A Quick Reference Guide to Self-Publishing on Amazon [EBOOK]

If you’re finished writing, editing, and revising your nonfiction book, you might be wondering what the heck you need to do next if you’ve never self-published before. The first time might hold a few roadblocks, but as you publishing more books, it will become second nature to you. However, I don’t want you to worry if you’re feeling lost. You’ve come to the right place! I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know to understand self-publishing on Amazon.

Before self-publishing on Amazon, let’s perform some checks and balances first.

Here is a list of questions you can get through quickly to decide if you’re truly ready to self-publish:

  • Is your book structurally sound? (If not, consider getting a developmental edit.)
  • Is your writing polished and grammatical? (If not, consider getting a comprehensive edit.)
  • Has your manuscript been checked for any syntax errors, missing references, misspelled words, etc.? (If not, consider getting a copy edit.)
  • Is your book formatted for print and/or ebook publishing?
  • Have you proofed your final draft? (If not, consider getting a proofread.)
  • Does your cover match your genre and/or subject matter?
  • Do you have a launch strategy for your book?

The next step in the process is creating your KDP account.

KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing, and this is the platform that Amazon uses to publish ebook and print books. You can use the same account if you already have an Amazon account, but there are some other additional things KDP needs to set up your publisher account, such as tax and direct deposit information. Then, once you have all that taken care of, you can start adding your book information and uploading your content.

Create a new title in your KDP bookshelf.

Once you log into your account, you’ll see this page once you go to your KDP bookshelf:

Screenshot of KDP bookshelf for self-publishing on Amazon.

Once you click on the CREATE button, you’ll come to a page that has a few options.

  1. Click CREATE EBOOK.
  2. Select the appropriate language for your book.
  3. Enter your book title and subtitle if you have one.
  4. If your book is part of a series you’re creating, you can create that here.
  5. If this is a brand-new book for you, you don’t need to enter any edition information. Skip that.
  6. You’ll need to manually add your name as a contributor. If you’re publishing under a pen name, you can enter that rather than your legal name.
  7. You also have the opportunity to add any other contributors, such as co-authors or editors. You don’t have to add your editors or other service providers here, but some people choose to. If you had somebody write a foreword, I’d strongly suggest to add them here and mark the “Foreword” category.
  8. Next, you’ll add your book description. Pay close attention to the first few sentences you write because that is what your potential readers will see above the “read more” link.
  9. If you wrote this book, you will leave the top option selected under Publishing Rights.
  10. If your book has content that might be sensitive to younger readers, you will need to mark it as adult content. Otherwise, you can mark no here.
  11. Mark the location you feel will have the most book sales. For many authors, this is the Amazon.com market.
  12. Choose your categories next. As of the publishing of this post, you were able to select three initial categories. (You can email support to add more categories later.)
  13. Even though it says the keywords are optional, DO NOT SKIP this step. This is how readers will find your book when they’re searching for their next book to purchase.
  14. Under the pre-order section, you can mark it as pre-order with the date you’d like to publish, or you can publish now. If you’re setting it as a pre-order, you’ll also be able to skip uploading the manuscript just yet if it’s not finished.
  15. After you go to the next page, you’ll upload your manuscript and your book cover. You’ll also be able to preview your book so you can ensure there are no issues. Amazon will also do a quality check to bring any misspellings or typos to your attention. If you have any you need to fix, I highly recommend doing this before moving on because readers can make quality complaints about the content in your book.
  16. Next, you’ll enter your ISBN and Publisher name. You can leave the ISBN blank if this is an eBook, but I don’t recommend leaving the publisher name blank if you want to make your book available to libraries and physical bookstores.
  17. On the next page, you’ll start by enrolling in KDP Select. Enrolling in this program will make your book available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers for no additional fee (and you’ll also earn royalties from those page reads). Being in KDP Select means you can’t offer your eBook (if this is an eBook) on other platforms, so if you plan to publish your eBook elsewhere, you shouldn’t select this option.
  18. Now, it’s time to price your book. You can choose the 70% royalty option (if it’s available) if your book is over a certain price and under a certain price. As you change the prices for each market, you’ll see what royalty you’ll receive from each purchase.
  19. Then, once you’re happy with the prices, you can click to publish.

Most of this information can be changed later, so if you made a mistake or want to upload a different file, you can do that at any time while it’s not in review. Also keep in mind that even though Amazon says it takes 72 hours for the book to be approved, it will likely be available to purchase in less than 24 hours.

Some tips and tricks for more success with self-publishing on Amazon.

  • Do your research by checking out similar books in your genre and subgenre to see what’s working well for them. Look at their covers, titles, subtitles, descriptions, and categories. You don’t want to copy them, but you can use some of those same strategies to build your unique metadata for your book.
  • When it comes to keywords, one of the best tools out there is Publisher Rocket. You’ll be able to check out the metrics for each keyword you search that’s based on the amount of competition there is for Amazon ads with those keywords.
  • Before you publish, it’s always a good idea to have at least a basic launch strategy that outlines the steps you’ll take leading up to and directly after you publish your book.
  • The first week your book is available for sale is a critical time on Amazon. Your main objective over the next several days will be to get as many people as you can to that listing to order your book. This should involve a marketing plan, including email marketing, social media marketing, SEO (on your website), and content marketing through blogging, podcasts, and other media.
  • If your listing isn’t working for you, you can experiment with different keywords and descriptions. However, you should keep records as to when this is changed and what it’s changed from/to. That way, you have a way to track the effect it has on your sales.

A Note on the Cost of Self-Publishing on Amazon

Yes, it’s true that there are no direct costs involved with adding your book to your KDP bookshelf. However, that does not mean you will not have to invest any money in your book. The following things will incur costs as you prepare your book to be self-published:

  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Book Covers
  • Book Formatting
  • Book Coaches
  • Book Consultants
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Ghostwriters
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Website Hosting
  • Copywriting
  • Content Writing

Though many authors get away with not spending a dime on these things when self-publishing on Amazon, that doesn’t always mean that’s the smartest idea. In addition to making your book listing attractive to shoppers, you always need to ensure the product (book) itself is your best quality work. This does not come cheap if you want your book done right. I urge you to keep that in mind as you continue on your journey to self-publishing your nonfiction book.

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