You’ve just finished writing a book and now you want to self publish your soon-to-be-bestseller on Amazon. But wait…after doing some research into self publishing, you have come up against a wall. It seems there are a lot of steps involved before you can publish your book. Maybe you’ve just come across a checklist titled “99 Steps for publishing your book” and you don’t know where to begin. You thought writing your book was the hard part, but now?
We know how you feel. Publishing your own book the INDIE way is a lot of work. There are many steps to the process that stretch beyond just the writing phase that you hadn’t considered. That’s okay. We have your back here.
In this post you are going to learn the definitive method for self publishing your book on Amazon. Let’s assume that you have successfully written your book, it has been professionally edited and formatted, you have a professional cover, and now, you are ready to follow through with hitting that orange publish button on Amazon.
Here are the definitive steps you should take for self publishing on Amazon.
It begins with…
Setting Up Your KDP Dashboard
Amazon has a platform for creating and managing your Kindle eBook, paperback and audio books. In the KDP Dashboard you are going to build your book from the ground up. The first step to publishing on Amazon is to set up your dashboard. Setting up your KDP account is easy.
Simple Steps to Setting Up Your KDP Account
1. Go to the Take Control With Self Publishing page and sign in with your Amazon password.
2. In the Publish To Kindle box click get started.
3. Sign in with your Amazon account
4. This directs you to the KDP main page. Under Create a New Title click Kindle eBook
5. You’re in! This is the first of three pages for setting up your book on Amazon.
Under the heading Kindle eBook Details, set up your book by providing the following information.
In your KDP, you will fill in the title and subtitle of your book. The subtitle is listed as optional but, if you are writing nonfiction, having a good subtitle is something you should definitely consider.
You need a great title and subtitle to grab the reader’s attention. A book title should be:
- Results Driven: What will it do for the reader?
Some examples of great titles are:
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich
Think and Grow Rich
The Productive Person: A how-to guide book filled with productivity hacks & daily schedules for entrepreneurs, students or anyone struggling with work-life balance
Here are a few tips to crafting a great book title:
Use a book hook: This is what gets book browsers to stop and think twice about picking up a book. Your book hook should speak to the reader in a unique voice that grabs their attention. If not, they’ll browse on to the next book, looking for that special title that feeds into what they are looking for.
Include keywords: You want your book to show up in the search engines, right? For that, you’ll need the right mix of keywords that target your book. You can check the SEO ranking and popularity of your keywords with the KDP Rocket.
Give the Benefits: Your potential readers want to know what they are getting out of the book that has just grabbed their attention. So tell them. Don’t hold back. The trick is to deliver the benefits in a subtitle that is not overly long [under 15 words] but provides enough tantalizing information that it gets browsers to “flip” to the description. In an eBook this is the book description found on the book sales page. For a paperback, browsers turn the book over to read the back cover copy.
Your book description is posted in the KDP dashboard and not your Amazon author page. But when you do this, you want your book description to sell your book. There should be no doubt that your book is the one they need to read.
Creating your description
When creating a book description, you want it to appear as a professional sales page. To do this, it’s recommended you use some basic HTML coding to give your text an appealing look. For example, bold the words you want to pop out, use italics, or create larger text for the call to action blurbs such as “Scroll up now and hit the buy button.”
You can check out the HTML tags here Allowed HTML Tags and CSS Attributes.
But I’ll give you a shortcut for putting together a book description that eliminates the need for learning the HTML lingo. Check out the Book Description Generator on Kindlepreneur.com. You just type in the text, format as you like with the tools, and it will generate the HTML coding for you. Done.
Check out the book descriptions on these books to see how it’s done:
Champion Mindset: Tactics to Maximize Potential, Execute Effectively, & Perform at Your Peak – Knockout Mediocrity!
Novice to Expert: 6 Steps to Learn Anything, Increase Your Knowledge, and Master New Skills
Your book description needs to target the benefits and end with a call to action. You want your browsers to do something, such as clicking on that buy button and reading your book.
Amazon allows only seven keywords to be used per book. Selecting the best keywords for your book is critical to being discovered both on Amazon and Google.
You can research the right keyword phrases by using keyword search tools such as:
KDP Rocket: This is a great tool for comparing Google search results to Amazon. It gives you a competitive score from 1-99, gives you a number of how many people type the keyword into both Google and Amazon, and how much money other books are making.
KW Finder: Gives an analytical view of the keyword popularity using a competitive ranking. This is free for only five keyword searches a day.
Amazon’s Autofill Function: Take advantage of Amazon’s search box to find good keywords. First, log out of Amazon and plug in your keywords using incognito mode [thanks to Dave Chesson for this suggestion]. Amazon’s suggestions are based on search history so you want to search for words that are high in demand but have little competition. This is the fine balance that can narrow in on the keywords specific to your book that positions your title in the view of book browsers.
With the right keywords you can also open up specific secret categories. By adding keywords to your title and subtitle will also increase search results for your book.
Make a list of possible keywords for your book and then, begin the strategies process of testing your keywords with the keyword search and test tools mentioned. This requires an investment in time but it is definitely worth it.
Choose Two Browsing Categories
As we see by checking the category selections in the dashboard, Amazon provides a branch of categories and subcategories to choose from. You can select two categories from within the dashboard, but actually, it is possible to have up to ten categories in total.
In selecting categories, you want to look for those areas that are popular but, without tons of competition making it impossible to rank. You can browse the genres of books like yours and check the rankings of the top three books on the first page of each category.
Book Rankings: What Do I Need to Know?
Generally speaking, any category where the best selling book is ranked at 2000 or less is going to be competitive. You can still beat that if you have a strong launch with significant downloads and reviews. Try to aim for the sweet spot between 3000-7000. You can always switch categories at anytime and Amazon will update your request within 24 hours.
Do you want to know how to rank for ten categories? Check out this blog post that covers how to get approved for more categories on Amazon.
The Preorder Option: Yes or No?
Amazon offers a pre-order option on kindle books. If you have a book coming out, you might be considering setting your book up for a pre-order release.
How It Works:
- Under the Pre-order option, select the “Make my Kindle eBook available for Pre-order” option.
- Set the release date for your book. Note that your pre-order can only be scheduled four days or more in advance of the actual release date. Once your book is set up in pre-order mode, you can use the Amazon page and book URL to drive traffic through a sales page.
Pre-order Points to Remember:
- You can promote your book up to 90 days before it is released.
- Your book will start ranking early weeks or months before it is released [depending on launch date]. However, your book will only rank for sales on the day it is actually purchased in pre-order. It will not help your rankings on the day it is published.
- You cannot upload any revisions to your book 72 hours prior to launch. Amazon blocks you out during for this duration.
- If you cancel your pre-order once it is set up, you’ll lose pre-order privileges for one year
The pre-order option works well with some benefits if you want to start promoting your book early, getting advance purchases, and gathering emails for list building.
DRM [Digital Rights Management]
This option is unclear for many authors. The default choice is set to NO and so, many authors select NO as the default. The purpose behind DRM is to protect the author’s work, giving them complete control over how it is distributed.
But the choice to go DRM or not is debatable. You can check the discussion here on Goodreads and then decide if selecting Digital Rights Management is for you
Here is what Amazon says regarding the DRM selection:
DRM (Digital Rights Management) is intended to inhibit unauthorized distribution of the Kindle file of your book. Some authors want to encourage readers to share their work, and choose not to have DRM applied to their book.
If you choose DRM, customers will still be able to lend the book to another user for a short period, and can also purchase the book as a gift for another user from the Kindle store. Important: Once you publish your book, you cannot change its DRM setting.
Upload Your Manuscript
Finally, the moment you have been waiting for…uploading your book to KDP using one of their recommended formats. After formatting is complete, you can upload your book very quickly.
Hit the orange button that says Upload eBook Manuscript, select your formatted file, and it takes Amazon a few minutes to run through the files. If there are any formatting or grammatical issues, you’ll be asked to fix these before finalizing everything.
Another great feature is the online previewer. You can actually see how your book will appear on a device from a reader’s perspective.
You can upload the manuscript as many times as you have to. The new version will override the existing. When you’re done, hit Save as Draft on the bottom right.
Upload the Cover
Your book cover is uploaded as a separate file from the manuscript, and needs to be a JPG or TIFF [Tag Image File Format]. You can also change your cover at any time if you decide to replace it down the road.
When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon [or anywhere for that matter] the cover is definitely the one thing you want to pay attention to. Make sure it is created by a professional designer and that it’s going to stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category. The metaphorical phrase ‘you can’t judge a book by it’s cover’ may have been true back in 1860, but in today’s market, your cover is exactly what your book will be judged on from first glance.
Unless you’re a designer and you know what you’re doing, I’d suggest using a professional service or well-known cover designer.
Some recommendations are:
99 Designs / Price Range: varies depending on the level of service
Happy Self Publishing / Price Range: $149 [Kindle Design] — $199 [Complete Design Pack]
100 Covers / Price Range: $100 [eBook cover] — $300 [Print Pack]
On the cheaper end, Fiverr is another route you can take. Our suggestion is, choose a designer who has solid reviews and is a Top Rated Seller. If they have a premium cover design option, take it. Be clear in your instructions about what you want by providing definitive guidelines for the cover you are visualizing for your soon-to-be bestselling book.
Kindle and ISBN
Many authors ask the question: “Do I need an ISBN for my Kindle book?” The answer is no. You can purchase ISBN numbers through Bowker.com if you are located in the US. For overseas authors you will need to contact your local ISBN agency.
Amazon issues eBooks an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) unique to your book and is the identification number for your book on Amazon.com.
For paperbacks, if you go through Createspace, they give you a choice to use your own ISBN number or, if you’d rather, CS provides authors with a 13-digit createspace-assigned ISBN. You still have complete control over your content with the ISBN being used as an identifier only. If you plan to sell your book retail, it’s recommended you purchase your own ISBNs.
KDP Select Enrollment
It is recommended that you enroll your book in the KDP select program for at least the first 90 days from the date of publication.
The benefits to joining KDP Select are:
1. Access to promotional tools such as the Kindle Countdown Deal or the Free Book Promotion. If you’re thinking of taking advantage of either of those promotional tools just click on the links and check out the requirements for both.
2. Included in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library [KOLL] and Kindle Unlimited [KU]. This means you get a share of the KDP Select Global Fund depending on the amount of pages read by customers. This can add a nice bump to your monthly royalty payments.
The main drawback is that your digital book titles can only be available exclusively through KDP. You can’t have it for sale on Kobo, NOOK, Smashwords or iBooks. This includes your own personal website.
The KDP Select gives your book a great advantage, especially for beginning authors, in order to promote your material to a larger audience. Once your platform grows bigger, you can choose to opt out and sell on multiple book platforms.
Book Pricing and Matchbook
A question I’m asked a lot is: “How much should I be pricing my book at after the initial launch is over?”
This is entirely up to the author but, I’ll add some clarity. Any digital book priced under $2.99 recieves 35% royalty. Between $2.99 and 9.99 it is 70%. Over that and you get 35%. So the best place to have your book prioced at is between the 2.99 to 9.99 range.
The royalty payments vary depending on the country but you can check right under the pricing page.
Generally, the majority of eBooks are priced under 9.99, and the majority of those are priced between 2.99 to 4.99, with the greater percentage closer to 2.99.
When it comes to pricing your book, several factors to take into consideration:
The size of your platform: let’s face it. Famous and well-known authors and speakers can charge a lot for their eBooks and paperback/hardcover books. But charging more doesn’t necessarily mean more sales or money. We only get 35% royalty after 9.99.
The Price of Books In Your Genre: Compare the price of your book to the books around you. Would you be able to sell yours for a higher price point?
The Size of your book: Size makes a difference when it comes to books. if you are selling a 75 page book and charging 8.99, customers will be less likely to buy unless there is something groundbreaking on the inside they must have.
Reviews: Yes, reviews have big weight. A book with 1200 reviews can definitely get away with going high on price, compared to a book with less than thirty reviews. You should always be trying to increase the reviews on your books. You can get legitimate and honest reviews from:
- Your personal launch team
- Amazon’s top reviewers
- Fans of your book
- Personal email list
This proves to the Amazon algorithm that the book is still relevant and of interest to readers. But, to launch your book effectively, you really only need around ten reviews. This is enough to get you onto any book promotion site that will promote your book during its free or discounted period.
You can price your book at 2.99, and test the pricing from there. Increase to 3.99 for a week, and monitor how it does. You can expect a dip in sales the higher you increase but that isn’t a bad thing. Find that comfortable place for your book to sit and then leave it.
Finally, the Matchbook feature allows you to offer your eBook at a discounted rate when they purchase the paperback edition. This is a great way to cross promote and gain more sales. The print version of the book can be created through Createspace. Having a paperback version of your book increases the marketing capability of your work and makes it more effective when running AMS ads. If possible, have your paperback launch together with the Kindle eBook and you’ll have a significant increase in royalties during launch week.
Wrapping It Up:
Are you ready to publish your book on Amazon? If you need some extra help here are a few books I would definitely recommend to help you on your publishing journey:
Published.: The Proven Path From Blank Page to Published Author
Crush It with Kindle: Self-Publish Your Books on Kindle and Promote them to Bestseller Status
The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM)
Now, I’ll leave you with a brief checklist for publishing your bestseller. Good luck!
The Publishing Checklist:
Now that we’ve run through setting up and publishing your book on Amazon, here is a brief checklist for your definitive publishing guide.
- Write your book
- Send your draft to an editor.
- Send the edited draft to a formatter
- Create a title/subtitle
- Hire a professional cover designer to create a cover
- Sign up for your KDP account
- Choose two main categories
- Write a book [sales] description
- Use keyword tools to research your seven Amazon keywords
- Select pre-order or publish right now
- Upload formatted and professionally edited manuscript
- Check the quality using online previewer
- Upload professional looking cover in JPG format
- Enroll in KDP select [or not]
- Price your Kindle book [0.99 for your launch and set the price 2.99 — 9.99 after launch]
- Enroll in Matchbook [for print books]
- Schedule your launch date, and then…
- Hit ‘Publish Your Kindle eBook’
- Set up your FREE campaign
- Set up book promo sites
- Start writing another book
Interested in learning more about Amazon Kindle SEO? Check out The A to Z of Amazon Kindle SEO for Self-Publishers.
About Scott Allan
Scott Allan is the bestselling author of several books that includes Rejection Free and Do It Scared. His passion is creating content that helps people change old behaviors, develop positive habits, and implement disciplined strategies for taking immediate action towards their dreams. You can check out his books on Amazon, or follow him at scottallansite.com