It's impossible to deny that the rise of Kindle self-publishing has changed the world of books forever.
The first Kindle e-reader device launched back in 2007. Amazon fully sold out within 6 hours and took almost half a year to offer it for sale again. Readers instantly fell in love with the ability to carry around a large selection of books wherever they went.
To satisfy this new demand for ebooks, Amazon launched Kindle Direct Publishing alongside the physical Kindle device. It smashed the boundaries that authors used to face when trying to release their book into the world. There had never been an easier way to become an author.
But is Kindle self-publishing still worth it? Or should you look for another place to publish your book?
Here's everything you need to decide!
This guide to Kindle Self-Publishing covers:
- How to publish an ebook on Kindle
- How to publish a paperback on Kindle
- How does Amazon Kindle pay authors?
- Why should you self-publish on Kindle?
- Why should you publish elsewhere?
- Bonus Kindle self-publishing resources
- Action steps to get started
Kindle Self Publishing – The Basics
So what are the basics you need to know about self-publishing on Kindle?
The platform offered by Amazon is called KDP, standing for Kindle Direct Publishing. It's named that way as it allows you to directly release a book onto the Amazon store without the need for gatekeepers or middlemen.
The process of uploading a book to KDP couldn't be easier. If you're reading this now, you're capable of doing it. This is part of the reason why there are so many unusual and obscure book categories on Amazon. Anyone is allowed to publish almost anything.
How do you publish an ebook on Kindle?
To publish an ebook on Kindle, simply follow these simple steps.
- Have a finalized manuscript and book cover that you are happy to use for the final version of your book.
- Carefully check Amazon's rules on content and quality to make sure your book complies. Don't skip this step as it will slow things down and cause disruption later.
- Sign in to Amazon using your existing account or make a brand new one. Standard Amazon accounts work with KDP, so there's no need to make a separate account for publishing.
- Ensure the browser app you are using is up to date as older browsers tend to crash during the upload and publication process.
- Head to the KDP bookshelf section of your Amazon account. Choose ‘create a new title' and select +Kindle eBook.
- Input your book title, description, keywords, and categories.
- Upload your book manuscript and book cover, using Amazon's preview service to make sure everything looks the way you intended.
- When everything is good to go, hit ‘publish your Kindle eBook' to start the countdown until your book is live and available for sale.
The interface for uploading and publishing your eBook is simple and easy to understand, making it a painless process to get your book up for sale.
How do you publish a paperback on Kindle?
To publish a paperback on Kindle, simply follow the same steps as above for an ebook. The only difference is during step 5, instead of selecting +Kindle eBook, select +Paperback instead. Also, during step 6, you can choose the options you want for your paperback book in terms of paper type etc. and order a proof copy of your Kindle paperback.
You also have the option of creating a Kindle paperback from a Kindle ebook. When you go to +Paperback, simply use the details of one of your existing ebooks and modify them as needed.
How long does it take to publish a book on Kindle?
After you've finished the publication process, your book will be live on the Kindle store within 72 hours. Linking a paperback to an ebook takes between 48 hours and a week.
Which countries have a Kindle store?
As of 2023, 18 Amazon stores are serving the globe. Readers with a Kindle device can change their Kindle store location without the need to create a new Amazon account. This allows them to access books available in other parts of the world.
Amazon has dedicated stores in:
- United Arab Emirates
Isn't it exciting to imagine all the readers you could reach across these markets?
Is it free to publish a book on Kindle?
Yes, it is free to publish on Kindle. Authors do not pay to either set up their account or release a book. The only time that Amazon gets paid is when a book is sold. Then, authors receive a royalty, depending on their book price, and Amazon receives the rest.
How does Amazon Kindle pay authors?
Royalties you make from selling Kindle ebooks and paperbacks through KDP Print are paid at the end of each month. You get paid roughly 60 days after the end of the month in which your royalties were earned. Say, for example, you generate $2000 of royalties in June. You would receive a payout for this amount at the end of August.
There are three payment methods you can use to get paid from Amazon publishing, depending on your location:
- Direct deposit
- Wire transfer
The minimum threshold you need to earn for a payout is $100 for Amazon.com. The rough equivalent applies to stores using other currencies, for example, £100 is the minimum for the UK store.
Why should you self-publish on Kindle?
So now that you know you certainly can publish a book on Amazon, it's time to consider whether you should.
In a word, yes! If you're looking for self-publishing success, there's absolutely no reason not to make Amazon a part of your plan.
The real question is how important will Amazon be to your overall publishing plan? There are various levels of participation with Kindle Direct Publishing and its associated programs, which we'll explain later.
For now, check out our five top reasons why your book absolutely deserves to be sold on the Kindle store:
- Amazon dominates the world of ebooks. It's no surprise that Amazon is the largest player in the ebook space. It's a true example of the Pareto principle in action, with around 80% of all US ebook sales taking place on Amazon and 20% elsewhere.
- The Kindle Store is a diverse place. We're more conscious than ever before of the fact that traditional publishing tends to be dominated by people with privilege and connections. However, the Kindle Store is equally accessible to people of any race, religion, gender, or sexuality. It's a great place to read diverse writing that you might not otherwise discover.
- You can easily sell your work in different formats. Are you interested in offering your book in various formats, like audiobook and paperback options? Amazon has integrated its audiobook service, ACX, and its print on demand option, KDP Print, directly into the Kindle store. It's a breeze to offer your book in a range of formats to suit every preference, and there's great content out there to teach you how to get started on audiobooks.
- Amazon has powerful free and paid marketing options. Book marketing is a major challenge for many authors. When you opt to publish on Amazon, you can easily take advantage of their free and paid ways of getting your book in front of readers. You can invest in Amazon advertising or use the various promotional programs on offer.
- Author Central boosts your platform. Every author publishing on Amazon has the option to create an Author Central profile. This is a hub where you can let readers know more about you as an author, offer all your books in one place, and also link other elements of your author platform, such as your blog.
What special programs does Amazon offer self-published authors?
One of the major attractions of Kindle for indie authors is the special programs on offer.
If you self-publish on Kindle, you can become a participant in:
- KDP Select. By offering your eBook exclusively on Amazon for 90 day periods, you can benefit from their special programs such as Kindle Unlimited.
- Kindle Unlimited. If you participate in Kindle Unlimited, readers have the option to check out your book for free and you get paid for every page they read.
- Kindle Countdown Deals. Offer your book at a promotional price for a limited period of time, alongside a countdown clock to drive urgency. You still receive your chosen royalty rate even if the sale price is different from normal.
- Kindle Lending Library. If you choose this option you allow people to lend your book to a limited number of their friends and family.
- Amazon Literary Contests. Amazon runs a range of different literary contests each year that are directly supported by KDP.
Ultimately, there are too many good things about Kindle Self Publishing to ignore it. It's free and has a huge potential upside.
Why should you publish elsewhere?
Of course, nothing is perfect, and that's certainly the case with self-publishing on Kindle. There are things about it that authors find frustrating.
Although we feel the pros of Kindle self-publishing strongly outweigh the cons, you shouldn't ignore them.
- Ethical objections. Let's face it. While it may be incredibly convenient to use, there are ethical issues that some people have with Amazon. If you have serious problems with the ways Amazon does business, think carefully about how far you want to support them.
- Problems with reviews. The media have paid a lot of attention over the years to issues that crop up with Amazon's reviews system. There are fake reviews, both positive and negative, that often manage to stay one step ahead of Amazon's attempts to shut them down. There's also the opposite issue where the company gets heavy-handed and deletes what authors feel to be valid reviews.
- Exclusivity tradeoff. I f you want to opt into programs like KDP Select, you will not be able to sell your book elsewhere. You need to weigh up the benefits of being exclusive on Amazon VS featuring your book in other stores.
- Diversify your income. If you put all your eggs in the Amazon basket, you run the risk of a big drop in income should things take a downturn. By being featured in multiple stores, you protect against losing almost all your income should something go wrong on Amazon.
Just to reiterate, we feel that every author should be on Amazon to some extent unless you have very strong ethical objections to the company. The only question is whether you should be exclusive to them or not. That's a choice only you can make after weighing up the pros and cons.
Bonus resources for better Kindle Self-Publishing
You now know all the basic practicalities of self-publishing on Kindle as well as the major pros and cons to help evaluate if it's the right choice for you.
If you're ready to go further, we have plenty of more detailed resources to help you succeed.
Check out our free resources for:
- Kindle Direct Publishing. An in-depth guide to Kindle Direct Publishing. Contains a large section on how to convert your Word manuscript into a Kindle-ready file.
- Kindle Unlimited. Our full review of the Kindle Unlimited program to help you decide if it's the right option for your book.
- eBook Publishing. Bestselling author Scott Allan shares a detailed, step by step approach to ebook publication.
- Amazon Author Central. A complete guide to setting up and making the most of your Author Central page.
- Box Set Creation. How to create a series box set or bundle on Amazon.
With this overview of how to publish on Kindle and those in-depth guides, you have all the information you need to give your book the best possible chance of success.
Action steps to get started
If you're still reading, you're probably ready to take action! Great. Here are some practical steps you can use to get some initial momentum going.
- Decide where you are at. Do you have a book that's ready to upload to Kindle? Do you need to work further to get your manuscript ready? Figure out a plan for how to get to the point you have both a cover and a manuscript you feel is worthy of publication.
- Get familiar with Kindle Direct Publishing. If it's your first time publishing on Amazon, you've probably never seen the KDP backend before. Log in and get familiar with what it looks like and how it works.
- Plan your publishing timeline. When are you looking to publish? How will you plan your launch? You should approach publishing intentionally and strategically. It's not something you should jump straight into or you won't get the best results.
- Fill any knowledge gaps. If there's something you feel you need to learn, read up further, or invest in a full course. But don't keep studying forever. The best results come from firsthand experience!
For fiction and nonfiction authors alike, publishing on Kindle is a valuable opportunity that shouldn't be overlooked. The royalty rates are great, it's easy to do, and you can go beyond books by offering your work in other formats and linking to your wider author platform.
If you have any tips for Kindle publishing, let us know in the comments! Do you see more pros or cons? Feel free to share your take.