Amazon self-publishing is on the rise. With it being the #1 retailer for books worldwide, that makes sense.
But if you wind up making some errors in publishing on Amazon…let’s just say your results as an author will be less than satisfactory.
After all, the self-publishing industry is pretty sensitive to those making mistakes.
You no longer need to go through painstaking efforts to land a book deal which locks you into unrealistic deadlines and cuts you out of most of the earnings.
You can now have complete control of your book – and its revenues – by Amazon self-publishing.
But many writers get overwhelmed by the abundance of information about self-publishing. It can be intimidating for first-time publishers. We get it – we were just like you!
So to ease some anxiety and uncertainty, we created this step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide for you to follow in order to get your book published on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Network.
Here is your full guide to self-publishing a book on Amazon:
- Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing Account
- Crafting Your Book Title & Subtitle
- Writing Your Book Description
- Choosing the Right Keywords
- Selecting the Right Categories
- Uploading Your Manuscript
- Creating a Book Cover
- Pricing Your Book
Let’s get started!
Amazon Self-Publishing & Why it’s the Best Option
Traditional publishing is on the way out. This has been the reality for some time now and for good reason.
While traditional publishing had its time and was once the only option for publishing a book, the system in place right now is one made for the next Stephen King – not for those who have value to share with the world.
Why Amazon Self-Publishing is the Best Option
Though traditional publishing is still a viable option for some, Amazon self-publishing is the best option and here’s why:
- Over 70% of books are sold on Amazon
- 310 million book buyers through Amazon last year
- Those buyers accounted for over $178 billion in sales
- It’s easier and faster with Amazon self-publishing
And you should too.
[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ published books? Check out the SPS library here!]
What is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)?
Throughout this guide, you’ll read the term Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. It might sound self-explanatory but we’ll cover some basics.
This is an Amazon self-publishing platform that allows you to create and manage your Kindle eBook, paperback, and even audiobooks in a single place. It’s widely used to build books from the ground up.
And fortunately, setting up your KDP account is easy, and should be the first step you complete.
Your Guide for Amazon Self-Publishing
Sure, anyone can technically self-publish on Amazon, but that doesn’t mean it will do well and actually sell. You have to know the specifics, from setting up your KDP account to the pricing of your Kindle eBook.
#1 – Create a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account
Before you can get started with Amazon publishing, you first have to have an account set up with them.
Here’s how to set up your Kindle Direct Publishing account:
- Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register with either your Amazon account or with your email address.
- Next, click “Update” in your account information and fill in your tax information. It’s important to note that you need to complete your tax information BEFORE you can publish your first book. So don’t skip this step!
- Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
- Your profile is complete!
With your KDP account setup, proceed to
#2 – Choose a Book Title and Subtitle
In your Kindle Direct Publishing profile, you need to fill in the title and subtitle of your book. While a subtitle is optional, having a good subtitle is something you should definitely consider to bring in more views and create stronger intrigue and help people find your book when searching.
Here are a couple tips to crafting a great book title:
- Use a Book Hook: Your book hook should speak to the reader in a unique voice that grabs their attention and feeds into what they are looking for.
- List the Benefits: Your potential readers want to know what they will get from reading your book. One technique is to deliver the benefits in the subtitle, providing enough tantalizing information to further attract readers.
Think about what you would be attracted to in a book title. Keep it simple, clear, and unique. Research the title you want to use and make sure it hasn’t been scooped up by a high-performing book already.
You don’t want to make competition for yourself.
#3 – Write Your Book Description for Amazon
You need a powerful book description in order for potential buyers to read what it’s about. Even though the cover and subtitle should do a great job of this, we all want more information when it comes to putting money toward something.
Here’s what people notice first when seeing a new book:
- Book Description
A description is essentially a short written narrative that illustrates what your book is about. It should be written like a sales page to capture the interest of your reader.
This is crucial because the description, in many cases, is the final factor that determines whether the reader will read your book or not. That, and great Amazon reviews.
When done correctly, a well-written book description can practically sell a book on its own.
Here are some strategies to help craft your perfect description:
- Make your first sentence as enticing as possible
- Write your description like a sales page or advertisement, not a dry summary of your book
- Have the description feel personal and empathetic
- Detail the benefits your reader will gain by reading your book
Here’s a great example of a full book description on Amazon:
You can find more amazing description examples with these books:
- Champion Mindset: Tactics to Maximize Potential, Execute Effectively, & Perform at Your Peak – Knockout Mediocrity! By Patrick King
- Novice to Expert: 6 Steps to Learn Anything, Increase Your Knowledge, and Master New Skills by S.J. Scott
Spend some time crafting your eye-catching book description. It will make your book stand out to your readers and motivate them to purchase your book.
#4 – Choose Your Amazon Keywords
If you want your book to show up in Amazon and Google search engines, you’ll need the right mix of keywords. Since Amazon allows only seven keywords per book, keyword selection requires strategy.
But what are keywords exactly?
Keywords are specific words or phrases used to describe your book. If someone was looking for a book on your topic, they might type one of those keywords into Amazon or Google in order to find it.
For example, if your book is about perseverance, you might find keywords like this useful:
- how to have perseverance
- what is perseverance
- perseverance examples
- persevering when it’s hard
These are all phrases or words people looking to better themselves with perseverance would type into search engines in order to find what they’re looking for, like in the image below.
You can research the right keyword phrases by using search tools such as:
- Publisher Rocket: This is a great tool for comparing Google search results to Amazon. It gives you a competitive score from 1-99, keyword results from both Google and Amazon, and how much money other books are making. You can check out this Publisher Rocket Review.
- KW Finder: This tool gives an analytical view of the keyword popularity using a competitive ranking. You can search for five keywords for free per day.
- Amazon’s Autofill Function: Take advantage of Amazon’s search box to find good keywords. Amazon’s suggestions are based on search history so you want to search for words that are high in demand with little competition.
Make a list of possible keywords for your book, then leverage the tools above to test your keywords. Putting in the time to get keywords right will have your book rank higher and appear more frequently to readers.
#5 – Select Your Amazon Categories
Amazon provides a collection of categories and subcategories to choose from. Like keyword selecting, your goal is to look for trending areas that don’t have tons of competition.
If you visit your book page, these categories will appear partway down the page, displaying the rank like in the image example below.
These categories are what you will rank as a bestseller in, which is why you want to make sure you pick fitting categories that are specific, but also not super competitive. You want to stand out.
You can also check the rankings of the top three books on the first page of each category.
Amazon sales ranking measures how well a product is selling compared to its competitors. All books that are ranked 2,000 or less are considered to be highly purchased products in that particular category.
Here are a few tips when publishing on Amazon in order to rank in more categories:
- Research your competitors’ keywords
- Choose trending categories with lower competition
- Acquire additional categories by contacting Amazon and asking for keyword placement
Unless you have an established audience with significant downloads and reviews, try to aim for categories with books that rank between 10,000-30,000.
Do you want to know how to rank for ten categories? Check out our blog post that details how to get approved for more categories on Amazon.
#6 – Upload Your Manuscript to Amazon
To upload your manuscript, it first must be saved in a supported kindle format.
Here’s how to upload your book to Amazon:
- In your Kindle Direct Publishing account, go to “Your Bookshelf”.
- Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions” next to the title of your book.
- Locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
- Click on “Upload eBook manuscript”.
- Upload your manuscript file on your computer.
- Upload complete!
Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors.
You can upload the manuscript as many times as you want and the new version will override the existing.
It’s important to check how your book looks using the “Look Inside” feature once the book is live on Amazon. This feature is often the first thing your prospective readers will click on when checking out your book.
If the formatting is off here, it can deter readers from picking up your book. Take this extra step to make sure your formatting looks good here too or consider hiring a professional ebook formatter to ensure it looks good.
#7 – Create Your Book Cover
When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon, having a perfect book cover design is one of the most important aspects to get right. Contrary to what we were told growing up, people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. It’s actually one of the biggest deterrents.
Your cover is exactly how your book will be judged at first glance.
So you must make sure that it is created professionally and that it will stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category.
You can find cover creators on freelancing sites such as:
Prices will depend on the level of service, but these sites will give you plenty of amazing graphic designers to choose from! It’s a great investment that will make your book stand out perfectly.
If you’re a Self-Publishing School student, we will actually provide a list of qualified, trusted book cover designers you can work with in order to get a worthy cover.
Make sure to do your research regarding what type of book cover does best in your genre. Fantasy books, for example, will be a lot different than a memoir or even a historical fiction.
#8 – Price Your Book
A question often asked is: “How much should I be pricing my book at after the initial launch is over?”
This is up to the author, but generally, the best range to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $9.99.
The royalty payments vary depending on the country, but you can learn more on KDP Select pricing page.
One popular strategy for beginners is to price your book at $2.99 and gradually increase it by $1 per week. At some point, your sales will begin to dip. And while that’s normally a negative statistic, for this case, it confidently tells you the perfect price of your book that guarantees a profit.
Here are the 4 main pricing strategies to consider in order to be competitive and sell books:
- Know the price of your competitors. Compare the list price of your book to the books around you and determine if you would be able to sell your book for a higher price.
- Know the size of your followers. Famous authors can charge a lot for their books because they have a big following. If you’re not in this category, your book should be priced lower to encourage new readers to buy your work.
- Determine price based on the size of your book. Size does matter when it comes to books. Don’t charge $20 for a 75-page book. Customers will immediately be turned off with the lack of content at that price point.
- Measure price based on reviews. Reviews carry a big weight on influence, and is social proof that your book has been read and well received. Therefore, a book with more reviews (1000+ reviews) can be priced higher compared to a book with fewer reviews (30+ reviews).
You can get legitimate and honest reviews from:
- Your personal launch team
- Amazon’s top reviewers
- Fans of your social media page
- Personal email list
- Adding a note to leave a review in your book
Experiment with these strategies to pinpoint the price for your book, it will drive long-term success.