Amazon KDP: A Beginner’s Guide for the Self-Published Author

authors header image

Explore Author Services

Years ago, it seemed like something out of Star Trek. In 2007, Amazon’s Kindle started replacing a backpack of books with a sleek little tablet. Since then, Amazon has sold tens of millions of Kindles, and its concurrently developed self-publishing platform has grown furiously ever since. 

Self-publishing has undoubtedly changed the publishing world. Authors stand greater chances than ever before to bring their work to readers. Although getting your book published with a traditional publisher is still the gold standard, indie publishing has become more prestigious in recent years, and it could be the best option for you.

KDP in a nutshell

Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program allows independent authors to reach people worldwide without going through a traditional publisher. Anyone can create an author account, upload their files, and begin selling. It’s streamlined and has no upfront costs. KDP titles sell through the Kindle store and Amazon. While this ease makes the platform competitive, good editing and planning matter to get ahead. 

What indie authors get from KDP

Kindle isn’t the only eReader associated with self-publishing. However, it is the most well-known one in the U.S. and U.K. So, what makes KDP attractive to authors?

  • An advantageous algorithm for indie authors

Amazon’s algorithm, not a merchandising crew, chooses which books to highlight and promote, so it’s numbers and data instead of just fame. If you can garner steady sales, pre-sales, reviews, and visits to your book’s page, your title will rise in the search results and promotions. In regular indie publishing, authors are often at the whims and mercy of bookstores when it comes to stocking their books. This process makes it easier for writers to get their work seen.

  • Marketing tools galore 

Indie promotion can be a tough hustle. Luckily, KDP allows authors to use marketing tools such as Amazon advertising, which lets them promote their books under similar titles as “sponsored products.” For example, it could recommend your book about sexy werewolves under Kelly Armstrong’s best-selling books about sexy werewolves. KDP also offers free promotional services through the KDP Select program. Authors gain access to Kindle Unlimited, Countdown Deals, Free Promotions specials, and literary contests. You can control how much money you want to spend on marketing. 

  • Both eBook and physical printing 

Those old-fashioned types who want some hardcovers or paperbacks for Christmas gifts can get them from KDP Print, a print-on-demand (POD) service, under the same account. Nothing quite beats the joy of holding a book in your hands, so this is a highly attractive feature of KDP not only for authors but also readers. Your readers can choose whether they want a physical or a digital copy of your book.

  • A developing platform 

Thanks to its wide reach and resources, KDP sometimes experiments and introduces new features, such as Kindle Vella, which enables the release of serialized stories. As the world’s largest bookstore, Amazon is a huge influencer and innovator. 

Potential drawbacks of KDP

With all these perks, is there any pushback? Well, Darth Bezos’ Amazon Empire isn’t without its faults. 

  • Accepting KDP Select’s stipulations  

KDP Select’s shiny promotional tools come with strings attached: to enroll, authors must sell their eBooks solely through Amazon. To American writers, this might seem trivial, but Kindle doesn’t have the same market share in every country. Canada, for instance, has a rival in Kobo. KDP Select will also exclude books from certain bestseller lists. Notably, KDP Select works in 90-day renewable terms, so it’s not exactly a Faustian bargain.

  • A collar on royalty rates

Self-publishing earns authors much higher royalties than traditional publishing. KDP pays around a 70% royalty rate on eBooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99. If you price your book outside that range, however, it drops to 35%. This makes boxed sets or special collections troublesome. Royalties also dip to 35% in certain countries—unless you enroll in KDP Select. 

As you can see, KDP is an expansive platform that can help an author break into the world of indie publishing. It’s worth it to explore its features first and see if it fits your needs. Of course, make sure you have a stellar book ready to sell

Explore Author Services