How to Self-Publish on Amazon KDP in 2020

Looking to self-publish on Amazon KDP? As book sales continue to rise, here’s everything you need to know in 2020.

Sarah Yoo |
How to self-publish on Amazon KDP in 2020

Maybe you just finished your first manuscript. Or perhaps you’re a published author wanting another revenue stream. Wherever you are in the journey, self-publishing on Amazon KDP can do lots for you. Being the LARGEST e-retailer out there, you shouldn’t miss out.

In this guide, see how to publish a book on Kindle Direct Publishing. We break it down into three main steps.

Quick benefits to know:

  • There are over 200 million people visiting Amazon.com every month.
  • Books is Amazon’s #5 bestseller category (after electronics, clothes, home, and beauty).
  • Amazon’s Kindle device is popular for reading books with Kindle stores in 13 countries.
  • Amazon’s KDP Select program is available to all authors wanting to sell through the Kindle store and Amazon’s subscription program Kindle Unlimited.

And Amazon keeps growing. In case you don’t know, PublishDrive is a platform for publishing and managing books in thousands of online channels including Amazon. Almost 50% of our indies’ global ebook sales come from Amazon while the rest happens elsewhere. In the first quarter of 2020, we recorded a whopping 20% increase in sales (at minimum) via Amazon.

The global demand for digital books surges, especially English-language content. We encourage you to distribute to booming places like Amazon during this unique time in the market.

(P.s. Publishing on KDP is always an option, but publishing on Amazon plus other stores with PublishDrive is a better option! And for those who already have books published on KDP, it’s super simple to transfer titles to PublishDrive while keeping existing reviews. ↓)

How to Self-Publish A Book on Amazon KDP

Publishing on Amazon is a must when you are in the book business. We will go over the most important steps you need to make in order maximise your book's success on Amazon Kindle book store.

Step 0: Before taking any steps on Amazon KDP

Before we get into it, here’s a quick PSA for newbies. If you landed on this page with practically zero knowledge about self-publishing, we got you. Amazon is a great place to publish your first book. However, make sure your manuscript is at its best. And, you should have a bit of knowledge on how to market your book.

Check out these helpful resources:

The marketing part may seem daunting, but it’s a core function in publishing. As an indie, give your book the best chance of success (against huge publishing houses) by spending time to research what works for you. If you’d like further support, know that distributing and promoting your book on Amazon with PublishDrive entirely free for 14 days:

So after you have your polished manuscript file and bomb cover design handy, what does it take to start selling on Amazon? We go over three steps below on how to get your book listed (and seen!)

Step 1: Sign up or log in to your Amazon account + register tax info

The first thing you want to do is get your Amazon account set up. Sign up or log in with your Amazon retail email address account and password here. It’s free to create an account and publish a book on KDP. (But, don’t forget about the other costs that come with self-publishing a book yourself.)

When first logging in, get familiar with the dashboard. You’ll have to navigate it in order to publish and manage a book on Amazon.

Before you can sell, you’ll need to register your tax information as well. Just click “Update” in your account information to do so. At the end of the year, KDP will send you a W-2 for tax reporting purposes.

Step 1 for how to publish on Amazon KDP in 2020

And just like that, you’re done setting up your account.

Step 2: Upload your book in ebook and/or print version

To get your book up on Amazon, all you need to do is go through the upload process on your KDP dashboard. You should have ready:

  1. Your manuscript .mobi file (try out our free ebook converter)
  2. Your book cover
  3. Your book pricing + royalty rate + payment method (we go over these in step 3)

Before uploading, double-check your content to make sure it meets Amazon’s guidelines. In terms of quality, here are the main ways to ensure your book is at its best:

  • Hire an editor or proofreader. If you’re on a tight budget, check out online services like Reedsy. Or find forums like Reddit. Be sure to find beta readers too (like friends and family).
  • Get a formatter who can make sure your file is ready to go for either ebook or print. This is very important in guaranteeing a smooth reader experience. If you need to DIY, we go over formatting guidelines here.
  • Pay a professional for your cover design. If you decide to DIY, ask others for honest feedback. Is it eye-catchy? Does it meet the several points mentioned in this article?

When you’re ready to upload, click “Create a New Title” from your Amazon dashboard for either “Kindle ebook” or “Paperback”. Then, enter your details like the book title and author name. Further tips:

  • Take some time to work on your book description. As the first thing potential customers see on Amazon, you want to draw readers right in. See here or here for some great examples.
  • Before adding your book categories, do some research first. This will help you reach the right target audience and also rank higher in more categories. For example, use trending categories with lower competition. We share more about Amazon categories and helpful tips here.
Step 2 for how to publish on Amazon KDP in 2020

At this point, you’re 90% done.

Step 3: Set the pricing + royalty + payment method for your book

When you go through the upload process, you’ll be asked to set the pricing for your book. This involves choosing a royalty option. You’ll also be asked to add your royalty payment method.

For ebook, you can choose between the 35% royalty option or 70% royalty option. For paperback, KDP offers a fixed 60% royalty option. We go over how pricing and Amazon self publishing royalties work with our own indie authors and publishers here.

When you set the pricing for your book, keep in mind that most ebooks on Kindle are between $2.99 and $9.99 for the 70% royalty option. For 35%, it’s between $0.99 and $2.99. Prices should be at least 20% lower than the print version. (See here for a more in-depth look into pricing strategies.)

You can also include your book in Amazon's lending library program, Amazon Kindle Unlimited that requires exclusivity for 90 days, so you can't sell your book anywhere else, but Amazon. For most of the authors, the strategy of publishing in every store works better.

For ebook, you can choose between the 35% royalty option or 70% royalty option. For paperback, KDP offers a fixed 60% royalty option. Also, delivery costs are calculated per content file size (it is waived if you publish on Amazon with PublishDrive.) We go over how Amazon pricing and royalties work with our own indie authors and publishers here.

For print books printing costs may vary depending on the length of the book, the colouring method and the trim size. Printing costs will be deducted after Amazon kept its revenue share for distribution.

With payments, you can add your information for direct deposit, wire transfer, or check. KDP will pay royalties around 60 days after the end of the month in which the sale was made. (PublishDrive pays out a few days earlier, just sharing!)

Also, remember to click “Worldwide rights - all territories” when selecting your publishing territories. It makes sure your content will be protected in areas sold.

Step 3 for how to publish on Amazon KDP in 2020

At the very end, click publish!

Step 4: Publish and promote on Amazon with our set of tools

Don’t forget about the resources we shared at the beginning of this article. When you invest time and effort into your book, your audience will feel the benefits.

Also, instead of going through the entire process on your own, try out PublishDrive to help with every step. We develop tools for promoting your book, and they work for our indies. Here are the things to know when you publish on Amazon via our platform:

  • Keep your existing links, reviews, and ratings when moving a book over to our platform for smooth management. Plus, continuously track rankings and reviews on Amazon (and Goodreads).
  • Get a full suite of marketing tools and features. To name a few, use our built-in Amazon ads tool to optimize your ad performance. Or, send protected book copies to other key platforms like Google and Apple to collect those reviews. Or, set up pre-orders as a part of your launch strategy.
  • Easily add a print-on-demand option to your ebook.
  • Choose the best categories for your book with our AI tool that automatically helps during your upload process.
  • You don’t need an ISBN to distribute ebooks to Amazon. We generate a globally recognized identifier for you.

We invite you to sign up and publish your first book with PublishDrive. With so much going on in the world, we know one thing today: there’s never been a more fitting and lucrative time to sell digital books. Reach a rising number of readers worldwide by getting your manuscript up on Amazon.

About maximizing your royalties

When you enroll in KDP Select only, your book will be available on Amazon only. Amazon’s share of the global ebook market is high, but we recommend fitting more revenue streams to your business. Being available in several countries, markets, and formats (like audiobook) is worth it. You see, the more stores your book appears in, the higher your search engine result and Google ranking will be too.

It’s super easy to publish and promote on Amazon with PublishDrive (it’s what we’re known for). But we also want you to know that it’s super easy to do the same with other major retailers and tons of niche channels all over the world. If interested in learning why this is a big deal, check out our write-up on why publishing to more places internationally will bring you the maximum amount of royalties.

We hope this step-by-step guide was informative and helpful. In regards to choosing a platform to manage all stores and book formats easily, try our publishing services. It's free to sign up. ↓