Although bookselling now only accounts for less than 10% of Amazon’s gigantic $280 billion in annual profit, 50% of all print books and approximately 75% of ebooks in the United States are sold by the one-time one-man business. In a country with a population north of 330 million people, that’s a lot of books.
So why does Amazon still have the edge on book sales? Well, it has created a platform where basically anyone can sell books. Physical books in print, ebooks, self-published books, books written by established authors, new books, and used books are all available on Amazon. One key part of the book business on Amazon is KDP publishing, which allows anyone to efficiently publish a book and promote it on one of the most visited websites in the world.
What Is Amazon KDP?
Amazon KDP publishing provides a one-stop shop for individuals who want to dip their toe in the book writing and publishing world (with very little to no financial risk). KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing, and this part of Amazon’s platform was established in 2007 (the same time they were rolling out the first Kindle device).
KDP allows everyone from the planet’s biggest publishing houses—think Random House and HarperCollins—to anyone with any sort of idea that they want to put into book format to easily make their books available electronically. For the latter group, Amazon has a straightforward process that makes it easy to go from the idea stage to publishing, marketing, and getting paid.
What Are the Benefits of Publishing on Amazon?
Besides the fact that anyone can use Amazon KDP to successfully publish their own book, there are a lot of other benefits to publishing online.
- You can sell both physical and Kindle books on KDP
- Authors who want to organize book signings, give their books as gifts, work with local bookstores, and offer their volumes as educational material can do so with Amazon KDP.
- This is coupled with the power to easily make books available immediately in an electronic format.
- You keep the rights to your book
- According to Amazon Direct Publishing, the company requires that you hold the publishing rights to any content you upload for sale on Amazon.
- Uploading or attempting to upload any content for which you do not have rights can result in the rejection or removal of your book, negative impact to your account status, and/or loss of royalties.
- If publishing with KDP leads to the traditional publishing route, there will be no legal issues as you never give up your rights to Amazon.
- It allows you to tap into Amazon’s vast audience
- Millions of people visit Amazon for thousands of different reasons every day. If you have written a book about building raised garden beds, people looking for all sorts of gardening supplies available on Amazon, along with those looking for guidance, can come across your book.
- There are no upfront costs and higher royalties than conventional routes
- There are royalty options to choose from when you are getting started, and these range from 35% to 70%.
- There are also pricing and royalty calculators available on the Amazon KDP platform.
- The printing costs for printed books are deducted from the royalties you receive for each book sold.
- The process is quick and easy
- As mentioned earlier, there is an easy to follow step-by-step process that anyone can follow. There are certainly reasons for taking time during each step of the process to ensure everything is done well, but overall an individual can go quickly from a document file to having a book for sale.
How Does Amazon KDP Work?
As mentioned above, Amazon KDP allows you to sell books you own the rights to in electronic and print versions. Amazon is also a great place to do research as to what is popular right now to help you list and market your book.
There are many tools, both on the Amazon platform and on third-party sites, that will help you get started and optimize your listing. The main steps you will go through on Amazon to get your book out into the world, include:
- Enter your book title and subtitle
- Enter your book description
- Choose your keywords
- Select DRM rights
- Upload your book
- Upload your book cover
- Preview your book
- Market and advertise
Below are some detailed guidelines for these steps, including signing up, adding your books, getting them approved, and getting paid.
How To Sign Up for Amazon KDP
Signing up for Amazon KDP is straightforward and only takes about five minutes. The process is slightly different depending on whether you are one of the millions of people who already have a standard Amazon account or not.
If you already have an Amazon account:
- Go to https://kdp.amazon.com
- Under Sign in with your Amazon account, click “Sign in.”
- Enter your email address and password, then click “Sign in.”
- Once you’ve successfully logged into your account, you’ll be directed to your KDP Bookshelf.
If you do not have an Amazon account yet:
- Go to KDP and click “Sign up.”
- Click “Create your KDP account.”
- Enter your name, email address, and a secure password.
Once you have an account, you will have your own virtual bookshelf. No matter whether you create one or one hundred books in the future, this is your dashboard for all that you publish on Amazon KDP.
From this dashboard, click the “+ Create” button to get started. Then, choose what type of book you would like to publish using the steps below.
- Fill out publication’s details: There are a number of details you have to provide about your book when publishing on KDP.
- Book title and edition (if applicable)
- Authors and contributors
- Book description
- Pre-orders for ebooks
- Select your pricing and royalty rate: Publishing on KDP allows you to choose from two royalty options: 35% or 70%.
- When an author chooses the 70% option, there are several stipulations put in place, including pricing, fees, sales regions, ebook lending, and more that should be reviewed as part of the royalty selection process
- Approval process and content guidelines: Amazon is serious about its guidelines, and illegal, infringed, misleading, and offensive content will not be tolerated.
- The approval process for any book added to the platform takes from a couple of days to two weeks, depending on the book category.
How Do I Get Paid for My Self-published Books?
Once you have chosen the royalty rate and other aspects of your book listing, published your book on the KDP platform, and received your first sale, it’s time to get paid.
You can get paid out by Amazon using these steps:
- Go to your KDP account
- Complete two-step verification
- Under Getting Paid, click “Add a bank account”
- Choose your country or region of residence and click “OK”
- Enter your bank account information according to your country/region requirements and click “Add”
- Click “Save”
Depending on what royalty percentage you chose, your payments may look different.
The different Amazon platforms can affect exactly what royalties you receive, too.
There are also third party calculators and Amazon KDP tools available for estimating royalties.
Selling Books on Amazon KDP
To sell more of your books, it is good to know what Amazon and the public are looking for. Here are some things to consider when deciding what books to sell.
Picking Your Book Type
Fiction, nonfiction, and what is referred to as low content books are the three biggest categories sold on Amazon KDP.
Fiction contains original stories, and nonfiction refers to books with facts, figures, and dates among other things that are about real events, places, and people. Low content books are items like journals, date books, reminder calendars, and other items a person would use to record or organize information.
Selecting Your Amazon Book Category
There are a few dozen main categories to choose from when it comes to buying and selling books on Amazon KDP. These range across all of the fiction and nonfiction genres.
Additionally, each category has multiple sub-categories to choose from when creating a work to be published. For example: Nonfiction > Nature > Animals > Wolves.
Identifying Trends and Popular Topics
There are several ways to analyze what is trending in Amazon KDP. One way is to use tools like JungleScout and Helium10 to see what is popular at the moment.
JungleScout and Helium10 are also excellent resources for checking out the most popular keywords that align with the topic of your book.
Each book posted on KDP can be tagged with a variety of keywords. These keywords are search terms, so when a potential reader goes to Amazon to look for their next book, a keyword will point them in the right direction (toward your book).
Here are some quick steps that will allow you to see what the competition is like for your book’s topic:
- Navigate to Amazon
- Change the search category to Kindle Store
- Type your book topic keywords into the search box, for example “Scotland budget travel,” and review the search results
- If the results aren’t relevant, try changing your search terms or the sort order
- The default sort filter is relevance, but you can try sorting the results by publication date so the most recent publications are at the top of the list
- Scan the search results to find titles that seem the most comparable to your own, based on their covers and book titles
- Click on the book cover or description to visit this book’s Amazon sales page and check out their keywords and marketing strategies
Marketing my KDP Titles
Marketing your book helps it get in front of the most people once published on Amazon KDP. Here are some things you may want to try.
- Explore search rankings based on popular keywords: Anytime you search for anything online, whether it is on a search engine like Google or on a website like Amazon, eBay, or YouTube, the words you use in your query are attempting to match the keywords an author, publisher, or marketer used to describe what they have online.
- The more people using a particular search term, the higher it ranks in the overall scheme of the internet or specific website.
- Tools like JungleScout and Helium10 are excellent for finding out what keywords to use.
- Create optimized listings: No matter what you are listing on Amazon, from books to frying pans, you will want to optimize what is on your product page.
- Rewrite your book description based on keywords and your Amazon book category
- Optimize your book title based on the same criteria
- Ensure your book cover art fits the market: A strong cover helps your eBook stand out in the market and attract the attention of your intended audience.
- Use Amazon Ads: You can advertise your book for as little as $3 a day, so that more people interested in your topic see your title. Here are the basic steps to get started:
- Sign in to kdp.amazon.com
- Choose the book you want to advertise from your KDP bookshelf
- Click “promote and advertise”
- Under Run an ad campaign, choose a marketplace, and click “Create an ad campaign”
- Manage your reviews: There are two simple ways to handle bad reviews for your book.
- Publicly address the commentor’s issue with your book in a comment
- Request removal of a negative review by Amazon (people have asked an individual directly to revise a bad review, often after addressing the issue, but this goes against Amazon policy)
What Is KDP Select?
According to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP Select is a free 90-day program for Kindle eBook only. It gives you the opportunity to reach more readers through Amazon and Kindle promotions. All authors regardless of where they live are eligible.
When you enroll your Kindle eBook in KDP Select it is automatically included in Kindle Unlimited (KU). Your Kindle eBook will also be eligible for Free Book Promotions and Kindle Countdown Deals (KCD).
The Key To Selling Books on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing
Creating great content is the responsibility of each and every author. Researching, brainstorming, ideation, writing, editing, and proofreading are all part of the bigger process that happens for the most part before you get to the Amazon KDP portal. Once you have written compelling content, partnering with Amazon offers you unlimited avenues to getting it in front of an audience.
Setting up your Amazon KDP account is important so your book is in front of the right readers and you’re getting paid accurately and fairly. Choosing the correct royalty rates, determining how to use keywords to optimize your book, and marketing your book on Amazon’s platform will lead to greater success for your published content. Although there are steps on how to market your content successfully, there are also tools you can use to help you optimize your book descriptions, categories, and keywords in less time.
Best Tools for KDP Advertising
There are a lot of tools that will help you succeed when it comes to marketing your book on Amazon KDP.
- Shows you exactly which terms to use to optimize your listings
- Shows you the entire history of the number of sales so you can make informed decisions
- Helps you estimate your PPC (Pay-Per-Click) budget
Helium 10 has the following attributes that help book marketers:
- Campaign management
- Channel management
- Customizable templates
- Data import/export
- Email marketing