Amazon KDP For Beginners: A Guide for 2023

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Self-Publishing on Amazon KDP has absolutely changed my life since I uploaded my first notebook to the platform from my cold university bedroom in late 2019.

Fast forward to today, and my KDP account is now a 6-figure online publishing business that allows me to travel around the world and work wherever and whenever I want.

picture of shirtless man in a cap, sitting on a rock, overlooking the ocean

In this post, I am going to cover everything you need to know before you start with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

I’ll first outline what Amazon KDP actually is, what it involves, and how it can allow you to live the life you’ve always wanted. I’ll then dive into a little more depth on the business model itself as well as share a bit more about my personal journey as a self-publisher on Amazon KDP.

So let’s dive right in!

Quick Takeaways:

  1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a self-publishing platform that offers print-on-demand, allowing for low startup costs and flexibility.
    • KDP enables you to publish without upfront inventory investment, making it accessible for anyone to start their self-publishing journey.
  2. You can earn a significant income from KDP, with a 60% royalty on sales minus printing costs, without handling printing and shipping.
    • Self-publishing on KDP can be a lucrative business model, as evidenced by the author’s six-figure earnings, offering a substantial share of sales as profit.
  3. No prior passion for books or writing is necessary to succeed in Amazon KDP.
    • The platform rewards creativity and entrepreneurship, demonstrating that success in self-publishing can come from a variety of backgrounds.
  4. Amazon KDP teaches valuable skills such as PPC advertising, SEO, email marketing, and graphic design.
    • Beyond book sales, the KDP experience enhances your expertise in in-demand digital marketing skills.
  5. Viewing Amazon KDP as a long-term project is essential for success, requiring the gradual buildup of a book library.
    • Patience and persistence are key, with the understanding that initial efforts lay the groundwork for passive income potential.

What Is Amazon KDP?

So as previously mentioned, Amazon KDP stands for ‘Kindle Direct Publishing‘, which is Amazon’s very own self-publishing platform.

Unlike traditional publishing, Amazon KDP is entirely print-on-demand, which allows you to self-publish your book on Amazon KDP without the need to spend thousands on inventory or go through any third-party publishers.

This makes it a perfect business to start if you don’t have much capital to invest initially and are looking for a simple way to make money online.

The self-publishing process itself is easy, you just need to upload two PDF book files to the KDP platform: one of your book cover and one of your book interior.

Once you have uploaded these and set your book’s price, these two files will then be made into paperback books, hardcover books, and e-books once a customer purchases them from Amazon. You will also have complete control over your book title, page count, and other important book details.

screenshot of how self-publishing on amazon KDP works

What’s even better is that Amazon deals with all the printing, shipping, and customer service while you sit back and take a 60% cut of the sale price, minus printing costs (known as your KDP royalties).

As a self-published author, this allows you to focus on the fun and creative side of the business while Amazon deals with all of the mind-numbing and less creative logistical tasks.

So just to clarify, although all of your work is going to be done online, you are actually producing physical copies of books (as well as a Kindle ebook if you wish). You just won’t physically touch these printed books, as Amazon will deal with the printing and shipping as previously mentioned.

It is a very similar model to the popular ‘dropshipping‘ model and is therefore perfect if you are looking for three things:

  • Passive income
  • No startup cost
  • Flexibility to work wherever and whenever you like
screenshot of the three main benefits of Kindle Direct Publishing

It’s also worth knowing that YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A PASSIONATE AUTHOR TO SUCCEED ON AMAZON KDP. There are thousands of different types of books you can make; all you need to be is creative and willing to work hard.

With Author Central, there’s no need for your own website, an expensive third-party service, or a traditional publishing company. Instead, you’re publishing directly to the Amazon marketplace in front of millions of potential customers… FOR FREE.

I started this business as a university student sitting in my bedroom, desperate to find a way to make money online that would allow me to travel around the world. I’ve never really had a passion for books or for writing. In fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of books I have read in my life.

Quite strange for someone who creates and sells paperback books for a living, right?

However, I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship, and although we are just ‘creating books’, selling KDP books on Amazon is an incredibly business-oriented platform.

There are so many skills you learn along the way that are so in demand in the modern world: PPC advertising, SEO, email marketing, and graphic design, just to name a few.

On top of this, waking up every single morning and tracking the sales rank of my books is far more rewarding for me than any 9-5 desk job could be.

Is Selling On Amazon KDP Worth It?

As someone who has been self-publishing on Amazon KDP for over three and a half years, I can comfortably say it is absolutely worth it.

Having generated over £300,000 (approx. $370,000) in sales and £125,000 (approx. $150,000) in book royalties from my KDP bookshelf, it has allowed me to travel around the world, working from my laptop (a dream for any 25-year-old).

Now, is self-publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing something I thought I’d be doing at 25 years old? Absolutely not. But this just goes to show that it is possible for ANYONE to be successful, not just those who love reading and writing.

screenshot of passive self-publishing lifetime book royalties since starting KDP on October 8, 2019 to March 13, 2023

The main complaints people have when it comes to Amazon KDP go something like this: “Isn’t KDP too saturated?” or “I can’t compete with other publishers.

Both statements couldn’t be further from the truth.

Like anything in today’s data-driven world, there’s a science to being successful in self-publishing on Amazon KDP, which is why I have created both KDP Bootcamp and KDP Mastery.

Both of these courses are designed to help you get the most out of self-publishing on KDP by teaching you the most important skills and lessons I have learned during my 3-and-a-half-year self-publishing journey.

If you’re just looking for a ‘get rich quick scheme’ where you upload a book and you’ll magically become a millionaire overnight, KDP publishing is not for you.

Like any business model, it takes time to build. I have uploaded over 900 book titles since I started. And although most of these are no-content notebooks, it has still taken A LOT of work to get to where I am today.

With that said, if you’re prepared to see Amazon self-publishing as a long-term project, I am extremely confident that you will be successful. Like with any form of passive income, it initially takes a lot of work without getting a huge amount back in return.

You have to slowly build up your library of books over time. But once you do, they will be online making you money while you sleep forever.

So, in summary, is publishing on Amazon KDP worth it?

100% it is; you just need to know how to play the game correctly and see it as a long-term vision. Successfully do both of these, and you will see a lot of success.

How Much Does Amazon KDP Cost?

Unlike traditional publishers, self-publishers on Amazon KDP don’t need to spend a penny to get started. This was one of the main attractions to the business when I started as a broke university student in my bedroom in late 2019.

Because your physical books only get printed once a customer orders them from Amazon (print-on-demand), you don’t have to spend any money on buying them in stock.

This not only saves you money but also saves you the headache of having to correctly predict stock levels (a hugely underappreciated part of any print-on-demand business).

While Amazon KDP allows anyone to self-publish for free, you can, of course, invest in the business in order to scale it. There are two main ways you can invest in your KDP business:

  • Advertising using Amazon Ads (PPC)
  • Outsourcing your book production

If you’re just starting out with your KDP account, I wouldn’t worry too much about these.

I didn’t spend a penny on my KDP business until nine months in, and by that time, I’d already made over £3,000 (approx. $3,700).

However, once you have organically built your business to a good position, investing back into it is the key to scaling from making 3 figures per month to 4 or even 5 figures per month.

I’m going to assume most people reading this will be new to the self-publishing world, so I won’t go into too much detail in this post.

If you do want to learn more, I have multiple sections in the KDP Mastery course dedicated to teaching you about investing back into your self-publishing business, should you want to learn more.

But for the vast majority of you reading this, the good news is that you can publish on Amazon KDP completely for free.

Is Amazon KDP Profitable For Self Publishing?

Absolutely!!!

One of the main benefits of using Amazon KDP to self-publish is that there are millions of people searching on the platform every single day.

Combining this with the fact that you have no overhead, Amazon KDP can be extremely profitable.

Unlike traditional publishers, self-publishers on Amazon KDP don’t have to worry about their profit margin (unless they advertise), as the cost of producing a book only becomes a reality once you make a book sale.

Let’s compare the two scenarios to make this clearer:

Traditional Publishing:

You have to spend money in order to buy stock of your book and hope you sell enough copies of that book to make a profit. If you don’t sell enough, you might make a loss.

KDP Self Publishing:

You don’t have to spend any money on stock, as your book is only printed once someone has purchased it. The printing cost comes out of your sale price rather than an upfront payment.

So what does this mean?

If, for whatever reason, your book doesn’t sell (hopefully not the case once I’ve provided some guidance), then you don’t lose any money. This also means that every sale you make is a 100% profit (again, assuming you aren’t using Amazon ads).

Another concern people have with the profitability of self-publishing on Amazon KDP is whether the profit margins are enough to make a good amount of money.

99% of my books are priced at £6.99 ($8.70), which means I receive £2.49 ($3.10) from every sale. This may not seem like a lot, but when I am selling 400+ units PER DAY in November and December, it starts to add up quite nicely.

You would be amazed by just how many people purchase books on Amazon. Trust me, there is plenty of money to be made.

If you do some research (especially on Twitter) into Amazon KDP, many people will be out there telling you that it is too saturated and therefore unprofitable. These are the people who refuse to innovate and just think you can upload any old book onto Amazon and be successful.

Take it from someone who has achieved it themselves: KDP HAS NEVER BEEN MORE PROFITABLE. It just takes a little bit of originality and discipline, something that many people today simply don’t have.

When Does Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Pay?

So far, everything I’ve mentioned about KDP sounds great!

As much as I would love to say Amazon KDP is a perfect business model in every single way, that just wouldn’t be honest of me.

The main negative with publishing on Kindle (and it’s only a small one) is the payment structure, or more specifically, the timing of the payments.

Yes, Amazon will pay you straight into your bank account every single month. However, the sales that you make will be paid two months after the month of the sale.

For example, if you create an Amazon KDP account in January and make £100 ($120) in royalties from your book sales, you won’t receive this money until the end of February/early March. It’s annoying, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

This essentially means that for your first two months, you won’t receive any royalties. However, once you are past the two-month mark, those royalties will start to be paid, and you will have a consistent flow of income at the same time every month.

Another component of the Amazon KDP payment system worth knowing is that you receive your payments individually by the marketplace rather than in one lump sum.

This means that all the money you make from UK sales will come in one payment, and all the sales you make from the US will come in another, etc…

This isn’t necessarily positive or negative, but it is just worth knowing before you (hopefully) get bombarded with payments from 8+ Amazon marketplaces.

How Do I Start Amazon KDP For Beginners?

Amazon KDP is a very user-friendly platform, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises for anyone just getting started.

All you need to do is create an Amazon Kindle publishing account and sign up using your email address or existing Amazon account.

There are then a few further steps you need to take once you have created your account, but these are also fairly straightforward. You need to provide your bank details to ensure Amazon can pay you, as well as pass basic identity checks.

In terms of the best way to start Amazon KDP from a strategic perspective, there is definitely a defined path I would take. I am a huge advocate for achieving the right balance between ‘learning‘ and ‘doing‘ when you’re starting something new.

Learning without doing won’t get you anywhere, but doing without learning will also be incredibly inefficient. The main problem with this, though, is that it’s hard to know what specific parts of KDP you need to be learning.

Many people (myself included when I started) spend hours trying to figure out KDP and slowly type specific problems into YouTube to find answers as they go along. This is definitely a good strategy, but I must warn you that it’s an incredibly time-consuming process and is very inefficient by nature.

However, you need to expect that when you are starting something entirely from scratch.

It is this exact problem I chose to solve when I created my beginner’s course, ‘KDP Bootcamp‘. Not only does this course teach you EVERYTHING you need to know to get started and make your first £1,000 ($1,200) self-publishing, but it also does so in the most efficient order and explains the importance of why you’re learning what you’re learning.

The end result is extremely valuable and easy-to-digest KDP information, all delivered in a step-by-step guide that mimics the book creation process.

screenshot of passive self-publishing KDP Bootcamp landing page, a beginners course

Now for the technical aspects.

I would generally recommend starting your self-publishing journey by publishing no-content books.

In KDP, there are four main types of books you can make:

  1. No Content (Lined Journals etc)
  2. Low Content (Detailed pages but each page is the same i.e. log book)
  3. Medium Content (Detailed pages with each page being unique i.e. coloring book)
  4. High Content (A ‘traditional’ long-form book i.e. Harry Potter)

The reason I suggest starting with no-content books is that they are the simplest to make, and you can make multiple books quickly.

Once you have published a good number of these, you should be comfortable enough to move up to slightly more complicated books that are low and medium-content.

KDP Bootcamp focuses on both no and low-content publishing and provides a clear strategy on how to make the most out of these types of books.

KDP Mastery, on the other hand, focuses entirely on medium-content publishing, which is where the majority of my KDP income comes from and is, therefore, a lot more technical.

In a nutshell, the best way to start is to begin by making no-content books until you have a grasp of how the platform works, and then slowly move up to low-content and then finally medium content.

How Do I Make My First Book?

Making your first no-content book is very straightforward. I’ve already mentioned that to create a book, all we need to do is create a book cover file and a book interior file. So I’m going to outline a step-by-step process for doing that below:

Making a book cover file:

  1. Go to the Print Cover Calculator and Templates and select the criteria seen in the image below. This will provide the dimensions needed to create a book cover file for an A4 notebook.
  2. Press ‘Calculate dimensions’ and make a note of the ‘full cover’ width and height. In this case, the width will be 17.475 (in) and the height will be 11.25 (in).
  3. Press the ‘Download Template” button. This will download a template that you can use in Canva to ensure all your elements are correctly placed on the cover.
  4. Head to Canva and create a design with the dimensions noted above. This should leave you with a blank canvas, which is going to end up being our book cover file.
  5. On the left side of the page, press the ‘Upload’ button and upload the template you have just downloaded.
  6. Drag and drop this template into the Canva file and spread it across your entire canvas. This will show you exactly where your front cover and your back cover sit in relation to the page.
  7. Once this is in place, create your cover design using canvas elements, text, and colors.
  8. Once you’re happy with your design, press the ‘Share’ button and select ‘Download’ as ‘PDF print’. This will then download your cover file.
screenshot of the book information panel in the print cover calculator when making a book cover file

Finding a book interior:

  1. Go to Bookbolt and select their ‘interior wizard’ page from the ‘resources’ dropdown.
  2. Here you’ll find a number of free interiors you can choose for your book.
  3. Select ‘paperback 8.5 x 11’ and then make sure ‘bleed’ is selected.
  4. Choose your interior, select 100 pages, and download.

And just like that, you’ve made both the files you need to create your first KDP book. All you need to do now is head back over to Amazon KDP and upload your book for sale on Amazon.

You’ll need to fill in some basic information about the book title, description, etc., but it is all straightforward enough and easy to follow along with.

If you have any issues with any stage of this process, then feel free to reach out to me. I will be more than happy to guide you through the process.

How Much Is an Amazon KDP Course?

Throughout this post, I have explained a lot of surface-level KDP information and also briefly mentioned both of my KDP courses. So how much are both of these courses?

  • KDP Bootcamp: £29.99 (approx. $37.40) – Beginner
  • KDP Mastery: £499.00 (approx. $620.00)- Advanced

Both courses are online video courses with over 13 hours of content between them.

screenshot of one of the online video courses on KDP bootcamp

It’s important to remember that online courses like these are ‘investments’ not ‘expenses’.

By that, I mean that rather than spending money on something that is an expense, you’re spending money in order to learn a skill that will make you money for yourself.

It’s therefore important to maintain focus on ROI when considering buying an online course, and I’m going to break down what this might look like below.

Here comes the math…

My average royalty per book (the amount I make per sale) is around £2.70 ($3.30). Most of my books make me £2.49 with £6.99 sale price ($3.10 with $8.70 sale price), but some sit at a slightly higher price, which marginally skews this number.

With that in mind, here are the number of books you’d need to sell in order to make your money back on investing in both of the courses:

  • KDP Bootcamp: 12 books (£29.99/£2.70 = 11.1 books)
  • KDP Mastery: 185 books (£499/£2.70 = 184.8 books)

For context, I sold over 50,000 books during my self-publishing journey and over 7,500 books in December 2022 alone.

There is nothing more powerful than learning from someone who has already walked the path you are trying to walk.

Amazon KDP For Beginners – Summary

Hopefully, by this point, you have a pretty good grasp of how Amazon KDP works, starting with your Kindle Direct Publishing login and how you can use it to self-publish your way to financial freedom.

I’ve tried to keep the information as simple and easy to digest as possible. But in reality, there is still so much more to learn about KDP as you progress through your journey.

With that said, the information covered in this post is more than enough to help you get started and will help you take your first steps.

Of course, if you’d like to take things one (or even two) steps further, then both KDP Bootcamp and KDP Mastery are available for anyone who would like further guidance in achieving financial freedom through self-publishing.

Both courses are online video courses, and I will also be on hand to answer any questions you have. Feel free to ask those questions in either of the community groups associated with the courses or to me directly on Twitter.

I can’t wait to see you all over there and help you smash your KDP goals.

Sam

Amazon KDP For Beginners – FAQ’s

How much does it cost to start an Amazon KDP?

Starting with the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform is free. However, depending on your choices like cover design, editing, and formatting, there could be additional costs. The platform itself offers tools like Kindle Create and the Cover Creator tool to help self-publishing Amazon authors create their eBooks and print books at no additional charge.

Is Amazon KDP really profitable?

Yes, many indie, aspiring and established authors have found self-publishing success on the Amazon KDP platform. While the kindle store is competitive, with the right marketing strategy and relevant keywords, authors can tap into the vast eBook market. Moreover, opportunities like Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Countdown Deals can provide additional revenue streams.

Is Amazon KDP still profitable in 2023?

For many authors, selling on Amazon KDP is worth it due to its vast reach. With the Amazon Kindle store being one of the largest platforms for eBooks, your book can be accessible on kindle devices worldwide. Plus, with features like KDP Select, authors can benefit from the KDP Select Global Fund and pages read from subscribers of Kindle Unlimited.

How do I start working on Amazon KDP?

Starting is simple. Create a Kindle Direct Publishing account and follow the provided steps. It’s essential to have your manuscript, preferably in Microsoft Word format, and to follow the Kindle format guidelines. If you need feedback before publishing, consider sharing your work with beta readers.

How much does it cost to start an Amazon KDP?

Direct publishing on Amazon KDP is free. However, costs can arise if you opt for services outside of what the kindle direct publishing offers, such as professional editing, advanced cover design, or marketing services.

How long does it take to sell on Amazon KDP?

Once you have selected your print format and publish eBooks or print books, they can become available in the Kindle store within 72 hours. However, how quickly you start selling depends on your marketing efforts, book quality, and the relevance of your chosen keywords.

No, you don’t have to copyright your book before publishing on Amazon. Once your book is published on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, Amazon KDP publishing automatically protects your original content. This means self-published writers retain their copyrights without having to take any additional steps. However, officially registering your copyright can provide additional legal protection and peace of mind.

How do I upload books to Amazon KDP and get paid?

Uploading books for Amazon publishing via the Kindle Direct Publishing platform is straightforward. First, create your Amazon KDP account. Then, using the dashboard, you can upload your manuscript and cover for your book publishing venture. This process also applies to low content books, which are popular among many self-published writers. Once your books are live, sales will be tracked through your account. Amazon KDP pricing dictates that you receive royalties for each sale, which will be paid monthly. Additionally, you can expand your reach with Kindle Vella, a platform for serialized storytelling, giving writers another avenue to earn through their creative work.

How much do you make per sale on Amazon KDP?

The amount varies. For eBooks, authors can choose between two royalty options: 35% or 70%. The percentage depends on factors like book price, region, and whether you’re enrolled in KDP Select. For paperback versions, the royalty is calculated based on the book’s list price minus printing costs. Remember, while traditional publishing houses might offer advances, they often take a larger percentage of the sales, making the Amazon KDP platform attractive to many self-publishing authors looking for more control over their earnings.

Note: While self-publishing on Amazon KDP offers many advantages, it’s also essential to understand the competitive nature of the eBook market. A solid marketing strategy, understanding of your target audience, and ensuring your book is of high quality (well-written, well-edited, and well-formatted) are key to self-publishing success. And always remember, just as with a traditional publisher, there are no guaranteed results, but the opportunities and rewards can be significant for those who put in the effort.

Author bio for Amazon KDP for beginners blog post
Guest Author Bio

Hey, my name is Sam, I’m 25 years old, and I’ve been self-publishing books on Amazon KDP since late 2019. Having grown up in the UK, I am currently living in Bali while I continue to grow my self-publishing business.

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