How to Publish a Book on Amazon: Step-by-Step Guide to SELL


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.

But Amazon self-publishing is the best option to self-publish and we’ve made it even easier for you with this guide for doing it with Kindle Direct Publishing.

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 your much-deserved earnings.

You can now have complete control of your book – and its revenues – by self-publishing using Amazon’s KDP platform.

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.

Video/Audio Training

The Amazon Bestseller You Want – in 90 Days OR LESS!

We stay on top of Amazon algorithm updates, so you don’t have to!
In this short self-publishing video lesson learn the overview of writing and publishing your book on Amazon – and how to get that coveted “bestseller” status for your book!

Here is your full guide to publishing a book on Amazon:

  1. Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing Account
  2. Crafting Your Book Title & Subtitle
  3. Writing Your Book Description
  4. Choosing the Right Keywords
  5. Selecting the Right Categories
  6. Uploading Your Manuscript
  7. Creating a Book Cover
  8. 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.

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

There are major differences between traditional vs self-publishing with the majority of authors opting to take their talents to Amazon instead of through one of the Big 5 publishing houses.

Check out the video below to see why you should consider it too.

[Pssst! Want to see some of our students’ published books? Check out the SPS library here!]

How much does it cost to publish a book on Amazon?

Nothing! It’s free to publish a book on Amazon through their online Kindle Direct Publishing platform. You pay no upfront costs, but Amazon will take a portion of your book’s earnings to print, leaving you with 60% royalties after the book print price, which is why authors are making more now than ever before.

If you set your book’s price to $17.99 on Amazon, there will be a $.85 printing fee for 100 pages, plus $.012 for each additional page. You will make 60% of the list price, and the printing fee will be subtracted from that to give you your total amount of earnings:

$17.99 x .60 = $10.79 royalties per book

Subtract the printing cost from your royalty rate to get our take home pay (based on a 300-page book):

$10.79 – $3.25 = $7.54 take-home per book

So while you don’t pay anything to publish through Amazon, they do still charge for the book’s printing costs.

Your Complete Guide for Publishing a Book on Amazon (Through KDP)

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.

If done correctly, you can expect a successful launch, and a with multiple books published this way, you may even make a living writing books.

Here are our steps for Amazon self-publishing.

#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:

  1. Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register with either your Amazon account or with your email address.
  2. 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!
  3. Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
  4. Your profile is complete!

With your KDP account setup, proceed to setting up the details of your book, as seen in the areas below.

how to set up a KDP account to publish on Amazon

#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. Amazon self publishing requires more signals than you’d initially realize. 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:

  1. Title
  2. Cover
  3. 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. Amazon is very sensitive to showing visitors relevant books based on their previous actions.

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:

example Amazon book description

You can find more amazing description examples with these books:

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.

For the best results, we recommend using the Free Amazon Book Description Tool from Kindlepreneur.

This is also a great video about how to write an Amazon book description to get sales:

#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. Amazon self publishing is all about becoming relevant in the niche you need to be. This not only gets you the type of readers you want, it also helps tremendously to have the correct visibility.

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
  • 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.

amazon self publishing keyword examples

Amazon Keyword Research Tools

  • 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.
  • Google Search: Google is still the King of search, you can easily check to see if there are authors ranking in search results. You’ll want to understand the best angle even outside of Amazon.

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.

publishing on amazon - choosing categories

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. That said, these do have to match the intent of the book you wrote.

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:

  1. Research your competitors’ keywords
  2. Choose trending categories with lower competition
  3. Acquire additional categories by contacting Amazon and asking for keyword placement

Unless you have an established author platform 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.

We also did a fantastic podcast episode with Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur (and the creator of Publisher Rocket) to teach you how to find the best categories for you. Check it out below:

#6 – Upload Your Manuscript to Amazon

First, you have to make sure your manuscript is in the right format to be uploaded to Amazon. Usually, your formatter will do this for you, but if you’re not sure or have self-formatted your book, these are Amazon’s recommended formats for uploading your manuscript:

Here’s how to upload your book to Amazon for publishing:

  1. In your Kindle Direct Publishing account, go to “Your Bookshelf”.
  2. Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions” next to the title of your book.
  3. Locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
  4. Click on “Upload eBook manuscript”.
  5. Upload your manuscript file on your computer.
  6. 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.

Make sure that your cover 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.

We offer Self-Publishing School students a list of qualified, trusted book cover designers they can work with in order to get a worthy cover.

course contents showing cover designers

Make sure to do your research regarding what type of book cover does best in your genre. If you write fantasy books, for example, it will be a lot different than writing 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. Your book should be priced lower to encourage new readers to buy your work, if you’re not in this category.
  • 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 by 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 book reviews from:

Amazon Self Publishing Summed Up

If you want to self-publish on the biggest online retailer, you’ll need to understand how they work. SPS understands this well and coaches our students well in the Become A Bestseller program. Experiment with these strategies to pinpoint the price for your book, it will drive long-term success.

Need some help getting your book to bestseller status on Amazon? Check out the training below!

Video/Audio Training

The Amazon Bestseller You Want – in 90 Days OR LESS!

We stay on top of Amazon algorithm updates, so you don’t have to!
In this short self-publishing video lesson learn the overview of writing and publishing your book on Amazon – and how to get that coveted “bestseller” status for your book!

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.

Scott Allan

Scott Allan is a student success coach and in-house content creator here at Self-Publishing School. He is a bestselling author of 12+ books that includes The Discipline of Masters, Drive Your Destiny and Relaunch Your Life. Scott has a passion for teaching strategic life skills and inspiring people to take charge of their lives. You can connect with Scott at: www.scottallanauthor.com He believes that successful living is a series of small, consistent actions taken every day to build a thriving lifestyle with intentional purpose. By taking the necessary steps and eliminating unwanted distractions that keep you stuck, you are free to focus on the essentials. Scott currently lives In Japan where he resides full time, and is at work on several new writing projects. You can connect with Scott at scottallanauthor.com

What is Self-Publishing School?

We help you save time, money, and headaches through the book, writing, marketing, and publishing process by giving you the proven, step-by-step process and accountability to publish successfully. All while allowing you to maintain control of your book–and its royalties.
Learn to publish a book to grow your impact, income, or business!

YES! I WANT TO START TODAY!

What do you think?

Drop a comment with your own tips, advice, or thoughts on this blog post — we may even update the post with your ideas! Knowledge sharing is how we all get better.

    Let us know what you think!

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *