Everything You Need To Know About Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

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January 23, 2023
person holding kindle e book reader

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.

An example of a product detail page for a book published through Kindle Direct Publishing.
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
  • 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.

Self-Publishing on Amazon Pros and Cons

When weighing the self-publishing on Amazon pros and cons, it’s essential to consider where you’re at with your writing career.

For established authors, the fees incurred by a publishing house may be worth the trouble. After all, these publishing houses offer services such as editing and promotion to help the quality and visibility of the work. Also, publishing houses often offer an advance payment to the author upon completion if the work is likely to earn significant fanfare.

However, this is such a small group that it likely isn’t the case for many with a story to tell.

KDP democratizes authorship by offering to self-publish with zero upfront fees. The speed of publishing (often less than 5 minutes) through KDP is a modern miracle. Additionally, self-publishing on Amazon ensures your book can be promoted and displayed in the Kindle Store. With estimates often ranging around 20 million or so active Kindle readers, this massive audience is alluring for upstart authors.

In short, the pros of KDP are more beneficial for lesser-known authors. The option of publishing work in the first place, visibility from a massive worldwide audience, zero upfront fees, full content ownership, and royalties based on success make it appealing for aspiring authors to get their writing careers off the ground. On top of the digital versions, you can wholesale paperback versions, although you’ll have to pay for the printing cost of each book.

A con for KDP would be the lack of editing and graphic design. If you’ve read books on Kindle and noticed misspellings, poor grammar, imperfect punctuation, or a general lack of professionalism, the lack of editing or approval process can likely be attributed to this. Long-term revenue sharing can also be a drawback, although that’s often a concern with traditional publishing.

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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