Go to kdp.amazon.com and sign in with your existing Amazon account. If you prefer to use a separate account for your self-publishing activity, then sign up and create a new one with a different email address.
You’ll be taken straight to your Bookshelf and a notice informing you that you need to complete your account information before publishing a book:
Press Update Now to go to Your Account. This consists of three basic sections:
- Company/Publisher Information – fill in your address.
- Tax Information – click to complete the form.
- Your Royalty Payments – follow the link to add details of the bank account you wish your royalties to be paid into. You’ll need your IBAN number and BIC code. You should find these on your bank statements. If you have trouble locating them, ring up your bank and ask.
Of the three sections, the only part which could be considered vaguely complicated is tax information. It really isn’t anything to be scared of, though. If you signed up to use CreateSpace, you’ll be familiar with the basic idea. Its sole purpose is to see if Kindle needs to withhold 30% of your earnings to hand over to the US government. If you’re a resident of a country like the UK which has a treaty with the US on this matter, then, they don’t. However, if you don’t fill in the form, Kindle, as a US company, will be legally obliged to withold this money.
In these circumstances, it’s well worth spending five minutes filling in the form. You’ll be paying tax to your own government so the last thing you want is to be forking out twice. All you need to proceed is your national tax identification number. For UK citizens, this is your National Insurance Number.
Press the big yellow Complete Tax Information button. Assuming you’re in the UK, fill the form out as follows:
- For U.S. tax purposes, are you a U.S. person? Select No
- Type of beneficial owner: Select Individual
- Country of citizenship or country of residence for tax purposes: United Kingdom
- Full Name: This should be your legal name, not any pseudonym you may have used as an author.
- Permanent address/Mailing address: I think you can manage these yourselves.
- Are you an agent acting as an intermediary? No
- U.S. person test: Read this carefully and check none of the qualifying criteria apply to you. Don’t worry if you’ve spent a couple of weeks on holiday in the US. This doesn’t count as Substantial Presence and won’t affect your tax situation.
- Tax identification number (TIN): Select I have a foreign (non-U.S.) income tax identification number (this is your National Insurance number).
- Country of Residence: Check this states United Kingdom and tick the box immediately beneath it.
- Fill in your Foreign (non-U.S.) TIN number: Type your NI number and confirm it’s correct.
Next, you’ll get a chance to review the information you’ve provided before giving your electronic signature. This simply involves typing your name in a box.
After submission, you’ll be returned to your account page and see a satisfying tick, indicating your tax information is complete. Even better, the applicable withholding rate (the money Kindle withholds to give to the US government) should read 0%.
You’re now ready to list your eBook. Click on the Bookshelf tab at the top of the page:
Select + Kindle eBook under Create new title:
You’ll be presented with a simple form, divided into three tabs: book details, content and pricing.
Kindle eBook Details
Language: Self explanatory
This must match what’s on your front cover. Ensure it’s correctly spelt and capitalised.
Only complete this if you actually have one. Again, write it exactly as it appears on your cover.
Is your book part of a series like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or The Hunger Games? If so, in the Series Name field, enter the overall series title and in the Series Number box, indicate whereabouts in the series this book belongs. In all likelihood this will be 1, at least for the first book you list.
This is the first edition of your eBook version (your print version doesn’t count here) so enter 1 in the box. If, at a later date, you significantly update your book, then that will be your second edition.
Author: Self explanatory
Only add contributors in very specific circumstances eg if your book was translated from another language, you collaborated with an illustrator for a picture book or someone prominent has provided a foreword or introduction. Otherwise, ignore this section.
Enter your book blurb here. Make sure it’s been properly proof read and doesn’t contain any typos or spelling/grammar errors.
Confirm you own the copyright.
This section represents a real opportunity to lead potential readers to your book. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about the sort of terms someone interested in your genre might be searching for. Keywords can be short phrases or single words.
Kindle allows you to choose two of these. Listing your book in a relevant category will help interested customers find it so think very carefully about where your book belongs. Be as specific as you can. It’s not worth selecting Fiction -> General because if you choose any category under Fiction (such as Action & Adventure), your book will also appear in the general fiction search results.
Age Range and Grade Range
If you’ve written a children’s/young adult book, complete the Minimum and Maximum fields. Again, this helps target potential readers and/or their parents. The Grade Range is essentially giving the same information but equating it to school years, like Key Stages in the UK. N.B. American students start in Grade One at six years old and finish Grade Twelve at eighteen.
This is a rather nifty feature that allows for pre-ordering. Until recently, when you published an eBook with KDP, it became available as soon as the listing went live (approximately 12-24 hours after you complete set up). Now, you can set a specific date for your book release and your eBook will be available for customers to pre-order for up to ninety days beforehand. They’ll then be able to download it on release day.
This not only gives you greater control over when the book becomes available but also creates hype and lots of registered sales for launch day. This, in turn, places your book higher up the bestseller charts, making it more visible on Amazon and more likely to feature in sections such as Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.
Click Save and Continue at the bottom of the page to move onto the next tab.
Kindle eBook Content
Digital Rights Management (DRM)
DRM is an anti-piracy measure and as such, it would seem logical to enable it. However, doing so limits the devices on which legitimate purchasers can view your eBook and stops them being able to share it with friends. Amazon tries to replicate the sort of lending and borrowing print book readers enjoy with their eBook lending scheme. However, this is only available on Amazon.com and imposes significant restrictions on its users.
You’re probably thinking this is a good thing. After all, you don’t want your book to be ripped off or shared for free. However, this attitude is to fundamentally misunderstand the battles you face as a self-publisher. Your main problem isn’t theft; it’s obscurity.
As a self-publisher, you’re invisible. The main purpose of everything you do from now on is to get noticed. You need to create hype and interest round your book and have as many people as possible talking about it. Someone sharing and discussing it with friends is far more valuable than a few royalty payments here and there. Remember, those royalty payments won’t even exist if no one’s heard of your book to start with.
Besides, getting hold of a pirated copy of an eBook is a hassle to most people. They have no idea how to do it and even if they did, are unlikely to risk viruses and damage to their hardware when they can buy your book legitimately for a couple of quid.
For these reasons, I prefer not to enable DRM but there’s no right or wrong here. It’s an entirely personal decision for each author to make for themselves.
Press the Browse button, locate your eBook file on your computer and upload it. If you have different Kindle and Smashwords versions, make sure you upload the correct one. Click here for detailed instructions on how to prepare your manuscript for upload.
Kindle eBook Cover
Either design a cover with Cover Creator or preferably, upload your professionally designed Jpeg/Tiff file. You’ll find more information on cover design, here.
Preview Your Book
Using at least one of Kindle’s previewers is essential. It’s both the first time you’ll see your manuscript after conversion and the last chance to spot errors before publication.
I suggest flicking through every page on at least one e-ink and one Fire device/simulator. You don’t have to read every word. The conversion process won’t have changed spelling or grammar. You’re looking for formatting errors, stray tabs, bizarre margins or pages that end without warning. Even so, it’s an arduous job, best broken into half hour chunks to avoid going insane or losing your ability to spot errors altogether.
KDP offers three previewers: an online simulator, an offline one (on your computer) or the option to download your book onto a specific reading device:
To use this, click on Launch Previewer and then navigate to the top right-hand corner of the screen to change the device you want to simulate. The online previewer allows you to see what your book will look like on three basic types of devices: tablet, phone and Kindle eReader.
This is the easiest option as it doesn’t require you to download your book or any extra software. However, turning pages can be rather slow and gets frustrating when checking several hundred pages.
Preview on your computer
To use this, you’ll need to complete the following steps:
- Download and install Kindle Previewer onto your computer. If you click Preview on your computer, links to this software are provided for both Mac and Windows.
- Download your converted eBook file. I suggest you choose the Mobi option.
- Open Kindle Previewer on your computer.
- Select File -> Open Book, navigate to your Downloads folder and double click on your downloaded eBook.
- Click on the Devices tab to select the simulation you want.
- Once you’ve selected Kindle e-ink, Fire or Kindle for iOS, the previewer allows you to specify an exact device:
Unsurprisingly, as you’re dealing with downloaded material, it’s faster than the online previewer. However, it takes longer to set up and I’ve yet to successfully achieve an iPad or iPhone simulation.
Preview on Your Kindle Device/Android Tablet
If you own any Kindle devices or have the Kindle app installed on an android one, then you can view your book on these. To do this:
- Download and install Send to Kindle software onto your computer. You can download it for free, here.
- Download your converted eBook file. I suggest you choose the Mobi option. If you’ve already used the computer previewer, then you don’t need to download the file again.
- Locate your eBook file. It’s probably in your Downloads folder.
- Right click on it and select Send to Kindle from the drop down menu:
- If you have multiple devices registered to your Amazon account, a pop-up box will ask you to select which one(s) to send the file to. I suggest you select all of them.
- Wait a few minutes and your eBook will pop up on your Kindle. You can read it like any other book.
Once your eBook is published, ideally you should also buy yourself a copy and download it to any Kindle devices you own in order to clarify if there are any problems which have slipped through the net. Obviously, it’s unlikely you own all the devices the previewers simulate so, where possible, use friends as guinea pigs. Hopefully, they’ll be downloading your book anyway. Don’t be pushy or demanding but its fine to casually ask them which device they’re reading on and if they’ve encountered any major problems.
Leave this blank. You don’t need an ISBN to publish an eBook on Amazon. Instead, KDP assigns an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).
If you really want to assign an ISBN, use a fresh one, not the same one as your print version. EBooks and paperbacks are different products with very different properties so can’t share an ISBN.
Click Save and Continue to move on to the final tab.
Kindle eBook Pricing
KDP Select Enrollment
This is where you decide if you want to be exclusive to Kindle. Remember, if you agree to this, you can’t list with Smashwords for a ninety-day period. After that, you can choose to leave KDP Select and sell your book through as many other outlets as you wish.
Assuming this is your own work and you haven’t signed away any rights, you almost certainly have rights to all territories.
Royalty and Pricing
The first question here appears to be a trick. Do you want a 35% or 70% royalty? Obviously, you want 70%. However, there are two circumstances in which you might not select this:
- As already discussed, to earn 70% royalties you must set a minimum list price of £1.99 so if you want to price low, you’ll have to accept 35%.
- If your book has lots of pictures and complicated graphics, it may actually be more economically viable to choose the 35% rate.
This second point is because the percentages don’t tell the full story. The 70% royalty rate doesn’t actually mean 70% of your list price. More accurately, it’s:
70% of your list price minus applicable VAT (20% in the UK)
minus a delivery cost of 10p/15c per MB
The 35% royalty rate, by contrast, doesn’t deduct this delivery charge.
If you’ve written a straightforward novel or text-based book, your book will be under 1MB, making the delivery cost negligible. However, if you have a lot of high quality pictures, your file will be larger and the delivery cost higher. In this case, you may end up earning more money through the 35% rate.
Your file size is helpfully stated just beneath where you select your royalty rate:
I’m going to assume you have a simple novel and select 70% royalties.
Enter your list price for Amazon.com. I’m setting mine at $2.99. Kindle then calculates your royalty earnings based on this. Assuming you have an average-sized, text-based book and price it at $2.99, this will be around $2:
You might wonder why the 35% royalty rate is also shown, even though you selected 70%. This is because there’s two royalty rates for Amazon.com. If a US customer buys your book, you’ll receive a 70% royalty. However, customers in countries without a dedicated Amazon site can also buy eBooks from Amazon.com. One of these purchases only yields a 35% royalty.
I shouldn’t worry too much about this. Amazon is quite strict about where customers are able download eBooks. For instance, someone in the UK can only buy an eBook from Amazon.co.uk. If they go to Amazon.com, they’ll be redirected back to their national site. This 35% royalty is only likely to affect a tiny proportion of your market.
Once you’ve set your Amazon.com price, click on the arrow at the bottom-right of the Royalty and Pricing box:
This opens a drop-down list of all the other sites your book will be sold on: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de etc. The list price for these has been prefilled based on the US one. You don’t have to keep these prices, though. If you want to set your own price for any or all of them, you can do so. Simply type the new list price into the relevant box and KDP will recalculate the royalty for that site. I like to do this for Amazon.co.uk in order to keep the price static at £1.99 rather than having it fluctuating with exchange rates. For simplicity’s sake, I keep the automatic conversion for all other sites (where I expect to make fewer sales, anyway).
If you didn’t choose to enrol in KDP Select, you’ll notice you only receive 35% royalties for sales in Brazil, Japan, Mexico and India. The 70% royalty rate is only available in these countries to members of KDP select. If you expect to make massive sales in any of them, it’s another reason to be exclusive to Amazon.
I want to give my eBook away:
You’ll notice even if you select the 35% royalty rate, it’s impossible to set a price lower than $/£0.99. Technically, you can’t give your book away on Amazon for longer than five days every three months and that’s only if you signed up to KDP Select.
However, it often works to list your book for free on Smashwords and then inform Amazon, in the hope they’ll price match. To do this, ensure that you’ve selected the 35% royalty rate on KDP. This is particularly important as the 70% rate requires you to promise you won’t undercut Amazon’s price. The 35% one doesn’t, leaving you free to follow the rest of the instructions.
- List your book for free on Smashwords and wait for your listing to appear in one of the big retailers, such as iBooks or Barnes & Noble.
- Locate your eBook on Amazon.com and scroll down and at the bottom of Product details.
- Click on the link entitled: tell us about a lower price.
- When asked where you saw the lower price select Website (Online) and complete the details requested. In the URL box, copy and paste the iBooks or Barnes & Noble website page where your book is available free.
You’ll need to repeat the process across all of Amazon’s major sites: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca etc. KDP usually then price matches, making your book free. However, this is by no means guaranteed. They’re getting increasingly savvy about authors manipulating them. If you want to promote your book in this way, though, it’s a quick enough job so you might as well give it a go.
Some people think it helps if you get a friend to do it or are signed in on a different Amazon account. This makes you appear more like a genuine customer and less like you’re attempting to manipulate the price which is *cough* exactly what you are doing. However, I’ve yet to hear any evidence that this approach makes any difference to the end result.
If someone buys a print copy of your book, you can choose to make the eBook available to them at a discounted price ($0.99, $1.99 or $2.99) or for free. Currently, you can only do this for US customers.
The print copy is likely to cost considerably more than your eBook. Given this, I think it’s a nice gesture to make your book available in whichever format these high-paying customers find most convenient. They may wish to switch between the eBook and print editions, depending on where and when they’re reading. Giving your customers a good reading experience can help garner positive reviews and make them more likely to recommend your book to friends. For this reason, I like to offer my eBook free to print book customers. However, you can select a price of $0.99/£0.99 or not enter the scheme at all. It’s up to you.
This is Amazon’s attempt to replicate the lending and borrowing ability readers enjoy with print books. A customer can lend your book for a fourteen-day period, after which it will disappear from the recipient’s Kindle device. This shouldn’t be confused with Kindle Owners Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited, which are subscription services managed by Amazon. Book lending is purely a reader-to-reader programme. It’s currently only available to Amazon.com customers.
If you opted for 70% royalties, you have no choice about enabling the service. You can’t untick the box even if you wanted to. This isn’t something to get stressed about, though. If someone’s excited enough about your book to bother lending it to a friend, you’re on to a winner and don’t need to worry about sales.
Additionally, the purchaser can only lend the book once, not constantly to everyone they know. The loss of one hypothetical sale is more than made up for by the fact these two people wish to share (and presumably talk about) your book, in person or online. Hopefully, others will see this and buy themselves a copy.
Besides, the borrower might not get through your book in fourteen days, in which case, they’ll need to buy their own copy in order to finish it.
Despite not receiving royalties for this scheme, it really is a win-win situation for everyone so, even if you opted for 35% royalties and have a choice about the matter, I’d recommend enabling it.
Publish Your Kindle eBook/Submit for Pre-order
Depending on whether you selected immediate publication or pre-ordering, you’ll see a yellow button at the bottom of the page inviting you to Publish Your Kindle eBook or Submit for Pre-order.
Once you’ve clicked this, Kindle will review your book. I’ve no idea what this actually involves but it can’t be very stringent as, in my experience, it only takes about 12 hours. Officially Kindle state a time period of 24 hours, and warn that the cover image can take up to 72 hours to be added to the listing. If you’re working to schedule, it’s best to allow three days but it’s unlikely to take that long. After this, you’ll have a live listing and customers will either be able to buy your eBook straight away or pre-order it to download on release day.
Linking your eBook to your Print Edition
This should happen automatically but if it hasn’t after a few days, simply email KDP and they’ll sort it out. Like CreateSpace, they’re quick to respond to queries and in my experience, extremely helpful.
Even after your book is live, KDP allows you to make changes to it at any point. To do so:
- Log into your KDP account
- Select the Bookshelf tab to see a list of the books you’ve published.
- Find the book you want to change and click on the three dots to the right of Kindle eBook Actions
- Select the correct option, depending on whether you want to change details, content or pricing:
You can then change any details you wish, upload a revised version/cover, change the price, enrol in KDP Select or leave it (assuming you’ve completed the obligatory ninety-day membership period).
Whilst the ability to make changes is a great feature of online publishing, don’t overuse it. Every time you update your book or its details, it will be unavailable to customers for the 12 – 24 hours it takes KDP to review it.
N.B. Correcting a few spelling mistakes or even updating the cover, doesn’t constitute a new edition of your book. This would only be the case if you were making serious modifications, such as adding, removing or rewriting whole chapters. If you do make substantial changes, you should ideally start a new listing and ensure you enter 2 under Edition Number.
KDP provides a great deal of sales data, all of which is accessible online. It’s updated daily, making it extremely useful for evaluating the success of a price change, promotion or marketing drive. To access this information, click on the Reports tab (to the right of Bookshelf):
You’ll arrive at the Sales Dashboard which consists of two charts and a table, informing you of your recent royalties.
The top chart shows how many sales you’ve made in the past month. You can alter this to reflect a longer or shorter time period or specify a particular Amazon site. If you have more than one book available, you can also choose to see all your sales or those for an individual title.
Underneath this, you’ll find a second chart: Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read, a confusing title if ever I saw one. This refers to the number of pages read in the KOLL and Kindle Unlimited schemes. If you’re not a member of KDP Select, the graph simply deadlines at 0.
At the bottom of the page, the Royalties Earned table details exactly how much money you’ve earned over the past month in each currency. This only includes direct sales, not revenue from KOLL or Kindle Unlimited.
Other than the Sales Dashboard, KDP provides several other reports charting your book sales. These include Pre-Orders, Promotions, Prior Months’ Royalties and Payments. They can be accessed by clicking on the relevant option in the box at the top of the page.
Kindle sends payment two months in arrears. So, at the end of March, you’ll receive your royalties for sales made in January. These royalties can be a little confusing to work out without reference to the correct report.
Around the middle of each month, you’ll receive a separate email for every Amazon site on which you’ve made a sale, telling you payment is due in a couple of weeks. You’ll have one for Amazon.com, one for Amazon.co.uk, one for Amazon.ca and so on. These emails don’t identify which site’s sales they refer to or the amount that’s due to be paid. The net result is that your inbox gets clogged up with a number of fairly uninformative emails.
Things become marginally clearer at the end of the month when you receive payments in your bank account. However, these also come without reference to the site on which the sales originated so, each month, your bank statement consists of a series of payments (eg £50.28, £15.34, £2.83), all with the generic description AMAZON.
In order to make sense of them, you need to visit the Payments section of your KDP Reports page:
This lists royalty payments by date. Each one clearly states the sales period it relates to, the date the payment was issued (which may be a couple of days before it arrived in your bank account), the royalty accrued in the original currency and the payment issued in your own currency, in short everything you need to know to decypher those emails and the seemingly random payments made to your bank account. As such, it’s an invaluable resource for completing any tax return.