For most writers, publication is the ultimate goal.
We long to gaze upon a sleek, finished copy of our beloved manuscript.
But as the “big five” publishing houses increasingly monopolize the market, competition pushes many talented writers out of formal publication.
Most of us are discouraged by the ever-diminishing probability of achieving formal publication.
But just as the circle of Big Publishing grows ever-tighter, the world of self-publishing enlarges.
By the end of this article, you will know precisely how to publish a book on Amazon—and you will experience the immeasurable fulfillment of being a published author.
How To Publish a Book on Amazon: The Basics
Before you begin, let’s cover questions about the basics.
Questions About the Process
Many of us don’t even know where to begin when it comes to publishing on Amazon.
So here are some questions to get us started.
Is It Worth It to Self-publish on Amazon?
For most of us, publishing a book on Amazon is financially and emotionally worth it.
Unless you are gunning for a significant contract with one of the Big Five, self-publishing is the way to go.
Of all options for self-publication, Amazon offers the most affordable and potentially lucrative deals.
Can Anyone Put a Book on Amazon?
Anyone with a manuscript that follows Amazon’s publishing guidelines can put a book on the popular e-market.
You don’t even need a complete manuscript; Amazon accepts low-content books—like journals, planners, and notebooks.
How Many Pages Does a Book Have To Be To Publish on Amazon?
The minimum page count of publishing on Amazon is 24 pages.
There is no maximum word count, but your ability to publish lengthier manuscripts will depend mainly on ink, paper, and trim size options.
Should I Publish a Hardcover or Softcover Book on Amazon?
Amazon Kindle’s Direct Publishing service (KDP) allows you to publish hardcover, softcover, and e-books for free.
The company offers a fixed 60% royalty rate for paperbacks and hardcovers—which means they will print the book on demand and at no cost to you but deduct 40% commission plus the cost of printing.
Questions About Cost
Writing isn’t exactly the most lucrative profession, but self-publishing on Amazon is affordable and cost-effective.
How Much Does It Cost To Publish a Book on Amazon?
Publishing on Amazon is entirely free.
Each time someone purchases a book, Amazon will print and assemble it, collect 30-40% of the book’s price, and subtract printing costs from the leftover 60%.
Some writers prefer to hire a self-publishing company that costs as little as $99 and as much as $5,000.
How Much Do Authors Make per Book on Amazon?
Authors receive a 60% royalty rate on all books purchased.
Amazon then deducts the price of printing from the total cost.
The website offers the example:
Your price per book is $15.
If printing costs are $4.85 per book, you will make $4.15 per copy sold.
What You’ll Need To Publish a Book on Amazon
Below is a list of everything you need to get your book onto the press and into the hands of loyal readers.
The first step to writing a book is developing a unique and compelling idea.
Think of a subject or story that inspires you.
Use writing prompts or generates your own.
Ultimately, the best inspiration is reading.
Microsoft Word or Other Writing Program
To write a full-length manuscript, you will need a word processor.
A Design Program (Graphics)
You will need a design program or a designer’s professional services to design your final product.
Please note that the software works exclusively with KDP.
A Bit of Time
Writing is a time-consuming craft.
You will likely spend hundreds of hours writing, revising, editing, and perfecting your book.
Design and publication take time—as does marketing and building credibility as a writer.
Money To Invest in Your Book (Optional)
Although KDP will publish books for free, many writers prefer to invest in creating a product they can be proud of.
You can opt for many services along the way, including professional editing and copywriting, expert graphic design, or full-publication packages from select services.
Step-by-Step Instructions To Publish a Book on Amazon
Follow these step-by-step instructions for an efficient and stress-free publication experience.
Step 1: Set Up a KDP Account
To get started, create a KDP account through Amazon.
If you already have an Amazon account, simply sign in to KDP with your username and password.
Before uploading your book, you must enter personal information, tax information, and a payment method.
Step 2: Upload Your Book to the Kindle Store
Once you have finished your manuscript, it is time to upload your book to the Kindle store.
Ensure that you have completed all final revisions and edits before uploading your book, as you want it to be high quality.
You can, however, edit your manuscript after uploading it.
Step 2.1: Create a New Title
First, you will edit your book details.
Go to your Bookshelf in KDP and click the + Create button.
Choose which book type you plan to upload and begin filling in the essential details.
Determine whether you wish to publish an e-book, a paperback, or a hardcover.
Ensure that the details on your manuscript match those you enter on KDP.
Step 2.2: Write a Book Description
Write a compelling book description that hooks your readers.
The description is the first thing interested readers will observe, so craft it carefully!
Compelling book descriptions are short (under 250 words) and:
- Start with a hook
- Appear in 3rd person point of view
- Use emotionally evocative words
- Offer hints of the plot but do not reveal critical issues (do not give away the ending!)
- Include a brief endorsement
Step 2.3: Select the Proper Keyword and Category
Keywords make it easier for potential readers to find your book.
Go to the “bookshelf” tab in KDP and click “edit e-Book details” (or paperback/hardcover).
Choose up to seven keywords based on relevance.
Use the following guidelines to select strong keywords:
- Setting-related keywords (e.g., the Year 2210 dystopia)
- Character types and roles (teenager superhero, strong female lead)
- Themes and plot elements (coming of age, atonement)
- Tone (romantic, feel-good)
- Statements of quality (“the best”)
- Time-sensitive terms (“buy it now”)
- Information covered elsewhere (e.g., the book’s title)
- Sentences or general terms
- Spelling and grammatical errors
Step 2.4: Upload Your File
To upload your manuscript:
- Go to the Bookshelf tab and select the ellipsis.
- Choose Edit eBook Content.
- Click Upload eBook Manuscripts.
- Choose from your files and click Open on the desired file
- Wait for confirmation
Step 2.5: Upload the Cover Photo
You can design your cover photo or commission one for your book.
Using Amazon KDP’s free Cover Creator app, you can choose from an image gallery or upload your image.
KDP also offers instructions on creating your covers.
Step 2.6: Set a Price
Your price point may differ depending on whether you choose to publish an e-book, a paperback, or a hardcover book.
For e-books, you will receive either 70% or 35% of the book’s royalties depending on where it is sold, so keep this in mind.
KDP also has a minimum and maximum list price for hardcover and paperback books.
To update the price at any time, visit the Bookshelf tab.
Step 2.7: Enroll in KDP Select
KDP Select is a 90-day program that allows you to reach more readers and earn higher royalties using Amazon’s quality promotional tools and participating in Kindle Unlimited (which grants free access to your book to millions worldwide).
Kindle Unlimited is advantageous because it provides free marketing while keeping your profits intact.
To enroll later, go to the Marketing page and select Enroll in an eBook.
Then, choose the book you wish to register.
Step 2.8: Use the Kindle Previewer To Ensure Quality
Kindle Preview lets you see your book as it looks when published.
You can quickly see every detail of your book from start to finish or riffle through it using the “Auto-advance view” option.
Kindle Preview is a free desktop application that you can easily download on KDP.
Step 2.9: Publish Your book
It’s time to hit publish!
Once you publish your book, it will appear on the market in less than 72 hours.
Step 3: Run Amazon Ads (Additional Step)
Amazon Ads is a marketing service that allows you to promote your book across popular platforms.
It is easy to use—ad creation takes less than five minutes, and the program is accessible to those with little technical experience.
You can also choose your budget, spending as little as $10 a day to increase sales of your book.
Step 4: Track Book Performance and Sales
Your KDP Sales Dashboard will allow you to visualize metrics.
You can see how many paid or accessible units clients ordered and received and how many pages they read on Kindle.
You can also track your royalties and calculate your profits using the graphs on the dashboard.
For More Details
You can generate a Sales and Royalties Report to view your orders, sales, and royalties within a given period.
The report is easy to generate.
- Go to the Reports tab in your KDP account
- Select Sales Dashboard and click reports
- Select Generate Report
- The information will download immediately
Does Amazon Tell You Who Bought Your Book?
Amazon does not share customer data and personal information, so you may not know who has purchased and read your book.
However, you can look at your book’s page on Amazon and view the “customers also bought” tab.
This allows you to develop an idea of the niche your writing falls into—and who your readers are.
Knowing your readers will allow you to keep writing for your target audience.
Self-publishing on Amazon promises to bring a previously inaccessible dream to fruition for many emergent writers.
You can join the millions of self-published authors in the industry and take charge of your book’s publication.
You are now ready to publish your book on Amazon.
We hope you feel inspired and prepared to make your dream a reality!
Comment below with your thoughts, publication wins, and more—and feel free to share this article with your fellow writers.
Together, we conquer the world of publishing!