How To Self-Publish Your Book Through Amazon (2022)

Not so long ago, the first hurdle for an aspiring book author was to get past the gatekeepers. First you would have to spend weeks or months writing a book proposal and sample chapters. Then you might contact a bunch of agents to see if they would be interested in pitching your book to major publishers. Most would grumble that your idea would not be likely to make a lot of money, or that it sounded “more like a magazine article than a book.” At this point you might abandon the project or, if you were really persistent, send your proposal directly to publishers. If they didn't ship the package back to you unopened, they would either send you a form rejection letter or make you a lowball offer.

Various tools for self-publishing have taken down these barriers for authors who prefer to go it alone. I'm one of them (see my post, “How My Book Became A (Self-Published) Best Seller). Paul Jarvis is another. He’s a web designer and author who has self-published four books, including Everything I Know, which between the print and ebook versions sold a total of 4,000 copies. His upcoming book, The Good Creative, due out June 4, explores 18 traits of the world’s most interesting and respected creative professionals. In the following guest post he provides a roadmap to the various Amazon services that have liberated authors from traditional publishers. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Most independently published authors fall into one of two camps: Those selling books on their own website using an ecommerce tool; and those selling only through Amazon.

(Video) Publish a Book on Amazon | How to Self-Publish Step-by-Step

I started out in the first camp two years ago when I used Gumroad to self-publish the ebook, Eat Awesome. Gumroad allows you to sell a variety of digital products from your own web site, including ebooks, music and software. Setup takes less than five minutes. They take a very small percentage (5% + 25 cents) of each sale. I sold 5,410 copies of the book I published with them, netting about $12,033 (after they took their fees).

My second book, Be Awesome at Online Business, I sold exactly same way. I also signed up for distribution through Bookbaby, but didn’t promote those avenues, so I noticed little or no sales.

Curious about Amazon’s services for independent authors, last year I listed my third book, Everything I Know, for sale exclusively through their website. Sales during the first four months exceeded 4,000 downloads. That’s more than double the number of downloads of either of the previous two books during the first four months of publication. I also now sell paperback copies, which Amazon prints as orders come in, accounting for 10% of my book sales each month. Typically I sell 70 to 100 print books per month, netting around $400 per month from that version of the book. In addition, I’m averaging about 700 digital downloads per month, which net me $2,870.

Amazon’s suite of services for independent authors makes it possible for me and many other authors to bypass traditional publishing companies. It gives us the tools to create and sell digital books; print and sell paperback copies on demand; add author pages and even market books. Here are five Amazon services, all of them free to set up, that every indie author needs to know about.

Kindle Direct Publishing. This service, known by the shorthand KDP, enables indie authors to sell the digital version of their books on Amazon.com (or other Amazon country websites). There's no charge to upload the file. Authors get royalties of 35% to 70% of the sale price, depending on whether the book is sold on KDP or through another Amazon service called KDP Select (more about that below).

Unlike most other digital retailers, KDP uses the format known as “mobi.” This is simply the file format for digital books that Amazon uses, and it works on all Kindle devices. You can upload your book on Amazon using other formats as explained on the Amazon site, including ePub, which is the most popular one (that’s what Apple uses), and others such as HTML, Doc, and RTF. However, in my experience it looks better if you start out with a mobi file because any formatting you create – for example for images, charts and tables – stays intact.

Let's say you have written your book in Word and want to convert it to mobi. You can do this using the free software Calibre (available for PC or Mac). I’ve used the Mac version and it works very well if your Word document has no page numbers. For best results it should include links to each chapter in a table of contents that’s formatted to meet Amazon’s specifications listed here.

Another option is to pay one of the many digital publishing or formatting companies that offer the service of converting a Word file to the digital format of your choice. Pricing is either per book or based on the number of words. With a professional service you should expect to pay in the hundreds of dollars to have your book set up, formatted and converted from a Word DOC to a mobi or ePub file. You can locate less expensive services through fiverr.com. But as with so many other things, you typically get what you pay for, so look at the company’s portfolio and speak with some of their author clients before retaining the firm.

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You will also have the ability to preview your Kindle book before it’s published on Amazon.com, so if you catch any mistakes, you can make your changes and re-upload.

One of the nice things about KDP is that Amazon does not require digital exclusivity. So authors can still sell the same digital book anywhere else on the Internet on through other stores like The Nook Book Store or iTunes.

KDP Select. By using this service, rather than the plain-vanilla one, you tap into Amazon's marketing muscle. To do that you must give them an exclusive on your digital book for 90 days. In return, KDP Select pays higher royalties (closer to the 70% mentioned earlier), and allows those books to be part of the lending library for their Prime Members. Authors get paid a percentage of the total amount Amazon Prime members pay for each book lent out.

For example, if the total amount Prime members pay in April is $1 million and 300,000 titles are lent out, if your book is lent out 1,500 times you would make .5% or $5,000. Last month it worked out to $2.12 per book for me, which is average. This month alone 127 people have grabbed Everything I Know from the lending library, so it's a decent chunck of "sales."

KDP Select also gives you the option to make your book free or discounted for up to five days, as part of your promotional campaign. During that time, it appears on sales pages on Amazon.com, which drives more people to it. Though you will obviously earn nothing from these sales, it can help build buzz for your book just as you are launching it.

If you subscribe to the theory that offering a book for free – even briefly – can ultimately pay off, there are also lots of websites that promote free or discounted Kindle books to massive audiences. Bookbub is the largest, with over 2 million subscribers. Bookbub and other larger promotion websites will charge you a fee (from $40 in less popular categories to $400 to $1,500 in very popular categories) to advertise with them. I think it’s worth it (if you can afford it), to put your book in front of a much larger audience.

Using Bookbub, Book Gorilla (the second largest Kindle promotion company) and my own marketing efforts, I drove 39,000 downloads to Everything I Know in just three days. Four weeks later, after the book went back to the normal price of $6.99, sales continued at a slightly higher volume than prior to the sale. I have now sold more than 4,000 copies.

Based on my conversations with other indie authors and their posts on various message boards and blogs, other authors also see huge sales on days when their books are discounted, and even more massive downloads on days when those books are free. This, in turn, leads to higher than usual sales on the days right after promotions (when the book has gone back to its regular price), and generally helps to expand awareness of the book.

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CreateSpace. This is Amazon’s print-on-demand service for indie authors. It lets you sell a paperback copy of your book either on CreateSpace.com or directly from Amazon.com. All you have to do is upload a PDF based on their specifications and set how much you’d like to make. (They give you a base price; you make the public price something over that.)

You don’t pay for book printing – you simply collect a commission whenever it sells. You’re in charge of the price and associated commission as well. When you upload your book, Amazon tells you what their costs are -- $2.50 for example, for a 150-page book. From there you can price your book at anything higher, say $9. Under that scenario, for each paperback sale, Amazon keeps $2.50 and the shipping costs that it charges the buyer, and you keep $6.50.

Authors design (or can have CreateSpace design for an extra fee) a cover and upload their content in PDF format. Once it’s uploaded you can download or physically order a “proof” copy or view it directly on their website. That way, if you need to make changes, you can do that before it’s made available for sale.

CreateSpace also lets you link a Kindle version of your book to the paperback. This way, purchasers can pick their format on the same sales page, which is a helpful customer-oriented feature. All it requires is that you upload a properly formatted Kindle version as well. If you’re already added your Kindle version to KDP or KDP Select, Amazon will connect your paperback to the digital version on the same page on their website.

Print on demand is perfect for most indie authors because it’s hard to judge how well your book will sell, and ordering copies before they’re sold can be a massive expense. With CreateSpace, those obstacles disappear. However the current limitations are that there’s no hardcover option and I’ve found the binding and spines of the books printed through them are weak. You also have to use one of only a few options for the size of the book.

I didn’t think print was worth it for independently published authors since it can leave you with unsold inventory (which you will need to store at your house or arrange to store elsewhere). But as soon as I started offering paperback copies of Everything I Know through CreateSpace, I noticed that at least 10% of my sales were physical copies. Since it’s printed on demand through Amazon, there’s no inventory -- just royalties, automatically deposited to my bank account each month.

Amazon Author Central. Whether your book is published by a traditional publisher or you are an indie author, Amazon lets you create an author page like this one. You can add your biography; your photo; editorial reviews; and your blog’s RSS feed (so it grabs new articles). It’s even possible to share upcoming speaking and book-signing events and show your latest tweets.

Every Amazon page for your book links to this enormously useful marketing tool, so it cross-links other books you have published, too. On your author page, readers can even sign up to get email notifications from Amazon when you release new books.

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Having an Author Central page doesn’t require using other Amazon services. All that’s necessary is that one or more of your books is for sale in any way on Amazon. From there it’s simply a matter of letting Amazon know that you’re the author and following the prompts to set up the page.

Amazon Associates. This is an affiliate service that pays you for linking to products on Amazon.com. You can use this to link to your own books (it’s not against the rules), and make an extra 4% to 8% on each sale. You also get commissions from any other item someone buys on Amazon.com if they landed on the site by using your affiliate link.

Anyone can sign up for a free affiliate account -- you don’t even need to be an author. After that, there’s a step-by-step walk-through for generating affiliate links. I use affiliate links on my own website, as that’s a large sales channel. So each time someone clicks the link to buy my book from my website, I get paid twice: once from the affiliate and once from the royalties I receive.

On average, I make a few hundred dollars each month from my affiliate account, because every time I link to my books from my website I use an Amazon Associates URL that’s got a tracking ID attached. This tracking ID tells Amazon that I sent that sale to them, so they’ll send me a commission of that sale.

There are important rules to be aware of with Amazon Associates. For instance, you aren’t allowed to use associate links in newsletters, emails or PDFs. It’s also against the rules to shorten your affiliate link on social media (which Twitter and Facebook do automatically).

The downside of selling on Amazon is that authors don’t get access to customer information (like name or email addresses) and the royalties are lower than they would be selling directly on an author’s own website, using services such as Gumroad.

Returns or refunds are handled by Amazon. I’ve never seen a refund request for any paperback copies of my book, but Kindle ebook purchasers do request them within the seven days that Amazon allows. Of course some buyers abuse the system, reading the book and then returning it. There are even petitions from authors to stop or shorten the refund time. But I don't object to the policy. The return rate for my Kindle books has only been about 1%. And I even think the policy helps encourage customers to take a chance on indie authors. If they dislike the book enough to request a refund, they should get one.

Self-publishing through Amazon makes sense for authors who are willing to give up the customer details and accept lower royalties for a potentially higher sales volume. I’ve seen a massive spike in sales by selling this way, rather then with services like Gumroad. Everything I Know, which has only been out a few months, has already had double the sales of my previous book, Be Awesome at Online Business, which has been out 1½ years. So I don’t plan to ignore Amazon anytime soon.

(Video) How to Self Publish your Book on Amazon in 2022!

For future books, though, I plan to sell on both platforms. I will still use Amazon but avoid the exclusivity that’s part of KDP Select.

FAQs

How much is it to publish a book on Amazon? ›

Nothing! It's free to publish a book on Amazon through their online Kindle Direct Publishing platform. You pay no upfront costs, but Amazon will take a portion of your book's earnings to print, leaving you with 60% royalties after the book print price, which is why authors are making more now than ever before.

Is it free to self-publish a book on Amazon? ›

Self-publish eBooks and paperbacks for free with Kindle Direct Publishing, and reach millions of readers on Amazon. Get to market fast. Publishing takes less than 5 minutes and your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 72 hours. Make more money.

Is it easy to self-publish on Amazon? ›

While publishing on Amazon is easy, any mistakes you might make along the process can be costly, so it's important that you do it right. As a self-published author, you need to avoid rookie mistakes at all costs if you don't want to hurt your book's credibility and your author authority.

How do you get a book published for the first time? ›

Here's the simple 5-step process to get a book published:
  1. Start with genre research in the publishing industry.
  2. Finish your book and get feedback from editors.
  3. Submit query letters to literary agents.
  4. Submit your manuscript to publishers.
  5. Sign a book deal to publish the book.
6 days ago

Is self-publishing worth it? ›

Thankfully, self-published books have a much, much higher royalty rate than traditional publishers because you get to keep anywhere from 50-70% of your book's profits. With a traditional publisher, they take much more and you only end up with 10% maybe 12% after years of proving yourself as an author.

How long does it take to publish a book on Amazon? ›

It can take up to 72 hours for titles to be reviewed and published, and up to 10 business days for low-content books to be reviewed and published. Publishing: Your title is being published and will be available on the Amazon store shortly.

How do self published books make money? ›

Royalties From Book Sales

Book sales is the most obvious way to make money from self-publishing. You will either earn royalties (from self-publishing platforms such as Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing/KDP) or revenues (if you print, distribute and sell your book yourself).

Is publishing on KDP worth it? ›

Yes, Kdp is still profitable in 2022 and it will remain profitable, the reason being is the start-up cost is very low. And you don't need to keep an inventory of books to sell them on Amazon kdp as it's a print-on-demand business for books that only prints your books when a customer places an order for them.

How can I publish my own book for free? ›

  1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a free e-publishing site that allows you to publish your eBook without paying a single penny to the publisher. ...
  2. Barnes & Noble Press™ ...
  3. Smashwords. ...
  4. Apple eBook Store. ...
  5. Rakuten Kobo Writing Life.

What kind of books sell best on Amazon KDP? ›

Best sellers on Amazon KDP.
...
The kind of content you can publish using Amazon's KDP:
  • Novels.
  • Journals & planners.
  • Recipe Books.
  • Children's Books.
  • Coloring Books.
  • Comics.
  • Poetry.
  • Textbooks.
8 Aug 2022

What is the cheapest way to make a book? ›

Publishing an eBook is the cheapest way to self-publish a book, and some tech-savvy authors do the entire process on their own for free. Of course, keep in mind that all the same advice for self-publishing success applies to eBook authors.

What do I need to self-publish a book? ›

8 Steps to Self-Publish a Book
  1. Write a book that's marketable. ...
  2. Edit like a professional. ...
  3. Develop an eye-catching book cover design. ...
  4. Decide which self-publishing platforms you'll be using. ...
  5. Formatting your book. ...
  6. Launch your book like a store launches a product. ...
  7. Market yourself on social media. ...
  8. Start work on your next book.
21 Jan 2022

Should I copyright my book before sending it to a publisher? ›

Should I Register My Story for Copyright Before Submitting It to Publishers? You can register your book before submitting it to the publisher, but there is no need to do this. It may create unnecessary confusion and extra costs down the line.

What are publishers looking for in 2022? ›

Here are our top eight publishing trends for 2022.
  • Direct sales continue to grow.
  • Indie Authors embrace next-gen tech.
  • BookTok goes mainstream.
  • Book prices will increase.
  • More success for small publishers.
  • Advertising becomes more inclusive.
  • Advertising becomes more expensive and difficult to track.
27 Dec 2021

How many pages should be in a book? ›

When wondering how many pages a book should be, it is notable that the average book length is between 200-400 pages. With this in mind, what considerations should be taken when deciding how long a book should be? Check comparable titles. Go to a bookstore and find your book's genre.

How do I protect my book before publishing? ›

By registering the copyright to your book with the U.S. Copyright Office, you protect your ability to enforce your rights over your book against any infringement of those rights. You can do this yourself or simplify the process by using a service.

Can I copyright my book for free? ›

How can I copyright my book for free? You automatically own the copyright to your book for free the moment you write down the text. If you want the added legal benefits of registering your copyright, you must pay at least a $45 fee with the US Copyright Office to go through the process.

Can I copyright an unfinished book? ›

To begin legal defence of your copyright in the USA you must register your work with the Copyright Office. You can register an unfinished work, but it will only protect the sections finished at the time of submission.

How much does it cost to publish a book? ›

It usually costs between $500 and $5,000 to publish a book in the United States. A lot of that cost comes from hiring an editor, book designer services, and marketing. The average self-published book costs about $2,000 to publish and market.

How can I publish my own book for free? ›

  1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a free e-publishing site that allows you to publish your eBook without paying a single penny to the publisher. ...
  2. Barnes & Noble Press™ ...
  3. Smashwords. ...
  4. Apple eBook Store. ...
  5. Rakuten Kobo Writing Life.

What is the cheapest way to make a book? ›

Publishing an eBook is the cheapest way to self-publish a book, and some tech-savvy authors do the entire process on their own for free. Of course, keep in mind that all the same advice for self-publishing success applies to eBook authors.

How much money does an author make per book? ›

Self-published authors can make between 40% – 60% royalties on a the retail price of a single book while traditionally published authors usually make between 10%-12% royalties.

Can I write a book with no experience? ›

Absolutely, as long as they don't stop trying and growing. My page Writing A Book 101 has links to almost everything you need to learn about writing books, so if you're ready to take the next step on your writing journey, you can learn more fiction writing skills there.

What makes a book popular? ›

Compelling characters: Most great works of literary fiction have one thing in common: rich, compelling characters. Good characters draw readers in, giving them someone to love, hate, or identify with.

Is self-publishing worth it? ›

Thankfully, self-published books have a much, much higher royalty rate than traditional publishers because you get to keep anywhere from 50-70% of your book's profits. With a traditional publisher, they take much more and you only end up with 10% maybe 12% after years of proving yourself as an author.

Who will edit my book for free? ›

Best Free Self-Publishing Tools for Self-Published Authors
  • Grammarly. Find any misspelled words, missing commas, and unclear sentences easily with Grammarly. ...
  • Scrivener. If you're looking for book writing software that helps keep your work organized, Scrivener is a great option. ...
  • Hemingway App. ...
  • ProWriting Aid. ...
  • AutoCrit.
10 Sept 2021

Do you have to pay to have a book published? ›

Technically, you don't have to pay money to traditionally publish a book. The cost to publish with this method is time. It can take from 1-3 years or longer just to get a book published if you go the traditional route. That being said, you don't pay for anything upfront, not in terms of money.

Where is the cheapest place to publish a book? ›

7 cheapest ways to publish a book
  • #1 Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) KDP is a free service offered by Amazon that allows authors to publish and sell their books on the Kindle platform. ...
  • #2 Apple Books. ...
  • #3 Barnes & Noble Press. ...
  • #4 Kobo Writing Life. ...
  • #5 StreetLib. ...
  • #6 Xinxii. ...
  • #7 PublishDrive. ...
  • Tip #01: Plan Ahead.
19 Feb 2022

How many books does a first time author sell? ›

The average traditionally published non-fiction book sells about 250-300 copies in the first year, but when we manage a book launch, our target is to sell 1,000 copies in the first 3 months. Why 1,000? Because at that number of sales, a book has the momentum it needs to keep spreading by word of mouth.

Who is highest paid author? ›

Dan Brown

Brown is the highest-paid author in the world, and his bestselling books “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons” is considered to be two of the popular movies in the world. Dan Brown's net worth is approximately $178 million.

Is writing a book worth it? ›

Writing a novel is definitely worth it. You'll have the satisfaction of knowing you've created something entirely new, not just rewritten what other people have done. You'll be able to share your story with readers all across the world (if you're at all famous) and earn from it.

Videos

1. How to Self-Publish a Book on Amazon and Kindle Using Createspace
(Mandi Lynn)
2. How to Self-Publish Your Book on Amazon Platforms
(Duff The Psych)
3. How To Self-Publish a Book on Amazon in 30 Days | Kindle Direct Publishing Explained
(The Money Resolution)
4. Step by Step Self-Publishing with KDP: Book Publishing on Amazon
(Mandi Lynn)
5. How To Self Publish a Book Step By Step on KDP in 10 Minutes
(Dale L. Roberts)
6. How to Self-Publish Your Book on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) - Step-by-Step Walk Through
(Sean Dollwet)

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