Self-Publishing: Amazon Kindle Overview

This post is for first-time self-publishers or those considering it. I frequently get asked about how difficult it is to do the actual publishing part, how much it costs, etc.  The good news is, it’s really not difficult at all, and it can be totally free, depending on how much you want to do yourself. I’m going to break this into a few posts – so today, let’s just focus on getting your book published on Amazon.

I am going to assume that you’ve done all the due diligence to have your book ready to publish (it’s complete, it’s been thoroughly edited, etc.). Don’t get me started on the politics of self-publishing. Putting a solid, well edited book out there is very, very important (something I continue to strive to improve on myself) but not today’s topic. Today is just a quick “how to” for self-publishing on Amazon.

Step 1: Have Materials Ready
Have your completed/edited book and the book cover image ready to upload. You’ll find all the formatting tips and information for both the book document and the image on the Amazon site where you upload (see next step). If you go to the “Help” section on that site, there’s tons of great documentation. I highly encourage you to read through it thoroughly.

Step 2: Load Your Book Details in KDP
Go to and log in with your Amazon account. This step is FREE. Amazon makes its money on their portion of the sales of the book.

If you have a pen name, still use your personal account to login. You want the checks going to you and not your persona. Don’t worry, because you put the author’s name – which shows up on the book page online – in separately when creating the book.

Click the “Add a Title” button and enter the details of the book – such as the Title, Series Name, etc. – in all the fields. There’s a “What’s This?” link next to every field if you have questions about what it is.  A few things to note:

  • Contributors – where you’ll put your name or pen name as the Author plus any other contributors (Illustrator, etc.)
  • Categories – This is high-level genre. Amazon limits you to only two, and you have to pick from their lists. You only pick 2.
  • Key Words – Amazon limits you to 7 phrases. I find this directly impacts search results and where my book shows up. Example, I started being ranked in the “Superhero” category on amazon when I added that as a keyword.

Step 3: Upload Your Book
Once you upload the document you can use the Amazon previewer to check out how it looks on multiple Kindle devices. Definitely take advantage of this. Check the title pages, beginnings/ends of chapters, any places where you have “funky” formatting, etc. You can fix and upload multiple times before actually publishing.

Step 4: Pricing & Distribution
You can choose exactly what price to set your book. The key here is the royalty percentage. $2.98 and under is only a 30% royalty to the author. $2.99 and up is 70% (with some exceptions). There are a few other rules. Amazon is very clear about them.

In addition you can choose what countries to publish in and the pricing for those countries. Amazon is also very clear about any rules here. I make it easy on myself and set my U.S. price and then let Amazon calculate the “conversion rate” price for all the other countries.

Step 5: Amazon’s Programs
Read about and consider the programs available to sign your book up for. All are business decisions that you’ll need to make.

KDP Select – You agree exclusively publish the digital copy of the book on Amazon for 3 month increments of time. In exchange you have access to multiple perks: 5 free promotion days, Kindle Countdown days, Kindle Lending Library and fund, etc. Read more about this on the KDP site – great FAQ section.

KDP Matchbook – Gives customers who have bought a print version of your book the right to download the digital copy. You can set the price for this of $2.99 down to Free. Read more about this on the KDP site – great FAQ section.

KDP Lending – Enrolling your book in this program allows readers who’ve bought the book to lend it to friends/family for free for 14 days. Read more on the FAQs here as well.

Step 6: Publish
Once you’ve filled everything out, made your decisions, uploaded the book, you click the “Publish” button. It’s as simple as that. Please note that it can take up to 48 hours (I believe that’s the warning they give) to see it show up on the Amazon site. Sometimes longer for other countries. I usually see it pop up in about 10 hours or so, but have seen it go as long as an entire day. For a new book, since I give a release date, I try to click publish the night before.

If you go to your Bookshelf page, it will say “processing” at first. When it says “Live” then you should be able to find it on Amazon. Also from the Bookshelf page, you can click the “short links” to get the link to the book on Amazon.

Once again, these are just the basics. I highly encourage you to read through Amazon’s help section which is very clear and a great resource for all your questions.
I hope that was helpful. Look for another post on Smashwords next month!

Leave a Comment

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: