Congratulations on both deciding to self-publish your book, and selecting Amazon as your platform. You should be proud of breaking free of the gatekeepers and forging your own way. Unfortunately, with those two decisions down, you’ve got a ton more to go before you reach the finish line. Your mind’s likely buzzing with questions like “how much does it cost to self-publish on Amazon?” and “how do I promote my Kindle ebook?”.
I’m a self-published author who’s been right where you are now. As someone who’s been around the self-publishing block (twice), I have some tips and tricks to share when it comes to self-publishing a book on Amazon. Here are five answers to questions you’ll ask yourself as a new Amazon author.
1) How much does it cost to self-publish on Amazon?
The simple answer to this question is that it doesn’t cost anything to publish a book on Amazon. Amazon doesn’t ask for any sort of fee for you to use their self-publishing services. The more complicated answer depends on several factors. Do you plan to hire a professional editor? Are you going to have your book professionally formatted? Are you going to hire a professional book cover designer?
You could technically get around these costs. I didn’t hire a professional editor for either of my books. I, however, have several writerly-minded friends willing to read my manuscripts and over a decade of editing experience to draw from. I did get my book professionally formatted and my cover designed, which cost a few hundred dollars. I have never regretted the expense for a minute since it is absolutely essential as an Amazon author that your book looks sleek and professional inside and out. You’re out there competing with traditionally published authors, after all.
Another cost to keep in mind is the cut Amazon takes of your royalties. Amazon will take anywhere from 30-70% of your royalties in exchange for allowing you to publish on their platform. 70% may sound like a lot, but it’s still much better than the 80-90% most traditional publishing houses take. I’ve always considered this a fair deal due to the promotion and exposure Amazon offers (more on that below), but you may want a platform that will let you keep 100% of your earnings. If that’s the case, a site like Fictionate.Me could be a better fit.
2) How do I self-publish my book on Amazon KDP?
Once you decide on your editor and book designer, there’s still the question of how to self-publish your book on Amazon. Luckily, Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has a guide that will walk you through the process of how to create your book.
First, you enter your book’s details like title, subtitle, author name, and series information (if applicable). You also enter your book’s description. It’s important to spend some real time thinking about both your title and description. These, along with your cover, are what’s going to hook potential readers and hopefully not let go. You enter categories and keywords here as well, which we’ll discuss more in the next section.
After that, you get to upload and preview your book. Then you can set rights and pricing. I would recommend doing some research into similar books to yours on the site and pricing accordingly. If you’re doing a paperback book, you can order a proof to look over before publishing. Then all you have to do is press “Publish”.
3) Are keywords important?
I know that after all the other work you’ve done, you might feel tempted to just write random words in the keyword fields as you go through the publishing process. Resist that temptation. Keywords are very, very important and it’s essential that you choose the right ones. These keywords are what will help potential readers track down your book.
Your keywords need to accurately portray your book’s content and reflect the words customers will use when they search. Relevant keywords can help to boost your placement in search results on the site. Useful keyword types include setting, character types, character roles (like a strong female protagonist), plot themes, and story tone.
Dedicate some serious time to thinking about what keywords describe your story best. You can use Google Trends to compare the popularity of different keywords you’re torn between. When you publish, you should already have a list of well-thought-out keywords ready.
4) How do I promote my Kindle ebook?
A lot of first-time self-published authors tend to worry a lot about promotion. Traditionally published authors have publicists to set up book tours and interviews—some authors even get a whole team of publicity professionals in their corner.
Luckily, Amazon KDP is able to handle a lot of that ebook promotion for you. When readers search for or buy a title similar to yours, Amazon will recommend your book. Amazon customers will receive emails recommending your book as well. It’s in Amazon’s best interest that its authors’ books do well, and it will try its best to make sure that happens.
Of course, you shouldn’t rely on Amazon alone to promote your book. If you enroll in Amazon KDP Select, you can run your own promotions where your book is free or discounted. You can also work on amassing social media followings of potential readers. Be sure to tell those followers whenever you’re running a promotion.
5) Am I ready?
The fact is, you’ll never know when you’re ready to publish your book. I certainly didn’t. I just took a deep breath, gritted my teeth, and clicked that “Publish” button anyway. So once you’re sure of the answers to the other questions on this list and feel at least pretty good about the shape your book’s in, take the plunge!
Author’s Bio: Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jillian has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
She has done freelance writing as well for sites like Cracked.com and had her Twitter jokes featured on BuzzFeed and funnyordie.com. Jillian has also self-published two novels on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Karger/e/B07B894DNW).
Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.