How to Publish on Amazon’s KDP Platform
Are you publishing your own ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle platform?
If so, then I am sure you are excited about the simplicity of publishing a book in this way but that is only the beginning. The ebook market is huge and is only getting bigger. In some ways these days, it is a little harder to break through int this rapidly growing market, but at the same time, there are all kinds of tools and resources available to you. The industry has changed but we need to remember that we are now building the world’s online library.
You wouldn’t be alone if you do not fully understand what is going on. It is kind of obvious with digital books being published that we have a digital library building up. How to Publish on Amazon’s KDP platform is a simple yet complex process. To put this in perspective, the process is quite easy but there are quite a few things to be taken into account. In the coming years, there will be fewer printed books and more and more digital books so not publishing on the platform could be writer suicide.
The above should tell you as an aspiring author that you are taking part in the beginning of something, and so, whilst it comes with some caveats, growth in the eBook market represents a bigger opportunity than most people think. I am not one of those people who thinks that print books are dead because for many of us die hard reading fans, we still like the look, feel and smell of physical books. If you look around though at how the next generation are reading you will se that it is usually via a screen or with earphones (audio-books is a new growth area I believe).
Account Set up
Like with everything in life it is easy to publish an ebook once you know how. You first need an Amazon Kindle Self Publishing account before you can start uploading your first title. The account can be opened using your current Amazon buyer’s email and password and takes a few minutes to set up. The longest bit of the account set-up is completing the online tax form but the instructions are clear enough, even for someone like me.
Files (formatting & conversion)
Once the account is set up, it is not quite as simple as uploading your book as a file, because you do need to ensure that the ebook is adequately formatted or it can look terrible on the screen. If you look at what most other authors do, you will realise that the formatting is not that difficult once you have learned the skill. I don’t have the time here to go through formatting in detail but may do so in the future as I format my own. If you don’t want to do it yourself then you can outsource the task through an outsourcing platform such as Fiverr.
For Amazon the file (once formatted) needs to be converted Mobi format and for other platforms it needs to be in ePub. There is free software that will do the conversion for you from a word document. Once you have converted the file to Mobi you need to save it to your computer and it can then be uploaded to the KDP platform through your account.
Tables & Photos
Tables do not convert well to eBook and so they have to be saved as JPEG images and then re-inserted into the word document before converting the file.
If you include images in your book, make sure that you reduce the size before publishing or you will lose out on royalties due to the costs of the download. 72 dpi is adequate for eBooks but not for print books which need to be minimum of 300 dpi, so you will need different image files for both if going to print. All of this is best done in photoshop and you can buy photoshop elements for reasonable costs if it is something you will be doing a lot of.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t use the handles in word to resize images.
Don’t skip editing & proofreading
You will also need to ensure that your book is professionally proofread and has a professional cover design. These are all things worth paying for and most of these services can be outsourced. I made a big mistake with my first book and had loads printed, thinking the book was good to go. I immediately noticed grammatical errors and then paid for a proof reader who was worth every penny I spent. I had to discard more books than I care to remember! Don’t make the same mistake.
The one thing that people read in detail is the book description and I have learned many lessons over the past year about writing a good sales copy. The description needs to be captivating and it needs to stand out. The problem with the KDP platform is that if you just enter the text straight into the description box it looks quite boring and doesn’t stand out. Spaces and headers are not taken into account unless you use HTML which is allowed. I have learned some basic HTML for writing better book descriptions and a sheet is available here.
The most important part of the process when uploading a book is choosing the right keywords. Keywords are everything in terms of getting the book to show up on the right page and to improve your ranking. You will need to research keywords for your book that are high traffic generating but low competition which is not always easy. There is not enough time to go into this here but I will produce an article or video in the near future.
Once you get your book and cover uploaded, it is time to hit publish and start the marketing. Many people say you should get your family and friends to buy as many books as possible so that the market pays attention. However, do not focus on this too much as it can actually skew your books ranking. For instance, if your friends and family do not normally buy in that genre then the books that come up in the ‘also read’ or ‘also bought’ sections of Amazon will list books that are totally different to yours and yours will be listed alongside these which makes it hard for Amazon to categorise it properly. You do need as many reviews as possible though so you will need to weigh up the pros & cons.
What you need to do is market your book in a variety of ways. Promotion on social media is a must. Do you have your accounts grown yet? If not, it’s okay because you can grow them at the same time you are publishing. Make sure that you have an Amazon author page set up and a separate Facebook page for your writing. You need to set up separate author pages on UK and USA Amazon.
You also might want to pay attention to Amazon Marketing Services. They let you run two different types of ads:
- Sponsored Product
- Product Display
They are cost per click ads. You set up your own ad and once it is setup it is submitted it for approval. It will then show up on your ad campaign dashboard as part of your KDP account, which is below your sales dashboard. You can see how many impressions your ads get and how many clicks. Currently this is mainly for the US market although there is a UK platform but this is not linked to KDP at present and therefore you can only promote paperbacks limiting the ads to Headline Search and Product Display ads which most people say are not as effective as Sponsored Product ads.
You do only pay for the clicks, and you set beforehand how much you pay per click and how much you wish to spend each day. The dashboard also shows you your sales based on clicks. There are also free book promotions and a ton of advertising sites you can use after launching your book.
Are you ready to start your publishing career? If you are, then you need to start getting that book ready. This article on how to publish on Amazon’s KDP platform should help you get started. As you do, plan out all of your first steps for advertising at the same time so that you are ready to make the right moves.
Dawn Brookes is author of: