How Does Amazon Book Publishing Work?

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Amazon Book Publishing

For years, Amazon has been the primary driver of not only ebook sales but also the self-publishing world in general. A whopping 85 percent of all US ebooks are sold through Amazon, and in 2016, 40 percent of the company’s 4 million ebooks released that year were self-published. Amazon book publishing may not be single handedly responsible for the explosion of self-publishing in recent years, but it has played a central role. And it remains perhaps the most affordable and profitable avenue to self-publish a book for a wide audience. In this blog series, we’ll walk you through the process, the choices you’ll need to make as you get ready to publish your book, and how to optimize your Amazon book publishing tools for sales and success. First of all, it’s important to understand that Amazon offers a range of services for self-publishers, with a variety of benefits for authors, as detailed by Forbes. Your Amazon book publishing plan will likely include a combination of these services, depending on your needs and the results you are aiming for.

Kindle Direct Publishing

It all starts with Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP. This is the basic service that will allow you to upload a file for free, and sell the digital version of your book on Amazon. Uploading your file is free, and will yield at least 35 percent royalties on each sale. KDP does not require exclusivity, which means you can sell your ebook elsewhere as well. It also offers tools like file conversion, sales tracking, and formatting tools for specialized genres like textbooks. Publishing your book through KDP is surprisingly quick and simple. You’ll just need to be prepared with the text of your book, as well as a title, your author name, categories and keywords, a book cover, a price, and a book description. Your keywords, categories, and book description are especially important in marketing your book on Amazon. There are certain keys to getting results here, such as including your keywords in your book description.

KDP Select

Think of this as an upgrade to the basic Amazon book publishing plan. Kindle Direct Publishing Select allows authors access to special marketing services, in exchange for 90-day exclusivity on their ebooks. For one thing, you’ll earn higher royalties, approaching 70 percent. Your book will also be available on Amazon’s lending library for Prime members, and as part of the Kindle Unlimited library. You’ll earn extra money when readers read your book as part of these services, based, to make a long story short, on the number of pages read. KDP will also allow you to use promotional tools like Countdown Deals and free book promotions. Countdown Deals will give your book a spot on a dedicated promotional page, and could lead to a spot in the top 100 free books in your category. You can also opt to offer your book for free for up to 5 days of your 90 days of exclusivity with Amazon. Both can increase your books visibility, and can be quite effective when paired with marketing efforts like a social media campaign.

Amazon Affiliates

The Amazon Affiliates program offers a code for linking to products on Amazon, earning you a small commission when someone buys a product using the link. This program is available to anyone, but the great part for authors is that it can include your own books! By posting links on your website, newsletter, or blog, you can earn an additional 4 to 8 percent from each sale. If the customer goes on to buy other products from Amazon after using the link, you will earn a commission from that too – even if they don’t buy your book. It’s an easy way to boost your income from your relationship with Amazon.

Amazon Author Central

This service allows authors to craft their Amazon Author Central page. Whether or not you “claim” your page, you will have an Author Central page if you’ve published a book on Amazon. Any Amazon page showing your book will link back to this page, so claiming and optimizing its content is important. Not doing so is passing up the opportunity for a quick, easy, and free promotional tool. First, you’ll make sure all your books are listed, and if not, you can insert their ISBNs. This is important, since readers will use this page to find your other books. They can even sign up for an email list to receive notifications when you release a new book. You can add RSS feeds from your blog or Tumblr account, updates on events such as speaking engagements, as well as photos, and even videos. One thing to note is that there are separate Amazon Author Central pages for the US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany, so you will want to make sure you claim these too if you are planning to sell books in these countries.


Finally, Amazon Book Publishing has merged CreateSpace print-on-demand service for authors who want to go beyond ebooks. From a PDF file, Amazon will print your book to order each time it sells. They will tell you the base price for printing, and allow you to set a price above that, earning the difference as a commission each time it sells. Amazingly, all of these services are available with no up-front cost, which means anyone who can write a book can use Amazon book publishing services, and immediately have the tools at their disposal to boost sales, sell print books, and establish a following of readers. But it takes some extra know-how to really get the most out of Amazon’s self-publishing services, and in the rest of this series, we’ll offer more detail on how to optimize these services to see real results and even earn bestseller status.

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