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Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has made it easier for anyone to become published authors. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can publish your own book through KDP and how to make money off of it.
Related Reading: How to Sell Books on Amazon
What Is KDP and How Does It Work?
KDP is Amazon’s book publishing platform. Authors can upload their books, which can then be sold both as ebooks and physical books. KDP works on a print-on-demand basis, so you don’t need to shell out money to get your book out there.
Authors earn through royalties from the sales. For print book sales, authors pay the price of publication, which will be subtracted from their royalties.
Since its launch in 2007, it became the largest self-publishing platform in the United States because it’s free and relatively easy to set up. It now holds at least 80% of the ebook market, also thanks to the fact that 72% of the e-reader market belongs to Amazon’s Kindle.
Amazon KDP removes the need of going through a publishing house to get books into the hands of readers. (You can avoid the rejection J. K. Rowling had to endure before getting a yes.) However, you also lose the marketing and editing features that are available in traditional publishing houses.
Pros and Cons of Publishing Through KDP
- Free to upload books
- Multiple formats: ebook, hardcover, and paperback
- No need for approval of a traditional publishing house
- Exposure to more customers
- Has free cover creator
- Discounted author copies that can be used for free + shipping
- You have to promote and market your book yourself
- Amazon has an exclusivity clause for ebooks when you enroll in KDP Select
- You have to proofread and get a designer yourself
- 60-day payment term
How Can You Earn Through Amazon KDP?
As mentioned earlier, authors earn through royalties when they publishing using KDP. The royalty for ebooks is either 35 or 75%, depending on whether your book is eligible for the higher royalty rate. Your eligibility also depends on where the books are sold.
On the other hand, the royalty for paperback books is fixed at 60% of the list price. In addition, you have to pay for the printing cost. There are also additional per page costs, depending on the marketplace you’re selling in. Fortunately, Amazon has a calculator that calculates how much your estimated royalty is.
Aside from the royalties, authors can also promote their books using free + shipping, which will be discussed in a later section.
Publishing through KDP can be a source of passive income. However, payment takes a while and is received about 60 days after the end of the month the royalties were earned. This is coursed through direct deposit, check, or wire transfer. There’s no minimum amount required for direct deposit, but for the last two, there are thresholds you need to meet before payout.
KDP Select allows authors to include their books in Kindle Unlimited, a subscription that allows readers to access all ebooks in the KDP Select program for a fixed monthly fee. When you enroll in KDP Select, your books will be automatically included in the list.
KDP has some advantages, including the ability to earn higher royalty rates, getting a share of the KDP Select Global Fund, reaching more readers, and having promotional tools available.
However, when you enroll in KDP Select, you’re essentially giving Amazon the exclusive right to distribute your ebook, i.e., you can’t make the digital version available in other platforms. The good news is this only affects ebooks. The physical versions of your book may be sold anywhere else.
Fortunately, enrollment in KDP Select lasts only for 90 days, giving authors the option to either renew or opt out of the program.
Step-by-Step Guide on Publishing Through Amazon KDP
So KDP is a convenient way to self-publish books. But how do you actually do it? Here’s a short guide for getting started.
Step 1: Write your book.
This is an obvious first step but it’s worth mentioning. You don’t need to write a 300-page novel to publish through KDP, but you do need to make sure that the content is acceptable under Amazon’s Content Guidelines.
Step 2: Prepare your cover and other graphics
Books may or may not contain graphics and images, but all books require a cover. You can definitely DIY this using KDP’s Cover Creator. But if you want a professional to do your cover, there are lots of great sites to find freelancers.
This is an example of a cover we commissioned. It costs around $55 dollars and took just two days to finish.
Of course, there are cover specifications you need to follow to make sure nothing appears wonky in the final output. Make this clear if you’re hiring someone to do the cover. You can also look for a designer who’s already familiar with KDP’s specifications.
Step 3: Upload your book to KDP
Go to kdp.amazon.com and sign in or create your account.
Fill in the details and set your price. Make sure that your book is following the Amazon KDP format.
Double-check the information because there are some things you can’t change once you publish.
Step 4: For physical books, order a proof copy.
This step is not mandatory, but it’s recommended. Ordering a proof copy ensures that your book has the correct format. It’s also a great way to reread your book in its almost final form to catch any mistakes you may have missed.
How to Promote and Sell Your Books
You'll have to get more creative when you're self-publishing. This is true whether or not you use KDP. Here are some of the things you can try out.
Use the power of your own social media accounts. Get the word out about your book through Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram, or any other social platform where your target audience is.
Reach out to influencers. You can give a free copy of your book for influencers to review. It doesn’t always have to be a paid deal.
Create an eye-catching cover. We were always told never to judge a book by its cover, but you know that’s not the case when you’re just scrolling online trying to find your next read.
If you have a website, create a landing page specifically for your book. Have a place on your site that focuses on promoting your book. You can even add a video just like what we did for our Amazon Domination book.
Sign in to KDP Select. As mentioned earlier, KDP Select allows you to reach a much bigger audience and gives you access to promotional tools.
Free Plus Shipping Using KDP
Another way to earn through KDP is to use the free plus shipping model. Amazon offers a discounted price for author copy orders, i.e., those orders made by the authors themselves. Basically, you pay only for the printing costs and offer your book for $0, but the customer has to pay for shipping. The shipping cost the customer pays will be more than what the book actually costs to make and deliver, so you get to keep the difference.
So the author places an order, sets the name and address to that of the customer, and Amazon will take care of the delivery. There are people who question the ethics of this model, but it’s been used for years to promote products.
Related Podcast: E230: How to Create Successful Free Plus Shipping Offers
There are a few things you need to consider when purchasing author copies for free plus shipping offers:
- Author copy orders don’t qualify for Prime shipping.
- You will not earn royalties for author copies.
Some people use Amazon KDP to start serious careers in writing while others make short picture books mainly for profit. Whatever your reason is for using KDP, it has definitely made becoming a published author more attainable.
Have you used KDP before? If you have a published book, share it with us in the comments section.