Amazon KDP: Kindle Publishing – A How To Self Publish Your Book Guide
Amazon KDP: Kindle Publishing is the first in a series of articles in which you will learn about the five best self publishing tools you need as a Christian author.
SPECIAL NOTE: These are epic posts. What that means is that there is a lot of content here. If you are an author trying to figure out how to be a self publisher, you are in the right place. Each of these five epic posts are written in such a way that you can scan the main points. Bookmark this page. Once you are ready to dive in to each individual tool you will be able to come back and read each point in thorough detail. Now, onto the article!
A brief, brief history of the self publisher industry EVERY author should know
In years past, being a self publisher was something that meant buying 100 copies of your book in print, putting them in the trunk of your car and then handing them out to friends and family. There was a dream of being able to have global reach, but it was just that, a dream. Not so today! With the right tools, Christian authors now play in the same arenas as the Big Five publishers (Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster). The self publisher industry changed tremendously in 2007 when Amazon developed its direct publishing arm. This article is devoted to Amazon KDP, which is the Kindle publishing devision of Amazon.com and how you can use it. Here we go!
Amazon KDP: Self publishing your eBook through Amazon.com
Amazon.com is all about selling. They sell books, bicycles, clothing, dishes and the list goes on… Their core competency though, is in selling books. Whether in print or ebooks (digital books, like on the Amazon Kindle), Amazon.com wants everyone to own books. That’s how they make money!
Amazon has revolutionized the book business. The Big Five had been left behind. The main reason is with their direct publishing arm: Kindle Direct Publishing or Amazon KDP. Now anyone who wants to publish a book, can do so! No more having to sign your book to an agent. No more writing in the hopes that you may be picked up by a publisher only to have dashed dreams.
In 2007, Amazon launched the program called Kindle Direct Publishing, or Amazon KDP as you’ll see it in the self publishing industry. Amazon KDP is a tool that allows you to submit your ebook for sale on the Amazon Kindle Store. It’s important to note that this tool allows you to only submit your book to the Amazon Kindle Store. Since Amazon sells about 80% of all eBooks worldwide, you want your book in the Amazon Kindle Store! Here’s how it works:
Create a FREE account with Amazon KDP’s service
Your first step is to set up a free account with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon KDP) here. Make sure you create a username and password that you can remember because you will be coming back to this account often.
You will then be asked for a lot of personal and tax information. You can trust this website. Fill out every form completely. It is important to fill out the tax documentation because at the end of the year Amazon will send you a tax return form you will need to submit with your tax return. Remember, you are starting a business when you begin to sell books online. How cool?!
Follow the Amazon KDP step by step process to submit your cover and manuscript
Once you have successfully created your account, follow Amazon KDP’s step by step process for submitting your book. Make sure you proof your book through their system before the last step of submitting your book to the Kindle Store. You will want to make sure that when someone purchases your self published book they are getting the best value and most professional product you can offer. Before you can go live with your book, you need to make sure you have these things prepared:
Amazon KDP Self Publishing Checklist: Use this checklist to be sure you have everything ready before you submit your book to Amazon KDP
The following section are the tricks and tips you need to implement during the process of submitting your book to Amazon KDP. I would have this page open side by side as you work down the Amazon KDP submission site. A lot of mistakes can be avoided by implementing some of these strategies. Believe me!
Self Publishing Book Submission Part ONE (1) – “Details”
- Name and subtitle of your book. Remember that the naming your book can be the best marketing tool you have. It will help you sell your book. For example, if your book is about how to fly fish then your book title should look something like “10 Essential Tips And Tricks All Fly Fisherman Need To Know”. Someone who stumbles upon your book will know just from the title what they can expect from you. That is what people exchange their money for: an expectation that your knowledge is more valuable to them than their money. However, were your book to have that same content, but be called “Tom Goes Fly Fishing” it may not draw the same attention. While it is a cute title, it does not convey any meaning. You want people to see your book and be compelled into becoming readers of your book. A great title helps! Side-note: titling is very important for non-fiction writers. Fiction writers can get away with crazier titles. I will say though, a good title goes a long way!
- Publisher Even though you are self publishing, creating your own publisher brand sounds more official. It can be as simple as “Your Name Publishing”. Go crazy!
- Description of your book. This should be a marketing pitch! It gets displayed on the book’s description area of the Amazon.com sales page for your book. Most potential buyers will see this before they purchase. If you are not good in copywriting (not copyrighting) then I would connect with someone in marketing who may be able to help write copy to sell your book. The main purpose of the description is to show a potential reader what they should expect to get from your book. Don’t toot your own horn here, try to get them to toot theirs… Here are a few easy reads to help with book marketing: “How To Write A Sizzling Synopsis” | “The Book Marketing Bible” | “Book Marketing Checklist” | “Why Authors Fail“
- ISBN Number of your book. You need to purchase a unique ISBN number for each of your books. There are three ways to get an ISBN number:
- Amazon.com (Free) You can acquire your ISBN number free through Amazon.com (KDP) but they will own the distribution rights to your book. While it is free, you cannot sell your book on other bookstores, like the Apple iBooks Store. This is my least preferred method, but if you want to stay in the Amazon ecosystem then it may be the best method for you. Plus, it’s free!
- Amazon.com ($99) You can purchase an ISBN through Amazon.com and retain your book distribution rights. You would be able to market your book to other stores. The drawback here is that your ISBN will cost you $99. The upside is that you are not locked into the Amazon ecosystem.
- Bowker ($25/ISBN) The third option, and the one I use, is to buy a series of ISBN numbers from the main ISBN dealer Bowker (www.myidentifiers.com). You can purchase one ISBN for $100 or you can purchase them in lots of 10 for $25 each. If you plan to release your book as an eBook (digital) and in print then you will need multiple ISBNs to do that properly. I recommend spending the money to get 10 ISBNs that you can own outright. This way you can use them however you would like down the road. Bowker also offers scannable barcodes that can be read by barcode scanners in bookstores. You will need a barcode if you plan to publish in print. If you purchase your own ISBN numbers from Bowker, search Google for “Bowker My Identifiers Coupon Code“. If you are a first time buyer, you may be able to get a coupon code good for up to 20% or 30% off!
- Categories that your book should be in on Amazon.com. You can choose to place your book into two categories that relate to your book’s topic. You need to do a bit of research on this one. I recommend trying to find one category that other books in your genre are in. For the other one, try to find a related category, but that isn’t as highly trafficked. The first category will let you play with the big guys. If you’ve written a book that is the same genre as C.S. Lewis then you need to be in the same category. It may help you sell more books. The second category, that is less trafficked, may help you rise in that category’s ranking system because that category is not as competitive. The higher your book is in a category the more likely someone will find it. Here are a few resources to help you choose the best categories: “Amazon Best Seller Rank Explained Book” | “Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books” | www.kindlepreneur.com | www.digitalbooktoday.com
- Search Keywords for your book. There is a ton of debate as to whether you should heavily invest in the right keywords or not. A keyword is an identifier (which can be a word or small phrase) that may help someone find your book when they search for it on Amazon. In my first book Worship Guitar In Six Weeks, one of my main keywords that people seemed to find my book was keyword phrase “easy guitar”. Having that as one of my keywords helped bring me visibility in the Amazon.com searchbar. The KDP submission process allows you to submit 7 keywords (separated by commas) to help identify your book. I use a tool called KDP Rocket Keyword Planning Software that analyzes the best Google keyword searches during a month for a specific keyword and compares it to keywords used by Amazon book searches for that same month. If you want to thrive using keywords on Amazon, I recommend this tool. You can also use the free tool by Google called Google Adwords Keyword Planner to help you find what phrases are being searched for. In my opinion this tool is limited as far as knowing what is being searched on Amazon. But here is an example of how it work and it’s free. If your book title is “Everything You Need To Know About Fly Fishing” then one of your keywords (which can be a phrase) would be “fly fishing rods”. The main thing is to try to get those 7 keywords to help drive traffic to your book. The more people who see your book, the more sales. Here are a few more resources to help you find the best keywords: “Keyword Planner Book” | “Five Golden Keywords With Free Software” | “How To Use Google Keyword Planner To Sell More Kindle Books” | KDP Rocket Keyword Planning Software
- Book Release Options: This is the date when you want to release your book. You could release it the day you submit it or you can wait and do a pre-sale. In my opinion, the pre-sale option is for established authors only. New authors shouldn’t try this trick because if you were to get a potential sale from a friend or someone who is interested in your book, you would want them to be able to purchase it right away. There is no reason to make them wait for an arbitrary pre-sale date to receive it. However, if you did run an incredible ad campaign through your social channels and you feel like a pre-sale is the best way to drum up excitement for a release, go for it!
- Upload or Create A Cover for your book. This is where you will submit the cover image for your book. There is an option to create your cover using some of KDP’s tools. These are terrible and will not grab any reader’s attention. If you are a designer, spend a lot of time on the cover and submit one that is highly attractive and competitive. If you are not creative-mined, do not attempt to create your own cover. Hire a designer to do one. I recognize that you are a self-publisher, which typically means you are working on a tight budget, but this is not something to skimp on. The old adage “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” does not apply to the eBook marketplace. It is fact that books with great covers sell better than those that don’t. When thinking about a cover, or if you are speaking with your designer, be sure to remember that your book’s cover will primarily be seen as a thumbnail image (really small). It needs to be an image that looks appealing as at full scale and as a thumbnail. The best place to begin with cover design is by finding a handful of book covers you like and try to emulate the best parts of them. Don’t copy them, but find out what is appealing and try to do something similar. If it caught your eye it may catch someone else’s. Here are a few resources for cover design. Some are free, some have costs, but each are worth it. www.canva.com | www.fiverr.com | www.99designs.com | Worship Publishing Designs
- Upload Your Book File This is where the rubber meets the road. You need to have compiled a .Mobi, .ePub, .PDF or .docx file. .Mobi is the Kindle file format and will not need to be converted. .ePub (digital book standard), PDF (portable document format) and .doc (Microsoft Word document) will be converted automatically into the Kindle format. In doing so, you may have to make tweaks to the file and resubmit after you launch the proof preview window that will pop up after you submit your file. Formatting for Kindle can be tough. One of the best programs that I know of, and is the only application I use, is called Scrivener. Scrivener is a text editing (writing) software that is designed for authors, writers, playwrights, business people, outliners, publishers, bloggers and more. You can use the software to create outlines, storyboards and general writing. The main feature that eBook authors should be aware of is Scrivener’s compile tool. After you’ve created your manuscript and it is ready to publish, the compile tool allows you to create a table of contents, add front and back cover (front matter, back matter) and various other metadata. All in all, Scrivener is the best tool I’ve found.
- Preview Your Book You need to preview your book. This preview allows you to see how your book will look on Kindle tablets, Kindle phone apps, iPads, etc. If you feel confident in how it looks in preview mode you can be confident it will look good out in the wild. However, if you see problems you need to fix them. This is a what you see is what you get preview. Be careful to release only your best work!
- Save and Continue Do this after you have have completed all of the above.
Self Publisher Book Submission Section TWO (2) – “Rights, Royalty and Pricing”
- Verify Your Publishing Territories This one is up to you. Would you like your book to be released worldwide or only to a select number of countries? To be honest, the fact to we, as self publishers have this opportunity is amazing!
- Set Your Pricing and Royalty for your book. This section is where you can assign a price for your book in multiple countries and currencies. Also, you set the percentage royalty rate from your book you’d like to receive.
- For price, you can set it as high or as low as you’d like, however, price can be a determining purchase factor for your reader. You should set your price based on what a reader is willing to pay. Look at other books in your genre. Is the median price $2.99 or $9.99. For text books the median price may be $100. If you do your due diligence to justify where your price should be then you will have set it correctly. Also, you can change your price as often as you’d like. You aren’t married to your initial price. Here are a few books and sites to check out to learn more about pricing your book: “Is $.99 The New Free?” | www.makealivingwriting.com | www.publishersweekly.com | www.bookbaby.com
- Amazon’s Royalty scheme can be a bit confusing. The royalty rate is how much money from the sale of your book that you get to keep. There are two options available to you: 70% and 35%. While the decision may seem like a no-brainer, there is more than meets the eye. If you enroll in the 70% commission program you will not have worldwide rights at that percentage. In several countries, a 35% commission rate is the best you can get. I can’t go into much detail as to why. Some of it has to do with a most favored nations clause Amazon has with each country. Here is each commission rate broken down:
- 70% Royalty Option:
- Available only in select countries (35% everywhere else). This seems limiting, but those select countries are mainly the biggest countries in the world, i.e. United States, Great Britain, Australia…
- There is a delivery fee associated with the 70% royalty option as well. This is associated with the file size of your book in megabytes. In most countries, the fee breaks down to $.15/MB. If you have a 2 megabyte book then you will pay $.30 per book plus the 30% royalty fee. To continue with that example, if your book was priced at $5.00 then your take home amount per book would be $5.00 – $1.50 (70% royalty rate) – $.30 ($.15/MB delivery fee) = $3.20/book. Special Note: if your book is mainly text-based with very few, if any, images then your book’s file size is going to be small. This will not cost much in delivery fees. However, if you have a lot of photos/drawings in your book, like a photography or kids book might have, then your delivery fee may be considerable. You may want to choose the 35% royalty option with no delivery fees.
- 35% Royalty Option:
- Available in all countries and territories. Your book may support a niche that sells well in smaller, more remote countries. This option allows your book to be immediately available there.
- There are no per megabyte delivery costs associated with this royalty plan. For larger file size books, this may be your best option.
- 70% Royalty Option:
- If you want to dig deeper into understanding royalty rates this is an excellent resource. Click here for more.
- Setting Your List Price In this section you will set your list price in dollars ($) for the United States. The default option is to then have your list price automatically converted to the proper currency for each country. I recommend beginning by letting the automator do it’s work. Afterward, confirm that you like the price that it has set. For example, if I set my book at $4.99 in the United States then it automatically sets my United Kingdom price at £3.65. While that is a true conversion, it is not a very good and marketable price. I think choosing either £3.49 or £3.99 would look better to potential readers. You can decide how you want to do your pricing strategy throughout the world. You also can change these when you see a price that is not performing well.
- Kindle Matchbook If you have a print version of your book, you can offer this new Kindle version at a reduced price to your buyer of your print book as a bundle incentive. You receive a small commission on your digital book PLUS the regular royalty rate of the print book. To me, this is a double-whammy! If someone buys your print book, they are probably not likely to also buy your Kindle version if it were at full price. This just sweetens the deal for them. You must opt in to this program. It is up to you. You can weigh the pros and cons for your particular genre.
- Kindle Book Lending This checkbox lets your readers lend your book to someone else for a period of two weeks. Depending on who your readership is, lending may lead to future sales and show your generosity OR it may be giving too much away. This is another area where you should consider the benefits to you and to your readers. I tend to think that the more you give away, the more you’ll get in return. I try to live with an open-palm lifestyle. Resources come in, but they also can go out generously.
- Save and Publish The final step is to send your newly submitted work to Amazon KDP for their review. They are looking for any formatting errors that you may not have found. They want to confirm that your ISBN has been properly imprinted (registered). It usually takes the agents at Amazon KDP about 12 hours to either make recommendations for revision or to accept your book and put it onto their store. If this is your first time submitting a book, those 12 hours are the longest in your life; perhaps even longer than waiting on Christmas to arrive as a little kid. Be patient. Soon you will be an Amazon KPD self published author!
If you have read this article and would prefer help getting this process accomplished we offer a variety of affordable consulting services that you may benefit from. Becoming a self publisher is doable, but you may need a helping hand!
What is a consultation? We will set up a phone call or Skype video call together. We will help you with each of the steps required to submit your book to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing that are outlined above. We plan to hang on the line with you until we make progress. You may need to do some additional homework before we can submit your book, but we will work with you to help you see it through to the end. There is no time limit. We love helping self publishers! Click here to get started today!
Would you rather have someone do the work for you?
We have an all-in-one service for self publishers that will submit your books onto Amazon.com. We can help in content creation, cover design, marketing, copywriting, website creation and more. We have a small application process. This helps us determine what resources you will need. We have never turned anyone down. We just like to know where we will be starting from. Prices vary based upon the amount of work necessary. Click here to find out more and get started!
The next self publishing tool in our 5 tool series is the Amazon CreateSpace Program for print books
If you are itching to get ahead before the next tool (Amazon CreateSpace) has been released, here is a fantastic blog about how to set up a CreateSpace account and what it is for. Check it out at: www.thebookdesigner.com
If you are really itching to get all five tools into your tool belt, here are the three others and blog resources for each. So glad to help you find them!
Tool 3: IngramSpark (Print books outside of Amazon) – check out: www.ingramspark.com
Tool 4: Smashwords (eBooks outside of Amazon, like on Apple’s iBooks Store) – check out: www.smashwords.com
Tool 5: E-Junkie and Creating Your Own Website (eBooks your way) – check out: www.thelaunchcoach.com
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