A Beginner’s Guide to Self-publishing on Amazon KDP


Are you an aspiring indie author who wonders how to publish a book on Amazon and start earning money? You are in the right place!

In this beginner’s guide to self-publishing on KDP, we’ll tell you how this platform works, how much royalty you can get, and what manuscript and book cover requirements are. Let’s start!

How does Kindle Direct Publishing work?

Amazon dominates the book market, selling over 487 million ebooks through Kindle and at least 300 million print books annually. Due to Kindle Direct Publishing, you can join this famous platform quickly.

In brief, the steps to sell books on Amazon KDP are pretty simple:

  • Upload your book files and publish them on the platform.
  • Readers can buy and immediately download your digital books.
  • If they buy a paperback, Amazon KDP prints and sends it to them when they order.
  • You get paid royalties for each book sold on Amazon KDP.

If you have some doubts, here are the advantages of using Kindle Direct Publishing:

  • Global reach. Amazon’s large platform allows authors to reach markets in the US, Europe, and other states. In fact, ebooks are available to buy worldwide.
  • Better royalties. Authors can earn more money on Amazon, with royalty rates up to 70%, often higher than traditional publishers.
  • Keep your rights. Authors keep their book rights with Amazon’s non-exclusive agreement.
  • Fast publishing. Unlike traditional publishing, which can be slow, Amazon KDP publishes books quickly.
  • There is no need for inventory. Authors don’t have to buy paperbacks in advance. Books are printed as they are sold, thanks to print-on-demand technology.

However, you must be prepared for high competition since Amazon remains the most popular platform among indie authors, releasing over 1.4 million self-published books annually.

What types of books are KDP?

KDP lets indie authors self-publish their books in multiple formats. You can upload your ebooks, which appear on the Kindle store for readers to buy and download immediately. 

If you want to sell paperbacks, upload your book, and when it’s bought, it’s printed using print-on-demand technology. The cost of printing is taken from the author’s royalties for each copy sold.

You can also offer your readers an audiobook available through the Audible app. Moreover, KDP now offers a beta feature for quickly creating audiobooks with virtual voice narration, a type of synthetic speech technology.

Why you should have your book in multiple formats

As an indie author, you may prefer to release your book in only one format, but having it in print, ebook, and audiobook can be beneficial. Here is why:

  • Enhanced accessibility. Not everyone can easily read print. By offering your book as an ebook and audiobook, you make it accessible to those with visual impairments or learning disabilities.
  • Broader audience. Different readers have different preferences. Some prefer the feel of printed books, others like the convenience of ebooks, and many enjoy audiobooks.
  • Increased income. Publishing in one format limits your sales to that format only. With multiple formats, you can sell in more places and set different prices. You can also bundle formats together, turning one book into several products.

why and how to publish a book on Amazon


How much money can you make publishing on KDP?

As mentioned above, Amazon KDP offers the highest royalties, but the profit depends on certain conditions. Let’s analyze them in more detail.

Ebook and audiobook royalties on Amazon KDP

Amazon offers 35% and 70% royalties for this format. The second option looks more attractive, but it has limitations. While the 35% royalty applies to your digital books worldwide, the 70% is available for a defined list of states.

For audiobooks, you can receive up to 40% in royalties

KDP royalties for paperbacks

The platform provides a consistent 60% royalty rate for paperbacks sold on Amazon marketplaces, where KDP supports paperback distribution. When you activate Expanded Distribution, you earn a royalty of 40% of your book’s listed price in the distribution channel at the time it’s bought, minus the printing costs.

How do you determine the price of a self-published book?

If it’s your first book, you can find pricing challenging. Here are some critical steps:

  • Consider the money you spend on editing, book cover design, etc.
  • Research market prices, namely books in your genre and of similar length.
  • Think about your target audience since different people have different price sensitivities.
  • If you release your book in multiple formats, set prices based on production costs and market expectations.

Ultimately, you need to be objective about your work but also not ask for too high a price, which could negatively affect sales.

how to publish a book on Amazon and get paid

How to prepare your manuscript for KDP publishing?

Before you publish your book to a platform, ensure your manuscript is ready. Start with editing, which may include the following steps to achieve high quality:

  • Self-editing by using helpful tools. Take a break from your manuscript, at least for a couple of weeks, and then reread it with fresh eyes. You can use useful tools to check grammar, spelling, and sometimes style.
  • Beta reading. Beta readers read your book before it’s published to give feedback. They can offer valuable insights about your story’s flow, character appeal, and overall readability. Learn more about working with beta readers in our blog post.
  • Professional editing. Hiring a professional editor is a crucial step. They are skilled in thoroughly checking your manuscript for various issues, including grammar, punctuation, consistency, plot holes, and character development.

When you’re confident in your manuscript quality, it’s time for formatting.

How to format your manuscript for Kindle Direct Publishing?

Actually, there are several ways to get your book formatted for KDP:

  • Use a special tool – Kindle Create with guidelines and tips.
  • Hire a professional layout designer who knows Amazon book standards and sizes.
  • Format your book on your own following the Manuscript Formatting Guide.

What formats does Kindle support?

As for ebooks, Amazon supports many formats, including Amazon KF8 ebook (.azw3), Amazon Print Replica ebook (.azw4), EPUB ebook (.epub), Unprotected PRC ebook (.prc), PDF document (.pdf), etc.

If you want to release a paperback or hardcover, ensure you attach a PDF file.

How to design your book cover for KDP?

A compelling book cover is crucial because it’s often the first thing a potential reader notices. To get a marketable cover design that attracts your target audience, pay attention to the following elements:

  • Color palette. Hues should match the tone of your book and evoke emotions your story expresses.
  • Typography. The font should be easy to read and fit the book’s genre. For instance, a romance novel might use elegant script, while a thriller might have bold letters.
  • Imagery. Characters and objects should be relevant to the book’s content and appealing to your target audience.
  • Legibility. It’s vital for online thumbnails. Titles and author names should be clear, even in small sizes.

how to publish a book on Amazon and make a KDP cover

What are the requirements for a KDP cover?

An ebook cover must meet the following requirements:

  • Format – TIFF (.tif/.tiff) or JPEG (.jpeg/.jpg)
  • Dimensions – 2,560 x 1,600 pixels
  • Image ratio – 1.6:1
  • Size – less than 50MB
  • Color profile – RGB.

For paperbacks and hardcovers, you can use a convenient print cover calculator

How to set up your KDP account?

If you already have an Amazon account, you can quickly sign in to KDP. After you log into your account, you’ll be taken to your KDP Bookshelf. New users have to create a KDP account by clicking to sign up on the KDP website and then entering their name, emails, and a secure password.

Then, set up your author information:

  • First and last name – but don’t add a pen name here
  • Business type
  • Date of birth
  • Location of residence
  • Mailing address to use for tax reporting and royalty payments

Remember to enter your legal and official information in the KDP account.

How to publish a book on Amazon KDP?

When everything is ready here, you can start publishing by clicking the Create button on your Bookshelf. It includes a few essential steps.

Step 1. Upload and review your book

In this step, you upload and preview your manuscript to check how your book will appear. Also, here, you’ll find details about your book’s ISBN. You need a different ISBN for each book format, including eBook, paperback, and hardcover.

Step 2. Add a title, subtitle, and a book description

A title is the first thing potential readers see and should be catchy. A subtitle can provide more context or information. It’s a chance to give more insight into what the book is about or what makes it unique.

Ensure to add a captivating book description. This is your opportunity to hook readers with the story’s premise, the characters, or the critical themes without giving away any spoilers. Bryan Cohen shared the tips on writing book descriptions that sell in our blog.

Add keywords to your book information to make your book more visible to potential readers. You can find them using tools like Amazon Keyword Tool or Sellerapp.

Step 3. Choose categories

Categories on Amazon are like book genres that help your audience discover your book. You can choose up to three categories, so select wisely. Pick up the most relevant genres since Amazon reserves the right to check them and move your book to another section if needed.

Step 4. Set rights and price

In this step, you’ll determine your book’s price and royalty rate and accept KDP’s Terms and Conditions to proceed with publishing. Remember, you can always change the price of your book after it has been published.

Finally, tap the Publish Your Kindle eBook button at the bottom of the page.

how to publish a book on Amazon

How to market your book on Amazon?

Congratulations! You’ve published your book on Amazon KDP. However, you must inform the world about your work and encourage potential readers to buy it to earn income. It’s impossible to do without a proper marketing plan for indie authors.

We want to mention a few ways to promote your book on Kindle Direct Publishing.

Amazon Author Central

Some authors overlook setting up their Amazon Author Central accounts and focus solely on managing their Kindle Direct Publishing pages. But this platform is your personal dashboard for customizing and managing your author page. 

It lets you enhance your author’s bio and add a photo, monitor your book’s rankings, respond to reviews, engage with readers, give book recommendations and others.

Amazon Advertising

Amazon Ads allows you to reach customers by placing ads in Amazon’s shopping search results. They operate cost-per-click, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You can control the amount you bid per click and set a budget that suits you.

Kindle Countdown Deals

This option allows authors to set temporary discounts exclusively for Kindle ebooks on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Customers can see the original and the promotional prices, along with a countdown clock indicating the remaining time to buy the ebook at the discounted rate.

Stuff Your Kindle Day 

If you write a series, participate in an event like Stuff Your Kindle Day, where readers can download a book for free. Such events are held several times a year for different genres. You can offer your audience the first part of the series, intriguing them enough to return for the full-price sequels.

You can find more ideas for your book promotion in our blog.

To wrap up

Now, you are equipped with all the necessary knowledge on how to publish a book on Amazon and ready to enter the most popular book market platform. You’ve learned about setting up your book, from formatting and cover design to choosing the right price and understanding royalties.

We hope you’ll enjoy your indie writing journey even more from now on, and KDP will bring you high income.

If you already use Amazon KDP, share your experience in the comments. What was the most challenging part for you?

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