In a previous post, I wrote on how I self-published my first poetry book ‘Words of Faith’ using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). In this article, I’ll be providing a detailed guide on how to upload and publish your book through Amazon KDP.
I’ve included screenshots below to give a visual idea of what everything looks like on the platform – perfect for those who like to see things before they delve into them! I’ve tried to make it simple, detailed and easy to follow for those who have never used this platform before. So, let’s get right to it...
What is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)?
Amazon KDP is a free online self-publishing platform that allows authors to publish books as e-books and paperbacks.
Books are printed and sold through Amazon and the Kindle store which allows you to earn up to 70% in royalty payments. Authors are also given the option to buy copies themselves (at print cost) and sell in their own way!
If you've considered self-publishing your own book but don't know how or where to start? This guide provides a simple step by step basis on how to use Amazon KDP.
In This Post - Publishing Your Book on Amazon KDP (Summary):
1. Create a new paperback draft
2. Fill in all of the relevant book details
3. Write an amazing Amazon book description
4. Research and select relevant keywords
5. Input your book into the correct categories
6. Get a free ISBN
7. Decide your printing options for the book
8. Format your book with a free template
9. Upload the finished manuscript
10. Upload your book cover design (or create it using Cover Creator)
11. Preview and approve your book
12. Price your book and declare your distribution rights
13. Request proof copies for final checks
14. Hit publish on that book!
Publishing a book on Amazon KDP: Step-by-step
Firstly, you’ll need to have or create an Amazon account which you will use to log into KDP. Once you’ve logged in, click on bookshelf and you will see the screen below.
Create a New Paperback Draft
On KDP, you have the option to publish either an e-book or a paperback copy of the book which is printed on demand. The publishing process is similar for both formats but in this article, I’ll be focusing solely on the paperback process.
Select the option for creating a new paperback and you will be taken to a new draft page.
Input Basic Book Details
These next few sections are where you fill in the relevant information for your upcoming book. It is self-explanatory and Amazon KDP lets you revise sections later if you wish to change any details.
Simply input the main language of your book, the full title and any series information if it is part of a series of books. If not, you are able to leave that section blank.
Write an Amazon Book Description
Keep filling in the relevant information as necessary for your specific book.
An important detail to fill in is the description tab!
This description is what potential readers and buyers see when they visit your book page on Amazon. You should pay extra attention to this section because it is essentially what sells your book... Or at least aids the process.
This description should first hook the reader, tell them what content to expect in your book and finally leave then with a strong call to action that prompts them to buy the book.
You want this description to be informative, engaging and snappy. You don’t want it to be too ‘salesy’ but you want it to encourage visitors to find out more about your book by buying it.
You want to include enough detail, but you don’t want it to be too lengthy that no one reads it.
Take your time with this to get it right and feel free to go back to it and edit it until you think it fits your book accordingly.
For my collection (Words of Faith) I wrote this description:
Self-help meets artistry and imagination. Captivating, inspiring and above all, truthful. Words of Faith is your new companion. In her newest release, Faith takes readers on a profound poetic journey with the intent to challenge growth. Through simple yet skillful use of language and imagery, the reader is stimulated, intrigued and moved. "Don’t be afraid to grow." She says, "To take the risks in life that will propel you into your purpose. Be refined, be challenged and above all, seek to grow." Will you let these Words of Faith nurture your soul? Described as “a collection of devotional poems that readers can draw strength and encouragement from", Words of Faith is one not to dismiss. "They also have a kind of minimalist quality to them that makes each poem work well as a kind of mine for aphorisms... What makes them particularly effective is that they are obviously heartfelt and deeply personal, but at the same time universally accessible."
Select Relevant Key Words and Categories
Next is to ensure you have the necessary publishing rights for this book. If what you’ve written is completely original then it is your intellectual property and you own the copyright. However, if you’ve included quotes from other sources such as poems, books or even videos, you need to ensure you have the correct rights and permissions to include that content in your book.
Other crucial elements are the Keywords and Categories that you choose for your book.
Keywords are search terms the searcher (or potential reader) uses to find books on Amazon. By inputting relevant keywords, your book will have greater chances of being listed for search terms other than just the title. This increased visibility then has the chance to increase your audience.
Utilise Amazon’s ‘How do I choose keywords?’ tab and find out more on selecting relevant keywords. Think of things such as your book content, style and genre and be as specific as you can when selecting words.
For example, a keyword such as ‘teen romance novel’ would be more effective and targeted than simply ‘romance’.
Categories are the different groups that your book will fall under based on what genre it is.
Amazon has multiple categories such as Children’s Books, Crime, Thrillers & Mystery, Science Fiction & Fantasy and Comic & Graphic Novels. Just to name a few! Each category then has sub-categories and on these pages is where readers find information on best-sellers and highly ranked books for that category.
See Amazon’s advice on ‘Why are categories important?’ and also look into the different categories that your book could fall under. Find your specific niche and stick to it. Research books that are similar to yours to find out where other authors have placed them. This will give you more of an idea on how to categorise your book correctly.
Declare any Adult Content and Next Steps
Once your keywords and categories have been thoughtfully determined, you’ll need to declare if your book has inappropriate, explicit or ‘adult’ content.
When this is done, you’ll be able to save this screen and move onto the next. Bear in mind that you can always come back and edit this information (as many times as you need to) whilst your paperback is still saved in a draft.
Get a Book ISBN
An ISBN or International Standard Book Number is a unique number that is used to identify a given book. If you don’t have an ISBN already, Amazon provides you with a free one when publishing a paperback. This number stays the same and should correctly match the one printed in your book.
If this is the first time you are publishing your book, ensure that the publication date stays blank. KDP will then update this automatically once your book is live.
Print Options for Paperbacks
One of the perks of self-publishing is the freedom you get in deciding the little details. On Amazon KDP you get a choice of paper colour, trim size, bleed settings and cover finish.
If you don’t have any images or illustrations in your book that require colour, I recommend going for a black and white interior with either cream or white paper. Paper colour is simply a matter of personal preference however most fiction books are printed in cream/off white paper whilst photography or children’s books are printed with white paper.
The trim size refers to the actual book size once printed. Amazon gives you creative freedom with this so it’s up to you again to decide how large or small you want your book to be!
Industry standard trim size recommendations include:
· 4.25" x 6.87", 5" x 8", 5.25" x 8", 5.5" x 8.5" or 6" x 9" for fiction books.
· 5" x 8" for a novella.
· 7.5" x 7.5", 7" x 10" or 10" x 8" for children’s books.
· 6" x 9", 7" x 10" or 8.5" x 11" for text books.
· 5.5" x 8.5", 6" x 9" or 7" x 10" for non-fiction books.
Bleed settings come into play if you have images or illustrations that ‘bleed’/spread from one page to the next or go beyond the margins. Simply put, bleed fills the whole page. No bleed only fills up to the margins.
For example, if you have a double page spread that shows one image then your book requires bleed. If you don’t have any images or content in the book that flows from more than one page then ‘no bleed’ settings will work fine for your book.
The two options given for cover finish are matte and glossy. I would recommend ordering a proof copy with both finishes just so you can decide which one you prefer. In my experience I found glossy comes with a bit more shine whilst matte brings out the colour more.
Format Your Book with Free Paperback Templates
When the trim size is selected, download a free Word template (for chosen size) and input your manuscript/book content into this document.
These templates automatically format your book for print ensuring that the correct font, size, margins and spacing are used. These are based on industry standards which gives a more professional quality to your paperback.
Once your book is ready, the manuscript Word document can be uploaded and saved directly onto KDP.
Create or Upload a Book Cover
If you don’t have a print ready book cover design, KDP gives the option to create one yourself using their Cover Creator application.
My advice would be to save time, effort and potential frustration and have a professional design your cover for you... If for any reason you can’t or you want complete creative freedom to design yourself – KDP lets you do just that!
I only used Cover Creator to edit my blurb design but you can use it to create the front, back and spine of your book. Note that if your book has less than 100 pages, you won’t be able to add text to the spine because it will be too thin.
Amazon KDP Cover Creator
Once the programme is loaded, select a cover design style you want to edit.
You will have options to add images, edit the layout and change the colour and font of the design. Play around with it, get creative and test out different styles to see what you come up with!
I’ve kept the design very basic within the screenshots but I’m sure there’s much more you can create with time and effort. Have a look on YouTube to see if they are any tutorials that help in this area.
Once satisfied with your new book cover design, save and submit it.
Preview and Approve Your Book
When your manuscript and cover design are successfully completed and uploaded, you’ll be given the option to preview your book in a print ready format. Amazon takes a while to prepare this preview so in the meantime you can make yourself a hot drink...
In the preview, KDP will highlight any potential errors on the left side which you should carefully review and correct. Once any changes have been made, I recommend having one final proof read of your book, checking for any errors or things you would like to alter.
Carefully look through each page and make sure that all of your content fits within the lines accurately (if not it will truncate once printed).
Price Your Book Based on Royalty Rates
Worldwide rights means that customers from all over the world will be able to purchase your book in their country through one of the Amazon sites such as Amazon.de, Amazon.fr or Amazon.es.
It’s important to check which countries that you hold distribution rights for using Amazon’s help. KDP provides information on what these rights mean and how to determine if you have them. If unsure, just select distribution rights for your country alone (where you are resident/are publishing from).
Next is to decide on how much to price your book.
Again, with self-publishing comes the freedom to make your books as expensive or as affordable as you like. A good starting point is to research how much new releases in your book’s category retail for. This gives you an active idea of how much customers usually pay for a book of that sort. Nonetheless, it is up to you to value your book based on how you see fit.
Some self-publishers recommend using lower prices to attract more buyers, but I feel if a customer really wants to buy something, they’ll buy it regardless. Still, that doesn’t mean we should be pricing books at £249 a copy... Decide a price you’d happily pay someone else and stick with it.
Self-publishing on KDP means that Amazon takes a cut from each book you sell (online) and also subtracts printing costs for each individual book. As the books are printed on demand when ordered, you do not have to pay for any printing costs upfront. Instead, the printing cost is subtracted from a sale you make.
So, for each book you sell online on Amazon, you will earn 60% of that price minus your printing cost.
To calculate potential earnings (royalty), KDP has a responsive tool that calculates how much you will earn based on what price you input. This gives you a live idea on what you will earn on different prices that you input.
Aside from Amazon, you have the option to purchase author copies of your book (at printing cost) and sell them yourself. Going down this route means that you keep all of the profit from your direct sales. You can purchase up to 999 copies in one go and you pay printing cost per copy.
For example, if you wanted 10 copies of your book, and the printing cost for each copy was £1.70, you would pay £17 for those 10 books. You could then go on to sell them for £10 a copy, making £100 in return.
Some self-publishers prefer to sell through Amazon, and others directly themselves. I believe both methods are profitable and you can earn well using both.
Request Proof Copies
Before you go ahead publishing your book, you should always request some printed proof copies.