Last week, we provided a step-by-step guide to self-publishing on Smashwords. This week, we look at industry giant Amazon and the company’s wildly popular Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
Whether you’re a newbie author with an eBook that’s ready for public consumption, or a publisher who simply hasn’t used KDP before, this guide will show you how to publish on Amazon Kindle the right way.
Step 1: Prepare your eBook for Publishing
As with most publishing and distribution platforms, you’ll need to ensure your book meets Kindle’s publishing criteria. Thankfully, Amazon makes it easy on self-publishers by providing a variety of tools and resources to build, preview, and convert an eBook document prior to its upload.
Right now, Amazon accepts eBooks in Word, ePub, PDF, Plain Text, HTML, and Rich Text format. You can use the company’s Simplified Formatting Guide to ensure the presentation of your book is top-notch. Following their guidelines right from the start will save you plenty of hassle in the future.
Step 2: Create a Kindle Direct Publishing Account
When your eBook is ready for publishing, navigate your way over to the Kindle Direct Publishing home page and sign up for a new account. If you’re an Amazon.com member already, you can sign in with your current username and password.
It is crucial to read and agree to the KDP Terms and Conditions before you choose Amazon.com as your distribution channel. While wading your way through the legalese may seem like a daunting task, you shouldn’t let it scare you off self-publishing through their platform.
Step 3: Update Your Account Information
Before you can publish a book, Amazon requires you to complete your account information. In the top right-hand corner of your dashboard, you’ll see a warning sign to that effect, along with an “Update Now” link. Click on the link to access the correct form and then fill in your publisher, tax, and payment details. It’s important to note that EFT payments are only available to authors in certain countries, so you’ll need to check whether it’s an option for you. If it’s not, Amazon will simply send a royalty check to the address you provide.
For future reference, you can find your publisher code under the FAQs box on the right-hand side of the page. Make certain your details are accurate and then click the “Save” button. When you’re ready to add your new title, hit the “Bookshelf” tab at the top of the page.
Step 4: Decide if You’ll Opt for KDP Select
The most important decision you’ll make after you choose Amazon.com as your distributor is whether you’re going to enroll your title in the company’s KDP Select program. If you’ve heard about this option, you probably know there are those who vehemently defend it and those who believe its exclusivity clause is harming authors. These opposing opinions can cause plenty of confusion for writers and publishers who have yet to use the system.
Here are the basics:
- The program is active for 90 days at a time. If you fail to opt out before the 3-month period ends, Amazon will renew your title’s enrollment automatically.
- During this time, you give Amazon exclusive rights to sell and distribute your digital book. This means you cannot publish or distribute through another channel.
- You receive five days for free promotions. This can be a highly effective tactic when used strategically.
Amazon will automatically include your title in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program. This means you can potentially earn revenue from the KDP Select Fund when users borrow your book.
Does KDP Select work as a strategy? Absolutely. Will it work for you? There is no definitive answer and you shouldn’t trust anyone who says there is. Unfortunately, you’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons, assess your eBook marketing plan, and then decide whether it’s worth the risk. Whatever you do, make certain you read the relevant section in the Terms and Conditions so that there are no nasty surprises along the way.
Step 5: Upload your eBook File
As you’ll see in this easy-to-follow instructional video, adding your title to KDP is pretty simple.
Things to pay attention to when uploading your book:
- Do not enroll your book in the KDP Select program unless you’re absolutely certain it’s the route you want to take. Once you click the “Save and Publish” button, you’ll be subject to the Terms and Conditions of the program for a 90-day period. If you’re unsure, you can always publish your book and enroll later.
- If you’re using other distributors, such as Smashwords or B&N, be sure to use the same book details and description you’ve used on their platforms.
- Once you upload your document and KPD converts it into the Kindle format, make sure you use the preview function to check the contents of your book. If it doesn’t look the way it should, you’ll need to fix any formatting issues and upload the document again.
- Make sure you understand how Amazon calculates your royalties before you set your book’s price.
Step 6: Create an Interesting Author Page
One of the most powerful tools Amazon.com offers writers is an Author Page. It’s a little piece of property you can add to your marketing arsenal and leverage as you develop and implement your promotional campaigns. To claim yours, you’ll need to sign up to Amazon’s Author Central program.
Besides a compelling author bio, you can add blog feeds, relevant videos and photos, links to your social media profiles, upcoming events, and a complete list of your books. It may take a few days for your Author Page to appear on the Amazon.com website so you’ll need to be patient. Once it’s live, you can start promoting your unique, customized URL.
Okay, so you were a published Amazon Kindle author back at step 5. It doesn’t hurt to have another marketing tool at your disposal though. Take that extra step because it might just pay off when you least expect it.
Did you have any Amazon Kindle self-publishing questions? You know where to drop us a line. Happy publishing!