Congratulations! You have an edited manuscript, a gorgeous cover, and (hopefully) a basic marketing plan. You're now ready to share your story with the world.
So, where do you begin?
The first step is creating an account with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
You can find the dashboard at https://kdp.amazon.com/dashboard.
Follow the steps to set up an account, including adding your banking info. This is how you'll receive your royalties. NOTE: Amazon pays royalties every 60 days.
Once your account is setup, you're ready to publish your first book!
Click on the Bookshelf tab, then the square with a plus sign that says Kindle eBook.
The first section is Kindle eBook Details. This is where you'll add the title, subtitle, author name, etc.
You'll see an example below.
When you get to the Description (otherwise known as your blurb), you'll want to make sure it's nicely formatted. If you type directly into this box without html formatting, Amazon will scrunch all the paragraphs together. You'll want paragraph breaks, bold, italics, etc. to attract the reader's eye. An easy way to achieve this is by formatting your description with Dave Chesson's Book Description Generator, which you can find here: https://kindlepreneur.com/kindlepreneur-book-description-generator. After clicking Generate My Code, you'll copy and paste it directly into the Description box.
Some other things to consider:
1. It's important that your title and subtile match what's on your book cover. This is particularly important for the paperback and KDP will swiftly reject your book if your title and subtitle don't match exactly what's written on your cover. Some authors get away with discrepancies on the eBook cover, and stuff their subtitle with keywords, but I advise being cautious. If you want a keyword-heavy subtitle, have your cover designer add it to your cover as a tagline.
2. You're allowed to enter up to 7 keywords or keyword phrases to help readers find your book using Amazon's search feature. There are many excellent articles on how to choose the most effective keywords, plus incredibly helpful software like Publisher Rocket. My go-to guru for keywords is Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur. This article is a great place to start.
3. During setup, KDP only allows you to choose 2 categories. However, you can email KDP support and be added to 8 more. You'll find the necessary form by scrolling to the bottom of the dashboard and clicking on Contact Us. On the left hand side under How Can We Help? select Amazon Product Page and Expanded Distribution, then Update Amazon Categories and follow their instructions. I highly suggest you do this, as it makes it easier for readers to find you in the Kindle Store. Once again, Dave Chesson has written some great articles to help you out. I'd start here.
When you've finished filling in the pertinent information for your book, click Save and Continue. This will bring you to the next step, Kindle eBook Content. This is where you'll upload your manuscript and cover files. KDP accepts multiple file formats, including .doc, .docx, HTML, MOBI, ePub, RTF, Plain Text, and KPF. I swear by Vellum software, which makes formatting a breeze and generates your manuscript into a neat MOBI file with a couple of clicks. For covers, they accept JPG and TIFF only. KDP has a cover generator tool, but I highly recommend going with a professional cover designer. Your cover is your #1 marketing tool and you want to get it right.
It may take KDP a few minutes to upload your files. Once completed, click on the Launch Previewer button to see how your book looks in different formats, double checking for any last minute errors.
This is also the section where you can input your ISBN number. KDP gives you a free ASIN number, which is all you need to publish on Amazon. However, if you plan to publish on other platforms, you may want to purchase your own ISBN numbers through Bowker. There is some debate within the indie publishing community as to whether an ISBN is needed. I suggest doing a little research, then decide which direction best suits your needs. You'll also want to research Digital Rights Management (DRM) before deciding if you want to enable it on your eBook.
When you've completed this step, you're ready to move on to Pricing. There are a few things you should consider at this stage.
1. Do you want to enroll in KDP Select?
KDP Select is a program available to authors if they agree to sell exclusively on Amazon for a minimum of 90 days. NOTE: KDP will automatically reenroll you at the end of the 90 day period. You have to uncheck the box if you wish to opt out.
There are several benefits to being in KDP Select. Your book will be available in Kindle Unlimited (KU), which is especially beneficial for new authors since readers are more likely to borrow than buy when they're unfamiliar with your work. You can also run Kindle Countdown Deals every 90 days, as well as set your book to free for up to 5 days. It is also believed that it's easier for your rank to climb higher (or lower, depending on how you view it) in the Kindle Store if you're exclusive to Amazon. A better rank (1,000 in the Kindle Store as opposed to 12,000, for example) makes you more visible to readers, and you may even hit within the Top 100 of certain sub categories. However, enrolling in KDP Select means you cannot publish the eBook on any other platform. No Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, etc. You CAN still publish your paperback on other retailers.
Publishing on multiple retailers as opposed to only on Amazon is referred to as publishing "wide." Exclusive vs. Wide is a lifelong debate in the indie community. I suggest doing a little research on both routes, then choosing the option that best suits your publishing goals.
2. Next, you need to decide on your pricing strategy. Amazon will pay you 70% royalties for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. For prices outside this window, Amazon pays 35%. Some authors accept the lower royalty rate and set their book at 99 cents with the goal of selling as many as possible, thus improving their rank. Others set their books higher for a higher profit margin. You may sell fewer copies, but make more money overall. For example, my full length novels sell for $3.99. Other authors in my genre sell for as high as $4.99 or $5.99. I suggest spending some time researching other books in your genre and paying close attention to their price points and ranking. You can even preorder your book for a lower price, then raise your price on launch. Or, set the first book in your series lower (as an entry point) and sell the rest higher. For a comprehensive look at pricing strategies, I recommend Pricing Strategies 2020 by Craig Martelle.
3. Do you want Amazon to publish worldwide or only give them publishing rights in certain territories?
4. Do you want to allow eBook lending?
These are all issues that will require some research. However, you can login to your dashboard anytime and make changes. Except for enrollment in KDP Select, which is for 90 days.
Before you click Publish Your Kindle eBook, save the draft and go back through to double check each entry.
When you're satisfied you've entered everything correctly, you're ready to Publish! Hooray!
KDP will take up to 72 hours to review your work before it's available for purchase in the Kindle Store.
So, take a breather, celebrate, and start writing the next book!