It’s easy to publish an eBook on Kindle. Publishing a really great looking eBook on Kindle is a smidge harder. That takes a little graphic design and a trained eye. Fortunately, in the nonfiction world, our audience is looking for solutions to their problems more than a stunning layout. eBooks with numerous charts, graphs, and images may benefit from a professional interior layout artist. For most of us, uploading a simple Word doc will more than suffice.
If you have your ducks in a row, then uploading an eBook to Kindle takes about 20 minutes. Seriously. So, what ducks do you need?
- Your finished manuscript (in doc, docx or other acceptable format)
- Your Kindle Cover (in JPG or TIFF format)
- Publishing Company Name (if you are using one)
- ISBN (if you’re using your own)
- Book Description
- Keywords (up to 7)
- Category Choices (2)
- Some idea of what you want to charge for your book
KDP is Menu Driven and User-Friendly
Sign on to Kindle at kdp.amazon.com. If you don’t have an account, it’s easy to sign up. Click the “Create a Kindle eBook” icon and you are led into menu driven instructions, most of which are self-explanatory. Start with the language your book is written in, your title and subtitle. If your book is part of a series or a new edition of an existing book, fill in the appropriate information.
Fill in your book description. Your book description is what sells your book. It’s the blurb that Amazon publishes to tell readers what your book is about. This is where you want to stress the benefits readers will experience and tell them what problems you will solve. It’s a sales page, so don’t be shy or modest. You have 4,000 characters to use to persuade people to buy your book. Take advantage of that.
If you’ve written the book yourself, you own the publishing rights. If you’ve gone into a the public domain to grab a book to release, indicate that.
Next up is your keywords or keyword phrases. You want to type in the words that people use to search on your topic. You can use the Google ad word tool or another keyword tool. Keywords are worthy of more than five minutes of research. If this is your niche, you may already have keywords that you know work; that is great. But if you haven’t done the research to find the most searched keywords in your niche, you’re missing the mark. Do the research. This is important not only for your book sales, but for driving any online traffic to your site.
Choosing categories is equally as important as your keywords. Choosing the right category can be the difference between becoming a bestselling author and your book being lost in the Amazon sauce. You want your category to match your book topic, of course. One way to find the best categories is to search other books on your topic and see what categories they are in.
Kindle allows you to put your book into two categories. They may choose to put your book in more categories (sometimes triggered by your keyword choices), but you only have the option of two choices. When you click on categories, you see a pop up box with a drop down menu. If you click on a category, such as nonfiction, you get a second drop down menu of subcategories. Click on a subcategory and you get a sub-sub category. And there are even sub-sub-sub categories.
You need to know two things when you choose a category:
- Do not choose a sub-sub category and then a category or sub-category above it in the same string. It’s wasting that higher category. If you choose a sub-sub category, your book is already under the category and subcategory.
- Use one category that aligns as closely to what your target market will search on as possible. Make the second of your subcategory choices a sub (or sub-sub) that doesn’t have a lot of competition. That’s going to take a little research on your part. In general, a book ranked over 100,000 on Kindle is selling less than a book a day or 30 per month. If it’s ranked at 50,000, it’s selling about 5 books per day. In order to get to the top of that category, you will need to sell over 150 books in your first month. It is tougher than it sounds.
Work Your Way Through the Directions
Your next choices are the age/grade range if you have written a children’s book and whether or not you want to put your book on pre-release. Since you’ve got your completed manuscript, check off that you’re ready to release your book now.
The next page is where you upload your manuscript. You can choose to have or not have Digital Rights Management in place. DRM prevents people from “loaning” your book to other people. If your goal is to get your book in front of as many people as possible (for instance, a book with affiliate links or a book that drives people to your website for lead generation), then you can leave DRM off.
Next up is your Kindle cover. You can use Kindle’s cover creator, but if you are not graphically gifted, you won’t get the cover you want. And, if you are graphically gifted, you will design a cover in a more flexible program. You can have a professional cover done for not much money on sites like Fiverr or Upwork. Covers sell books. Invest your money here.
With your cover and manuscript uploaded, you can launch the previewer to see how the book will look on Kindle. This is where you may find a chart is split between two pages or a paragraph has left one lonely line or word all by itself at the top of the page. You can go back into your manuscript and fix any problems, then re-upload the file and check it again.
At this point you can add an ISBN if you have one. Make sure the publisher’s name matches the name that you used when you purchased the ISBN. NOTE: You do NOT need an ISBN for Kindle books. This is totally optional.
The third menu page covers enrolling in KDP Select, where you want your book to be sold (usually All Territories Worldwide), pricing, the Matchbook program (only applicable if you also have a print edition of the eBook), the book lending program, and Terms and Conditions.
A Word About Kindle Pricing
Amazon/Kindle encourages you to price your eBooks between $2.99 and $9.99. They do this by offering you a 70% royalty on your sales as opposed to 30% for everything outside of those parameters. I like to put eBooks in that sweet spot.
What is KDP Select?
KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited is like a lending library. If you opt to make your book available through KDP Select, Amazon/Kindle will put it in their lending library for people who belong to Kindle Unlimited. Their subscribers pay $9.99 a month to have access to millions of books. (A great deal if you have nothing to do but read all day.) Amazon/Kindle pools all the money they bring in from their subscribers, then they total up all the pages read that month (yes, they can tell) by their subscribers, and calculate a per page payment amount. So, KDP Select is the authors’ side of it; Kindle Unlimited is the readers’ side of the program.
However, the real reason to put your book into KDP Select is so you can offer your book for free. If your book isn’t in KDP Select, you have to set it to free somewhere else on the web, alert Amazon to the fact that the book is available for free elsewhere, and count on Amazon to price match. Amazon doesn’t have to price match your book. They usually will, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You can run a free or discounted promo offer for five days during any 90 day period that your book is enrolled in KDP Select.
At the bottom of that page is the magic PUBLISH button. PUSH IT!
Once you click Publish, your book is reviewed by the powers that be (or more likely, a computer). The review can take up to 72 hours but I’ve never had it take more than a day. You will probably find your book on Amazon/Kindle before they notify you that you’ve been approved. (What? Am I the only person who obsessively checks for their book to show up? I think not.)
Publishing on Kindle is fairly simple. There are some ins and outs to it that can be a little confusing, which is why having a little help the first time or two you publish is good. More importantly, the more you publish with Kindle, the more you learn little secrets about the way things are set up, such as how to get into “hidden categories” and how to leverage the price matching or promotional options. If you’re ready to self-publish, either an eBook or a print book and want some clear cut, step-by-step help, check out my mini-course: Self Publishing Made Easy.