks. You can also earn some money when subscribers read pages of your book.
6. Update your books anytime. Notwithstanding the fact that it’s already been published, you can always update and upload your books’ content without paying additional fees.
7. Fix your list price at your own preferred rates. Change at any time you want.
8. Gain access to free traffic and ready to buy audience to market your books especially where you conduct a decent research and come up with the right keywords.
I can go ahead and list out the many benefits of publishing with Amazon but, there are also certain things you need to consider before selling your book on Amazon. I have listed them in this post.
Now, let’s discuss the steps you need to take, to publish on Amazon.
Part 1: How to Write & Format a Book for Amazon KDP
The first step to publishing on Amazon KDP is to write and format your book to meet up with KDP publishing requirements.
While Amazon is a great platform to publish and sell books of all kinds, there are specific requirements that has to be met before your book can be approved for publishing.
For example, formatting requirements are not exactly the same for both ebook and Paperback versions, even though both versions can be published on the the platform.
In this section, you will learn the steps to write and format your book for Amazon KDP and how to get the best outcomes using excellent options.
Research Your Idea
It is not enough that you have an idea about a book you want to write… to publish on Amazon KDP and become a successful author, you want to write a book that people will easily want to buy.
So, you must research your idea before getting started. This is the first step.
To have a full grasp of the kind of books that people will buy, consider running some search on best selling books in the niche you want to write your book about.
So, if your idea is for a non fiction book; focused on how to start a business online for example, check out the best selling Amazon books within that same category and find out what they are doing right.
This research will get you started on what your potential audience is looking out for, what is appealing to them in terms of Book Title, Cover Design, Book Content, Keywords etc.
As soon as this is sorted out, you can then work on writing your book to meet up with these standards. Read more on how to write a book that sells here.
Write & Finalize your Book for Amazon
After completing your research, it’s now time to write, edit and finish up your book.
Although there are a number of ways you can edit and format your book for Amazon, the most popular formatting style used for most books is the simple Word Format.
And that’s because this XML based file format is the most popular word processor used by most authors.
Choosing a Title
For most authors, the first part of writing a book starts with choosing a title. There’s no strict rule around this.
You might decide to start with choosing a book title before typing your first few paragraphs or you can go ahead with the idea in your head before sorting out the title later.
Whether you go with the former or the later, in most cases, before finally publishing your book, you’re most likely going to edit or change your title a few times before eventually publishing it.
So, you do not have to wait until you find a title before you start writing your book.
Although choosing a book title before you start writing can help in guiding your stream of thought as you write, if you don’t have the title ready, you should probably have an idea of what the book is all about and you can start writing with this in mind.
But, when you eventually select a title, be sure you’re choosing a title that captures the essence of your work, be it fiction or non fiction.
Writing your Book
Writing can be hard especially if you’re not a gifted or trained writer. But, to make things easier, you can start with writing the idea exactly as it is in your head.
To make it even better, start with creating a mind map. Divide your book into sections, chapters or sub sections then work your way through each of these sections.
This makes it easier to piece together the different sections.
In addition to that, write your book exactly the same way you would talk to your close friend. This reduces the pressure to self censor, delete multiple times or over critic the work but gets out the raw ideas, exactly as it is.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, communication is about understanding. So, keep your first draft simple. It’s about getting out the idea out of your head at this stage.
You can make it as sophisticated as you want while editing and finishing up the work.
Finishing Up your Work
There are different kinds of finishing for any book publishing project. To publish on Amazon successfully, you have to get your book the best kind of finishing there is.
For your first draft, you don’t have to go through the pressure that comes with deleting, re-writing and editing. Leave that for the editing stage.
Bear in mind, depending on your genre or niche, there are different stages of editing your draft might have to go through, so the final work can reflect your true intentions as an author.
Editing & Finishing
Regardless of your industry, to publish on Amazon, you need to work on editing your book before final publishing.
Depending on your niche or target audience, you may not necessarily opt for paid editing services. You can still run some aspects of the editing by yourself.
Where you need a second eye to look through the manuscript for professional finishing or where you’re not sure about your capacity to provide a robust editing for the work, you can opt for paid editing services.
Part 2: How to Prepare your Draft for Amazon Publishing
Your book’s interior layout and formatting must be done in a way that complies with Amazon publishing guidelines.
That’s because the layout and interior set up design of an eBook is not exactly the same as the layout style for Amazon Paperback.
While the former will be read exclusively on digital devices, the latter will be read as hard copy or physical copy books.
Amazon KDP has outlined its formatting requirements here. Below are further steps to take as regards formatting for Amazon..
Formatting for EBook vs. Paperback
Where you write your book in a word document, you can add some finishing touches to your eBook version, using Kindle Create to get a seamless reading experience for your audience.
For Paperback version, set up your interior formatting to ensure there’s a free flow from one paragraph to the next. And for each of the pages and chapters.
Chapter Titles & Fonts
To make the most of publishing on Amazon, you must divide your book into chapters, paragraphs and sections.
While writing your chapters, pay attention to create uniformity in terms of styling and design for the fonts and title styling.
Throughout the body of your work, you need a uniformity of font style and design. For example, pay attention to keeping a uniform styling for all chapter title, sub titles, body of work etc.
Doing this will enhance the aesthetic design and improve the user experience for your work.
Page Numbering Design
You need a page numbering for your work. Although your original page numbering might not necessarily show up for the eBook version on kindle, you need to get this in place for your paperback version.
While setting up page numbering, pay attention to number the preliminary part of your work, different from the main body of the work.
I have written a comprehensive guide on how to format your book for Amazon here.
Part 3: Steps to Upload a Book on Amazon
One of the first steps to publish a book on Amazon is to upload your finished and edited draft on the platform.
To do this properly, there are some important steps you must take and key optimizations you have to put in place to aid visibility, gain sales and build a more successful outcome for your work.
This is what we’ll be covering in this section and in the following paragraphs:
Create a KDP account
After writing and finalizing your book, the next step to publish on Amazon is to create a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account via www.kdp.amazon.com.
So, head over and create your publishing account on kdp.amazon.com. Personal details like your name, email address, phone number etc. will be requested at this point.
Author’s Name & Alias
From your dashboard area in your KDP account, where there are certain sections you’ll have to fill and add some details about your book, before uploading it.
For example, on the uppermost part of your author dashboard, you’ll find where you can add an author name, book title and sub title for your work.
If you’re planning to use a different name like an alias or a pen name for your work, be sure to use that preferred name at this stage.
If you have a co-author, this is also where you’ll create and add the second author’s name accordingly.
PS: It’s difficult to change author name after your book goes live, so you want to pay attention to use the correct name(s) here.
Book Title Section
In the author dashboard area, there’s a section to add your book title and sub title. The moment your book goes live, this section will be locked for further editing.
Be sure you’re using only the right book title as you want for your book. And look out for possible typos or errors before the final submission.
Book Sub Title
Your subtitle gives your audience a better idea about what your book is all about. It’s also a good place to optimize your book for better visibility on Amazon.
Although some books don’t need sub titles, depending on your niche and if you decide your book needs one, be sure to choose the very best catchy, theme reflecting and audience focused subtitle that will enhance your book’s visibility.
Look at it this way: while a book title draws people in, your sub title gives them context (and reasons to check out for more).
As an author publishing on Amazon, this is one of the key sections of your book you have to pay keen attention to.
The description section gives a user all the needed details about your book, including the benefits as well as reasons they should add it to their cart.
To get the best of this, you want to optimize your subtitle for best outcomes, using all the best copy writing skills in your arsenal to outline the most important aspects of your work and why a random user should buy your book.
Keywords & Optimizations
To enhance visibility and a better traffic mileage, you need to have your book all set up and optimized for Amazon and general web traffic.
This section can be tricky for beginners. But, using the right key words for your book’s subject matter can enhance visibility for your work.
Where you’re not able to get this sorted, you can get the services of our experts to have it set up for you.
Part 4: Amazon Publishing Options & Optimizations
One of the important things to do before publishing your book on Amazon is to choose your preferred publishing option and make all necessary optimizations.
In this section we will explore the two popular book versions for Amazon KDP, including reasons you should use either of them. We will also discuss the optimizations you can use on Amazon to drive better ROI for your work.
EBook or Paperback?
Amazon gives you the option to publish an eBook, Paperback or audio book. It also allows you to publish all three versions for a single book, if you want.
While the audio book version is not currently available for Nigerian and African authors and authors in countries outside US, Canada, UK and Ireland, you can publish your paperback and eBook on Amazon or publish one out of the two versions.
Ebook: KDP Select or KDP?
Kindle Publishing gives you the option to create your eBook and sell to audiences within and outside Amazon stores.
It also allows you to use Amazon marketing features like advertising as well as claiming your author page among other benefits.
KDP Publishing also gives you the option to sell your book and promote it on whatever platform you deem fit or make other changes you want with your book file…
However, choosing this Kindle Publishing options might not give you access to some Amazon promotional features like countdown deals, free promotion etc. which are exclusively available to KDP Select subscribers.
Amazon KDP Select
KDP select is a 90 day program for eBook versions only. It affords authors the opportunity to market and promote their books to Amazon readers. It
As an Amazon author, you’re automatically eligible for KDP select. But you have the option to opt into the program or stick with the basic Kindle Publishing option.
What KDP select does is that it allows Amazon to promote your book to its paid subscribers and other Kindle readers on its platforms.
In exchange for this promotion, you give Amazon exclusive rights to sell your eBook only on their platforms. While still subscribed to KDP Select, you are not allowed to sell your book on other platforms.
Benefits of KDP Select
The benefit of Amazon KDP select is that it gets your eBook in front of a bigger audience which normally shouldn’t hurt. It also gets your book enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, getting you royalty for all pages read by subscribed users.
KDP Select also gives you the option for free promotions on select days and 7 day count down deals, however, one major drawback is the limitation that comes with it.
For example, during the 90 days your ebook is on KDP select, you’re not allowed to sell it elsewhere.
Also, the large impression offered by KDP select’s exposure might not necessarily translate to much sales to some authors even though its great for others.
So technically it might be tricky deciding whether to use KDP select or not. Before you choose either of these two options, you should think about the pros and cons for each option as well as your own goals as an author.
Paperback: Colored Interior or Black & White?
As someone planning to publish on Amazon KDP, keep in mind that currently, there are two popular options to choose from, for the interior of your paperback versions.
That is, color or black and white interior.
Although black and white is the default interior color for most authors, you can decide to use either of the publishing options for the interior of your paperback.
PS: Keep in mind, black and white interior is the cheaper option in most cases. Using colored interior can increase the cost of production of your work and by extension, the listing price baseline for your work. So unless it’s very important, always opt for black and white interior to optimize cost.
Amazon ISBN or own ISBN
Amazon provides its own ISBN for authors publishing on its platforms however, it is not compulsory to use the Amazon issued ISBN.
You can decide to use your own purchased ISBN if you have one. Or you can sign up for an ISBN outside Amazon.
Otherwise, you can opt for Amazon’s own ISBN to get your book indexed across its stores and other online platforms.
PS: If you plan to sell your book offline, locally or internationally, outside Amazon stores, it’s best you get your own ISBN. Especially for your offline copies.
Part 5: Finishing & Review
Before you publish your book on Amazon and get it live you need to put up all finishing touches like adding a book cover, providing a listing price and approving the final copy before it goes live.
In this section, we’ll cover all the steps you’ll have to take to achieve this.
Upload your Book on Amazon KDP
Finally, after you’ve added your book details, made all necessary optimizations, it’s time to upload your book file on Amazon website.
Before we proceed, remember that generally, Amazon KDP accepts only the following document formats; Doc, Docx, PDF, HTML or RTF for all paperback versions.
It also approves doc, kpf, epub and mobi file format options for all ebook versions.
Depending on your preferred version, you want to upload a book file formatted to either of this versions.
That said, to upload your finished book on Amazon, click on “browse” at the second section on the author dashboard, and you’ll be taken to your device where you’ll begin the uploading process.
After your upload is completed, head over and add a book cover so you can finally preview your work.
Upload a Book Cover File on Amazon
After filling out your book details, you’ll have to upload a book cover file for your work, before the final preview.
To get the most out of this, do not pre-design your book cover without considering the size of your book, preferred trim size (for paperback), Paper size as well as your interior formatting.
Designing your book cover before getting all these details might get you a hard time in getting approval from Amazon as your preferred cover file might not meet up with the needed requirements for your cover.
After your book cover file is successfully added, for eBooks: use the “preview button” to preview your book, see what it will look like on different devices when it’s being read and then make adjustments if necessary.
For Paperback: Use this option to ensure that the cover fits in with your book’s preferred interior settings so it can be well optimized for printing.
PS: Amazon provides sample templates for authors without book covers. Although these are always very basic in terms of design aesthetics but you can try your hand on it if you want.
Fixing a List Price
You can’t publish on Amazon without fixing a listing price for your work.
So, after you’re satisfied with the preview of your yet-to-be published book, flip to the next page to set up a listing price.
Before fixing a price for your book, there are so many things you want to consider.
For example, your preferred publishing version, the size of your book, target audience, market demand and supply, expected royalty and common niche pricing.
You have to fix a listing price keeping all of this in mind otherwise you may be selling at a loss, if your list price is too low or you may not make any sales at all, if its too high.
So, for the best results, you want to get a well balanced list price.
KDP Royalty Options
Currently, there are two royalty options for eBook Authors on Amazon KDP, the 70 percent or 35 percent royalty.
Generally, to be eligible for 70 percent royalty, your listing price has to fall within the 2.99-9.99 USD range. And even at that, your book has to be sold within the eligible territories approved by Amazon, before you can earn the listed royalty.
As an author on KDP Select, your eBook listing price has to automatically fall within the 2.99-9.99 USD pricing, if you plan to enlist on the program.
For Paperback versions, Amazon provides a fixed royalty option of 60 percent after tax, for all books sold on Amazon stores. Your royalty may be different for copies sold on partners stores, under the expanded distribution option.
PS: Keep in mind that for certain kinds of books like those books sourced from the internet or books with content already in the public domain, you’re only eligible for 35 percent royalty.
Promoting your Book
When you’re done setting up your price, you can now click publish and then your book will be forwarded to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Team for review and final approval.
Usually it takes a maximum of 72 hours for your book to go live on Amazon stores after KDP review. In some cases, you might get a feedback from the Kindle team before 24 hours.
Now, before your book is finally live on Amazon, you can use the time between when the book is being uploaded and when it’s yet to be live, to promote the book and get the word out, for your book.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make effort to promote your book before this time. All promotional effort for your book should be started even as early as the period you’re writing it.
Where your book is not approved after review, refer to the email from KDP team and with that you’ll find some clues on how to fix the issues raised.
One of the most incredible gifts of becoming an author is that it gives you a voice an opportunity to tell your own story build your own brand or simply impact as much people as possible, with your work.
It’s true that writing and publishing a book is not supposed to be the exclusive preserve of a select few, that’s why platforms like Amazon KDP has evolved to give indie authors a place to publish and sell their books to audiences all around the world.
As you take a step to publish on Amazon, I can only say that just as it was for me and many other authors, this can also mark one of your biggest turning points if you take some steps to get things done right.
Now, over to you! Do you have questions or comments on Amazon KDP Publishing? Drop your comments below!