How to Publish an eBook on Amazon

How To Publish An Ebook On Amazon

Self-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform is quick and easy. I thought it might be helpful to write a quick walk-through to take new users through the publishing process one step at a time using screenshots. In order to get started, simply follow this link to the Kindle Direct Publishing site, sign on with your amazon account, or create a new account. When you first sign in, you will be looking at your Kindle Bookshelf. Until you begin adding books, your Bookshelf will be empty. Here is an example of my Bookshelf with my first three books already published. (Note: I recently made a change to my first book, Beautiful Demons, which is why it says “Publishing” instead of “Live”. The book is still available for sale, but the changes are currently in review.)

Your new titles will have a status on the far right side of your Bookshelf. “Publishing” means that your book is currently being reviewed and will be published to the Kindle store soon. “Live” means that your book is available for purchase in the Kindle store.

So let’s learn how to add a new title to your Kindle Bookshelf. In the upper left hand corner of your Bookshelf page, you will see the option to “Add a new title”.

Clicking on this button will take you to the publishing screen where you can enter the details for your new book.

The first thing you will be asked is whether you want to enroll your book in KDP Select. KDP Select is an agreement to list your book exclusively on Amazon for 90 days. In return , they place you in their Kindle Owner’s Lending Library where members of Amazon Prime can ‘borrow’ your book for free. You will get paid for each of these borrows. You will also be given 5 days during this 90 day period when you can list your book for free. You will also earn a 70% royalty on books in certain markets such as India, Brazil and Japan. If you wish to enroll in KDP Select for the next 90 days, you will check the box here at the top of the page.

Next, you will enter your book details, such as title, series title, book description, author, and so on.

Now, let’s take this one box at a time. First, you will need to enter your Book name. Give some thought to your title as this will be your first level of marketing. Just as an example, I am going to fill in the boxes as if I were publishing the fourth book in my Peachville High Demons series, Shadow Demons.

Next, you will need to indicate whether this book is part of a series or not. If your book is part of a series, check the box to indicate that it is. If not, simply move on to the next step. If your book is part of series, enter the series title in the box. Where it says Volume, enter the number this book falls in the series. For example, Shadow Demons is Book 4 for me, so next to Volume, I entered the number 4.

TIP: On Amazon, your series name will appear in parentheses beside your book title. If you want readers to see which number this book is in the series, you can enter the number into the series title so that the number shows up in parentheses. For example, instead of saying “Shadow Demons (Peachville High Demons)” when users see my book, it will now say “Shadow Demons (Peachville High Demons, #4)” to give the reader more information up front. This is something that has helped my readers find the book they are looking for faster. Either way is correct, just put some thought into how you want your title to appear in searches.

In the next box, you have an option to enter an Edition Number. I would say this has more use for a non-fiction book that has been updated with new content. However, if you have made changes in grammar and format and content to your fiction book, you could mark your new upload as a second or third edition. Personally, I do not use this box.

Below the edition box, you will find the Description box.

Here, you will have a maximum of 4000 characters to describe your book. Think of this like the back cover blurb on any paperback. This is where you give readers a hook to entice them to read your book. But, you can add more than just a short teaser. Feel free to utilize this space to give readers a juicy excerpt of your book. You can use this space to include reviews that might help give your book more credibility and appeal. In the same way that successful authors often give cover quotes to books, you can include quotes from other writers here in the description of your book. For example, a cover quote from another author might look like this: “Shadow Demons haad me on the edge of my seat. A must read!” – J.K. Bowling. :P

Now, add contributors to your book. This is where you will enter the author name and any other names you would like included. Click on the “Add contributors” button.

A new box will pop up, asking you to enter the name of people who contributed to your book. First and foremost, you need to enter the author’s name. If you are using a pen name for your books, you need to enter it here as this is the author name that will appear on your book’s page.

From the drop-down box, select the title of the person you wish to acknowledge. Personally, I only make use of the “Author” title, but if you are publishing a picture book, you would want to include the name of your Illustrator, for example. Once you have entered the name and title of a contributor, click “save”.

The next set of boxes are pretty self-explanatory. Several of these next boxes are optional, but I will go over each of them briefly.

From the drop-down menu, select the language your book is written in. In the next box, choose a publication date. This is optional. If you do not enter a date, the system will automatically mark your publication date as the date you first put your book for sale. Next, enter the name of your publisher. For example, I started my own company, Dead River Books, so that I can publish all of my own works under the same publishing company name. This is completely optional. If you do not list a publisher, I believe it will simply say “Amazon Digital Services” by default, but I could be wrong about that. Finally, there is a spot for you to enter an ISBN for your book. Again, this is optional. Amazon does not require you to purchase an ISBN for your ebooks. It is important to note, however, that you CANNOT use the same ISBN for your ebook that you used for your print book. Each digital format must have its own unique ISBN. Click on “What’s this?” for more information on where you can purchase an ISBN if you would like to have one.

Part 2 – Verify Your Publishing Rights. This is a simple choice. Here, you are simply indicating whether or not your book is part of the public domain. If so, the rights to this book belong to everyone. Chances are, your original book is NOT part of the public domain. Select “This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights.” Obviously, if someone else owns the copyright to your book (such as a previous publisher), you cannot upload and sell your book on Amazon’s Kindle store, so make sure you own the rights to sell your book. If you are self-publishing an original work for the first time and have never signed a contract giving someone else the rights to your book, then you automatically hold the rights to publish this book. I’m sure it goes without saying that you don’t have the right to publish a book someone else wrote unless they’ve sold or given your their copyright. Hopefully I didn’t totally lose you there. Pretty much all you need to do here is choose door #2.

Part 3 – Target Your Book to Customers.

This is one of the most important sections of the publishing process. Here, you will choose categories and keywords to help place your book in the Kindle store. First, click on “Add categories” and select the two categories that BEST match your book. This will bring up a new box where you can Add or Change Categories. Since they currently only allow you to choose two, this will be a little bit of a guessing game. One way to help pick your categories is to find a book you know is similar to yours in the Kindle store and see what categories they are in to give you some idea where your book might belong.

For my young adult book, I selected “Juvenile Fiction” first, then scrolled down and picked two subcategories within that heading – “Fantasy & Magic” and “Horror & Ghost Stories”. “The red message at the bottom of this picture is because I tried to select a third category. If you need to change a category, you must first click beside the one you want to change, then select “Remove Category” before selecting a new one.) When I click “Save”, these categories are now listed on the main KDP page.

Keep in mind that these categories are not set in stone. You can always go back and edit/change these categories at any time.

Now, enter search keywords for your book. This is optional, but I highly recommend it. Search keywords are search terms that help readers find books about certain content. For example, if I love the Hunger Games series, I might go to the Kindle store and search for “Young Adult Dystopian” books. Any books that use this search keyword will show up in my search. You are allowed to enter up to seven keyword terms. When you enter them, be sure to separate them with a comma. Here are a few examples of what I might enter with my book, Shadow Demons:

Search keywords are important and help readers find your books. Experiment with different keywords to find the strongest seven to use.

Part 4 – Upload Your Book Cover. In this section, you will upload an image that you would like to use as your book cover. This image is going to be one of your most important marketing tools. Your image needs to be one that will draw people’s attention to your book and make them interested in reading it. You can design a book cover by yourself or hire someone else, but keep in mind that this is extremely important when it comes to selling your book. To read more about what size image you need to use, click on “product image guidelines” on the KDP site. When you have your image prepared and are ready to upload it, click on “Browse for Image” to bring up the Product Image Upload box.

Click on “Browse” and locate your book cover image on your hard drive. When you have selected your image, click “Upload Image”. When the image is finished uploading, you will get a message that says “Uploaded successfully!” and you should see a small thumbnail of your book cover image on the bottom left corner.

When your product image has uploaded, close the dialogue box and continue on to Part 5 – Upload Your Book File.

The first thing you need to do in Part 5 is select whether or not to enable DRM, or digital rights management. Here is what Kindle has to say about DRM:

Basically, DRM makes it more difficult for people to share your book with others. Authors have wildly varying opinions on this matter. I believe that DRM is more of a pain in the you-know-what for people who buy the book legally than it is a deterrant for people who want to steal your book. If someone wants to steal your book, they are going to do it regardless of DRM. On the other hand, DRM can make it more difficult for someone who legally bought your book to read it on their devices without a hassle. I always select “Do not enable digital rights management” for my books, but this is a personal decision and you should take some time to figure out which side of the fence you stand on. It is important to note that once you have made a selection about DRM, you can not change your mind later.

Finally, now you can upload your novel to KDP! Click on “Browse for Book” and select your book’s content file from your computer. Once you are sure you have selected the right file, click “Upload book”. Kindle uses a proprietary format called MOBI. For help with learning to format your novel correctly, you can click on “help with formatting” and get information on a few ways to format your novel. You can also use a .DOC file. Kindle’s system will convert your book to .MOBI automatically.

CAUTION: Converting your book from a .DOC file might cause changes in your book’s formatting. Make sure to preview your book to make sure it looks the way you want it to look! In order to get the most control over your document’s appearance, you should format a .MOBI directly and upload that instead of using a conversion.

Wait until your book has been successfully uploaded, then select “preview book”.

When you preview your book, a small window will pop up that will mimic a Kindle device. Look through this preview carefully to see what your book will look like once someone buys it and downloads it to their Kindle.

Once you have finished with your preview, click the ‘x’ on the top right corner to go back to the publishing page. You are now finished with the first page and can move on to the second. If you are ready to move on, click “Save and Continue”. If you want to save your work so far, you can choose “save as draft”. You can save your work at any stage of the process and your new book will appear on your bookshelf as a Draft.

Page 2 of the KDP process deals with Rights & Pricing.

Part 6 – Verify Your Publishing Territories. In this section, you will select the territories for which you have the right to publish your book. For most of you, you will select “Worldwide rights”, which means that you have the right to publish your book everywhere in the world. This enables Amazon to sell your book anywhere in the world from their site. Currently, Kindle has stores in the US, UK, and Germany, but more stores may open in the future.

Part 7 – Choose Your Royalty. Amazon offers two royalty rates. 35% and 70%. The 70% royalty rate is only available for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. All other prices must select the 35% royalty option. It is important to note that you cannot price your ebook lower than $0.99. Make sure to choose the correct royalty rate here for your price! It would suck to only receive 35% royalty on a book priced between $2.99 and $9.99 when you could be earning twice as much!

Select the royalty rate that applies, then enter your list price. Beside the list price, you will find information about the delivery cost amazon will charge for your book as well as the estimated royalty you will earn for every book sold. For the UK and DE stores, you can choose to enter your own price or you can choose to “set price automatically based on US price.”

*NOTE: Amazon is constantly working to add new countries to their sales network. Most of these countries follow the same 70% / 35% royalty structure as the US store. The exceptions are India, Brazil and Japan. You will only earn 35% in these three stores regardless of your price UNLESS you are enrolled in KDP select for this title. Then you will earn 70% during the 90 days your book in enrolled. You can always renew your 90 day enrollment when your term is up, but you cannot have your book for sale on any other site. Not even your own.

Part 8 – Kindle Book Lending

This is a simple yes or no choice. Do you want people to be able to borrow your book from their friends and family? If so, click “Allow lending for this book.” This will allow someone who has purchased your book from the Amazon website to loan out their copy of your ebook to someone they know for a period of 14 days.

Finished!!

When you have finished all the steps above, simply check the box at the bottom of page 2, then click “Save and Publish”. Your book will go into a queue to be reviewed and will now show up on your Amazon KDP bookshelf as “publishing”. When your book is available for sale in the Kindle store, it’s status will say “Live”.

From your bookshelf, you can edit, change or delete a book. On the far right side of the page, you will see a tab marked “Actions”. Clicking on this tab will bring up the following choices:

Once your book is Live, you can check your sales by clicking on “Reports” at the top of the KDP page, then selecting “Month-to-Date Unit sales”.

I hope this step-by-step walk-through will help you easily find your way through Amazon’s KDP (kingle direct publishing) site. If you have any questions or corrections, please feel free to contact me through my website at www.sarracannon.com.

58 thoughts on “How to Publish an eBook on Amazon

  1. very interesting and informative!! thank you Sarra, ill keep that for reference, not done alot only 10k words on one book and started another but i know that its something that ive got to try, thank you xx

  2. You haven’t mentioned images and I haven’t seen examples with images excepting the cover of course.

    So, if I create a book with custom colorful images, is this now acceptable by Amazon?

    • Trevor, yes it’s acceptable, but color will not show up on some ereading devices. I’ve seen tons of children’s books and such on sale in the Kindle store, however. Most people just know to buy them on their HD devices like th Kindle Fire to see the color images.

    • I too am wanting to publish a “how to” book with pictures. I know about the”delivery” for each image but is it fairly simple in the upload process to handle multiple images?

      • Hi Kathy,

        When you are uploading, you will actually upload a word doc or an epub that has the images embedded into the file. You won’t be uploading each image separately, if that is what you are thinking. When you have the document formatted, you simply insert the images into the text where you want them to go, and they will show up on the ereader, just like they do in word.

        The things to be aware of are image resolution (you don’t want to put huge files in for each image or the document will be too large to publish. Some ereaders also don’t auto-size, so you have to be careful of this as well since some will be reading on large iPads and others on small kindles) and the fact that images will not show in color on some devices.

        I hope this helps to answer your question!

    • Jacob, this entire article is about how to publish your book on amazon. Read through and let me know if you have a more specific question!

  3. Hi,

    I have a question: Is it ok to publish my novel on Kindle if a publishing house also accepted my manuscript? The publishing house didn’t answer yet (it’s too soon) but let’s say their answer is “Yes”, can i still publish my book on kindle?

    Thank You!

  4. For techno phobics, how much would you charge to put their manuscripts
    onto Kindle?

    Also, supposing someone wanted to publish biographical material, about being
    a bank robber, or a female stripper, an alcoholic, or a victim in a violent relationship, and you didn’t want to publish under your real name.

  5. This is one of the most informative articles I have read. I have been working on my own eBooks for a while so this article is exactly what I need to get them online and ready to be sold. Thanks very much.

    CMS

  6. First off I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask
    if you do not mind. I was curious to know how
    you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Thanks!

  7. Hi there – this may be a stupid question, but I’m wondering if the steps you outlined in this article create an end result that is only viewable on an actual Kindle? Is changing the format to .doc instead of .mobi the only thing I would need to do to make my ebook downloadable onto, say, a laptop?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hi Julia,

      Sorry it took me a while to respond. The simple answer is no. .mobi, .doc, and .epub are completely different types of files, so changing the extension won’t help at all. You would actually have to convert the file from one format to the other, which takes either a special program or someone who knows html.

  8. Thank you! This blog is perfect and may well be helping me out a great deal in the near future. Not quite finished my first book but nearly there – at 62,000 words and really didn’t know what to do with it. Have been searching the web for weeks looking at self publishing options etc etc!
    Thank you x

  9. Sarra, Your tutorial has been magnificent so far. I don’t know if you have an idea on the maximum number of words a typical eBook to be published on Kindle should have? Thanks

    • Thanks Oladayo. So happy to help.

      There are no rules on Amazon about a maximum number of words. The only rule I know of has to do with file size. I’m not sure of the limit, but if your ebook file is too large, Amazon will limit your pricing and not allow you to price the book at 99 cents. It would have to be $2.99 or higher, at which point they would also charge you a “delivery” fee each time the book is purchased. The fee would come out of earned royalties.

      Again, I’m not sure of the file size, but it’s something ridiculously huge. Something like ten full length novels in one ebook can still pass without a problem. I think unless your ebook is going to have a lot of high resolution images or more than, say, a million words, you’ll be fine!

  10. This is my first book, and it is about my 40 plus years in manufacturing as a manager, plant manager, and director of manufacturing. It is based on my opinions of what is wrong with manufacturing and what we must all do to get america boak on top. I explain what part the employee plays, and why they are the assets. I need advice on what I must do to have my first book placed on Amazon KDP

    • Hi Donald, congratulations on your book. I’m not sure what information you are needing besides what is listed on this page? You simply sign up for an account at Amazon’s KDP page, put in all your account information like address, ssn, etc, and upload following the instructions in this walk through. Let me know if you have a more specific question I can address!

  11. Thanks, Sarra. I did know that I will be uploading embedded pictures but I read that I will be charged a small “delivery” fee for each one. Maybe I interpreted that wrong. I guess it doesn’t matter because I have to have the pictures. That just means I have to spend more time marketing to make up the extra cost!

    • Kathy, as far as I’m aware, you don’t have to pay a delivery fee per image. Any ebook priced over 99 cents has to pay a delivery fee based on the size of the file. The more images you have, the larger the file size, which means the larger the delivery fee. This fee simply comes out of the royalties paid.

    • Great! That should help! I know there is a file size limit for 99 cent books, but I’m not sure what the limit is. If you run across an issue with them not allowing you to price at 99 cents, it might be that the file is too large. I think it’s a pretty huge limit, though!

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  13. I have some questions please:

    How can the user of Kindle First Publishing withdraw the earned money?

    Can the user withdraw money if he/she is not in the US?

    Can the user withdraw the earned money if he/she is from the Middle East?

    • The money is usually paid directly through direct deposit or through the mail by check. I believe there are restrictions for those publishing outside the United States, so you would have to look through their terms of service to see if your country is listed as a potential place from which to publish. I think Barnes and Noble is much more strict on the publisher’s origin than Amazon, but I’m sorry that I do not know for sure which countries are allowed to publish at Amazon.

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  15. This how-to guide is very helpful for starters who wants to publish ebook on Amazon’s quick and easy platform. In which, Amazon.com has recently announced a new segment of Kindle Direct Publishing – KDP EDU to help educators and authors in producing contents for students.

  16. Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for this information. I have it saved as a link on my desktop it’s very helpful.
    I am in the process of signing up on KDP.
    I am a little apprehensive at the moment though, the book is soley my own work but it wants to know if it is public domain or not. Should I obtain a copywrite before publishing anything? Or do I still own the intellectual property if I am not copywritten.

    • Jerry, as long as you are the original creator of the entire work, you own your copyright. You will mark that “NO” this is not a public domain work. Whether or not you file for legal copyright with the US copyright office is totally up to you. You still own the copyright of any work you create, regardless, but filing the copyright legally just adds that extra layer of proof and documentation in case anything comes up for question. It’s not a bad thing to have, but it’s not absolutely necessary either. Hope this helps!

    • Christian, I’m not sure what you’re asking. Amazon’s ebook publishing platform is called KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing. If you want to sell an ebook on Amazon, you have to publish through KDP.

  17. Thanks Sarra, I am an internet marketer and a web developer, i have been looking for a means to sell my ebooks on amazon. But it was a bit difficult. through your post am really impressed. But can i use payoneer card to withdraw my earning? because am not from US

    • Paul, there are very specific rules about people publishing outside the US. Since I don’t have any personal experience with that, I’m not sure of all the ins and outs. I believe you have to be paid by check, but I am just not sure. You’ll have to go to the KDP website and dig around in their questions and answers section, or, if you don’t find an answer there, email customer service or post in the forums there on the KDP site. Sorry I can’t help more!

  18. Unbelievably helpful information! Thank you!

    I’ve got a couple of questions. My book ( a children’s picture book ) is only 32 pages and 400 words with color illustrations on each page. Question # 1 – I’m the author/illustrator and am wondering what to reasonably charge for this book. I mean, it’s not a novel . . . but I did spend an enormous amount of time on the illustrations.

    And question #2 – it’s in a PDF file format and looks great when viewed on my tablet (and only 2MB in size). So, I’m guessing I would just upload like you uploaded your .doc files and it will probably be OK. Any thoughts?

    thank you so much! You’ve taken the pain and horror of figuring this out on my own.

    Nan

    • You’re welcome! As far as price, that’s a tougher issue. yes, you want to be paid fairly for the time spent working on it, but at the same time, you also need to price it low enough that people will actually buy it. if you price it high and no one buys it, you aren’t getting paid at all for your work! What I recommend is taking some time to go through Amazon’s children’s book Top 100 lists and see if you can find other self-published titles. See what they are charging and try to make a decision based on what feels right to you, but also what seems in line with the current market.

  19. I liked your article it has given me confidence to carry on with my book. I am a new writer working on my first book. I would like to know if one should have a web site in order to have books published on amazon?

    • Is it your content and do you own the rights to sell it? If the content of the ebook was created by someone else, and you did not purchase the rights to sell it, then no, you cannot sell the ebook legally. If it is your own content but you signed a contract with a company or something that gave them publishing rights, then you also don’t have the right to sell it on your own.

      If, however, you created the content and have not given or sold your rights to anyone else, then you can sell it anywhere you wish. I don’t know what type of monthly members site you are talking about, but if you also had previously sold this book on their site, you might want to look into their terms of service to make sure you didn’t sign a contract that the content would be exclusive.

  20. hi…..

    after a purchase where i will receive me money i think paypal i want my money in my paypal where you are reciving your money after the every purchase on your book ?

    • You will have to look through the KDP rules about payments, but I believe the only two options are direct deposit into your bank account or a check by mail. THey don’t pay out after every purchase. You are paid 60 days after the end of a month. So if you make $100 in the month of January, they deposit that money in your account (or send you a check) at the end of March or early April.

  21. Hello, I just finished writing my own book and I want to know if I have to copyright my book before I publish on amazon? Also I was wondering if I don’t copyright it do I have to add the “copyright’ information on the first page of my ebook.

    • Hi Lamisha. No, you don’t have to apply for copyright. As long as you were the sole creator of the original content and haven’t sold that content to someone else, then you automatically own the copyright by law. However, getting an official copyright is a step some people take just to give a little bit of added protection to their work. It’s optional, though.

      As for putting the copyright notice inside your book, I think it’s a good idea, just as a statement or declaration that it is your original work and that you own the copyright.

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