Okay, it’s time to talk about the 500 pound gorilla in the room, Amazon. If you oppose Amazon on ideological grounds and won’t use them, that’s completely valid. This article just isn’t for you. I’ll be posting separate articles on the other marketplaces you can use.
The fact of the matter, though, is, for many people, Amazon is a fact of life. Some people can make it work selling only on other marketplaces, but Amazon has too big of a share for most authors to ignore.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about how you can get a book registered on Amazon. For this, you’ll be using a service called “Kindle Direct Publishing” or KDP. You can find that here. This is Amazon’s service for self-publishing. Go to that link and login and you’ll be presented with a box that looks something like this:
With KDP, you can create an eBook, a paperback book, or both. I’m sure you’ve heard of CreateSpace for publishing paperbacks. That’s also owned by Amazon, but using KDP instead allows you to link it to your Kindle book and run special deals between the two of them. I’ll talk a little on that later. I’d suggest starting with the “Kindle eBook” option. That will bring you to a screen that looks like this:
You’ll notice that the new book creator is broken up into three sections; Details, Content, and Pricing. We’ll go over each of them individually.
First up: Details. The stuff here is pretty self-explanatory. The only things here that are required are; title, author, description, copyright, categories, and when it’s being published. The only one I want to talk about here is when it’ll be published.
You only have two options. Either you publish it now, or you set it up for pre-order. As you can see, if you choose pre-order, it will give you a date a few days before release when your final manuscript has to be submitted. Think carefully about your pre-order date, because if you change it after this, you’ll lose the ability to do pre-oders for an entire year.
Next is content. Here, you upload your manuscript. It’ll take just about any format you can throw at it. I still recommend, though, to have it pre-formatted and in .mobi form, as that’ll increase the chances that everything looks right after it’s finished processing. If you need a refresher course on ebook formatting, check out First Draft Done, Now What? After the system finishes processing your manuscript, you’ll gain access to the Online Previewer, which is a good way to see how the official Kindle version of your book looks.
You’ll also upload your cover in this section. The uploader only takes .jpg and .tiff, so make sure it’s in that format. If you don’t have a cover yet, they do have a cover designer, but I can’t vouch for it, because I didn’t use it, nor will I ever. You can also add an ISBN in this section, if you have one.
The last section is Pricing. The first question in this selection is if you want to enroll in KDP Select. Now, KDP Select comes with a variety of benefits. These include; having your work included in Kindle Unlimited, entry into the Kindle Storyteller contest, and some KDP Select exclusive promotional deals. All these can raise your profile on Amazon, but they do come at a price. To enroll in KDP Select, your book has to be an Amazon exclusive. No distributing via any other channel. Whether it’s worth it is a personal decision that I can really help with. For my part, I chose not to enroll in KDP Select so that I could distribute through other channels that I like better.
After that, is the Territories question. It’s basically the same as the Copyright question from section one, but it has to do with whether you have the rights to distribute it in all countries that Amazon operates in. If you wrote the whole thing and aren’t relying on licensed stuff, you’re probably okay. If you know you have the rights, click “all territories” if you’re unsure, click the individual selection and choose the places you know you have rights to.
After that is pricing:
Yep, that one’s scary. First, you check your percentage. This is the percentage of sales you get. For the 70% option, your book has to be priced at least $2.99 (in the U.S.). If you’ve got a short book that you don’t think will sell for $2.99, you’ll have to stick with the 35% option. The other thing to think about here is, if you take the 70% option, your book will be automatically enrolled in the Kindle Lending program. Which means anyone who buys your Kindle book will be able to lend it out. If that’s not something you want, you’ll have to go with the 35% option.
The last thing in this section is Kindle Matchbook. Matchbook is a program where, if someone buys a print copy of your book, they get the Kindle version for a reduced price, often free. If you’re planning on having a print version on Amazon, this is a good option to take, as it makes the print version more enticing. Note: I’ll have a separate article for creating and formatting a print version on Amazon.
And that’s it! If you’ve done everything right, you should see a screen like this:
It may say “Pending” where mine says “PRE-ORDER LIVE” as it can take a new pre-order up to 72 hours to be approved. Once it’s been approved, you can edit any aspect of it up to three days before the release date, including uploading a new manuscript.
Congratulations! You now have a book on Amazon! Not ready for this yet? Check out the earlier articles here.