Setting up as a self-published author on Amazon (Part 1)

Intro and disclaimer: I am a UK-based writer. I signed up to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service during September 2012 with an aim to publish a selection of stories on Kindle and Kindle apps. These posts are aimed to describe the process I went through and shouldn’t be considered professional advice. This is the internet after all. Still, I hope you find it of use. Okay, let’s get stuck in.

Part 1 – About Kindle Direct Publishing

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a service provided by Amazon that allows writers to publish their work on Kindles and Kindle apps for tablets and smartphones. Readers can then purchase and download said work to their device as they would any other eBook.

Authors using KDP can earn 70% royalties on works priced $2.99 or more. If the author drops the price below $2.99 then a royalty rate of 35% applies. The minimum price an author can charge is $0.99. By enrolling their work in the KDP Select program for 90 days authors can drop the price to zero for a total of 5 of those days, but they must grant Amazon exclusivity on that work during the 90 day period. Authors can enrol their work in KDP Select for another stint once the 90 day period ends, but any remaining free days will not carry over.

Once you have published work through KDP it will be listed on Amazon like any other book. (Believe me, few things beat seeing your debut book listed for the first time!) There are a number of benefits to this. For a start, now that you have published a book, you can build a profile on Amazon’s Author Central. (The “Visit Amazon’s Lucian Poll page” link around halfway down your book’s Amazon page.) Said book will also have its own ASIN number, which is similar to an ISBN but relative only to Amazon. Armed with an ASIN and a cover image you can then add your self-published books to sites such as Goodreads. This then helps you to change your Goodreads profile from a standard user to an author, which in turn allows you to promote your books on their site with the odd giveaway. (They have to be hard copies, though.)

Oh, and if you needed any further incentive to give Amazon’s KDP a try, it doesn’t cost a bean to publish a book. They will slice off their pound of flesh when you make a sale, but there are no monthly fees to worry about, and your book will stay available as long as Amazon sticks around, allowing you to become that overnight sensation thirty years in the making.

While I love the idea of Amazon KDP and the huge marketplace it presents, the minimum $0.99 price tag does make it harder to promote one’s work. On Smashwords, for example, authors can make the first novel of a trilogy permanently free and perhaps encourage readers to purchase the remaining books. On Kindle you can’t do that. Well, not really. A tactic some authors use is to list their title on Amazon for $0.99 and free on another platform, and then hope that Amazon price-matches the book down to zero. I’m not sure if this tactic still works, being new to this self-publishing game, but it’s curious how I keep seeing the same books in the Kindle Top 100 Free Books chart…

Finally, consider whether you will ever want to see your work in print. Publishers and agents may be less enthusiastic to represent your work if it has already been published. That said the industry is changing. Indie authors such as Amanda Hocking have found publishers more than happy to print her novels following strong sales of her eBooks, and more agents are turning into eBook publishers. If you are lucky you can let your sales do the talking!

Coming next in part 2: Joining KDP (and the potential arse-ache for UK authors!)

Final note: If you see anything that is incorrect in any of these pages please let me know. It’s not my intention to misinform!

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