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How to Publish an eBook: 9 Steps to Publishing an eBook

Written by

Scott Allan

https://selfpublishing.com/author/scott-allan/

Published on

2020-09-10

Before learning how to publish an eBook on Amazon, it’s important to understand why you should even pursue eBook publishing as an option for your book.

In 2017 alone, there were 266 million eBooks sold! That statistic alone proves why eBook publishing in 2020 is a must for any author.

Our digital society relies on technology in almost every aspect of our everyday life – reading included! People are constantly on their mobile devices – whether that’s a phone or tablet – and this is how they consume information, and read, in today’s world.

While there are quite a few platforms to consider when publishing an eBook, we’ll focus on how to publish on Amazon specifically.

how to publish an ebook

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform, also known as KDP, is the most widely used self-publishing platform in the world.

Amazon is now responsible for 85% of eBook sales worldwide. This means as an author, if you are ready to publish, you need to learn how to self-publish with Amazon.

With Amazon self-publishing, you can reach the world’s largest book audience and earn up to 70% royalty on your eBooks.

But, there are many steps to consider as you learn how to become an author of an eBook – and in this guide, we’ll show you exactly how.

Here’s how to publish an eBook:

  1. Write your eBook
  2. Create an Amazon KDP account
  3. Format your eBook for publishing
  4. Add your eBook details
  5. Choose keywords & categories
  6. Select an eBook publishing date
  7. Upload your eBook files
  8. Publish your eBook
  9. Create an eBook promotion plan

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Why should you learn how to publish an eBook on Amazon?

Short answer: We live in a digital world, and eBooks are a sign of the times.

Think about it! People are on-the-go and rely on their technology devices for entertainment, information, and education.

With the eBook reader’s invention, the idea of having a digital book on your device is convenient, and more readers are seeking out this convenience.

A couple decades ago, when writers were learning how to publish a book, there weren’t many options besides traditional publishing, which was exclusive to certain authors.

Related: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

But now… modern aspiring authors (or even those who want to grow their business or make an impact on other lives), are turning to self-publishing to achieve their goals.

Today’s self published authors are taking charge of their writing careers by owning the entire publishing process, for both print, audio, and eBooks.

Here are the main benefits of publishing an eBook:

  1. Easy publishing. Gone are the days when authors had to wait on someone else to publish their book. The eBook publishing process is easy, user-friendly, and can be done with the click of a button.
  2. Low-cost. Publishing your eBook is free on Amazon, but you’ll still want to make an initial investment on professional services like cover design and formatting to get your book ready to be published.
  3. Maximized reach. Get wide distribution of your eBook to readers all around the world without ever mailing anything out.
  4. Passive income. Many people turn to eBooks to generate passive income (they can sell eBooks anytime, anywhere without lifting a finger once its published.) Use this Book Royalties Calculator Tool to determine your book’s possible profits to earn back your initial investment.
  5. Grow your platform. Many bloggers, entrepreneurs, and online business owners use eBooks to leverage their platform, build raving fans and customers, and create book funnels to increase revenue.

There are so many benefits to eBook publishing no matter who you are, or what your goals are.

If this is your first time learning how to publish an eBook on Amazon, you want to get it right and eliminate the confusion.

To help you through the technical process, we created this blueprint for you to follow in order to easily self-publish your eBook on Amazon.

A step-by-step tutorial for how to publish an eBook

Use the steps below to complete the process from start to finish. As you navigate through each step, be sure to use the images and examples listed below to guide you along the way.

With this guided blueprint and step-by-step instructions, you’ll be a self-published author of an eBook in no time!

#1 – Write your eBook

First, you need to write your eBook on a topic that you know, and can produce engaging content on.

Many people overthink this process, but the beauty of an eBook is that you can always make changes once its published, and it shouldn’t be extremely long (like a novel might be.)

Generally, eBooks are on nonfiction topics, but you can use it for creative writing if that’s relevant to your niche.

Related: How to Write a Nonfiction Book

These are the quick steps to writing an eBook:

  1. Select your eBook topic. This should be something you have expertise in and can write about fairly quickly (don’t choose a topic that you have to spend months researching).
  2. Create a mindmap of your book’s topics.
  3. Create a book outline using the topics from your finished mindmap.
  4. Set aside time for writing and stick to it!
  5. Write each chapter of your book by following your outline. It’s okay to make changes to your outline as you go.
  6. Self-edit your rough draft
  7. Get a professional edit for your eBook
  8. Make any final changes to the eBook’s content
  9. Hire a book cover designer for an engaging eBook cover

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#2 – Create an Amazon KDP account

You need an Amazon account to publish with Kindle Direct Publishing. If you don’t have one, that’s the first step you need to complete to learn how to publish an eBook on Amazon.

Step 1: Sign up for your account:

#1 – Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register your Amazon account.

Once your account is set up, you can get started.

To navigate to the login window, simply scroll to the bottom of any page on Amazon until you come to “Make Money With Us” category.

#2 – Click on “Self Publish With Us” tab and click on that.

This funnels you into the KDP area.

#3 – Click on the “Get started” button.

how to publish an ebook on amazon

#4 – Sign in with your Amazon login credentials.

self-publishing an ebook

Step 2: Register your tax information

But wait…

Before you can set up your book for publication, you have to set up your tax information. You’ll be directed to set up your tax details with a “Your account information is incomplete” notice at the top.

#1 – To complete your tax info, click on the “Update Now” link.

#2 – Once your tax information is ready, click “Finished” and return to the main page.

You can now set up your book details with KDP!

Now, follow the rest of the steps below to set up your book. This is where the real fun begins!

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#3 – Format your eBook for publishing

Your eBook files must be properly formatted in order for it to be uploaded to the Amazon platform.

For help with determining which eBook file to use, read this guide on EPUB vs MOBI.

You can hire a professional formatter if you want, or you can format the book yourself.

Here’s a guide that walks you through the formatting process for KDP.

If you plan to publish more than one eBook, you may want to invest in a book formatting software such as Vellum. It’s a relatively low investment, and it’s simple to use.

#4 – Add your eBook details

Once your book is properly formatted, it’s time to start the uploading process in KDP.

Step #1: Choose the eBook option

KDP gives you two options to create a title: Kindle eBook and Paperback. The paperback you can create later. For simplicity, we will stick with setting up your eBook first.

#1 – Click “Create a New Title.”

#2 – Click on the “+” for setting up your Kindle eBook.

publishing on kdp

#3 – Next, you’ll be prompted to sign in again with your Amazon password. This takes you inside your KDP Bookshelf.

#4 – Fill in all the details for your book, including uploading the content, your cover, and finally, choosing the pricing and publishing.

But first, it’s important you understand the four tabs on this page in order to learn how to publish an eBook correctly.

Here is a brief explanation about the four tabs on this page as seen below:

kindle direct publishing
  1. Bookshelf: The bookshelf is where you are now if you are following along with this post. In your Bookshelf you will create your eBook.
  2. Reports: Track your book sales, royalties earned, sales history and generate monthly or yearly reports for all your book sales activity. This is my favorite page!
  3. Community: Engage with Amazon’s stellar published authors in a discussion forum. Get your questions answered and ask for help from other self-published authors. You can also access the KDP Community Guidelines.
  4. KDP Select: This is Amazon’s exclusivity program for authors. I’ll cover this in more detail later but, for now, you can read about KDP Select here.

Now, let’s set your book up for publication.

As an example of how to do this, I will use one of my books Undefeated throughout the rest of this post.

Step #2: Title your eBook

Your book title and subtitle are two very critical components of your book’s future success. Having said this, you want to come up with a compelling book title that drives a browser’s interest into clicking on your book and ultimately buying.

Related: Nonfiction Book Title Generator

Your book title is what readers look for first when they discover a new book. Knowing how to publish an eBook on Amazon will be meaningless without a solid book title that attracts readers.

Here are a few tips for crafting the perfect book title:

  1. Your Title/Subtitle includes a solution to a problem: Your title should be crystal clear on what your readers will learn by reading your book. What will they be able to achieve? What will be the big gain?
  2. Implement a hook: This is what grabs your potential readers attention and draws them into your self-published eBook. The title conveys something they want.
  3. List the core benefits: Your potential readers want to know what they will get from reading your book. You should provide enough tantalizing information to stir emotions in your readers. They want what you are promising to deliver.
  4. Keep your subtitle clear and simple: Many authors try to get too creative with titles, but they end up sounding clunky. A great subtitle rolls off the tongue like a well-scripted poem. Keep it simple, yet magnetic.
  5. Include your master keywords: We will get into keywords further down but, you want to include your keywords in the title. But avoid keyword stuffing. It has to look and sound natural.
how to publish an ebook

Fill in your eBook title and subtitle now.

Step #3: Add a series and edition number

Series: This section only applies to authors that have already published a series of books. If you have a series of books, go ahead and fill in the series name and volume number now. If not, leave this blank.

Edition Number: You can provide an edition number if this title is a new edition of an existing book.

self-publishing an ebook

Step #4 – Add your author name

This step in the blueprint of how to publish en eBook is pretty self-explanatory, but important to do nonetheless!

Fill in your author name. If you use a pen name you have to write this name in, and not your real name. The name you enter here is what will appear on your book’s page.

As for contributors, you can add the names of people who helped to create the book. This could be your book editor, foreword contributor, illustrator, cover designer, or narrator.

Add contributors

Related: Amazon Author Central: Optimize Your Amazon Author Page

Step #5: Write an eBook description

Your title and subtitle will grab your reader’s attention and drive curiosity. But it’s the book description that will seal the deal.

When self-publishing an eBook, you need a powerful book description in order for potential buyers to read what it’s about.

Here’s why your book description is important:

  1. It is a sales page crafted to capture the interest of your reader.
  2. Amazon’s A9 algorithm scans the book description for relevant keywords indexed by Amazon.
  3. It is the critical barrier for browsers to make a final decision on buying your book…or not.

A great book description means you’re likely to sell more books.

The book description should be informative yet easy-to-read, while it maps out the best benefits of the book and how it is going to solve a problem for the customer.

publishing an ebook

For more examples of great book descriptions, check out these books:

What is the best way to craft a magnetic book description? You can learn how to use HTML and insert it into your book description, or…

For the best results, we recommend using the Free Amazon Book Description generator at kindlepreneur.com

Amazon book description

With the book description generator tool, you simply paste your description into the box and, using the style and font size functions, make it look the way you want. Hit “Generate My Code” and you are done.

Copy your description from here and paste it into the book description box in your bookshelf. When the book goes live your description will look slick and professional.

Step #6: Verify your eBook publishing rights

As the author of the book, you hold the necessary publishing rights. There are only two choices here so take the first one, as seen below:

publishing rights

Your book is legally copyrighted as soon as it is written.

If you want to learn how to publish an eBook the right way, take the necessary steps to protect your intellectual property as a self-published author.

To scale up your legal rights and protect your material to the fullest extent, register your book with the Federal Copyright Office.

On the chance someone does attempt to pirate your book or portions of it, registering with the US Copyright Office will give you greater leverage if the chance happens it comes to action being taken.

The cost to copyright your book this approximately $55. After registration is clear, you will receive a letter of certification in the post direct from the Federal Copyright Office.

#5 – Choose keywords & categories

Keywords and categories are important for your eBooks success on Amazon’s platform, so don’t skip this step.

Step #1: Choose keywords

Keywords are the specific words that customers are plugging into the Amazon search bar to locate material relevant to their interests.

Understanding keywords and how they work is crucial when learning how to publish an eBook on Amazon.

You are allowed to insert 7 keywords for your book on Amazon.

For example, if you are looking for a book on writing children’s books, you could type in the keyword, “How to Write a Children’s Book” and here are the results you get:

self-publish ebook

Keywords should be specific to the content of your book. Long tail keywords generally do a better job of pointing customers to the exact kind of book they are searching for.

Use these tools to research relevant keyword phrases for your eBook:

  1. Publisher Rocket: This is an amazing tool for comparing Google search results to Amazon. It gives you a competitive score from 1-100, keyword results from both Google and Amazon, and how much money other books are making.
  2. MerchantWords: A massive buyer keyword database. Amazon Keyword Research Tool useful to rank your products at the top positions of Amazon’ searching results.
  3. Amazon’s Autofill Function: Amazon’s search box is very useful to find relevant keywords. Amazon’s suggestions are based on search history so you want to search for words that are high in demand with little competition.

Step #2: Choose eBook categories

There are over 20,000+ categories on Amazon, and finding the right one for your book is an important step as you learn how to publish your eBook on Amazon. With so many to choose from, where do you start?

Well, in your bookshelf, under the categories section, you can see this is all broken down from main categories into subcategories. From there, niche it down even further.

Amazon wants your book to be found so they have provided specific categories for your book to be positioned. But you can only select 2 browse categories from within the bookshelf. BUT…

You can choose ten book categories overall for your eBook.

When it comes to selecting your eBook’s categories, you want:

  1. Categories that are low to medium in competition
  2. Relevant to your niche
  3. Categories with good traffic

To rank as a bestseller on Amazon, you have to hit the #1 spot in at least one category.

In the previous step we mentioned the Publisher Rocket software for looking up relevant keywords. Now, for categories, this is the best approach that saves you loads of time. It takes the guesswork out of category selection.

To get approved for more Amazon book categories, you simply contact Amazon directly through the Contact Us tab. Send Amazon an email with a list of your additional categories and the team will insert your book into requested categories within hours.

how to publish an ebook on amazon

Step #3: Select an age range for your eBook readers

Apply age limitations if your eBook is targeting a specific age range.

You should use an age range for niche specific books such as:

  • Children’s books
  • Teens/Young Adult
  • Niche specific for generations (ex: Millennial)
  • Senior citizens (ex: retirement, life over 60)
age range

#6 – Select an eBook publishing date

The next step in how to self-publish an eBook on Amazon is to select your book release option.

You have two options for releasing your eBook on Amazon:

  1. Release it now: This means you are not doing pre-order but, by the time you are finished filling in all the book details, you will launch immediately. If this is not the case, click on the “save draft” option at the bottom of the page. You can publish your book at anytime after all these steps are completed.
  2. Make your book available for pre order: Here you can learn about Amazon’s pre order book release process. I would recommend this if you can drive traffic to your book before it is released. It is a good strategy for getting your book to start ranking before it is even live in the store.
book release

Now, select the option that’s right for you and keep going.

#7 – Upload your eBook files

The technical publishing process is almost complete! While entering all of the details for your eBook are tedious, it’s still easier than you might think!

Step #1: Choose an option for DRM

Before you upload your manuscript, check either “Yes” or “No” for whether or not you want your book to be protected under Digital Rights Management. But be careful, once the book is published this option is non-reversible

digital rights management

What is DRM for an eBook on Amazon?

But, while some authors opt to not share their content for free, this is not 100% guaranteed that your book won’t end up on Pirate Bay, or another file sharing website that uses torrents to offer free digital media.

If you want to be protected under DRM, click “Yes.” If not, click “No” and move on.

Step #2: Upload your eBook file

This is the step on how to self-publish an eBook on Amazon that you have been waiting for: Uploading your book!

To upload your manuscript, it first must be saved in a supported kindle format. If you had your book professionally formatted, your formatter should provide you with the correct book format for Kindle eBook, which is generally a mobi file or pre-formatted Word template.

The supported eBook formats accepted are listed below:

supported ebook formats

For formatting options you can hire a professional formatter through online platforms, such as Reedsy Marketplace.

For do-it-yourself options, Vellum is a recommended formatting tool. We also recommend the Book Design Templates at The Book Designer. Or, you can use Amazon’s very own Kindle Create for Mac or PC.

Now that your book is properly formatted, it is time to upload everything.

Here are the steps for how to upload your eBook to Amazon’s KDP:

  1. Click on the button “Upload eBook manuscript” from the second page of your shelf.
  2. Select your saved eBook file from your computer to upload it to your KDP bookshelf. This takes just under 2 minutes to complete.
  3. Amazon will run a quality check of all interior files. If there are any spelling errors, you’ll be notified and can correct anything that isn’t right before continuing.

Note: You can upload the manuscript as many times as you want and the new version will override the existing file.

Step #3: Upload your eBook cover file

By now you should have a great looking book cover that is going to persuade readers to buy your book without hesitation.

If not, here are sites you can use to have a professional cover made:

When it comes to publishing a bestselling book on Amazon, having a fantastic book cover design is one of the most important aspects to get right. You can have great content, but an amateur cover will turn potential readers away.

Now that you have a great cover, you can upload your files here.

#1 – Click “Upload your cover file.”

#2 – Select your cover file from your desktop to upload it.

upload your cover

Now that your manuscript and book cover is uploaded, you can now check the book files with…

Step #4: Use the Kindle eBook Launch Previewer

Before your book is published on Amazon and people are downloading your new book like crazy, wouldn’t you feel better knowing the formatting and pages were properly aligned, and the book is error free?

To check this, you will have to launch the previewer and review your eBook page per page.

kindle ebook preview

When you are sure the book is exactly the way you want it to be, then you can exit back to the book details and continue with…

Step #5: Insert the eBook ISBN

eBooks on Amazon are not required to have ISBNs, although you can set one up if you want. Paperbacks, or any form of physical book products, do require ISBNs.

What is an ISBN?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book number and is a 13-digit code used to uniquely identify your book. It’s an identification number which allows libraries, publishers, and book dealers to locate and identify specific books.

If you don’t buy an ISBN of your own, Amazon will provide one for you free of charge for paperbacks only.

Click to learn how to get an ISBN. If you are planning to publish multiple books, I would recommend you buy a block of 10 or 100 ISBNs.

If you are printing hardcover books as well through a company such as IngramSpark or BookBaby, you do need a separate ISBN for the hardcover edition.

isbn for ebook

Step #6: Decide on KDP Select

You can opt to enroll in Amazon’s exclusivity program KDP Select. There are a few benefits to mention here by enrolling. There are a few disadvantages to the program too.

Related: Kindle Unlimited Review & Guide For Authors

The pros of using Kindle Select for your eBook:

There are some advantages to joining Kindle select, which we’ll cover more of below.

  1. Kindle Storyteller contest. The Kindle Storyteller Award 2019 is a £20,000 literary prize recognizing outstanding writing. It is open to writers publishing in English in any genre, who publish their work through Kindle Direct Publishing.
  2. Promote your book on Amazon. There are two options for promoting your book for free on Amazon: Free book promotion and the Kindle Countdown Deal.
  3. Earn royalties from the KDP Select Global Fund. When you enroll in KDP Select your book will automatically be included in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library where you’ll earn a share of the KDP Select Global Fund when customers read your books.
  4. Be part of the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) program and earn royalties for the number/volume of pages read.

The cons of using Kindle Select for your eBook:

There are some solid reasons to join the KDP Select program. There are a few cons as well.

Here are the reasons KDP Select is not for you:

  1. Prohibits you from going wide with your book.
  2. You cannot offer more than 10% of your book’s content anywhere, including your own website or blog.
  3. Amazon frequently makes changes to the platform that affects book sales and performance.
  4. Readers who use retailers other than Amazon [Apple Books, Kobo] will not be able to buy your eBook.
  5. KU [Kindle Unlimited] library is a haven for people to rip off material and package it up someplace else.

Step #7: Verify eBook publishing territories

Select all territories if you hold the worldwide rights for the book. If you only have rights to distribute the work in select areas, you may set those here instead.

Unless there are restrictions on book distribution depending on your location, you can opt in for “All Territories” (Worldwide Rights).

Your book will appear on most Amazon websites [limitations do apply depending on the region]

#8 – Publish your eBook to Amazon

You’re in the home stretch! While we’ve covered a ton of information, it’s all valuable content for you to know so that you can make an informed decision.

There are a few more steps to finish, then you will officially be a published author!

Step #1: Price your eBook and royalty options

A common question often asked is: “How much should my book be after the launch is over?”

This is always up to the author.  But to help you decide, there are two royalty options for your book: 35% and 70%. If your book is below $2.99, you must choose 35%. Between $2.99 and $9.99, you are paid 70% of the sale of your eBook. So, ideally you want your book priced within this range.

The royalty payments do vary depending on the country, but you can learn more here: KDP Select pricing page.

Choose the Royalty option that best suits you. Generally, the 70% royalty option is the better choice, because it pays the most and has many benefits for getting royalties during sales and promotions.

Related: Book Royalties Calculator

The 35% royalty option may be best if your goal is to build your mail list faster. Ideally the cheaper book will sell and could be used as a strategy to sell more books.

If you want to earn strong passive income from book sales alone, the 70% option makes more sense.

As a suggestion, if you are just starting out you may want to price your book between $2.99 and $4.99. As your platform grows, consider raising the price to $5.99, $6.99 and eventually $7.99.

Checkout the Digital Pricing Page for a breakdown of royalty options.

Digital Delivery Cost: It’s worth noting Amazon does charge a delivery fee that varies on book size. As stated, refer to the Pricing Page for a breakdown of these deliver fees.

Step #2 – Publish your eBook to Amazon

In this step, we’ll cover the final parts of this blueprint on how to publish an eBook on Amazon.

Here are some terms for you to know:

  • The Matchbook program: This allows customers to purchase your digital eBook at a discounted offer of $1.99, 0.99 or free, when they buy your print book.
  • Kindle Book Lending: Allows people who have purchased your eBook to lend a copy to someone else to read, only after a short waiting period. This program also pays royalties to you when the book is lent out, and read, similar to the Kindle Unlimited program.
  • Terms and Conditions: You can find the most current version of Amazon’s Terms and Conditions here.
how to self publish an ebook

Now, publish your eBook. If you are ready, let’s do it! Hit publish and your Kindle eBook will be live within 24 hours.

#9 – Create a promotional plan to sell your eBook

You’ve learned how to publish an eBook…what’s next? It’s time to get your eBook onto the devices of as many readers as possible, so you need to launch that book!

Do you know what you need to have a successful launch? 

Download your FREE Book Launch Checklist here!

To that, you need to create a promotional strategy for your eBook, which includes various marketing strategies, such as advertisements on promo sites like BookBub.

Make sure you have a book marketing plan and launch this book like a pro. You want your book to have a long life in the Amazon store. The best start to this begins with marketing your book before you publish it.

This means you could sign up for one of the best self-publishing courses and start working with the top-rated self-publishing companies to navigate through the process with support.

Now is your time…stick to commit to your eBook writing goals, you are dreaming about, publish it on Amazon, and get your book into the hands of modern readers around the world!

What other questions do you have about how to self-publish an eBook?

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Scott Allan

Scott Allan is a bestselling author who has a passion for teaching, building life skills, and inspiring others to take charge of their lives. Scott’s mission is to give people the strategies needed to design the life they want through choice.