Self-publishing on Amazon is becoming one of the most reliable ways to earn a steady passive income. Whether you are an author who has struggled to publish books in the past due to the inherent obstacles of traditional publishing or an aspiring writer who’s eager to put out their book in the public, Amazon KDP is for you!
Kindle Direct Publishing started as CreateSpace before it was acquired in 2005 by Amazon and has grown exponentially since then. Between 2020 and 2022, the number of authors on Amazon KDP earning $50,000 or more skyrocketed to 40%. Out of those, 2000 indie authors earned more than $100,000 in royalties.
Furthermore, Amazon has worked tirelessly during the pandemic, expanding its printing facility to new territories like the Netherlands, Japan, and Australia. The future definitely looks bright for the book retail giant.
So how much does it cost to publish a book on Kindle? What investment do you need to have if you want to build your very own self-publishing empire on KDP?
Publishing a book on Kindle is completely free. However, first-time publishers are advised to hire professionals to assist with editing, designing a book cover, illustrations, etc., to ensure their books are of high-quality and can compete with others. All of this, of course, costs money but it is well spent.
Bear in mind, if you choose to offer physical copies of your books, you’ll be charged an additional fee. The good news is you don’t have to pay it in advance; Amazon will deduct the cost from your royalties. You can expect to pay a minimum printing fee of $0.85 per book if you are selling from the US.
Let’s dive deeper into these Amazon self-publishing costs and understand how they work. This is important if you want to sell digital books on Kindle and make profits.
Self-publishing on Amazon KDP is free, but that doesn’t mean it won’t cost you any money at all—especially if you plan to generate steady monthly income with minimal effort.
Niche and keyword research are crucial to your success on Amazon. The latter helps with writing an SEO-friendly title and description for your book, giving it a huge boost in the search. Finding the right niche is important for generating sales. You don’t want to be stuck with a topic that no one wants to read about.
While you can do the research manually, we recommend getting a niche and keyword research software. It will save you time and help you make an informed decision.
Zonguru’s Amazon toolkit starts from $24/month and works well with Kindle. You can sign up for a 7-day free trial to test the service before committing to a plan.
No matter how good a writer you may be, it helps to hire an expert to polish your manuscript. An editor’s objective view will improve the content, making it more appealing to the readers.
Editors are hired to fix grammar issues, bridge gaps in storytelling, provide clarity, and address bad writing.
There are three types of editing you need to think about:
Developmental editors charge around $15 per page or $0.9 per word on average.
Copy editors charge between $2.50 and $5 for a page.
A proofreader will typically charge around $1.50-$3.50 for a page.
You know the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”?
It doesn’t really apply to Amazon though, where your book cover is the front face of your listing. If you get it wrong, your conversions can take a real hit.
There are many ways to go about designing your book cover. You can attempt to do it yourself, but if you don’t have any expertise in design, it is best to hire a professional.
A book cover designer may charge you anywhere between $300 and $500 depending on the complexity of your design. If you opt for the stock images, the actual job will cost you less, but you’ll have to pay for the image service.
Each designer will give you a number of options and versions of book covers. Multiple iterations will cost you more.
The final rates will also vary with your choice of book format. Print book covers are slightly more difficult to design than ebook covers. You need to think about the dimensions and design of the front and back covers, as well as the spine. This adds to the cost.
A book that is primarily text can easily be formatted using a regular word processor. But if your book is heavy on multimedia elements like images, graphics, and charts, you’re going to need someone to format your book.
Depending on the kind of book you’re writing, a book formatter can cost you anything from $200 to $3,000. Most ebooks are fairly quick and simple reads that can be formatted with software without the need of hiring an expert.
Reedsy Book Editor app is a convenient tool for authors looking to publish novels, short stories, nonfiction books, etc. that are primarily text with little to no images. The best part is it is free to use.
Now that your book is published, how do you make sure that people read it?
Marketing your book can be a long and expensive process when you don’t know what you’re doing, but if you’ve had some experience, you’ll know what strategies to invest in. This is why hiring a KDP marketer makes sense.
When it comes to marketing your book, one size doesn’t fit all. Depending on how much money you are willing to spend, a marketer may suggest creating a website, writing blogs, releasing videos on social media, etc.
Other than content creation, your book marketer may recommend promotion strategies that can be executed on Amazon itself. This could include running KDP ads, KDP countdown deals, and enrolling in KDP Select.
This is exclusive for print books only. Amazon charges you a nominal printing fee every time a customer places an order for a physical copy of your book. The total cost depends on the number of pages and the ink type, and is deducted from the royalties you receive. Bleed settings, trim size, and the cover finish have no impact whatsoever.
Bear in mind though, printing costs can vary from region to region. So, if you are selling in the US, you can expect to pay a minimum printing fee of 0.85 USD for a book with 110-828 pages. Likewise, if you are from the UK, you’ll be charged 0.7 GBP for the same book.
Here is the printing pricing chart for different Amazon marketplaces [Source:kdp.amazon.com]:
You can use Amazon’s self publishing cost calculator to estimate your KDP printing costs and royalties in your target marketplace.
ISBN is required for selling physical books on Amazon. You can purchase an ISBN number online from sites like bowker.com for as low as $29.5. Alternatively, you can use a free one issued by Kindle. This ISBN, however, cannot be used for publishing low content books.
Amazon has a fixed delivery cost rate for ebooks for each region. The final delivery costs are calculated as follows:
Delivery Cost = Number of MB of Book x Delivery Cost Rate
Note that the shipping of paperback books is paid by the customer and not the publisher or Amazon.
Yes, it is free to set up a KDP account. Amazon is committed to simplifying the publishing process for indie authors and doesn’t charge them anything for setting up or maintaining a KDP account. In contrast, other print-on-demand platforms like Ingramspark do charge their users an account set-up fee. Just one more reason to love Amazon!
Yes, you do need to pay tax on your Amazon KDP sales. The US classifies this tax collection as sales tax. Other countries call it VAT.
There are over 160 countries that charge Value-Added Taxes (VAT). Amazon transfers the onus of paying and filing sales tax/VAT on publishers who wish to sell their books on the marketplace. European countries have the highest VAT rates in the world.
Being charged with sales tax will have a direct impact on your profits, so it helps to know how much you’re being charged and set your list price accordingly.
Setting a list price for your book shouldn’t involve guesswork. Your list price determines how much or how little you make from your book. Setting it too high may put potential customers off, and setting it too low will make it terribly difficult for you to generate any decent profits.
You have to consider a few factors when pricing your book on Amazon.
As a self-published writer on Amazon, you can choose from two different royalty programs: 30% and 70%. (P.S: These royalties apply to ebook sales only. Amazon operates a different set of royalties for print books)
The 70% royalty program is only available for the ebooks priced in the $2.99-$9.99 range and sold in selected countries. Furthermore, they must not fall in the public domain category. The 35% royalties apply to all other books.
If you plan to sell physical copies of your book, you must account for all the expenses that come with these when setting a price point.
Also, it’s important to remember the royalties on print books are lower (between 40 and 60 percent), so you might want to price your book higher to retain a healthy profit margin.
Use the following formula to calculate the royalty you’ll receive at various list prices for the print version of your book:
Royalty = (Royalty rate x list price) - printing costs
How does the genre of a book affect its price? Well, some books have more demand than others so they can be priced higher too.
Check out the top-selling books in your category to see how your competitors’ books are priced and use that as a reference when setting a list price for your book.
Anyone can publish a book on Amazon. You don’t have to have any prior experience as an author. As long as you can write, Amazon KDP will facilitate you. This is so unlike traditional publishing houses that make it difficult for aspiring writers to get their book out in the public.
Amazon reviews all the submitted books thoroughly before sending them live to ensure content guidelines are met.
Use the checklist below as a quick guide to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing:
We have written a detailed guide on how to create a book for Amazon. You can read it here.
There are many perks to self-publishing on Amazon.
Is it all rainbows and sunshine when selling on Amazon? Of course, not! There are a few drawbacks too.
If you’re low on budget, it is best to create and publish your book entirely by yourself to save on publishing costs. Not a designer? No problem, there are many free online tools available that don’t require any design knowledge or skills to create a book cover. We recommend starting with ebooks first.
While publishing a paperback on Amazon is itself free, the book retail giant does charge you a printing fee for every order. This fee starts from 0.85 USD per book and can vary depending on the ink used and the size of the book. Additionally, you might have to pay for editing, proofreading, formatting, and cover design if you outsource these tasks to a professional.
Like paperbacks, hardcover books come with a printing cost–with much higher rates. You can expect to pay 5.5 USD or more per book depending on what ink you are using and how many pages your book has.
Publishing a book on Amazon is fast and easy. Once you submit your book for review, Amazon publishes it within 72 hours, provided everything is in order. Print books may take up to five days to go live though, if you are selling from outside the US.
Amazon has different commission rates and printing and delivery costs for different countries. In the US, Amazon can charge you upto 65% in commission on every sale you make. This is, of course, if you have opted for the 35% royalty program. The lowest commission rate in the US is 30%. Most English-speaking markets follow the same standard.
Likewise, you can expect to pay $0.15/MB for ebook deliveries on Amazon.com. The printing costs vary depending on your book specifications.
Zonguru offers a range of useful tools that are designed to eliminate the guesswork from your Kindle research and help you find profitable niches and high converting keywords.
Our toolkit is simple to use and comes with a 7-day free trial. That way, if you aren’t satisfied with the results, you can opt out with no questions asked. Sign up today and start your Amazon Kindle journey on the front foot.
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