top of page

Indie Publishing: Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Okay, here comes a major hurdle for many, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), your most important tool for becoming a published author. Today, we'll explore the magical steps to publish your masterpiece as a Kindle eBook, paperback, and hardcover. Let’s get this how-to going.

Self-Publishing: Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Why work directly with Kindle Direct Publishing rather than through Ingram Spark or other tools? Simply put, you can gain higher royalties and direct advertising ability through KDP. You don’t have a third party getting in the way. There are as many mixed reviews of Ingram Spark and other self-publishing tools as KDP. It’s completely free, and quickly adjustable if you’ve done almost everything wrong. Three out of four book sales come from Amazon, so if you only work with KDP, you can capture more sales with one three-step form.

"For the period of 2007-2018, self-published title numbers on KDP surged from 3,804 to 1,416,384"

The downside of KDP is that it isn’t a great one-stop shop for all sales platforms. You don’t get the higher royalties if you syndicate through them.


Step one is fairly obvious. You have to ensure that your manuscript is polished and formatted correctly. KDP accepts various file formats, but for best results, KDP recommends MOBI or MS Word for Kindle publications, and MS Word or PDF for physical copies.

Grammar & Typos: This is your responsibility. While KDP does preform a crude spell check for you, I don’t recommend relying on it.

Title: Make sure the title of your book is searchable and doesn’t match anyone else’s.

Cover Art: As I discussed, you’ll want an amazing cover to attract readers.

Formatting: There are a wide variety of formatting tools. Check out this post on formatting software.

Book Blurb/Description: You need a tight blurb for your book. This will show up in your description so readers can tell if they like your premise/plot.

Author Photo & Blurb: You'll need a blurb and photo so readers can see that you're a real person and connect with you.

ISBN: The International Standard Book Number is a 13-digit code that serves as an identifier for book(s). For more information, check out my post on ISBNs.

Publisher: Usually, this is you, but it could be a solopreneur company you form. More info here.

Hint: Have a friend help you with the description, the photo, and the about-author blurb. We authors aren't great judges of what should and shouldn't go into these. We're too close to see the forest for the trees.


It’s pretty easy to create a KDP account. Either sign in with your Amazon account or create a new account. I learned the hard way to use a separate Amazon account from my personal login.

Hint: don't use your personal Amazon account for publishing. There are subtle reasons I won't go into because this "short read" is getting pretty long.


Language: Pretty obvious. You won’t be able to change this later

Title: You can NOT change this once you hit submit at the end of the process.

Series: This is optional for book one and can be added later on. Do NOT include the series in the title. You won’t be able to change this later.

Edition: Leave this blank for the first edition.

Author: This is your last chance to use a pen name or initials. You can NOT change this after you hit submit on the final step.

Contributors: This is where you add co-authors. Make sure to use their preferred pen name(s). Misspellings won’t be alterable.

Description: This is one of the most important aspects of sales. You need to hook your readers. The good news is that you can change this later.

Publishing Rights: Don’t publish anything for which you do not have permission.

Primary Audience: This really means, what age range your book is appropriate for. Consider swearing, violence, and sexual conduct.

Primary Market: Again, obvious. Where do you plan on selling most? US? UK? Germany?

Three Categories: Choose the sub-genres that most fit your book. This will help readers find your book by suggesting it to readers who bought similar books. Also, your book will be ranked in these groups.

Key Words: These are words that book lovers might search to find books similar to yours. For I NANO, I used “Nanites, Superpowers, Mazz, Young Adult, Dystopian, Camp.”

Pre-Order: I HIGHLY recommend setting a pre-release date. This gives you time to fix mistakes, set up marketing around your release, and gather pre-orders which helps with ranking. Otherwise, KDP could approve and publish your book at a random time within seven days (if they don’t find problems).

Hint: You can come back to this page as many times as you like as long as you save it. If you messed up, exit without saving.


Digital Rights Management: If you have your own ISBN, don’t check this option. If you’re using Amazon’s free ISBN, this is your friend. Once submitted, you can NOT change this.

Manuscript Upload: Upload your KPF, MOBI, or DOCX file that you pre-formatted. KDP provides a handy previewer to ensure your eBook looks perfect. Always check that the formatting works.

The Cover: You can either use the creator or upload your own cover. While the creator is cheap and easy, I recommend uploading a better unique cover that will attract more readers.

AI: Don’t be a jerk. Do the work yourself. Don’t cheat with artificial intelligence. As of now, Amazon only collects this info. In the future, they may let readers filter by AI v. human-created books.

Preview: This is your friend. Make sure the book looks perfect. Good enough is not good enough.

ISBN: As I mentioned, the ISBN tracks your books by author, title, and format. For eBooks, you can change this later. For other formats, you can’t.

Hint: Request Proof Copies to make sure your physical books are formatted correctly.


Pricing is a challenging subject that may take a lot of reflection. Price your book too high and nobody will read it. Price it too low and you undervalue your time, effort, and creativity.

For physical books, you will have a minimum price that Amazon will allow, which is based on page count and features such as color printing inside (color covers are free). With so many 99-cent ebooks out there, it’s hard to sell a self-published e-book for more than $4.00. If most ebooks in your categories are 99 cents, then that’s probably the price you should set. With so many physical books 

KDP Select: Select gives you several advantages, which include

  • Earn money per page read by Kindle Unlimited readers. KU makes up about half of my royalties (not including audiobooks).

  • You’ll get opportunities, such as limited-time free promotions.

Hint: You can unenroll or enroll later, though I’ve heard it can be a pain.

Royalty Choice: This is a challenging one for indie authors. The instinct is to go with the higher royalty option, but there are considerations.

  • eBooks: You can choose to earn 35% or 70% of sales revenue. With 70%, there are limits in prices you can choose ($2.99-$9.99). With 35% royalties, you can choose any price, including the all-to-common $.99 price for self-publishing authors in popular genres.

  • Print Books: You can choose to earn 40% or 60% of the profit. Amazon will take their cut based on printing costs (which also include shipping). You get 60% if KDP publishes your book only on Amazon. You get 40% if they sell to other online retailers, libraries, universities, and booksellers. It’s an issue of per-sale income v a broader distribution. If you’re writing a textbook, university sales might be a must…


Please be careful. Publish means they WILL publish your book unless things weren’t set up correctly. Do not hit publish unless you’re certain everything is correct. You can change many features later on, but some, like book size, title, author name, and ISBN (for physical copies), will be fixed.

Hint: publish tomorrow. It’s best to review your details at least a day after you fill everything out. I have caught several mistakes this way.


Once you’ve submitted your eBook, move on to paperback and then hardcover. While most details are similar, here are some major differences.

Page Size: It is tempting to go with larger formats because you can fit more words per page and Amazon’s print costs go up with page count, not page size. So, you can charge less with larger formats. However, large-page, short paperbacks typically look less professional.

Formatting: KDP and I recommend uploading PDF. It’s much better this way. You can export a PDF from most major platforms (MS Word, Google Docs, Scrivener…). Pay close attention to margins, fonts, and page count. I also recommend using the same size hardback and paperback for ease of formatting, but others may disagree.

Cover: The dimensions of the physical cover are different, and require a different cover image. Don’t use the same image because it will look unprofessional, meaning fewer sales and fewer positive reviews.

ISBN: You’ll need separate ISBNs for each format (one for eBook, one for paperback, one for hardback). Make sure the ISBN matches the ISBN listed on your title page. ISBNs can’t be changed for physical copies.

Hint: Prepare all three formats before publishing any of them. You may find ways to improve the reader experience.


One of the most important things you can do is order proofs to inspect your physical copies while they’re on pre-release to ensure there aren’t problems. Here are some things to look for:

  • Is the title well-placed?

  • Is the cover art blurry or pixelated?

  • Is the font large enough and consistent throughout?

  • Are the page breaks handled correctly?

  • Are the title and author on the spine spelled correctly?

  • Do the blurb and the "about the author" section on the back look good?

Hint: Have a friend or family member look at it. They might see things you don’t.


Hitting “Publish” is just the beginning. From this point onward, the true challenge begins. I have no doubt that your book is a masterpiece. However, for others to see it, you’ll need to implement a marketing plan (which you should have developed and started already).  sales, gather reader reviews, and consider running promotions to keep your book's flame burning bright. Kindle Direct Publishing is your steadfast ally in this ever-evolving adventure. Now, go forth, noble scribe, and let your words weave tales that captivate the hearts of readers across realms!


Q. How long does it take to publish a Kindle eBook on KDP?

A. It takes up to 72 hours after you hit “Publish” for your book to go live. I’ve found that it usually takes less than 24 hours unless I mess up. I HIGHLY recommend that you set your book’s publication date at least a month out and make it available for pre-release.

Q. Can I change my eBook details after publishing?

A. Most, but not all details. You can alter the description, book text/layout, pricing, and book details after publishing. The title, author, print size, and a few other details are immutable.

Q. Is it essential to enroll in KDP Select for my eBook?

A. Enrolling in KDP Select is optional. It provides promotional opportunities and access to Kindle Unlimited readers. Consider your marketing strategy and goals before deciding.

Q. Can I use KDP to publish only paperbacks or hardcovers?

A. Absolutely. I don’t know why you would, but it’s definitely an option. It is more common to do it the other way around because the eBook is easier to manage.

Q. How do I set the price for my eBook?

A. This opens a giant can of craziness that I’ll try to address in a future short read.

Q. Are there any upfront costs for publishing on KDP?

A. KDP doesn't charge any upfront fees. It operates on a royalty system, where you earn a percentage of the book's sale price. That doesn’t mean self-publishing is free. See this post for some hidden costs of self-publishing in general.

Q. Can I use my own cover for the paperback and hardcover versions?

A. Absolutely! KDP provides the option to upload your own cover files for both paperback and hardcover versions. Ensure the dimensions and quality meet their guidelines.

Q. What is the difference between 35% and 70% royalty options for eBooks?

A. The royalty options determine the percentage of the book's sale price you receive. The 35% option offers a lower royalty but allows for more flexibility in pricing. The 70% option offers a higher royalty but comes with specific pricing criteria.

Q. Can I order author copies of my paperback or hardcover?

A. Yes, KDP allows you to order author copies at printing cost, giving you the chance to sell your books at signings, the farmer’s market, sell them from your website, or give your books away to friends and family.

Q. What is the difference between Print Proofs and Author Copies?

A. Both are printed at cost. Proofs are used to show you what the book will look like. They’ll have a band of text across the cover making it unsellable. Author Copies are printed for the purpose of selling.

Q. How often are royalty payments made on KDP?

A. Royalty payments are typically made monthly, around 60 days after the end of the month in which the sale occurred. Keep an eye on your sales dashboard for specific payment details.


As always, I appreciate your support of indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page