How to Self Publish on Amazon

Rowanna Watson, Medical and Health Copywriter

20 October 2019

It’s a challenge to take a leap of faith and sit down to write your own book. You’ll need time and inspiration as well as the motivation to turn your writing dreams into reality. 

In a study of writers across the UK from 2017 to 2018, results show that the number of people self-publishing grew from 786,935 to 1,009,188. This increase has been due to a rise in self-publishing platforms such as Amazon, Pixelmags and Magplus. Interestingly, numbers of published writers are highest in the South East in the UK but are steadily growing across the nation.

What Makes a Good Book?

The key to writing a good book is finding a target audience. Whether you choose to write fiction or non-fiction, it’s important to validate your book idea (aka do your market research)! 

This can be as simple as creating and emailing an online survey to family and friends about what they look for in a good book or what advice they come to you for the most. You will then have a starting point of the level of interest your book will generate, to begin with.

If you want to further validate that there is a market for your book then you can follow these 6 steps:

  1. Search for your book theme on Udemy
  2. Bookmark courses that are popular (with more than 1000 students)
  3. Then perform the same search on Amazon, look for bestsellers that have a rank of under 20,000
  4. You should have a list of at least 5-10 books and courses
  5. Cross-reference these topics with your idea
  6. The idea that correlates with your idea the most is your book topic

3 Important Points to Remember When Writing Your Book:

  • Create an eye-catching front cover
  • Ensure you have a strong title
  • Make sure you write a gripping blurb/ synopsis

Create An Eye-Catching Book Cover

The book cover is the first thing people will see. So spend more time on this area. You can use sites like 100designs to get, well – 100 designs made for you to choose from. You only pay for the cover that you choose. 

While you can use Amazon’s “Cover Creator”, and overlay text on an image. It’s advisable to get a professional book cover created.

It’s a good idea to get a few of the cover designs and ask your followers what they think. Normally you’ll be surprised by their choice!

PRO TIP: You’ll need a different layout for Kindle (eBook) or Amazon Createspace (Physical books).

People who love Stephen King will just grab any and all of his books.  So having his name prominent is important.

Ensure You Have a Strong Title

Again, the cover is the first thing people will see. Your title should SHOUT OUT to your target customer. If you are writing a fiction book, you’ll need to go for something that sparks their emotions. I love the fact that Stephen King has his name the most prominent part of the book cover.

While the non-fiction book “Life Leverage” by Rob Moore is more focused on helping people with their problems – having too much to do and too little time.

Writing a Gripping Blurb/ Synopsis

Your front cover (if done correctly) will hook people, but your blurb must intrigue the reader enough to download or purchase your book. I’d suggest working on this at both the beginning and the end of your book-writing journey. 

In the beginning, the synopsis can outline where you want the book to go. On completion, the blurb will overview what you’ve actually written. 

These 3 things will help you, but it’s how you launch and promote your book that will start you on the road to success to becoming a Best Selling Author. 

PRO TIP:  Remember that you’re not writing the book for you. So write for your target market and ask them what they want where possible. 

What is Self-Publishing?

Self-publishing is the ‘publication of media independent from the involvement of an established publisher.’ Self- publishing is fast becoming a very popular alternative to using traditional publishers. Not only do you own all the rights to your book, but you also have a say in everything from the cover design to the content. Any editing or alterations are done by you. It is also your choice on who contributes to your work.

Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing?

By using a publishing platform such as Amazon, you get regular monthly payments and royalties of up to 70%. Most traditional publishers only pay out once or twice a year, with royalties of as low as 10-20%. I know which one I’d choose!

Alternatively, traditional publishing offers experts in their field to help you with your book. This comes at a cost, as they control every aspect of your work, including imposed timescales and added stress.  

Self-publishing will only allow you to sell your book online. If you want your book to make it into physical book stores, traditional publishing is the way forward. Despite this, studies show that people read eBooks over paperbacks and hardbacks as they are more compact and versatile.

According to the NOP World Culture Score Index, India, Thailand, and China read the most, spending an average of 8-10 hours reading per week. While people in the UK spend an average 5 hours reading per week. The USA spends 5.5 hours on average a week reading. This figure is only a fraction above the UK. However, one thing all these countries have in common, is that the younger generations between the ages of 16-29 years olds read the most, compared to 30-50-year olds. The 16-29-year olds favour eBooks and reading on electrical devices, whereas 30-50-year olds prefer reading paperbacks and hardbacks.

As we move towards a ‘digital era’ online and eBooks are becoming more popular, so if you want your books to be read worldwide, self-publishing online is perfect.

With self- publishing, no-one will tell you that you can’t publish your book. You can publish any genre or topic, whereas with traditional publishing you are limited. Traditional publishers also only have the capacity to take on a handful of authors per year. Therefore, the probability that your work as a new author will be taken on is considerably lower.

Why Use Amazon to Self-Publish Your Book?

Over 300 million people worldwide use Amazon and its the most trusted eCommerce marketplace. Imagine that, over 300 million people can access or purchase your book – that is a great market to tap into. Here are 6 more reasons to use Amazon to self-publish your next book:

  • You control the rights of your book, set your own prices, and can make changes to it at any time
  • Amazon pays you 70% royalties for each sale of your book
  • The beauty of using Amazon is you can generate interest fast. Start by pricing your book at 99p (for the first week) so you get it out to as many people as possible!
  • After the first week, Amazon will carry on promoting and selling your book! 
  • Amazon prints on-demand so your book will always be available.
  • Amazon offers 2 forms of self-publishing, paperbacks and eBooks.

PRO TIP: If you release your first book for free for the first few days, then you can ask all of your tribe to hop on and give you a rad review. This will save your book sitting on Amazon with 0 Reviews. 

Paperbacks or eBooks?

According to Kantar World Panel, 56% of people read paperbacks and hardbacks compared to the 44% that read eBooks. By choosing Amazon, you get the benefits of self-publishing your book in both formats. 

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the software that allows you to publish both paperbacks and eBooks on to Amazon. Not only does your book appear in the Kindle store within 24 hours, but it’s also easy and free to use. 

You can publish any book you’ve written, whether you wrote it last week or 10 years ago. Even full-color children’s books. 

KDP gives you reports on your book sales and has lots of help pages to answer any of your questions. You can even create your own free author page at author central to talk and swap tips with others.

PRO TIP: Get involved with the KDP community of authors to boost interest in your book.

What to Know Before you begin

Whether you chose to self-publish on paperback or eBook make sure your browser is up to date and that you have a retail Amazon account.  If you don’t have one, click here

You have logged in you’ll be taken to your KDP bookshelf. This is your KDP homepage. As seen below:

Decide on Your Book Format

 Select ‘+ Paperback’ or ‘+ eBook’ depending on your desired format. The KDP system is really easy to use.

10 Things You’ll Need to Provide to Amazon to Self-Publish

It’s handy to know exactly what you’ll need to have to hand to self publish your book. Most of it should be self-explanatory.  Here’s a brief rundown:

  1. Book Title
  2. Series (is this book part of a series?)
  3. Edition Number (if you alter your book you can update the edition number here)
  4. Authors
  5. Contributors (here you can add in anyone who contributed to your book)
  6. Book Description
  7. Publishing Rights
  8.  Keywords (As Amazon is a search engine, it’s a good idea to do some keyword research for your book)
  9. Categories (This area is extremely important if you want to rank asa  Best Seller on Amazon)
  10. Adult content/ Age rating

Deciding on The Category For Your Book

Amazon has over 500 categories that you can choose from. When you publish on Amazon you can choose which category you’re shown in. Take a good look at other books that are like yours and check out what categories they are in. You’ll rank higher for a category that is not well populated. So choosing a lesser-known category for one or more of your category selections is a great idea.

If you choose your category wisely you can end up on the best sellers list with just a few sales/ downloads, which can boost exposure for your book longer term. 

Once you’ve finished click ‘Save and Continue’ to go to ‘Paperback Content’. 

Publishing a Paperback Book

The great thing about Amazon is that you can use the same content for your ebook/ kindle book and your physical book. Whilst this saves time, you might want to focus on each one individually at some point. 

Like I mentioned earlier, the paperback books need a slightly different cover. You need to make sure that the spine of the book fits the number of pages in your book. If you don’t want to do this then you can get someone to do it inexpensively on Fivver.

Complete the Paperback Content Section

Complete the  ‘Paperback Content’ section by uploading your cover and manuscript. 

This is where you choose your printing options. Then follow these three steps:

  1. Click ‘Save and Continue’.
  2. Complete ‘Paperback Rights and Pricing’.
  3. Click ‘Publish Your Paperback Book’ 

CONGRATULATIONS! You’re now a published author

Famous Amazon Self-publishers

Most people presume that the only way to publish a book is by taking it to a professional publishing house. It‘s so easy to give up at the first hurdle if your book doesn’t make sales or you get rejected by a publisher. 

J.K Rowling, Steig Larsson and Stephen King chose not to give up and are now selling millions of copies of their books worldwide. Yes, believe it or not these three famous authors first self- published on Amazon! 

J.K Rowling

J.K Rowling began writing when she was a single mother, never imagining that her work would one day sell for billions. When she was first trying to publish her book, she was rejected by over 12 different publishing houses, so she turned to self-publishing. 

With the grit and determination to get her book published, she felt it was important:

 ‘that everyone could have the same reading experience and access the same reading materials across the world.’

By self-publishing, Rowling had complete control over her work as she started to reach out to people across the world. Now a billionaire, it is Rowling who has turned the tables in the publishing world. Together with her publisher Bloomsbury, she is launching eBooks on her new website ‘Pottermore’.

Stephen King

Stephen King is a big fan of self-publishing and has even written a guide to encourage help people called ‘I am self- publishing, 7 steps to best-selling success.’ He highlights finding the time to write, as well as the importance of using a good self-publishing platform.

How to Boost Interest in Your Book

Tell the world about your book by posting on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) click here for an example post.

Write blogs about your book, guest post or send emails out to everyone who features in your book. Most importantly, the more effort you put into promoting your book, the more interest you will generate and the more books you will sell.

In Conclusion

  1. Self-publishing is quickly becoming the most popular method to get your book published. Amazon stands out as being one of the best and most effective ways of doing this.
  2. Make sure your book is ready to go with strong titles, outlines and a catchy cover!
  3. Follow the easy step by step guide on how to get your book out there online on Amazon. If you get stuck there is plenty of extra information to help you!

But most importantly, if you fail the first time don’t give up! Even the most famous authors had several attempts at self-publishing.

Good luck and happy publishing!