Despite an endless news cycle of horror and despair, when you step back and have a look at the big picture, we humans actually have it about as easy now as we ever have.
An infected scratch is no longer a death sentence. Instances of women being called witches and burnt at the stake are presumably at all-time lows. And budding authors no longer have to pander to the whims of an omnipotent publishing house to get their words printed.
Self-publishing is a reality, friends. If you’ve written a potential Pulitzer winner you no longer need the surly nod of a traditional publisher to send it to print. All you need is a computer, a dependable internet connection – honestly even dial-up will do – and the help of a little website called Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon KDP to its friends.)
What is Amazon KDP?
With Amazon’s share of the ebook market drifting between 65% and 83% depending on how you read the tea leaves, it makes sense that you, our noble author, would quite like a slice of that sizable pie. Amazon KDP is a means to that end, offering an easy path to self-publishing in both electronic and physical forms, as well as a suite of additional tools including file conversion, formatting and sales tracking.
Amazon KDP is the evolution of Amazon’s former self-publishing tool, CreateSpace. It is completely free to use and sees authors to retain rights to their content and 70% of the book’s profits. The service is obviously tied to the Amazon store, granting your book the opportunity to get in front of millions of eyes.
How to Publish Your Book through Amazon KDP*
Setting aside the inherent risk of making an ASS out of U and ME, for this exercise we’re going to assume that you’ve already got an excellent book lying dormant in your ‘Books What I Gone and Wrote’ folder. It combines the wordsmithery of James Joyce, the scope of Leo Tolstoy and the whimsy of Roald Dahl. Nice.
Let’s publish this sucker.
Step 1: Sign up or sign in
It’s incredibly easy to sign in to Amazon KDP – just use your Amazon login. Don’t have one of those? First of all I’m equal parts impressed and concerned. Good on you for going against the tide, but it stops now. Click on ‘Sign Up’, pop in a few details, and you’ll officially become part of the Amazon tribe. It was only a matter of time.
Once logged in you’ll gain access to a range of tools that allow you to publish your manuscript in as simple and efficient or as thorough and studious a manner as you’d like.
Step 2: Provide the details
Profile created, you’re ready to offer your book to the Amazon gods. To kick this process off, simply click on the ‘Create New Title’ box on the main page of your profile.
As your book is most likely an inanimate object, you’ll be asked to fill in details on its behalf. Here you’ll be asked to supply a variety of information, including:
- Fiction/non-fiction and category
- Search keywords
- The type of person you’d like to target
The periphery supplied, it’s time to do what you came here to do.
Step 3: Upload your manuscript
The time has come to deliver your masterpiece. First you’ll be asked to supply the book cover (wow, these guys look pretty cool), and to confirm your publishing and digital rights (simple checkboxes – no need to stress!)
Your words are no doubt game-changing, but they need to be supplied in the correct format to have any hope of being read. Margins, page numbers, headings, sub-headings – these things don’t format themselves. If you feel a little overwhelmed by the task (and there is a surprising amount to know), at Damonza we offer a professional formatting service to help your book along.
Once you’re happy with the layout, you can upload your book in the following file types:
- Adobe PDF (PDF)
- ePub (EPUB)
- HTML (ZIP, HTM, or HTML)
- Kindle Package Format (KPF)
- MOBI (MOBI)
- Plain Text (TXT)
- Rich Text Format (RTF)
- Word (DOC or DOCX)
Amazon KDP will then convert your file to Kindle format (unless you’re the sort of star pupil who uploads a KPF.) It’s important to note that uploading certain file types, most notably TXT and HTML, can result in your formatting going haywire. EPUB, PDF and DOCX are safer choices, and after uploading there is an option to preview the manuscript and correct any mistakes.
Step 4: Price and publish
It’s time to ice the cake.
After confirming whether you have the worldwide rights to your book or just those of specific territories, you’ll be asked to set your pricing. Amazon KDP has some basic minimums and maximums that you’ll need to work within, but those aside, pricing your book will be entirely up to you. Trying to put a price on blood, sweat and tears can be tricky, but our advice is to lean lower rather than higher, as this increases the chances of your book actually being read. Assume your readers, God love them, are thrifty types.
You’ll also be offered the opportunity to enroll in three Kindle programs:
- Kindle MatchBook: Anyone who has bought the print version of your book can purchase the Kindle version for $2.99 or less.
- Kindle Book Lending: Anyone who has bought your book can lend it to their friends for a period of 14 days.
- KDP Select: This program makes your book exclusive to Amazon, but promises that it will reach more readers, earn more money and maximise your sales potential. It also gives you the option of offering a free download for a select amount of time after publishing, which, while it won’t earn you any money, will be great for spreading the good word about your good book.
All of these programs are free to join, and all have merit: MatchBook for creating loyal readers, Book Lending for finding new ones, and KDP Select to earn max cash. Throw caution to the wind and tick all of them because why the hell not?
Tick and click ‘Save and Publish’, and your book will be available for purchase within the day.
For those of you who have completed steps one through four, I offer a firm shake of the hand. You can now print those business cards with the words PUBLISHED AUTHOR beneath your name, and order that gold-plated AUTHOR-1 number plate I know you’ve been dreaming of.
You’re not dying from a flesh wound, you haven’t been burnt at the stake, and you’ve published your own book. What a time to be alive.
*Note, sometimes Amazon changes things up a bit. This is accurate for July 2020.