How To Self-Publish a Book on Amazon: 7 Easy Steps

woman with laptop and a cup of coffee sitting in a cafe, writing.
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As the saying goes, everyone has a book in them. But how do you get that version of your book to the public, develop an audience, build a literary brand and sustain a writing career? Today, many writers opt for a quick route: self-publishing their works through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

How To Self-Publish on Amazon in 7 Steps

The process of self-publishing on Amazon is relatively easy, but as with any endeavor, attention to detail is key in making the product stand out from a crowded, competitive field. Here’s a look at the step-by-step process you’ll need to follow to get started.

  • Step 1: Register for an Amazon account
  • Step 2: Format the book
  • Step 3: Design the cover
  • Step 4: List a new title
  • Step 5: Upload your book
  • Step 6: Set the book’s price
  • Step 7: Enroll in KDP Select

Step 1: Register for an Amazon Account

New publishing authors must have an Amazon account to get started on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Point your browser to the KDP sign-in page. You can use an existing Amazon account or create a new one on this page. 

Below the sign-in buttons, links will bring you to pages on various popular book genres. If your work fits one of these categories, click through and have a quick read on authors who have published in the genre through KDP. 

Once the account is open, click on the “Update” button to provide tax information to Amazon, including your Social Security number or tax identification number. The company will track your revenues for federal tax regulations.   

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Step 2: Format the Book

Before uploading a title to the KDP platform, it’s necessary to get books into the correct format. You can publish a manuscript free of charge as a paperback, an e-book or a hardcover book. Amazon charges your printing costs against your royalties for paperbacks and hardcover books.  

Review the Kindle Publishing Guidelines. The guidelines include helpful information on:

  • Cover images
  • Navigation through the book
  • External links
  • Interior photos
  • Tables of contents
  • Indexes

The most common formats for e-books are Microsoft Word, Kindle Package Format, EPUB and MOBI. Each of these formats handles text and images differently. It’s vital to research these formats to understand how they set up images, text frames, bookmarking and related information. It’s also important to know how these different aspects of your book will work once the whole thing is uploaded to the KDP platform.

Amazon requires authors to upload a manuscript file and a cover file for paperbacks and hardcover books. The manuscript file includes all front and back matter, as well as the main text body. The cover file includes the front cover, back cover and spine, with text and images placed where they will appear on the physical book.

Step 3: Cover Design

Contrary to wishful thinking among authors and publishers, people judge a book by its cover — and do so critically. Even in text-heavy media such as physical books or e-books, images win the contest for reader attention.

A good cover does more than hint at the story and style of a book. It grabs attention immediately and inspires curiosity in the prospective buyer. Without reading any text, the cover and the title are the only means for someone to evaluate the book and make a decision on buying it.   

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Many professional book designers can create a dynamic, intriguing cover for your book. Unless you have graphic design experience, hiring someone for this step is a good idea. Browse freelance sites such as Fiverr for cover artists, check the genres they work in and look at their past work. If a particular design strikes your interest or seems to work well in your genre, contact the designer and ask for a quote. 

Step 4: List a New Title

After you open an account, get a book into the proper format and prepare cover art, it’s time to list some vital information on your book for Amazon’s detail page. This is a crucial step in the process. It’s important to write and revise the information carefully to depict the book to prospective buyers accurately. Once the book is published, many of the details are locked and can’t be modified.  

Here are the steps to listing your book:

  • Enter the book details: Click on “Bookshelf” from your account page, then hit the “Create” button. This is where you enter all the public details of each edition of the book. Choose the type of book to be created: e-book, paperback or hardcover. The book details include title, subtitle, author name and ISBN. Authors can purchase ISBNs for their books from Bowker or take advantage of a free ISBN offered by Amazon.
  • Create a book description: The next step is to create a full book description. Explain what your book is about and why readers will find it useful or entertaining. Intrigue the public with hints about the content, snippets of text or interesting quotes. Make the description as fun and readable as possible by using short paragraphs, bulleted lists and bold or italic highlights. 
  • Choose and enter keywords: Consider how readers who search Google or Amazon will find your book. There are millions of listings on Amazon, so the most important problem to solve is getting the book to the top of a search results page using effective keywords. With a high ranking, buyers looking for relevant subject matter will be more likely to find your book.
  • Select categories for the book: After entering keywords, it’s time to select categories for the book. These will show up on the details page, and it’s a good idea to search for more popular categories before selecting them.
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Step 5: Upload Your Book

With a book in a supported format, it’s time to upload it to the platform.

A list of your books appears on your Bookshelf, which you can find on the account home page. On your Bookshelf, you can view the ISBN, list price and how the book will appear on the Amazon detail page. Click on “Kindle eBook Actions” next to the appropriate title to upload your book. Then click on “eBook Content,” then “Upload eBook Manuscript.” 

Once the process is complete, Amazon sends a confirmation message. This would be the time to preview your book and the file for any problems in formatting, appearance and the like, and to give the text, table of contents, captions and all other textual material a close once-over. 

Step 6: Set the Book’s Price

Authors choose the price charged by Amazon for their books. Compare the price of other books in the same genre and of the same length. Consider the size of your audience and whether or not you have previously published works on the platform. Also, take into account any reviews your work has garnered. A high number of good reviews will justify a higher price for the work. 

Before setting the price for your book, you’ll also want to consider the costs associated with self-publishing on Amazon. There’s no upfront cost to publish e-books on the KDP platform but Amazon charges printing costs for physical books.

Here are the details on those costs and other factors you should take into account.

  • Royalties: Royalties vary by format and run from 35% to 70%. Note that KDP is a print-on-demand service. The printing costs are charged against your royalties when a book is sold and applies only to that book.
  • Maximum list price: The maximum list price you can set for a paperback or hardcover book is $250.
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Printing Costs for Paperbacks

Pages Cost
24-108 pages $2.15 per book, no additional cost per page
110-828 pages $0.85 per book plus $0.012 per page
24-40 pages — printed with color or premium ink $3.65 per book, no additional cost per page
42-828 pages — printed with color or premium ink $0.85 per book plus $0.07 per page
72-600 pages — printed with standard ink $0.85 per book plus $0.036 per page

Printing Costs for Hardcover Books

Pages Cost
75-108 pages $6.80 per book, no additional cost per page
110-550 pages $5.50 per book plus $0.012 per page
75-550 pages — printed in color ink $5.50 per book plus a per-page cost of $0.070

Step 7: Enroll in KDP Select

Authors can enhance their marketing reach and their royalties by enrolling in a Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP account. This service draws on Kindle’s growing worldwide readership and Amazon’s self-publishing marketing tools. The work will appear on the Kindle Unlimited platform, which reaches a global market and allows readers and subscribers access to as many books as they want. 

Authors commit to making their digital work available through the KDP service exclusively for a limited time, although they can also issue the work in non-digital formats. In return, they earn higher royalty rates. Amazon offers a royalty rate of 70% for sales made to customers in Mexico, Japan, Brazil and India.

KDP Select offers authors a choice of two promotional tools: Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Book Promotion.

Final Take

The online retail giant’s global market is massive compared to the scope of traditional publishers. It also allows authors more creative freedom — KDP authors have control over editing, design, marketing and pricing. They also keep much more of the profits their works earn.

Amazon’s Author Central is also one of the most effective marketing tools available, and it’s free to use. You can use it to set up your author page, where your readers can find your author bio and links to the Amazon pages for your other books.You can also use it to share blog posts, photos andvideos via your author page.

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Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about publishing a book on Amazon.
  • How much does it cost to release a book on Amazon?
    • To just release or publish a book on Amazon has no upfront cost, if you opt to print as well there will be a varying cost based on page count and the type of ink you use.
  • Is it free to publish a book on Amazon?
    • Though there is no upfront cost to publish e-books on the KDP platform, Amazon charges printing costs for physical books which vary depending on the length of your book and what kind of ink you choose.
  • How do you start publishing a book on Amazon?
    • To start publishing a book on Amazon simply follow these steps:
      • Step 1: Create an Amazon account
      • Step 2: Format your book
      • Step 3: Design the cover
      • Step 4: List the title
      • Step 5: Upload your book
      • Step 6: Set the price
      • Step 7: Enroll in KDP Select
  • Is Amazon book publishing worth it?
    • When you compare Amazon to the scope of traditional publishers it allows authors more creative freedom. KDP authors have control over editing, design, marketing and pricing. They also keep much more of the profits their books earn.

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Caitlyn Moorhead contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of March 28, 2023.


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