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Amazon KDP: An Essential Guide to Kindle Direct Publishing

If you’re an author and have a book that is ready to publish, you have two paths: traditional publishing, where a publishing house publishes your book, or self-publishing, where you publish the book yourself.

If you’ve done research into self-publishing, you have definitely heard of Amazon KDP or Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

With KDP, you can self-publish your book with the click of the button on Amazon and start making money in as little as 24 hours.

Sounds much better than waiting months or even years to find an agent, get a book deal, and go through all the hassles of traditional publishing for a printed book, right?

And the best part is, Amazon controls about 81% of the ebook market globally and tapping into their network can be a great advantage especially for authors who have not yet gained a substantial following.

But, the process can be overwhelming, especially if you want to make sure you’re doing it correctly from beginning to end, from book formatting to book launch.

In this guide, we’re looking into the basics of Amazon KDP and why it’s become the go-to publishing platform for indie authors.

By the end of this guide, you will have your book available in the Kindle Store, and ready to get into the hands of your readers.

What is Amazon KDP?

KDP is Amazon’s book publishing platform that can be used to self-publish a book online, which readers can purchase as an eBook or print-on-demand book.

It allows authors to upload and publish their book files within minutes, and make them available to millions of Amazon visitors worldwide.

It is one of the top self-publishing companies and currently dominates the self-publishing book market. On top of that, KDP gives authors full rights to their books, something that a traditional publishing house typically won’t do.

Authors like Mark Dawson, Hugh Howey and Joanna Penn have all utilised this publishing platform to get our books into the hands of new readers.

If you are an author of any kind, KDP is a great way to get your books published and listed for sale, for free! You won’t have to pay fees to Amazon until you make a sale.

How does KDP Publishing work?

KDP includes a variety of useful features, including free file conversion, sales tracking, and additional tools to help you format special types of books, like textbooks and children’s books.

Authors can self-publish eBooks and paperback books. For eBooks, authors can directly upload their book files, and it will appear in the Kindle store as an eBook for readers to purchase and instantly download.

For printed books, authors upload their book files and KDP Publishing uses print-on-demand technology to print the paperback book once it’s purchased; the printing costs will be subtracted from the royalties you earn from every book sold.

Here’s how KDP Publishing works:

  • Upload your book files to Amazon KDP.
  • Publish your book to the KDP platform.
  • Readers can purchase your eBook and instantly download it to their device.
  • Readers can purchase your paperback copy and Amazon’s KDP platform will use print-on-demand technology to print and ship your book directly to the reader once purchased.
  • Amazon will pay you book royalties per book sold on the KDP platform.

What are the benefits of KDP Publishing?

So why would an author choose KDP? At this point, I’m sure you’ve deduced the biggest benefit — zero cost to publish and list your book.

Additionally, you have access to a wider network outside your country and that means more people can read your work and ultimately more sales.

But there are plenty of other reasons authors choose to go with KDP. These are the benefits to KDP Publishing:

  • Get your books out there fast: As mentioned above, you can upload files and publish them within minutes. And your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24–48 hours.
  • Earn more money: Forget the 10% cut offered by traditional publishers – with KDP, you can earn up to 70% royalty on sales.
  • Take advantage of promotional opportunities: Additional programs like KDP Select allow KDP authors to earn more money through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
  • Maintain control: As an indie author, you get creative control over your work. Publishing with a platform like KDP builds on this by allowing you to control the price of your product, the categories it’s featured in and your digital rights.
  • Change your project at any time: You can make changes to your project at any time. Whether it’s changing pricing, correcting errors or updating a cover, KDP allows you to do it all.
  • Access your sales data: With KDP, you have around-the-clock access to all your sales figures and data, which helps you make the most of publishing.

What Kind of Content Can You Publish with KDP?

According to the KDP help page, content typically published using KDP include but are not limited to the following:

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

KDP Publishing Cost & Royalties

So what are the costs associated with publishing on Amazon? And how much do authors earn when they sell their books through KDP? What about the payment schedule?

In this section, I’ll answer all those questions and more!

When Do Amazon Pay Royalties to Authors?

Amazon starts paying royalties 60 days after the first sale is made, with further payments coming through every month. Depending on where you do your banking, you can elect to be paid through direct deposit, wire transfer or check.

However, no matter which avenue you go down, there’s no way to receive your royalties any sooner than 60 days. So if you have bills to pay, make sure you’re not counting on your royalties coming in right away.

How Do eBook Royalties Work?

Amazon offers two eBook royalty plans: the 70% option and the 35% option. To be eligible for the 70% plan, you’ll need to do all of the following:

  • Publish something that’s not in the public domain.
  • Price your ebook between $2.99 and $9.99. This price also needs to be at least 20% lower than the lowest list price for a print version.
  • Pay for file delivery. This doesn’t require any extra effort on your part — the delivery fees are automatically deducted from your royalty payments.

Keep in mind that only books sold to customers in certain countries are eligible for the 70% plan. Additional copies sold outside those territories will go on the 35%.

How Do Print Royalties Work?

For those thinking about self-publishing a print book, Amazon offers two distribution tiers for self-published paperbacks. Each comes with its own royalty structure, and in both cases, the cost of printing the book is deducted from royalty payments.

What Are The eBook Delivery Costs?

If you’re on the 70% royalty plan, eBook delivery costs will be deducted from your royalty payments. They vary depending on the currency used.

For instance, you’re looking at $0.15 per megabyte in USD and CAD, and £0.10 per megabyte in GBP.

This cost is waived if you select the 35% royalty plan — which may be a boon if you want to set a high price for your book anyway.

What Are The Paperback Printing Costs?

As for the printing costs associated with self-published paperbacks, those depend on your book’s page count and whether you choose to print in black-and-white or in full colour.

Amazon calculates your printing cost and displays it for you as you’re uploading your book to the platform. It will also suggest a minimum list price to ensure that your book sells for enough to cover the cost of printing.

Getting to know the KDP Dashboard

So now you know what KDP is, and why authors are choosing to use it, let’s take a look at what you get access to when you sign up for an account.

Once you’ve signed in, you’ll come to what’s called your Dashboard. It’ll look something like this..

Here, you’ll find four main items in the menu as follows:

1. Bookshelf

This is where you can create a new title and view your existing titles (both draft and published).

Essentially, it’s an overview of your books available on Amazon or drafted on KDP.

2. Reports

This part of your Dashboard is where all your sales data is held. It’s where you can generate reports, view your previous month’s royalties and generally just keep track of how your books are doing.

3. Community

This is where you can access the KDP forums. Here, people have published numerous pieces of advice and discussion surrounding all aspects of publishing on KDP.

It’s an invaluable source of information, and is the best place to start should you have a specific question about the nature of the platform or self-publishing.

4. KDP Select

This is where you can enrol your title in KDP Select, which is a special program for authors who want their books to be exclusively available on Amazon.

What is KDP Select?

KDP Select is a program for authors to give Amazon exclusive rights to sell an eBook on the Kindle platform only.

This means that the author’s eBook will only be available for purchase on Amazon’s Kindle platform, and the author is not able to use another self-publishing platform to distribute their eBook.

In exchange for exclusive rights to sell the author’s eBook, Amazon provides incentives to the author, such as promotional tools, like Kindle Unlimited, and possibly higher royalty rates.

If you’re considering enrolling in KDP Select, your enrollment is not indefinite, meaning you can test it out for 90 days.

KDP Select enrollment lasts for 90 days, which allows authors the option to auto-renew enrollment in KDP Select for another 90 days, or opt out.

KDP Advertising

As much as Amazon KDP has a wide network of readers, it is still a competition and you need to advertise your book on Amazon as well as other channels.

Taking advantage of Amazon Advertising is the easiest way to get started. Amazon runs PPC ads and sponsored ads that will show your book to Amazon customers who go on the website.

It’s important to understand how SEO and keywords work before starting on this platform and whether you plan on using Amazon Advertising or not.

Having the right keywords in your title means that the right audience will be able to find your book during searches. It is also applicable on Google and other search engines.

Writing enticing and well throughout descriptions that will get your target audience buying is also a great way of marketing.

Invest a lot of time and thought when creating each of your listings to improve your chances of success.

You can also advertise on other platforms outside of Amazon including social media. Social media marketing is extremely powerful. It can be a great way of getting book sales started.

Remember, the better your sales, the more Amazon recommends your book to new visitors.


KDP is a great way for authors who are just starting out to get their work published and in the eyes of a larger market. Big authors have also been known to use the platform to sell their books.

As an indie beginner, you’ll come to find that the best way to learn and navigate these platforms is to do so practically.

Hopefully, this helped give you a better understanding of how KDP works and how any author, big or small, can publish their own writings.

Whether you write mystery novels, bedtime stories, or scientific textbooks, KDP can help you reach the masses.

Make sure that you stick to their strict publishing guidelines to avoid being removed from the platform.

If you have used Amazon KDP, feel free to leave your thoughts down below.

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