If you’re looking to get your book out there without dealing with the typical publishing headaches, then Amazon’s self-publishing might be the way to go. It’s simple and won’t cost you a dime to publish your ebook on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Just be aware, if you opt for a paperback, Amazon will deduct the printing costs from your royalties.
But don’t just rush through the technical steps without paying attention to the details. You don’t want to end up with a book that you (or your book) aren’t proud of. Take your time and make it the best it can be. Trust us, you deserve it!
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How Long Does it Take to Publish a Book on Amazon?
Yeah, if you’ve seen articles that promise you’ll be published by the end of the day, it might be true. But let’s be real, rushing through the process just makes your book (and you) look sloppy.
That’s why I put together this guide – to give you the technical steps to publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and the right way to do it to make you look the best you can. Keep in mind, these steps are for KDP, not Amazon traditional publishing.
If you do each step right, it’ll take a little longer than a day, but it’s worth it to end up with a book you’ll be proud of and that’ll sell.
So, I won’t promise you’ll be published by tonight, but I promise that if you follow this guide, you’ll end up with an amazing Amazon listing, a solid marketing plan, and a book that is likely to sell.
How to Publish a Book on Amazon KDP (Amazon Self-Publishing)
1. Set Up Your KDP Account
2. Add Your Kindle eBook
Your book list should be empty since it’s your first time. Just hit the “+ Kindle eBook” button and add your book. If you need to take a break, just hit “Save as Draft” at the bottom of the page.
3. Pick Your Primary Language
Select the language your book was written in. Check out Amazon’s list of supported languages for Kindle eBooks.
4. Nail Your Book Title & Subtitle
Your book title is important – it’s the first thing readers will see. Make sure it’s attention-grabbing and memorable.
5. Enter Your Author Name
Put the name you want to publish under in the “Author name” field. This could be your real name or a pen name. If there’s more than one author, use the “Contributors” box to add their names.
6. Write a Winning Book Description
Your book’s Amazon description box lets you enter up to 4,000 characters, making it a critical part of your book’s marketing materials. Write a compelling description that sells your book to readers, using bold and italic html tags wisely. Once your book is listed, join Author Central for even more control over your book’s detail page.
7. Verify Your Publishing Rights
If you’re the author of the book, make sure to select the radio button that says “I own the copyright and I hold the necessary publishing rights.” Under US copyright law, you own the rights to your work from the moment you first write it in any form.
8. Choose Keywords Carefully
The Amazon keywords box is where you let the platform know what words you want your book to come up for when people enter them in a search. Make sure the keywords you choose directly relate to the reader’s pain that your book can solve. Reread your book’s introduction for inspiration.
9. Select the Right Categories
Use the Categories popup box to choose two categories for your book, drilling down as far as you can using the “+” buttons. Your book’s categories determine where readers will find it, what other books it’s competing against, and even its chances of getting a bestselling flag. To add more categories later, contact Amazon through Author Central after publication.
10. Choose the Age Range (if applicable)
Only choose the Age and Grade Range box if your book is for teens or younger readers. If so, select the minimum and maximum age range that applies.
11. Plan Your Book Launch
Before you hit the publish button, it’s important to have a solid plan for promoting your book. If you don’t already have a large following, you’ll need to rely on media coverage, book reviews, email marketing, and other tactics to generate buzz. Don’t make the mistake of publishing first and figuring out the marketing later. Instead, have a full launch plan in place before setting a publishing date.
You can enter your book’s information into Amazon’s system now, but make sure to come back and set your actual release date before publishing. KDP now allows pre-order dates up to a year in advance.
12. Enable DRM
To protect your work from being copied and shared without your permission, it’s crucial to enable Digital Rights Management (DRM). This will prevent unauthorized sharing, although friends can still loan your book through Kindle’s lending system for a limited time. Just remember, you won’t be able to change the DRM setting once your book is published.
13. Format and Upload Your Book
When it comes to uploading your eBook to Amazon, it’s best to start with a well-formatted epub file. This will ensure your book looks professional on all e-readers. Formatting a book can be challenging, but doing a good job is critical if you want to be taken seriously as a published author.
Before uploading, use Amazon’s preview feature to see how your epub file will look on their platform. This can also help you catch any formatting issues before publishing.
14. Hire a Professional Cover Designer
Don’t underestimate the power of a great book cover. Research shows that people do judge books by their covers, and if you want your book to sell, it’s essential to have a professional-looking design.
Don’t try to design your own cover, even if you’re confident in your design skills. The smallest details, like the cover font, can make or break the look of your book. Instead, hire a professional cover designer and trust their expertise.
15. Preview Your Book on Kindle
Before you hit the “publish” button, it’s crucial to preview your book and make sure everything looks good. You can do this using the Kindle Previewer. Just click “Preview on your computer,” install the app, and download your book file in MOBI format. Read through your book carefully and test all the links, images, and navigation. It’s not the most fun thing, but it’s the price of DIY publishing.
16. ISBN and Publisher: Not Necessary for Kindle eBooks
When it comes to publishing your Kindle eBook, you don’t need to worry about an ISBN or a publisher. If you’re only publishing on Amazon, you can skip these fields. Just choose “Save and Continue” and click “Publish Your Kindle eBook” at the bottom of the next screen to get your book out there.
17. Hold off on KDP Select for Now
KDP Select is a program that enrolls your book in Kindle Unlimited and offers extra marketing options, but it also requires you to keep your digital version exclusive to Amazon for at least 3 months. Decide whether you want to join KDP Select as part of your overall book marketing plan. You can always enroll later, even after your book is published.
18. Choose Your Book’s Availability Territories
When it comes to choosing the territories where your book will be available, it’s usually best to go with “All territories (worldwide rights).” This will make your book available globally on Amazon as soon as you publish it
19. Select Your Royalty and Pricing
When it comes to choosing your royalty, you have the option between 35% and 70%. While the 70% royalty option might seem like the obvious choice, it comes with some limitations and a different calculation. Decide on Amazon.com as your main marketplace and set the list price. You can also manually set the price in other marketplaces according to exchange rates.
20. Add Your Book to Matchbook and Book Lending
Whether or not you enroll in book lending is up to you, but keep in mind that you need to enroll if you want the 70% royalty option.
21. Save as a Draft Until You’re Ready
Take your time and make sure everything is in order before you publish your book. This includes the cover, layout, pricing, marketing plan, and author branding.
Have your Amazon Author page ready with your author photo and bio, and don’t forget to add blurbs to the book’s detail page. Always trust your gut – if you feel like something needs fixing, take the time to do it.
22. Self-publishing Your Print Book
If you’re interested in publishing a print book, you can use the same KDP account. Keep in mind that publishing a print book is much more complicated than publishing an eBook. Your cover needs a spine and back, and it needs to be in a different format. The interior formatting is also much harder, and the pricing depends on the market and print costs.
If you want a print book, it’s best to get some help. There are many benefits to publishing a print book, including that it’s preferred by advance reviewers, required by most serious media outlets, and can expand your business in ways an eBook can’t. If you do want a print book, have it ready before you publish your eBook so you can include it in your marketing plan.
Publishing is a skill in itself, separate from writing. You don’t want to ruin all the hard work you put into writing your book by rushing the publishing process. A book that looks unprofessional makes you look unprofessional too. Trust me, it’s better not to publish at all than to put out a subpar product.
But don’t worry, if you take your time and do it right, publishing your book can be the best thing you ever do for yourself and your career.
And don’t be intimidated by Amazon publishing. It’s not as scary as it seems. Once you hit that publish button, your book will be available on Amazon bookshelves in no time. It can take up to 72 hours for Amazon.com and up to 5 days for country-specific Amazon sites. And then, you can focus all your energy on getting the word out and marketing your book!