This article describes how you can sell your own eBook via Amazon’s Kindle Store using Amazon’s KDP website.

UPDATE: Amazon’s DTP service was re-named Kindle Direct Publishing in January 2011

Want to sell your ebook on Amazon? I’m guessing the answer is yes and why wouldn’t you? Amazon has long been the biggest online book retailer and in late 2010 claims to generate between 70% and 80% of all eBook sales via their website. At eBookpartnership.com we find that virtually everyone who approaches us about helping convert and publish their eBook is primarily interested in getting  their eBook on Amazon.

To sell your ebook on Amazon, the easiest DIY route to take is a fairly straightforward service called Amazon KDP (which stands for Kindle Direct Publishing). Amazon KDP is a web-based system that allows you to upload your manuscript, convert it to the correct format to create a Kindle book and manage your listing on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (if you are based in the UK).

Create an Amazon KDP Account

Amazon DTP homepage

Amazon DTP homepage

Creating an account on Amazon KDP is free (the sign-up page is here: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin ). If you already have an Amazon account you can use your existing details and all you will need to do is add a bit more information about how you would like to be paid, if and when your eBook generates some sales.

Once your account set-up is complete you can sign-in and will be taken to your ‘Bookshelf’. This is the page that will contain a list of the eBooks that you have published on Amazon, but obviously on your first visit this won’t contain any eBooks. The other options across the top of the screen are ‘Reports’ where you will be able to view and download sales reports for your title(s) and ‘Community’ which leads you to the Knowledge Base and user Forums.

Add your eBook details

Back to the Bookshelf and how to add your eBook to Amazon. In the top left hand corner of the page is the ‘Add a new title’ button. Click this and you see the first of two screens of information you will need to complete about your eBook.

The first page contains the following main fields:

  • Book Basics
    • Title
    • Edition Number
    • Description
    • Book Contributors (Author details, etc)
  • Publishing Details
    • Language
    • Publication date
    • Publisher
    • ISBN (this is NOT compulsory for selling your eBook on Amazon)
  • Publishing Rights
  • Browse and Search
    • Categories
  • Product Image
  • Book Content
    • DRM – yes or no

Most of the fields are fairly self-explanatory although there are on-screen help prompts if you need clarification about what to enter. A few key points to consider:

  1. Contrary to some advice you’ll find on the Internet, you do NOT need an ISBN number to sell your eBook on Amazon. If you don’t have one you can leave that field blank and it won’t make any difference.
  2. Choose your Browse and Search categories carefully as these can provide you with great promotional opportunities. Make sure the categories are relevant to your book (you can pick up to 5) but don’t feel that you need to choose the most popular and generic categories that you can. The more niche a category you can assign, the better your chances are of achieving an Amazon Top 10 Bestseller status. You will need to sell a lot of eBooks to get into the Top 10 for the Fiction > General category, but considerably less to be a Bestseller in the Fiction > Mystery & Detective > Women Sleuths category.
  3. The Product Image is the cover of your eBook. A well-designed cover will help sell your eBook on Amazon. The cover that you upload needs to be at least 500 pixels wide and a maximum of 1280 pixels tall. You can upload JPEG or TIFF files.
  4. Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is technology which is aimed at stopping people from illegally sharing your eBook with other people.  If you write a popular eBook and add DRM, the chances are that someone will go to the effort of removing the DRM and uploading your eBook to allow others who wish to steal the book to do so. Can you do anything about this? Not really. Will the majority of people buy the eBook rather than going to the effort of looking for a free illegal copy? Yes they will. Opinion is divided over whether DRM is a good idea or not, and the final decision will be yours.

Upload your Content

The final field on the first screen of information is where you upload your book content. You can upload your content in any of the following formats:

  • Zipped HTML (.zip)
  • Word (.doc)
  • Adobe PDF (.pdf)
  • ePub (.epub)
  • Plain Text (.txt)
  • MobiPocket (.mobi and .prc)

Although you are most likely to have your book as a Word doc or a PDF, you may find that these file formats don’t produce great results once they have been converted, especially if your book contains graphics, photos, tables or any other imagery. There are guides and samples on the Amazon DTP website that show you how best to format your work before uploading.

The most suitable format to upload is MobiPocket. At eBookpartnership.com we always convert our clients work to a MobiPocket file before uploading via Amazon KDP and in our experience this format will produce the best conversion results and produce the most professional looking eBook. If you want to generate your own MobiPocket files, you can find free software on the Internet that will help you do this, although be prepared to spend plenty of time learning how to produce the results you need.

Upload ebook to Amazon

Nearly there! Upload and preview your eBook

Amazon DTP will take your uploaded file and convert it into a Kindle-friendly format, and as soon as this is complete you will be able to preview the converted eBook on your screen.

Set Your Pricing and Royalty options

Once this section is complete, you hit ‘Save and Continue’ at the bottom of the page and go on to screen two ‘Rights & Pricing’. On this page you will see the following options:

  • Content Rights
  • Royalty Options
    • 35% or 70%
    • List Price

In 2010 Amazon introduced a 70% Royalty option which pays you 70% of the selling price less a small delivery fee for each sale. To take advantage of the 70% Royalty option you need to price your eBook between $2.99 and $9.99, and £1.49 and £6.99. If your eBook is priced above or below these guidelines you will have to choose the 35% Royalty option.

Publish

OK, after you have selected your Royalty options and set your price, you need to tick the final box to agree to Amazon’s T&C and then hit ‘Save and Publish’. Once you’ve done that your eBook will enter a queue and wait for someone at Amazon to approve it for sale. This usually takes between 24 and 48 hours and, assuming that you get approval, Amazon will email you to tell you that your eBook is on sale via Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

publishing an ebook on Amazon

It is worth noting that once you have submitted your eBook for approval that you cannot change any of its details until it has been approved or rejected.

Other interesting snippets:

  • You can now buy and read Amazon Kindle eBooks using an app on an iPhone or iPad, Blackberry, Android device or Windows 7 phone.
  • The cost of an Amazon Kindle eReading device has fallen dramatically over the last 12 months and you can buy a brand new Kindle for just $79 or £89.
  • If you are looking for a professional eBook conversion company to complete the eBook conversion and eBook distribution tasks for you, ebookpartnership.com offer all-inclusive packages from just £225/$359.

14 Responses

  1. sbijapure

    It gives a clear idea about how to publish an ebook on Amazon. Thanks.
    Please add the information about the charges and total cost involved in publishing an ebook.

  2. Chrisina W.

    Is there a reason I should or shouldn’t sell out of the us? Is there a way to specify this in settings?
    Thanks for your help.
    Christina

  3. sancheezy

    Matt, thanks so much for this piece. It was the best I’ve read on the subject so far, very clear and concise with lots of info. The world needs more thinkers/writers like you.
    -Sancheezy

  4. Matt, Thanks for this easy to understand information on how to convert or create an eBook through Amazon. My question, however, has to do with the Amazon contract. I don’t understand the legal jargon and want to know, in layman’s terms, what it means to sign up. For instance, by signing a contract does the owner of current rights (copyright and/or distribution) convey either or both of these to Amazon? For instance, is Amazon’s right to distribute EXCLUSIVE or could I still contract with other digital distributors while working with Amazon?

    Thanks for any info on this topic!
    Georgia Anne Butler

    1. Hi Georgia,
      I’m not in any position to offer legal advice on the details of Amazon KDP contract, but my understanding based on our experiences is that Amazon do NOT in any way acquire rights to a title if you sign up for their service. The rights remain yours, or whoever the legal copyright holder is. Many of our authors distribute their eBooks on Amazon and numerous other retailers, so there is no requirement for giving Amazon exclusivity. However, to participate in Amazon’s new Kindle Select program, which adds your eBook to the Kindle lending library, you do need to make your book exclusive to Amazon for at least 90 days.
      I hope that helps!
      Matt

  5. Linda

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for this article. I want to publish an ebook on Amazon. Being Dutch, I wonder what to do since I’m not based in the UK of the USA… Can you advice me?
    Thank you,
    Regards, Linda

    1. Hi Linda,
      You should still be able to sign-up for a Kindle Direct publishing seller account here: https://kdp.amazon.com.
      You will face the same tax implications as someone from the UK, and to prevent paying tax at source (in the US) you would need to obtain an appropriate US Tax ID. If you don’t get one of these you can still publish via Amazon, but Amazon may end up withholding tax on your US sales.
      I hope that helps 🙂
      Matt

  6. Natasha

    Hi Matt

    We are an Indian company. We recently published a short story collection and wanted to make the e-book available for Indian/other communities in US. Your article is very helpful. However, I wanted to know how do we set up the payment process. How will Amazon pay us the royalty? Do we need to set up any foreign exchange account? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Natasha,
      Anyone can set-up a KDP account with Amazon, and choose to be paid by cheque or electronic bank transfer. However, if you do not have a US Tax ID, Amazon will withhold 30% of your royalties generated through Amazon.com
      I hope that helps.

  7. roy

    Hi matt whats stopping people from just grabbing any ebook and loading it up to amazon is this possible to do .
    As we no there are lots of free ebooks out there all the best… Roy..

    1. Hi Roy,
      When a new title is uploaded to Amazon via KDP, they will check to see whether the book is listed in any other form on their site (e.g. paperback), and if it is and the account holder name does not match the author name, then they will ask you to provide confirmation that you hold the rights to publish the eBook.
      I hope that helps!

  8. Matt – very nice information, thank you. I am pricing my ebook at $20 but with the 35 or 70% at Amazon, either way I would only get $7 per sale. Pricing at $9.99 would be in my benefit, not theirs, but does it matter if I continue to sell it elsewhere for $20?

    1. Hi Linda,
      Amazon would LOVE it if you sold your book at $9.99 on their website and at $20 everywhere else. If you sold it cheaper at other retailers than Amazon, then in all likelihood Amazon would drop the price to match that of the cheapest competitor.
      I hope that helps 🙂