For better or worse, Amazon has enabled millions of authors to publish their books without the help of a publisher. Amazon opened the doors for authors to sell their print and ebooks directly to readers by circumventing the need to be accepted by a publishing company. However, how to self-publish a book on Amazon remains somewhat of a mystery to many would-be indie authors.
What’s Involved in Self-publishing on Amazon?
Self-publishing to Amazon is simply a matter of opening an author account and uploading a file, something that anyone with a computer can do. The steps to get to that point are a little more complicated, and there are plenty of “experts” to tell you what and how to do so. However, if an expert tells you that the only way to self-publish a book on Amazon is to go through them, run in the opposite direction. Before we talk about how to prepare to upload your book files to Amazon, let’s explore why you should avoid a middle person (or a middle company) inserting itself between you and Amazon.
Get Paid Directly from Amazon
Basically, it comes down to how much money you will be paid per book. If a self-publishing company tells you they will publish your book on Amazon for you, there’s a chance they are taking a portion of your royalties. For example, a well-known self-publishing company promises to “collect the payment [from the customer], deduct all printing and selling costs, and pay you the net sales.” Bottom line: earning maximum royalties usually involves being paid directly from Amazon.
Some authors might prefer to have all of their books being managed through one platform in return for a fee, but these service fees (part of the “selling costs”) can add up. In this blog post from our archives, we compare the royalties paid by various self-publishing companies with the royalties you can earn by dealing directly with Amazon and IngramSpark.
Getting Ready to Self-publish on Amazon
Now for the steps to get to the point where you can upload your book files to Amazon. Part of getting ready to self-publish your book on Amazon is to make your book look like a book. This involves cover design, page design and typesetting, editing and proofreading. You should have a good idea of your book marketing plan as well. Simply making your book available for sale on Amazon and hoping people will buy it is not a marketing plan.
Several options are available to authors for preparing books for publishing, including:
- Do it yourself
- Hire freelancers to do the parts you can’t do yourself
- Work with a “publishing services” or “author services” company like 1106 Design that provides all the services necessary to self-publish a book under one roof but does not take any of your royalties
- Work with a self-publishing company that will charge you for the publishing services and charge you a per book fee for print-on-demand. The “royalty” calculation is often hidden from the author, with some companies promising to pay “100% royalties” on an inflated print cost.
Here’s an article from the archives on choosing the best route to self-publish your book. This article provides a checklist to help you decide from the above options.
Note that all of the above options lead to Amazon. Your ultimate goal should be to earn the maximum royalties (also known as “publisher compensation”) that you can. Not earning the maximum should be a conscious choice on your part with an understanding of what you are getting in return for handing over a portion of your earnings.
Finally, How to Self-publish a Book on Amazon
Assuming you choose one of the first three options above, the next step to self-publishing on Amazon is to open an account with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). If you already have an Amazon account to make purchases, use that login.
As you are no doubt aware, you can publish a Kindle book and/or a paperback on Amazon. Currently, hardcover books are not available on Amazon KDP; you will need to open an account with IngramSpark to produce your hardcover book and sell it on Amazon. Read this article to learn more about IngramSpark.
The instructions for adding your book to Amazon can be found on the KDP website. In short, the steps are as follows:
- Familiarize yourself with the paper choices, trim sizes and cover options for paperbacks. This is something your book designer should already be familiar with. Here’s an overview of the file preparation guidelines for Kindle ebooks and paperbacks.
- If you have not yet done so, convert your book files to the Kindle format.
- Add the details that will appear on the Amazon page for your book. This includes the title, author, book description, ISBN, endorsements, keywords used to categorize your book and help it get found, plus other information. You can also set up pre-orders for your Kindle ebook. Read more about the pros and cons of pre-selling books on Amazon.
- Upload the book files. Ebooks must be in the correct Kindle format and paperbacks must be in PDFs (cover in a separate file). Note that KDP’s file specifications are exacting and your files will be rejected if they are not correct.
- Set the retail price.
- Order proof copies of your paperback. Reviewing the PDF is not the best way to check that your book looks perfect in print. Order some proof copies; if anything, you’ll feel great about finally seeing your name in print, and you’ll have a few extra copies to give to family and friends.
- The “Look Inside” feature will appear automatically 7-10 days after publishing your book.
If all of the above sounds overwhelming, remember that 1106 Design is a one-stop, publishing services company that offers everything you need to self-publish your book to Amazon under one roof. We will assist you every step of the way, from file upload to title setup, to walking you through the proofing and distribution process. All of your earnings from Amazon go directly to you. Because we are book design experts, you can be assured that your files will meet KDP’s specifications. With 1106 Design, your experience of self-publishing to Amazon will be seamless and stress-free. Contact us today to get started.