A graphic with an Amazon Kindle on it with a text overlay that says Amazon everything you need to know about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Everything You Need To Know About Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

April 16, 2024
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A graphic with an Amazon Kindle on it with a text overlay that says Amazon everything you need to know about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Making money through writing has never been easier or as accessible thanks to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing!

Do you have a passion for writing that’s gone unfulfilled due to the logistics and concerns with publishing your work? Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing may be your saving grace!

Like how Amazon’s FBA program streamlined the opportunity to create your own full-scale online business, Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, works similarly for creators to publish and own their own work without many of the roadblocks associated with traditional publishing houses.

Does this money-making opportunity sound like it might be for you? Let’s dive in deeper to learn the ins and outs of KDP.

What is Kindle Direct Publishing?

Kindle Direct Publishing is a program that allows anyone the option to self-publish eBooks, paperbacks, and hardcover books for free.

This gives anyone direct access to publish on Amazon, including a product detail page for your book and options to expand your book’s availability globally.

A product detail page for a KDP-published book.
A product detail page for a KDP-published book.

What type of content can be published using KDP?

According to Amazon’s KDP Help page, the following content types typically published using KDP include but are not limited to the following:

  • Book Series
  • Children’s Books
  • Comics
  • Cookbooks
  • Journals & Planners
  • Novels
  • Poetry
  • Textbooks

Magazines, periodicals, calendars and spiral-bound books are prohibited regarding KDP. If you have questions about whether or not a content type would be allowed, you should contact KDP to clarify the subject.

How much does Amazon self-publishing cost?

Publishing through KDP is absolutely free!

In contrast, traditional publishing in the United States typically ranges from $500 to $5,000! Much of these fees go towards editing, book design services and marketing. Through KDP, these costly elements are thrown to the wayside.

While there’s no fee to publish, Amazon does receive a cut of the revenue created with your content.

How do authors get paid with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing?

Authors receive royalties that are dependent on the type of royalty plan selected. There are two royalty rates: 35% and 70%. Before you do the mental math and choose 70% because you receive a larger cut, you should know there are stipulations to qualify for the 70% royalty plan.

A side-by-side comparison of the 35% royalty option and 70% royalty option.
The stipulations for each of the two royalty plans.

As for getting paid, authors just need to verify their identity and include their banking information to receive their monthly royalties.

As for how much do self-published authors make on Amazon? It depends!

At the most basic level, the KDP structure rewards success. If you write the next smash, you can earn royalties well over $1,000 monthly. Most authors earn anywhere from $0 to $500 monthly for their work, which is completely up to the popularity of the created content.

While extremely rare, it can also be rewarding to own the rights to your work, an option that isn’t always the case when submitting work to a publishing house. For example, author E.L. James wrote the best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey and actually self-published using KDP.

On top of the revenue generated by its popularity, James sold the rights for what would eventually become a trilogy of movies for $5 million while maintaining some control over the making of the films. Of course, the chances your book becomes a New York Times bestseller and multi-million dollar movie franchise are slim, but it’s equal parts security and motivation to know what the ceiling can be financially if your work succeeds.

Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing on Amazon

Choosing the right publishing path is pivotal for any author. While traditional publishing offers valuable services like editing, promotion, and potential advances, it may not suit everyone—especially emerging writers.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a platform that democratizes publishing with zero upfront fees and a swift process. It often takes less than five minutes to publish a book. KDP places your work in the Kindle Store, exposing it to millions and granting full control over your publishing journey, from setting prices to managing sales. This autonomy is particularly appealing for those looking to quickly launch their writing careers.

KDP isn’t without some drawbacks. It lacks professional editing and graphic design services and that could potentially affect the quality of your work. Also, the responsibility for marketing and sales lies heavily on the author.

Below is a detailed table comparing the pros and cons of self-publishing on Amazon to help you decide if this route aligns with your career goals. Whether you’re a novice or seasoned writer, it’s important to understand these aspects to ensure your success.

AspectPros of Self-Publishing on Amazon KDPCons of Self-Publishing on Amazon KDP
Fees and CostsZero upfront fees to publish on KDP.Costs incurred for printing paperback versions (if applicable).
Publishing SpeedExtremely fast publishing process, often less than 5 minutes to go live.Not applicable.
Audience ReachAccess to a massive worldwide audience with an estimated 20 million active Kindle readers.Not applicable.
Services ProvidedFull content ownership and the ability to promote and display books in the Kindle Store. Offers the option to wholesale paperback versions.Lack of professional editing and graphic design services, which can result in spelling errors, poor grammar, and a lack of overall professionalism in the published work.
Revenue and RoyaltiesAuthors retain a significant portion of the royalties based on book sales, providing potentially lucrative income based on the success of their work.Long-term revenue sharing which might be less favorable compared to some traditional publishing contracts (though this can vary widely).
Professional ServicesAllows authors to maintain full control over their content, which can be appealing to those who prefer creative freedom.Absence of the supportive services such as editing, promotion, and other professional services typically provided by traditional publishing houses.
VisibilityEnhanced visibility due to the vast reach of Amazon and its targeted promotional strategies within the Kindle ecosystem.Competition can be intense given the high volume of books and ease of entry, making it hard for individual books to stand out without additional marketing efforts.

How to sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing

Signing up for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is a very simple and straightforward process. And once you’ve signed up, you’re virtually 5 minutes away from being able to publish your work.

  1. Select the “Sign Up” button on the Kindle Direct Publishing main page.
  2. Agree to the KDP Terms and Conditions
  3. Fill in the basic information necessary for your profile, payment information, and tax information

Once you’ve completed these steps, you can start publishing your work! The upload process is also quite simple, as Amazon requests information about your work to be visible in the Kindle store and grouped properly to be discovered by readers. In this procedure, you’ll include details about your eBook, content such as a book cover design, and set pricing.

After submitting all this information, your work is ready to be published. Congratulations! You can now update your resume with the accurate claim that you’re a published author.

Your work will be included in the Kindle Store, and you can share your work on social media or advertise with options like KDP Select to boost the visibility of your content.

For more about KDP, check out our post from an author who shared his journey of Amazon self-publishing.

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