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Self Publishing Books on Amazon

Updated on September 2, 2014

Ten years ago, the biggest problem a writer had to overcome was that of getting their book published. One could send their writing to a slew of publishers only to get turned down, ignored, or even insulted. Thanks again to the growth of the internet; getting a book published is no longer such a problem.

Looking to be the next Anne Rice or Stephen King? That kind of success may not be something found by publishing on Amazon, but it's a great place to start. Success on Amazon may even open the doors you need to eventually find your work sitting on the shelves of Barnes & Nobles.

Self publishing your books on Amazon can put them on a shelf with the best!
Self publishing your books on Amazon can put them on a shelf with the best! | Source

Digital vs The Printed Book

The first thing you need to consider before you start publishing books on Amazon is whether you are hoping to sell physical books, or if you are only hoping to cater to the online market with digital books. Many people surely want to jump in and show off a printed novel to their friends and family, but this may not be the right option for you.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you already have a following that will be willing to spend money on a hard copy of your published book?
  • Do you have the time and the expertise to truly market yourself and your books?
  • Is your topic worth being in print, or is it something people will want to grab on the fly?
  • Are you trying to make money quickly and/or establish a name for yourself?
  • Will it take longer to have your book shipped than it will take to read it?
  • Does your work have a chance to go viral?

If you've answered yes to many of these, you may be better off going digital. The digital marketplace is huge, convenient, and quick way to publish an ebook. You can build tenure online, establish a loyal following, and thanks to social media you might just be lucky enough to go viral and achieve overnight success!

However, having printed publications is not only satisfying, but it can also be seen as a sign of success. Walking down the street seeing somebody with their nose buried in a book you wrote may just be one of the greatest feelings a writer can have.

Use of social media is important for any author hoping to earn money through Kindle Direct Publishing. Posting links to your book around the internet just as you would a website or blog will increase your chances of sales in the long term.

Publishing With Kindle Direct

If you've decided to go digital, then Amazon has made it a simple point and click operation to publish your books straight to the entire world through the Kindle Store. Not only does this give you access to anyone with a Kindle device, but with the release of the Kindle App, any person owning a smartphone, tablet, or PC is a potential customer.

KDP Select

Adding your books to the Kindle Lending Library may increase your exposure, which in turn may boost sales. Plus, you earn royalties based on the number of times your books are borrowed

Publishing on CreateSpace

CreateSpace is an innovative way to publish real media on Amazon. You can customize almost every aspect of your work, and put it in the marketplace for sale in hard copy format. Keep in mind the costs involved with selling hard copy media. Making your books too flashy may force you to sell at a high price. Set the price too low and you risk losing money on each sale!

Before publishing your book, make sure to proofread your books well. CreateSpace staff will give your work the once-over, but they are only checking format. Proofreading and quality issues are your own responsibility.

File Formats for Amazon Publishing

It is best to make sure your writing is in word format when publishing to the Kindle Store. Several other file formats are accepted as well, however be aware that if you include images or any complicated formatting, the final product may not be as you had intended.

On the other hand, CreateSpace requires your files to be in PDF format, since it will be duplicating each page of a PDF onto paper.

Publishing Your Books With Covers

Amazon accepts book covers for both digital and hard copy books. Obviously you need a cover if you are creating a printed book, but it is highly recommended to use them for digital books as well. Amazon will offer a default cover for books published with Kindle Direct Publishing, but having an original cover will help your book stand out in the crowd, and that means more sales.

Regardless of your publishing format, it is important to make sure you have rights to the images used on your book covers. Copyright infringement can cause big problems for you, even if it is an accident.

Pricing and Royalties

Overprice your book, and you will never make a sale. Sell yourself short and you may end up with a hot seller that doesn't bring in the income you deserve. Choosing the right price here is important. Be honest with yourself.

Kindle Direct Publishing offers 35% and 70% royalties, depending on the price of your book. You will only be eligible for the 70% rate if you mark your book between $2.99 and $9.99. Keep in mind, you make more money per sale earning 70% of $9.99 than if you were to earn 35% of $11.99, plus you will sell more!

CreateSpace has a far more complicated royalty structure. Amazon will take their cut, subtract the cost of production from the sale, and give you the remainder. You also have the ability to sell your book through outlets other than Amazon with different royalty structures.

Promoting Your Book

Publishing your book on Amazon is only the first step. While it is true you may get sales simply by having your book listed, you shouldn't hold all your eggs in one basket. If you want to succeed as an author, you need to build a presence. Creating a Facebook account dedicated to your writing, participating in forums, reading and responding to reader reviews all generate more online presence. A book that has 500 links pointing back to it, scattered across the internet is guaranteed to make more sales than the one that is published and forgotten.

Having a presence online will also be critical to long term success. A loyal fan base will continue to buy books as you publish them. They will recommend your books to friends. If nobody knows who you are, then nobody will care. If you want to have people recognize the name on the spine of your books as they walk through the bookstore, then every new connection matters.


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