How to Make Money on Amazon KDP

Are you tired of keeping your fantastic stories locked away on your computer? Do you want to share them with an audience? Well, you’re in luck – you don’t have to spend a lot of money or jump through hoops to make it happen. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is here to assist you!

KDP has transformed self-publishing, making it easy for authors to get their work out into the world. And the best part? Amazon’s reputation adds credibility to your book.

Considering trying out KDP? Don’t worry – the process is straightforward. It might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but with our guide, your book could be available on Amazon, earning you money in no time.

What is Amazon KDP?

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is Amazon’s self-publishing platform. With KDP, you can create both ebooks and paperbacks without any upfront costs or inventory orders, and the best part is that you retain all the rights to your book.

Why should you consider KDP? Well, Amazon KDP is a powerhouse in the self-publishing world, holding at least 80% of the eBook market. So, if you want to reach a massive audience, KDP is the way to go. Plus, it won’t cost you anything until you make a sale!

As an author looking to publish your book, you have a couple of options with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

First, you can easily upload your eBook file, and voilà! It will appear in the Kindle store for readers to purchase and download instantly.

If you prefer the printed book route, just upload your file to KDP, and they’ll handle the rest. They utilize print-on-demand technology, which means your book gets printed only when someone buys it. And as for printing costs, they’ll be deducted from your royalties for each book sold.

How to Make Money on Amazon KDP: 21 Steps

Making money online with Amazon KDP is not as daunting as it sounds. Here are the steps to help you out:

1. Pick a Niche

Picking the right niche is your critical first step in self-publishing. To make this choice easier, here are some straightforward tips:

  • Market Demand: Make sure there’s a demand for books in your chosen niche. Don’t pick something too obscure; instead, explore Amazon’s categories to find niches with active buyers.
  • Balancing Popularity: A popular niche can mean good sales, but it also comes with strong competition. If you’re thinking of a well-known topic, think about how you can make your book stand out.
  • Amazon Best Seller Rank: Check the “Amazon Best Seller Rank” for top books in your niche. A rank below 10,000 indicates decent sales, and under 5,000 is even better. Lower ranks mean higher book sales.

Choosing the right niche is a make-or-break decision for your self-publishing journey. To help you further, here are the top five best-selling book genres on Amazon:

  • Literature & Fiction
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Romance

On the other hand, here are five less competitive genres:

  • Nonfiction
  • Business & Money
  • Science
  • Professional & Technical
  • Crafts, Hobbies, and Home

Moreover, remember to avoid publishing books in these prohibited categories on Amazon KDP:

  • Copyright Violations: Stay away from content that infringes on copyrights or proprietary laws.
  • Offensive Content: Amazon strictly forbids books featuring hate speech, pornography, sexual abuse, terrorism, or related subjects.
  • Misleading Content: Ensure that your book’s title, subtitle, and description accurately represent its content to avoid misleading readers.
  • Public Domain Content: While public domain books are free from copyright issues, Amazon doesn’t allow multiple versions of the same book at once.

Keep in mind that you can contact Amazon via Author Central to add or change relevant categories after your book is published.

Also, if a book ranks at 5,000 on the Kindle store, it likely sells approximately 20 to 40 copies a day. A book with an Amazon best seller rank of 10,000 or higher probably sells less than 10 copies a day. To achieve substantial sales, it’s essential to consider these rankings when selecting your niche.

Generating Ideas for Your Kindle Book

2. Generate Ideas for Your Kindle Book

Now that you’ve chosen your niche and found a successful category, it’s time to come up with ideas for your first book! Here’s a simple approach:

Start by jotting down about 10 potential ideas within your chosen niche. For example, if you’re exploring the world of books about cats, think about topics related to the relationship between cats and humans.

Here are a few example title ideas to get you started:

  • “Decoding Feline Language: A Guide to Understanding Your Cat”
  • “Harmonious Homes: Creating a Cat-Friendly Living Space”
  • “Paws and Whiskers: Strengthening Bonds between Children and Cats”
  • “Rescue Tales: Building a Strong Connection with Your Newly Adopted Feline Friend”

These ideas are just a starting point, but they give you an idea of how to brainstorm. Let your thoughts flow freely on your chosen subject, and you’ll likely come up with topics that have the potential to do well.

While there’s no magic formula to predict book sales based on your title alone, you can use real-world data from Amazon to estimate your book’s potential success. Trust your instincts, analyze what similar books are achieving, and gradually refine your book’s topic for the best chance at Kindle publishing success.

3. Creating an Effective Title for Your KDP Book

The title of your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) book plays a crucial role in its success. Despite the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” people do judge books based on their titles and overall impression, including the book description.

Your book title is your chance to grab potential readers’ attention and make them consider buying your book. Crafting a great book title is similar to creating engaging blog post titles or email subject lines. By learning from expert copywriters, you can improve your chances of coming up with a winning title.

Here are some tips for creating a compelling book title, suitable for both non-fiction and fiction:

Clear Promise in the Main Title:

  • Communicate upfront what readers will gain from your book. For example, “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey promises a financial transformation, and “Wake Up Successful” by Steve Scott suggests it will teach morning success.

Make the Primary Title Catchy or Memorable:

If a clear promise isn’t possible in a few words, aim for a unique, catchy, or memorable title. Ideally, combine both promise and catchiness. Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” accomplishes both.

Subtitle for Supporting Benefits:

  • Use the subtitle to clarify what readers will gain, how long it will take, or other benefits. It’s a chance to use effective marketing tactics. For instance, Steve Scott’s “Habit Stacking” has a subtitle that says, “Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take 5 Minutes or Less,” highlighting achievable benefits.

Numbers Can Be Effective:

  • Including numbers in your title or subtitle can be impactful. Many successful titles incorporate numbers because people are drawn to facts and figures. Research shows that numbers are compelling in titles.

Analyze Competitor Titles:

  • To understand what book titles sell well, browse bestsellers in various categories on Amazon. While you shouldn’t copy, this research can offer insights into effective title styles and ideas.

Learn from Experts:

  • Numerous copywriting experts have written extensively on creating impactful book titles, blog post titles, and more. Follow advice relevant to your genre, whether it’s travel, business, or another field.

Remember, creating an engaging book title can significantly enhance your book’s appeal to potential readers and increase its chances of success on Kindle Direct Publishing.

4. Outline and Write Your Book

Congratulations! You’ve finished your research and chosen a fantastic title. Now, let’s jump into the exciting world of writing your book!

Before you start writing, it’s a good idea to create your book’s title. This title will be your guiding light throughout the writing process, reminding you of the promise you’ve made to your readers.

Begin by crafting an outline to give your book structure. Your outline doesn’t have to be overly detailed; it should provide a general overview of the ideas and key points for each chapter. This roadmap will make the actual writing process much smoother.

Having a solid title and outline in place will make it easier to fill in the details as you write. Writing a book can be challenging, but it’s better than staring at a blank page. Remember, the goal is to create a valuable book that people want to read, not just another book that gathers dust on virtual shelves.

If you produce a genuinely valuable book that resonates with readers and combine it with the marketing strategies mentioned earlier, you’ll have a winning combination. Additionally, when it comes to Amazon rankings, factors like how much time readers spend with your book and how many pages they engage with matter.

For our first successful book on Amazon, we followed a straightforward format. Each chapter began by introducing the main point or actionable tips right away. Then, the rest of the chapter provided supporting evidence for why those tips are effective.

To make your book more engaging, consider incorporating personal stories, whether from your life or others, to illustrate your main points. People love stories, so don’t just present dry facts. Make it relatable and real.

Regarding the length of your book, if you’re targeting the Kindle market (as we are), a book between 10,000 to 25,000 words is often a good range. However, the ideal length depends on your goals and overall strategy. So, tailor it to what suits your unique project.

5. Get Your Book Professionally Checked 

This is a really important step, so pay close attention: Many authors who self-publish on Amazon forget a critical step – getting a proofreader or editor. Instead, they rely on their own “self-editing” skills, but there’s a big issue with that.

Our brains are amazing at recognizing patterns and saving energy. Once our brains think they’ve figured out a pattern, they tend to ignore anything that goes against it. This is why those “I-Spy” books can be tricky, and why people are still searching for Waldo.

Self-editing is like the ultimate pattern for your brain. It knows your writing style so well that it can easily overlook mistakes that shouldn’t be there. In the quest to conserve energy, self-editing can let errors slip through that your brain simply ignores.

That’s why, after you’ve finished writing your book, it’s crucial to hire someone to proofread it. We found a proofreader on Upwork.com for about $50, and they carefully went through our book, making minor edits.

You might be tempted to ask a family member or friend with the necessary skills, but it’s often better to find someone who doesn’t have a personal attachment to you or your work. They tend to be more critical and can help you improve overall.

Remember, do this before you even think about opening the Kindle app or Kindle Create to start formatting or uploading anything. A polished book with minimal errors not only looks better to readers but also boosts your credibility as an author

6. Insert an Offer to Collect Emails

Did you know your Kindle eBook can help you build your email list? It’s a clever move since Amazon doesn’t share the email addresses of your book buyers. But here’s a workaround: include a free offer at the beginning of your book.

If a reader finds your freebie appealing, they can click the link, visit your opt-in page, and share their email address with you. Think of it as a smart way to gather potential leads – offering something valuable in exchange for their contact information.

When a reader clicks the link, they’ll see a simple but effective LeadPages form to capture their information.

What’s great about this business strategy is that you can simultaneously grow your email list and make sales. Even if you don’t have a large audience for your first book, you can start building one. By the time you release your second and third books, you’ll have an enthusiastic following.

So, as you gather these leads and follow the other marketing steps I’ll talk about, publishing additional books should become easier and more successful.

The key is to create your own attractive offer or gift, whether it’s a written resource or something like a video or course that resonates with your audience.

7. Get a Professional eBook Cover

Believe it or not, sometimes people judge books by their covers. That’s why it’s essential to make sure your book cover looks fantastic. For potential readers who are on the fence about buying your book, the cover can be the deciding factor.

The good news is, you don’t have to become a Photoshop expert and design it yourself. There are many talented freelance graphic designers who can create a stunning eBook cover for you at a reasonable price.

In our case, we went to Upwork and hired a designer for $150 to create a fantastic cover for our book. Problem solved!

When it comes to advice, I don’t have any hard and fast rules, except this: take a look at the covers of best-selling books and identify the ones you personally like. Sharing examples of styles you prefer with your designer is an excellent way to ensure you get a cover that you’re happy with.

In the world of self-publishing, a professional eBook cover can make a significant difference, possibly turning a hesitant browser into a delighted buyer. So, it’s worth investing in a great cover—it pays off!

8. Format Your Kindle eBook 

Formatting your book for Amazon KDP is easier than you might think. Don’t worry; I’ve got your back.

First things first, grab your trusty Microsoft Word or any eBook formatting software you prefer. If you don’t have either, no sweat – you can always hire a professional eBook formatter to make things smooth.

Here’s a breakdown of how to structure your Amazon KDP eBook:

  • Title Page: Your book title should take center stage, with your name as the author listed below it.
  • Copyright Page: Format it as “Copyright © [Year] [Author Name]” and add “All rights reserved.”
  • Table of Contents: In Word, go to the References tab and select “Table of Contents.” Make sure to tick the “Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers” box for proper formatting and easy navigation.
  • Book Content: Organize your book into chapters, using the Heading 1 style from the Word Styles toolbar for each chapter title. Don’t forget to insert a page break after the final sentence in each chapter to ensure Amazon KDP presents your book’s chapters correctly.
  • Bonus Content: This section can include promotions for other books, an index, acknowledgments, and more, depending on your book’s content.

Keep in mind that Amazon KDP won’t recognize special fonts, headers, footers, tables, bullets, or text boxes. However, you can use italics, bolding, indentations, and headings without any issues.

Finally, when it comes to your cover image, make sure it has a minimum size of 625 pixels on the shortest side and 1000 pixels on the longest side. For the best results, opt for images with dimensions of 2,560×1600 pixels, saved in JPEG or TIFF format.

If you’d rather not tackle formatting on your own, you can hire someone on Upwork for around $50 to ensure your book is perfectly formatted and ready to upload to Kindle. They’ll handle the nitty-gritty details, allowing you to sit back and relax.

9. Write Your Book Description

Now, let’s head over to your KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account at kdp.Amazon.com to get your book ready for sale. But before you rush to upload anything, take a moment to focus on your book’s title and, most importantly, your book description.

Your “Book Description” is like your ultimate sales pitch, right after your title and subtitle. You’ve got a roomy 4000 characters to work with, so you can share more about your book and, most importantly, hook potential readers by showing them the benefits they’ll get from reading it.

Sadly, if you’ve browsed through some books on Amazon, you might have seen that many have just a sentence or two in their book descriptions, and they often miss the mark. This is a big missed opportunity! Your focus here should be on the reader and how your book will make their life better.

This is your chance to flex your copywriting muscles! Independent authors, especially, should use this space to effectively sell their book.

Another thing to think about is how your book description looks visually. Amazon provides a helpful guide on supported HTML for formatting, which you can find here. Additionally, check out this informative blog post that shows different formatting options and how to use them.

As a friendly tip, consider using H2 tags for your headers instead of the larger H1 header for a cleaner and more reader-friendly appearance.

10. Research Amazon Keywords

Amazon lets you choose up to 7 keywords or keyword phrases to help your book show up in search results. In addition, your book can naturally appear in other relevant keyword searches based on its performance and other factors.

Remember, Amazon’s search algorithm already considers keywords present in your book title and description. To target specific keywords, it’s smart to include them both in your book description and as selected keywords.

The good news is that you can change your keywords anytime, so you’re not stuck with your initial choices.

Imagine you’re writing a book about saving money. Think about the phrases people might type into Amazon to find a book on this topic. One such phrase could be “How to save money.”

Using these ideas, you might select keywords like “how to save money on groceries” or “how to save money at home.”

To expand your list of keywords, you can use a tool like Long Tail Pro (which I actually created). It’s user-friendly and helps you organize your keyword data effectively.

With Long Tail Pro, you can generate up to 800 related keywords based on your initial seed keyword, such as “how to save money.”

As you gain experience, you can take it a step further and evaluate the competitiveness of these keywords on Amazon. Just appearing for a keyword doesn’t guarantee visibility if it’s highly competitive.

For instance, if all your chosen keywords are extremely competitive, you might find your book buried on page 50 or 60 of search results. The first page is often dominated by best-selling books with hundreds of reviews.

So, it’s worth your time to research which books rank for your potential keywords and see if any “weaker” books are also showing up. If books with lower Amazon Best Sellers Ranks are appearing, that’s a good sign that your chosen keywords are less competitive and could give your book a better chance to stand out.

11. Choose a Pricing Strategy

Now, it’s time for the fun part – setting the price for your book and making it available for sale!

If you’re starting without a big audience, consider this valuable tip: for the first five days, list your book for free. Enrolling your book in Amazon’s Kindle Select program (usually a good idea) allows you to offer up to five free days every 90 days.

This approach aligns with advice from experts like Steve Scott and Nick Loper. In fact, we closely followed Nick Loper’s launch strategy on our journey. If you want more details, I recommend checking out Nick’s course, currently 75% off, right here.

Here’s the pricing strategy that has worked well for us:

  • Free – for the first 5 days.
  • $0.99 – for 3 to 7 days after your free promotion.
  • $2.99 – after your $0.99 period.

Offering your book for free initially can help you climb the ranks in Amazon’s categories. People love free stuff, so your book is likely to get downloaded. And with the additional marketing strategies I’ll discuss below, you can expect a significant number of downloads.

By the end of the first 5 days, your book should be doing well, assuming your plan is on track (which we’ll cover below). Listing your book for $0.99 at this point provides the first opportunity for market validation.

Keep in mind that pricing your book at $0.99 will only earn you a 35% royalty rate from Amazon, which isn’t great in terms of income. However, this discounted period can help get your book featured in special Amazon sections and on third-party deal sites that often promote Kindle books priced at $0.99, like BuckBooks.net.

Then, when you eventually raise your book’s price to $2.99, sales should continue to flow thanks to the momentum you’ve built.

The reason for pricing at $2.99 is the 70% royalty threshold. By listing your book at $2.99 or higher, you can take advantage of the KDP Select program and earn a larger share of the royalties.

During the $0.99 period, you’re essentially confirming that people are willing to buy your book. While you may not make a lot of money during this phase (each unit at $0.99 is worth around 35 cents), it’s a strategic move to build momentum. On the flip side, Kindle Unlimited and Kindle borrows (worth about $1.31 each) can add up nicely. If you’re curious about the earnings, feel free to do the math!

With a pricing strategy, you can now publish 

12. Promote Your Book 

Now that you’ve published your book, it’s time to take charge and actively promote it. You don’t have to sit back and wait for readers to discover it; you can make things happen yourself.

Here are some cost-effective ways to advertise your book:

Email Marketing

If you have an email list or an existing audience, reach out to them and share the exciting news about your book. This is the most effective way to secure those crucial initial downloads and reviews.

Don’t fret if you don’t have a specific “business” email list. You can still spread the word among your friends and family to garner a few downloads and early support.

Social Media

You can use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your book. Make a post with key book details like a short summary, a link to buy the book, and purchasing instructions. Additionally, consider joining Facebook groups focused on books and literature for more visibility.

Submit Your Book To Free Review Sites

Another way to advertise your book on Amazon is by getting professional reviews from online sites. It’s a bit of effort, but it’s essential for building a successful career as an Amazon author. Here are some sites where you can submit your Kindle book for free reviews:

  • Onlinebookclub.org
  • TheKindleBookReview.net
  • TopBookReviewers.com
  • StuffedShelf.com
  • ReadersFavorite.com
  • AliceMarvels.com
  • BingeOnBooks.com
  • iPenDesigns.net
  • BookPleasures.com
  • UncustomaryBookReview.com
  • Reviews-easy.com

Yes, it might seem like a lot of work, especially when you’re juggling book deadlines. However, finding reviewers is an integral part of the process if you want to establish yourself as a successful Amazon author. So, don’t let it slide to the back burner.

Engage with Relevant Groups and Blogs

Finally, connect with Facebook groups and relevant blogs to kickstart downloads of your book. Many of these groups welcome free book promotions, making them a valuable resource. In some cases, it might be worthwhile to contact bloggers in your niche via email before your book launch for maximum impact. 

Remember, proactive promotion can make a substantial difference in the success of your book. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network and relevant communities to generate interest and downloads.

13. Get Reviews For Your Book

Reviews play a crucial role in the success of your book. Amazon’s algorithm heavily relies on the quantity and quality of your book reviews. The more reviews and higher ratings you have, the better your book is likely to perform. Conversely, an influx of negative reviews can harm your book’s performance.

Moreover, a “Verified Purchase” review holds more weight than one from a non-verified purchaser. This is why obtaining reviews during the free promotion period can be especially advantageous. Even readers who download your book for free during this time are considered verified purchasers.

Aim for 10-15 Reviews (or more!) during the Free Period

Strive to gather at least 10 to 15 reviews during your book’s free promotion period. This window is the ideal time to request reviews because it costs readers nothing. If you can secure up to 20 reviews during this period, that’s even better. Remember, more reviews generally translate to better visibility and credibility.

Leverage Your Email List and Social Media

One of the easiest ways to get reviews is by reaching out to your email list. These individuals are already interested in your books, so offering your next one for free in exchange for an honest review is likely to appeal to them. If you have a strong social media following, consider sending out email requests or posting on social media to drum up reviews.

Explore Goodreads Review Groups

Goodreads offers several review groups where authors can post review requests. Start with the “Goodreads Reviewers Group” and the “Authors and Reviewers Group.”

However, don’t forget to look for groups specifically tailored to your book’s genre. Engaging with these groups can help you secure valuable reviews.

Connect with Book Bloggers

Connecting with book bloggers is a fantastic way to get reviews and increase your book’s exposure. Here’s a quick guide on how to approach this:

  1. Identify Bloggers in Your Genre: Focus on bloggers who specialize in your book’s genre. Various websites and directories provide lists of such bloggers.
  2. Review Their Requirements: Each blogger has specific submission and review guidelines. Visit their websites and make note of these guidelines in a spreadsheet.
  3. Craft Your Pitch: Reach out to the bloggers with a personalized message introducing yourself, providing book details, and sharing a link to your website.
  4. Show Appreciation: If a blogger agrees to review your book, express your gratitude by sharing the review link across your social media platforms. This not only benefits your brand but also drives traffic to the blogger’s site.

Engage Forums and Facebook Groups

Find forums and Facebook groups related to the subject of your book. Offer group members a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. Use relevant keywords to search for these groups on Facebook or in Google.

Utilize Twitter

Search for book bloggers on Twitter using hashtags like #bookreviews, #bookblogger, and #bookreviewer. Click the “people” tab to view profiles associated with these hashtags and establish contact with them.

Is Amazon KDP worth it?

If you’re considering using Amazon KDP, I can confidently say it’s a valuable choice based on my personal experience. As an author, KDP has been a game-changer for me in the publishing world. Its dominance in the eBook market means my books can reach a vast audience, which is incredibly exciting!

One of the standout features of KDP is its flexibility when it comes to royalty options. You can choose between a 35% or 70% royalty rate, allowing you to maximize your earnings based on your book’s pricing and features. And let’s not forget about the marketing tools they offer! Kindle Countdown Deals and Kindle MatchBook have helped me run promotions and attract more readers, leading to a noticeable boost in my sales.

While achieving success still requires effort and marketing on your part, KDP provides an excellent platform to get started. Plus, there are lots of Amazon KDP courses available to assist you on your path.

As a self-published author like myself, I’ve found that KDP’s reach, royalties, and marketing tools make it a worthwhile choice.

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