If you’ve been thinking about using Amazon to self-publish your book, here are some things you should know before you jump in.
1. It’s Free to Publish
You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to a self-publishing services company to publish your book on Amazon.
It’s totally free to create all your accounts and publish your book on Amazon.
To self-publish an eBook on Amazon Kindle, just create a KDP account at https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/ and then download our free Kindle Self Publishing Checklist and go through those steps to publish your eBook.
To self-publish an audiobook, you can create a free account at ACX.com and follow our guide on how to make an audiobook.
2. Editing is Crucial
The #1 reason self-published books fail on Amazon is poor editing. Even if you’re an exceptionally talented writer, you still need a good editor to help you really make your book shine and eliminate the kinds of editing issues that will ruin your reviews and your sales.
Lucky for you we’ve written a detailed guide on how to find a great book editor so you can get the help you need from a professional editor.
3. Get Your Design Right
Your book cover design will be your primary marketing tool for the book. If your design isn’t attractive to your ideal readers, you won’t get many people clicking on your book or buying from you on Amazon or other retailers.
To find a great book cover designer that fits your budget and genre, check out our guide on how to find a book cover designer.
4. KDP Select v. Mass Distribution
You have two main distribution options when you self-publish an eBook: go exclusively with Amazon Kindle through their KDP Select program, or distribute your eBook to every major eBook retailer.
The benefits of going with KDP Select are:
- It’s simpler, faster, and easier
- Amazon is much more likely to promote your book
- You’ll have access to Kindle Countdown Deals (KCDs) and KDP Free Promotions which can boost your sales and exposure on Amazon
- You’ll get paid when readers borrow your book for free through the Amazon Prime Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited
- Amazon controls 75%+ of the eBook market, so you’re getting special promotional perks from your #1 retailer
The benefits of going with all the major eBook retailers include:
- You’ll have more chances to find readers through different eBook retailers
- You might get picked for special promotions on Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, or other eBook retailers
- You might end up earning more royalties, but you might not
I recommend most beginners start with KDP Select because it’s a lot easier and often more profitable, and you can always change your mind later.
You own the copyright for your work in the US when you publish it, regardless of whether you register your copyright.
But if you’re willing to go to court to protect your work from copyright infringement, you might want to register your copyright at copyright.gov
Listen to our interview with a copyright attorney talking about why copyright is important and how to go about the process.
6. Pick the Right Categories
When you use Amazon’s self-publishing platform, your book doesn’t appear in a physical bookstore, but it does appear in the world’s largest digital bookstore.
In a physical bookstore, publishers pay millions of dollars to get their books on the right bookshelves where readers can easily find them. On Amazon.com, all you have to do is select the right categories for your book so that readers can easily find it. Amazon’s bestseller categories (also called bestseller lists) are like bookshelves in a bookstore, and you need to pick the right ones if you want readers to actually find your book.
You can take a look at Amazon’s 100 most competitive kindle categories for an introduction to Amazon’s category systems.
We also recommend you get some special software called Bestseller Ranking Pro to help you find and pick the right Amazon categories because there are now over 44,000 of them to choose from. Finding the right categories without software can take hundreds of hours of research and work.
You have to do your own marketing when you publish your book on Amazon.
You can’t rely on a book marketing service, company, publisher, or anyone else to do the marketing for you.
Can you hire people to help? Absolutely! But you’re still the boss, and if you want to sell books, it’s all up to you.
You can check out some of our free marketing guides that will help you:
8. Use Amazon’s Promotion Programs
Amazon allows a self-published author to take advantage of several wonderful promotional programs such as Kindle Countdown Deals.
You really should use Amazon’s promotion programs to help you sell more books. Here’s a guide to Amazon’s book promotion programs and how to use them.
You should also research Amazon’s book ads and test out an ad campaign to see if Amazon’s ads can help you sell more books at a healthy profit to make it worth your time.
9. Reviews Matter
You have to get good book reviews on Amazon if you want to actually sell some copies. The average review rating on Amazon is 4.2 stars, so any book with less than a 4.2-star review average is below average (and most likely not going to sell many copies).
Check out our post on how to get free book reviews to learn how to get high-quality book reviews without spending any money.
10. Most Self-Published Authors Fail
Most self-published authors never sell more than 500 copies of their book while some go on to sell millions of copies.
That’s often because they don’t have the education, training, or work ethic it takes to succeed.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to succeed in spite of the odds, check out these additional resources:
- How to Boost Your Kindle Sales Using Smart Amazon Marketing Strategies
- How to Publish Your Book on Amazon Today
- How to Setup Your Amazon Author Profile with Author Central in Every Country
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.