Amazon Amazon KDP

The Complete Guide to Publishing an E-Book on Amazon

Self Publishing on KDP

First let me tell you a little story (masked as a bonus “how to” for publishing open domain books).

If you are interested in learning how to publish an open domain book start here; (if you are publishing your own original work skip down to the next chapter; “Publishing your eBook on KDP explained”)….

Any works that are in the public domain are able to be published on Amazon (among other e-publishing companies) by anyone that wants to take the time to do so. 

There are various websites that have digitized printed works that are in the public domain and are able to be downloaded. One of the biggest and most complete sites is Project Gutenberg. They have over 60,000 books available in many forms. 

Most, if not all, of the e-publishing companies require you to differentiate your version of the book by various means from the original if it is offered for free elsewhere . The standard means of differentiation are one of three- Illustration, annotation or translation. When you see a book in print that says one of these three things after the title there is a good chance that it is a public domain work. The dictionary defines annotation as “to add notes to (a text or diagram) giving explanation or comment”. Amazon defines annotation as “a unique, hand-crafted additional content including study guides, literary critiques, detailed biographies, or detailed historical context”. Illustration is defined as “a picture illustrating a book, newspaper, etc.” in the dictionary and is defined by Amazon as that “it includes 10 or more unique illustrations relevant to the book”. Translation is defined in the dictionary as “the process of translating words or text from one language into another language” and as “a unique translation” by the almighty Amazon.  Since I am not a translator by any definition of term this option was out for me currently. That leaves illustrating and annotating as my options for differentiating the open domain works from the ones that are available for free.

Once I figured out this bit of information I decided to start downloading a bunch of books that I thought were interesting, ones that I had read before or ones that I thought would sell well.

I downloaded them (10 of them!) into Google docs and formatted them so they looked great to me. I made sure that they had all the applicable annotations and/ or illustrations to fit the open domain guidelines. Next I signed up for KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). From this point, I was on my way and was able to quickly set up my account. While I was going through the process of setting up my first book to be ready for sale, I uploaded my first manuscript and designed my cover (super excited at this point!). At the bottom of that page (the second page) you have to preview the e-book. This is where my troubles began…

The formatting was, for lack of a more flattering term, a complete trainwreck. There were chapters starting in the middle of pages. The illustrations were not where they were supposed to be (some times at the top, in the middle, or at the bottom) and as far as I could tell they ended up wherever they wanted like they had a mind of their own. 

Ugh!!!… Back to the drawing board to figure out how to make this work…Time to read and do some more research!

I probably should have done more of this before jumping into it before I understood all of the program intricacies but in my defense I was super excited.

This is where I came across Kindle Create. This is a free program that is offered by Amazon and it is amazing! It does take a little bit of “getting to know” the program. I am not a “tech person” whatsoever, so if I can learn this program fairly quickly then pretty much anyone should be able to do so in short order. 

Back to publishing my first book!…

Now that my first book has been formatted, correctly this time, it was time to go back to trying to publish it. 

Publishing your eBook on KDP explained

Here is a  full breakdown of the steps and explanations thereof to make it easier on you!

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Page 1 of 3 – This is all about the details of your book

Information that you will need to enter- 

Title- This is the title of the book that you are going to publish. You will want to make sure that this matches the title of the book in your manuscript that you will be uploading a little later in the next section If it doesn’t it will normally get flagged by the Amazon KDP algorithm.

Author- This is the section that you will need to enter the name of the original author of the book. If you are the original author then your name will go here. If you are publishing an open domain book then the name of the author will go here.

Is it part of a series?– This is one of the few “optional” sections that you can choose to fill out. If your book is part of a series or you think it might be part of one eventually this is where you will put the name. Just like most parts of KDP you can go back and edit it even after it is in “publication”. I prefer to sort my books into series (i.e. childrens books, cookbooks, fairy tales, ect.) mostly for my benefit but there is also a benefit for the sales of your books in that series. If you have ever looked at a book for sale on Amazon and seen the next few books in that series suggested to you this is where that “suggestion” comes from.

Edition- Is the book a specific edition? If so this is where you will make the customers aware.

Book Descriptions- This may seem frivolous or something that is not super important but that couldn’t be further from the truth. How will you be able to differentiate yourself from the other versions of your book that are already listed? This is the first way for you to do so! Also, this will help your book to more easily be found by potential customers as they search. 

Keywords- As with the section above, the keywords that you use will assist your book in being found by future customers. Research what keywords are best for your book. Treat this just as you would researching keywords for an optimized blog post. You can have up to 8 keywords listed per book. 

Categories- Pick the category(ies) that your book best fits into. Up to two of them. Amazon will also classify your book into other “suggested” categories or sections as you begin to sell your books.

Age range (if needed)- Should there be a minimum age for the subject matter in your book? This is primarily opinion based.

Page 2 of 3– This is where you will create/ upload the “meat” of your book

Information that you will need to enter- 

Digital Rights Management (DRM)- According to Amazon it “is intended to inhibit unauthorized access to or copying of digital content files”. (It is, however, not available for open domain books.)

Manuscript upload- This is where I first found out that I had a problem as described above. As I stated before, do yourself a favor and download the Kindle Create program. Link to How to use KC blog post.  If you already have your manuscript preformatted in a PDF file you can upload it without using the Kindle Create program. Pro Tip: If you are interested in printing blank journals save a PDF copy of the lined pages so you can reuse it for other journals.  

Cover creator- This is a pretty intuitive program to use within the publishing program on KDP. A few notes that will make your life easier… The DPI of the pictures in the E version of your book do not matter. You can also have your cover professionally done (or done by you if you are good at that kind of stuff) and just upload it into the cover creator line.   

Note: If you choose to also publish a paperback version of your book the DPI of your picture will need to be 300 or more.

eBook Previewer- This is your final check to ensure that your book is formatted correctly and everything looks right. Make sure to check this section page by page to look for any sort of formatting issues.

Page 3 of 3– Where to sell and how much to sell it for.

Information that you will need to decide and enter- 

Enter into KDP Select?- This  is an interesting way to possibly increase your income from your Ebook. One of the main things to remember is that once you enroll in this program you are also signing an exclusivity contract for a 90 period. You can re enroll at the end of this timeframe or choose to opt out of continuing at that point.  This exclusivity is specifically only for the E version of your book. 

Side Note: KDP select is not available for open domain books. Click Here to be redirected to Amazon’s KDP full explanation page.

What territories to sell in (worldwide or individual)?- You are able to select worldwide or in certain territories. In my opinion, it makes little sense to limit your ability to sell by limiting your markets but… to     each their own.

Price- This section is an interesting section to dig into. The pricing of your book can dramatically affect the sales of your book. There are also some Amazon set constraints. In most cases your book can not be set as “free” (although there are ways around this).  If you are publishing your own original content/ journal or low content book you will need to decide at what price it will sell the best. The easiest way to do this is just with some super simple “market research”. As in, search for “like” offerings on Amazon and see what they are selling for. As with almost everything else in KDP you can go back and change it after your book is approved so don’t stress too much over this.

If you want to allow lending- Lending allows the purchaser to share your book for up to 48 hours. This option is a recommended option by Amazon.

At this point your book is ready to publish! All you have to do is click on the publish button. Once you have clicked “publish”, just go back to your “Bookshelf”. 

See below for the visual!

At this point all you are doing is waiting. Your book will initially be “In Review”. It can take up to 72 hours, on average, for your new ebook to go into “Live” status in KDP. There is a step in between “In Review” and “Live” and it is “Publishing”. This step generally takes just a few hours at most and unless you are constantly checking in on it you will normally not even see this step. Your book is ready for people to purchase once it is in the “Live” stage.
You can choose to create a paperback version of your book once your ebook is in the review phase or later. If you are interested in creating a paperback version of your book click here insert link for How to Paperback Version for a detailed explanation of how to do it!

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