Thousands of authors have been using Amazon KDP to make a living for themselves and their family. Unlike traditional publishing houses, where you must have an initial budget to get your book out in the market, publishing through Amazon KDP doesn’t cost you money—it is completely free!
Combine that with the fact KDP offers up to 70% in royalties to self-published writers, working with Amazon can prove to be very lucrative for both aspiring and established authors.
But what even is Amazon Kindle? How does it work? What do you need to get started? We answer all these questions and more in this blog.
Amazon KDP is an online publishing platform that authors can use to self-publish and sell their books over the web globally. It dominates over 50% of the market share–for both print and e-books, making it an obvious choice for indie authors looking to get their work out in the public, without having to go through the challenges of a traditional publishing process.
Books of every genre are sold on Amazon. You can choose to sell digital books, paperbacks, or even hardcovers; from novels to textbooks and cookbooks, Amazon KDP has it all.
The key to then producing consistent profits from Amazon KDP involves establishing yourself as an expert in your niche, publishing multiple books, and forming a loyal base of customers using strategic marketing techniques.
There are many perks of self-publishing on KDP, the biggest being the fact (and something we already mentioned) that it is free. The idea of being able to reach out to your audience with zero spend definitely sounds appealing.
Other benefits include:
By choosing to publish on KDP, you get to leverage Amazon’s popularity and its huge customer base. To put things into context, the ecom giant boasts 197 million users worldwide. Who wouldn’t like recognition at such a massive scale?
Aside from the grand reach, Amazon KDP simplifies the publishing process by providing tools to create book covers, format and market your ebooks, track your sales, and do much more. With a super-simple interface, you can take charge of the self-publishing process and create engaging books that appeal to your audience.
Some readers prefer physical books over digital books and that’s completely fine. With Amazon’s KDP, you can publish your book, both as an ebook and in print format, and cater to all types of requests. If a user orders a physical book, Amazon will print your book for you and ship it to the customer without requiring you to hold anything in inventory.
A single KDP account is all you need to publish as many books as you want on Amazon. It doesn’t matter if your books are in the same category or even published under the same pen name; you are free to publish as many books as you like with one KDP account.
Competition in any industry can make it difficult for new entrants, and the ebook space isn’t any different. However, Amazon KDP ensures beginners are well supported in their journey by providing different features that help them with their sales. For example, you can join the Kindle Select program and get greater visibility.
Amazon also gives your book a sales rank, like it does for products on its main retail website. The more you sell, the better your rank. That way, you don’t ever have to worry about getting lost in the crowd.
Amazon KDP allows you to publish all kinds of content. However, it needs to be high quality and useful for the intended audience.
Here are the types of books you can sell on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing:
Being home to millions of users, Amazon KDP is 100% safe to use. It provides detailed agreements and a transparent and secure payment system along with a responsive customer service team.
Amazon Kindle was first launched in 2007 and soon became the leading platform for book lovers–both who had interest in reading books as well as those who loved writing them.
Today, KDP has grown into a full-blown ecosystem with multiple functioning layers, all synced together to make it work seamlessly for the users.
On the buyers’ end, you have a search engine, where customers search for their preferred titles, topic or authors just like they would for any product when shopping on dot com. Amazon then matches their search with the keywords and descriptions on the book listings that publishers create when first publishing their book. Amazon also offers a list of recommendations to the readers based on their past purchases and activity on the platform.
If shopping for an ebook, your customers can download the book on their Kindle e-readers. They can then bookmark individual pages, highlight lines, enlarge the text, and even make notes while reading the book.
Of course, there is an option to get the audio and print version of your book too. However, you must make these available beforehand.
Regardless of whatever format your customers may prefer, they need to have an Amazon/Kindle account to buy and read your books.
How do the customers pay for the book they buy on Amazon?
Amazon provides a list of payment options to your customers on the checkout. They can pay through credit/debit cards, UPI, and/or internet banking. Paperbacks and hardcover books are delivered to the respective physical addresses, while ebooks are auto-deployed on Kindle Cloud Reader, a web app that enables your audience to view the book on any compatible device.
On the seller’s end, you have the KDP Bookshelf, the hub of everything self-publishing on Amazon. You must set up your Kindle Direct Publishing account to access it.
Amazon will request you for your tax information, mailing address, and Social Security Number. It’s important to enter accurate information because Amazon will verify everything thoroughly before giving you the permission to sell your book.
Once you are inside the KDP Bookshelf, you can proceed to publish your book. Here, Amazon gives you complete control over the process, allowing you to choose where you want to sell your book and how much you want to charge for it. Furthermore, you get to decide the royalties you want to receive on each book sale. There is even an option to customize your book listing with relevant keywords and a fitting description. (P.S: Make sure you pay attention to this part as your listing can make or break your book’s performance when readers search for it on Kindle Store.
You can choose to publish your book in the digital, paperback, or both formats. Of course, you must do the necessary formatting if you decide to go with the print version.
If everything is in order, your book will be published within 72 hours and available to millions of Amazon users.
As mentioned in the previous section, not everyone is a fan of ebooks. Many people still prefer reading physical books over online books. This is where KDP Paperback is so useful.
With traditional publishers, you must order the print version of your book in bulk and then find out a way to store them until they are sold. In contrast, Amazon prints your book on demand, meaning there is no inventory involved.
Simply enter the book details like barcode, trim, interior type, bleed, cover finish, and other formatting details. Upload a print formatted manuscript of your book and the book cover, and set your price. Now, whenever one of your customers buys a book from you, Amazon will print it based on the specifications you set earlier and ship it to their address.
Bear in mind though, Amazon deducts publishing and shipping costs on every sale you make. Meanwhile, you receive up to 60% in royalties, far more than what any publishing house has to offer.
Do you ever pick a book only because you’ve read other books from that same author, and you seem to like their writing style? We all have our favorite writers.
Well, Amazon Author Central helps you do exactly that - establish and leverage your very own following.
Basically, Amazon Author Central is where you get to showcase who you are as an author by sharing your website, blog, social media accounts, and your previous books on a single page. It even allows you to interact with your readers through direct chats and by responding to their reviews.
Here’s what an Amazon Author Central page looks like:
Like most things related to Amazon KDP, setting up an Author Central Account is completely free.
Amazon won’t let you add or make changes to the books you’ve already published until it verifies your information, nor will it let you upload a blog on your Author Central page. However, you can continue working on your bio and add images as you wait.
Write a bio that captures attention of your audience
You’re competing against millions of authors so you need to do what you can to stand out, starting with the bio.
You don’t want your bio to drag. However, you don’t want to make it too short either. Amazon gives you a minimum limit of 1000 characters for writing a bio. Make full use of it at the very least.
Think about all the things that define you as an author; your background, noteworthy projects, awards, accolades, etc. Once you’ve concocted the perfect bio, add your website and social media links to cover your online presence.
Insert photos (and other media)
Amazon lets you add multiple photos to your Author Central page. You must make these count. Remember, the purpose of your page isn’t just to provide information, it’s to convince potential readers to keep up with your work and become loyal customers.
The images you upload must align with the content of your books. If you’re writing about travel, upload photos of your adventures. Writing about parenting? Put up photos of your family. Love providing tips for aspiring entrepreneurs? Suit up!
In addition to photos, you can also upload videos straight from your computer by clicking “Add New Media”. These add more zip to your content.
Link your blog
If you want to maintain a long-lasting relationship with your readers, you have got to keep them up-to-date with a blog.
Amazon Author Central lets you link your blog feed to your page so whenever you update your blog, a teaser will automatically be posted on your author page too.
Users who “follow” your author page will be notified whenever you add something new. All these features are essential to building a following amongst your readers and converting them into long-term customers.
Remember, it is always cheaper to sell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one so put in the time to create a comprehensive Author Central page.
At this stage, we expect you to have a basic understanding of what Amazon KDP is and how it works. It only makes sense to introduce the checklist to get your journey started on the platform. You would find that some of the things in the checklist have already been mentioned before–albeit briefly, while others will be completely new for you. Rest assured, we’ll go into the details of each.
Here’s the checklist to get started with Amazon Kindle Publishing:
You don’t need an ISBN to sell ebooks on Amazon. The ecom giant runs its own proprietary identification system, issuing ASINs to each listed ebook. However, you will need an ISBN for publishing printed books.
To get a free ISBN for your book, open your KDP Bookshelf, and select the book you want the ISBN for. Click on the ellipses and then ‘Edit Print Book Content’.
Select ‘Get a Free KDS ISBN’. In the Print ISBN area, click ‘Assign me a free KDP ISBN’ to get an ISBN for your book.
You can check your book’s ISBN from KDP Bookshelf, in the Print ISBN/Kindle eBook section.
Head over to http://kdp.amazon.com and click ‘Sign up’ to create a Kindle Direct Publishing login. If you have an Amazon account, you can use that instead to sign in.
Specify whether you are an individual or a company and enter your date of birth, name, and address.
This is one of the most important steps of creating a KDP Account since Amazon will not let you publish unless you provide complete and accurate tax details.
You will also be required to submit an IBAN along with a BIC code. Your bank statements should have all this information. If you can’t find the number there, give your bank a call.
Yes, it is. You don’t have to pay any fee for setting up or maintaining your KDP account. Amazon asks for a Tax ID and bank information only so it can send you the royalties you earned.
You see, publishing a book on Kindle works very differently to publishing a traditional book. Kindle publishers have greater control over the process overall, and they can set the distribution rights and the pricing the way they want–even after their book is published.
Also, unlike a physical bookstore, where potential buyers shop for books at random, switching from shelf to shelf until they find something interesting, most users on Kindle know exactly what they are looking for.
They enter keywords into the search bar and expect Amazon to show them a list of books relevant to their search query. If you haven’t used the correct keywords in your book listing, your book will not show up, and you will miss out on sales.
This is why an understanding of keywords and Kindle SEO is extremely important when writing a book for Amazon.
Here are some of the strategies you can implement to boost your chances of success on Kindle:
There are hundreds and thousands of self-publishers on Amazon, trying to get the attention of the public and sell them their books. How are you going to compete with them?
Well, you can’t.
You must target a niche and compete with the authors in that particular niche.
By locking your niche, you can focus your efforts on users from a specific demographic, residing in a particular location, with specific interests and problems to be solved.
For example, let’s say you want to write about real estate. One possible niche could be on the topic of flipping houses. Here, you’ll write for small real estate investors who don’t have the capital to invest in larger acquisitions and assets. Likewise, another possible niche could be building a dream house on a budget. This can be perfect for families with limited finances.
Always pick a niche based on your expertise and one that sells well. After all, at the end of the day you are here to make money, right?
You can use online tools like Zonguru’s Niche Finder to determine the most profitable and popular niches on Amazon KDP.
Unless you already have some form of fan following by writing fictional books, you should stick to non-fiction. This isn’t strictly recommended but it works if you are a newbie on Kindle. You can write anything on setting up a business, making money online, boosting your confidence, how to find happiness, etc.
Again, think about your area of expertise and what you can say better and differently from others.
Book creation software like Reedsy and Vellium can be of great help if you are planning to publish an ebook on Kindle. They allow you to pick different font sizes and styles to match with the theme of your book as well as perform basic grammar and spell checks all from a single tool.
Additionally, you can use an AI writing assistant, such as Jasper, to overcome writer’s block while writing. Let’s be honest, we all have our dry days and having a tool like this by your side can be of immense value. The team at AiAuthor offers a comprehensive Jasper training tutorial that you might want to check out.
Ebooks don’t necessarily have to be long. Amazon hasn’t set any minimum word count for ebooks, but it is recommended to go with at least 2500 words when writing one.
Both ebooks and print books need to be formatted before you can submit them to Amazon for review. In the case of ebooks, getting the file format right is crucial. MOBI, EPUB, PDF, and AZW are some commonly used file formats on Kindle, with the latter being the most popular one.
Some self publishing writers like to use Kindle Create to format their ebooks. Honestly, we don’t recommend it.
Kindle Create is a free formatting software offered by Amazon. The ecom giant touts it as the best ebook formatting tool. And while that may be true for text-heavy books to an extent–it’s debatable, Kindle Create doesn’t work well with images, tables, charts, and other media.
Furthermore, Kindle Create also makes it difficult for you to make changes to your book once it is published. If you want to tweak the content in an already published ebook, you must edit the source file and then re-upload it.
Amazon KDP has strict guidelines for formatting print books. Here are some of the things you need to pay special attention to:
This is your book’s height and width. You can set the trim size anywhere between 5” x 8” and 8.27” x 11.69” for paperbacks and 5.5” x 8.5” and 8.25” x 11” for hardcovers.
This refers to the charts, tables, images, etc. that bleed into the edges of the pages of your manuscript. Setting up bleed for your book’s interior profile is completely optional.
Readers judge your book by its cover, so it’s important to make sure it looks the part. You can use Amazon KDP’s Cover Creator tool to design a cover for your print book. Alternatively, you can use a third party software and upload your cover as a PNG, JPG, GIF, or PDF file. The cover and any other images in the book must have a minimum resolution of 300 DPI.
Your manuscript size shouldn’t exceed 650 MB. All the images and fonts you plan to use must be embedded in the manuscript.
Once your content has been reviewed and your manuscript has been formatted, you are ready to upload your book.
Sign into kdp.amazon.com and navigate to your KDP Bookshelf. Select the book type you want to list. Most new self-publishers will just stick to ebooks, but if you think that printing physical copies may help your sales, give your readers the option.
The listing process on Amazon consists of three main steps. In the first step, you are required to provide information about your book. This includes selecting a language, picking your pen name, specifying contributors (if any), choosing a suitable category, and adding a title, subtitle, and description for your book. You get 200 characters for titles and subtitles, while descriptions can be up to 4000 characters long. Make sure to incorporate keywords when writing these to boost your visibility in the search.
In the second step, you upload your manuscript and cover page. You will also notice a field asking for an ISBN. You don’t have to enter one unless you want to sell paperback copies of your book, in which case Amazon will give you a free ISBN, or you can choose to get one from a third-party.
Finally, you enter the price and territories where you would like your book to be sold. You can also choose to enroll your book in KDP Select, if you want. More on this later.
Amazon KDP’s review process takes a maximum of 72 hours. However, most books are reviewed well before that. If you happen to face delays, contact Amazon directly.
You don’t have to copyright your book, but it will provide you with additional protection in case someone tries to steal your content. You can register your book with the US Copyright Office and include a copyright page in your book.
Amazon self-publishing doesn’t cost any money for launching ebooks. However, if you’re collaborating with editors, photographers, designers, etc., you will have to pay for their services. Additionally, there is a publishing cost for paperbacks and hardcovers.
The cost of printing a paperback copy on Amazon depends on the page count, the type of ink used (black or colored), and the Amazon marketplace you’re selling on. You can expect to pay anywhere between 0.85 USD and 3.65 USD per book when selling in the US. This is, of course, for standard length print books.
For books with additional pages, Amazon uses the following formula to calculate the printing cost:
Printing Cost = Fixed Cost + (Page Count X Per Page Cost)
This cost is deducted from your sales, meaning you don’t have to pay anything out of your pocket.
Authors on Amazon KDP can earn upto 70% in royalties on ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99. The royalties on print books are much lower though, with Amazon paying you upto 60% on each sale if you stick to its exclusive distribution channels. For books part of Amazon’s Expanded Distribution Plan, the royalties are calculated at 40%.
Amazon pays publishers 60 days after the closing month of a sale. So for example, if you sell four books in January, you will not be paid for them until the beginning of April.
Amazon KDP pays you through wire transfers, direct deposits, and checks. To get paid by checks, you will need to meet the regional requirements. Check out the KDP Help Page for more information.
Marketing forms an integral part of your KDP success. Yes, picking the right niche and getting your SEO spot on is important, but without marketing, there is plenty you could be leaving on the table.
Thankfully, Amazon offers you plenty of marketing and promotion tools, with KDP Select deserving a special mention.
KDP Select is a free 90-day program that helps you boost your visibility across the Kindle platform. It gives you instant access to Kindle Unlimited, which boasts over 100 million users. Furthermore, you get Kindle Countdown Deals and the Free Book Promotion tool. The former allows you to set discounts for your book, while the latter lets you offer your book for free for up to five days. Both these options work great for increasing your sales.
Also, as a Kindle Select author, you get to be a part of KDP Select Global Fund, which gives you even more opportunities to earn.
You can choose to enroll in KDP Select when listing your book. While you are enrolled in the program, you cannot sell your book anywhere else other than Amazon.
Like dot com, you can run ads on KDP too. You’ll need to set up a KDP Ad account to get started. Amazon allows you to pick from three ad types: i) Lockscreen ads, ii) Sponsored Products, and iii) Sponsored Brands. These ads are displayed in the search and Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets lock and home screens.
For more details, check out the Advertising for KDP books page.
Pro Tip: You can also use book promotion sites and build an email list to further market your book. These when combined with the above strategies can supercharge your marketing and help you beat your competition with ease.
Publishing and selling books on KDP is definitely worth it. Once you have found your niche, and figured out how to draw readers with your content, you can expect to generate decent passive income every month. More than 2000 authors are already making over $100,000 in royalties on Kindle, while quite a few have surpassed the $50,000 mark.
Yes, KDP does allow you to sell low content books. These are books with minimal content designed to be filled out by the users. Examples include journals, planners, coloring books, etc.
Kindle Vella lets Kindle writers engage their audience by creating experiences in the form of serialized storytelling. It lets authors reveal their story in episodes over a period of time. The first episode of the story is always offered for free.
Becoming part of the self-publishing world on Amazon KDP gives users the chance to earn passive income from writing without relying on traditional publishing houses. While writing content that resonates well with your readers is a big part of succeeding with self-publishing on Kindle, using effective research tactics can help you find the most profitable niches and keywords for your book.
Zonguru’s range of tools such as Niche Finder and Niche Rater help self-publishers like you discover categories that sell well on Amazon. We also have Keywords on Fire, which works great for finding keywords that increase the chances of your books being found on Amazon KDP’s highly competitive market. Sign up for a 1-week free trial today!
Discover opportunities. Maximize your sales. Grow your Amazon business!