Back to blog

Learn with Threecolts

Small group workshops to help you learn, optimize, and grow.

Learn About Coaching

Kindle Direct Publishing - The Ultimate Guide [2024]

Emma Ritson
February 21, 2024
February 21, 2024
Kindle e-book next to a computer with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing

Are you a writer looking to become a published author?

With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, you can skip the trouble of working with traditional publishing companies and sell your books directly to Amazon’s worldwide audience of readers.

Using Amazon’s self-publishing platform, you can write and publish your own e-book or print paperback for free. So, how easy is it to begin, and how soon until your book is available in Kindle stores?

Many people learn the basics of Kindle publishing within a few hours. While it’s not difficult to learn how to self-publish your writing, there are a few steps involved.

In this KDP Publishing Guide, we will look at the following:

print book open to a page

What is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)?

Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, is Amazon’s self-publishing platform. With KDP, authors can publish their own books and sell them to a massive audience—one that regularly searches on Amazon for books in their preferred genre. Without having to use a traditional publishing company—a process known to be fraught with difficulty and exclusivity—sellers can now engage the readers of Amazon with their own titles, and these e-books and paperbacks can potentially sell in the thousands.

And unlike traditionally published books, authors can make their own e-books and print on demand paperback books without any upfront printing costs or previous orders to fulfill. Additionally, KDP allows writers to keep the full rights to their published work, something conventional publishing houses don't offer. If you are a keen writer or have always wanted to publish a book, this guide is for you.

What Are the Benefits of KDP?

One of the biggest benefits of Kindle Direct Publishing is that you don't need to pay anything upfront to publish and sell your book online, but there are other benefits as well.

Publish paperback books

Kindle Direct Publishing gives you the option of publishing either a Kindle e-book or a paperback print book—or both if you so desire. If you decide to go for a paperback, you will print your book using Amazon's print-on-demand service, which includes shipping to your customer. There is no need to pay for bulk inventory before your first book sale, either. The printing process starts once the buyer buys your book.

No upfront printing costs

It’s free to list your e-book on Amazon, but you'll have to share a split of any revenue made from book sales. We'll explain more on how to earn royalties below.

Publish as many books as you want

When you publish books on Kindle Direct Publishing, there's no limit to how many ebooks or print books you can publish. You can even publish books under different pen names or across several categories and niches. And yes, you can do all this under one Kindle Direct Publishing account—which is linked to your Amazon account.

Buy your own books wholesale with KDP

Have an in-person event coming up that you'd like to sell physical books at? Place a wholesale book order with Amazon through your Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard. Amazon prints the number of copies you want and can even ship them to you. You'll pay for the printing cost of each book once you’ve made the sale (the cost is taken off the total sale price).

Potential to rank on the Kindle Store  

Unlike traditional publishing, as a self-published writer, you can rise in rank and increase your sales. This is similar to how established authors and publishing houses rely on publishing charts, like The New York Times' Bestseller List, to sell more books. Like other Amazon sellers, you'll have a sales rank. Your ebook will also be given a star rating - the higher this star rating, the more book sales you're likely to see.

Sell globally to millions of readers

One of the biggest benefits of writing and self-publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct is the access and exposure you have to millions of Kindle readers across the world searching for new books to read. Note: you must own the rights to your book in each territory or country that it's sold in - but once you've secured the rights, a global audience is waiting for you. You can learn more about owning book rights on Amazon Kindle here.

Amazon's global marketplaces provide a unique benefit to self-published and new authors, providing promotional opportunities you'd otherwise need a corporate publishing house for. Learn more about Amazon's royalty rates for authors to see if this is the right direction for you.

Maintain creative control

With Kindle Direct Publishing, you maintain absolute creative control of the process at all times, which doesn't happen in traditional publishing. You choose the look, tone, description, and price of your book, and you alone make decisions about how your e-book is marketed and advertised.

This is important because advertising is everything when it comes to selling books. Typical publishers may make decisions you don't like about how the book is presented. Or worse, they may decide not to invest their time in properly promoting your work. This can lead to a lot of resentment and difficulty for authors, many of who have spent years writing their book.

Sell books you haven't written

Wait, I don't even have to write a book? Yes, that's right. You can publish books that are no longer copyright protected. This means you can research the transcripts of books published more than 100 years ago, such as classic Victorian novels and ancient texts. (These public domain books include famous titles like Moby Dick, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but also Greek classics and beloved poems.) You design a cover, check the typesetting, write an introduction, and there you go - you have a book to sell that you didn't even have to write.

Writing a book with a coffee

What other kinds of content can you publish with KDP?

Make sure you read the guidelines on KDP about the types of content you can publish. Apart from copyright-free books, you can also publish the following:

  • Novels
  • Book Series
  • Children’s Books
  • Comics and Graphic Novels
  • Cookbooks
  • Journals
  • Poetry
  • Textbooks

Kindle Direct Publishing Royalties

Once you have published a book on KDP, you'll get paid in royalties for every book sale. This means is both you and Amazon receive a percentage of the total revenue of each book sold.

You can choose between two royalty rates - 35 percent and 70 percent.

To be eligible to receive a 70 percent royalty rate on your book sales, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your e-book must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99
  • You have to pay a distribution fee, (a delivery fee) for each purchase, and this will depend on the digital file size. Amazon will charge $0.15 per megabyte per title sold between $2.99 and $9.99. Amazon compresses e-book files, so your fee won’t be as costly as you might think. Use their fee calculator on the pricing page.
  • If you create paperback and hardback copies of your title, the e-book price needs to be at least 20 percent less than the paperback’s full price.
  • You must own the copyright to the e-book. If you’re selling classic books and those in the public domain, you won’t get a 70 percent royalty.
  • Your books will need to be enrolled in KDP Select in order for you to get the 70 percent royalty on sales to customers in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India.

If you go for the 35 percent royalty rate, then you will need to agree to these requirements:

  • Your book must be priced below $2.99 or above $9.99
  • You will not pay a delivery fee.
A kindle next to some pencils

Paperback Royalties

If you're publishing paperback books on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing then Amazon will give you a fixed 60 percent royalty rate. The royalty is 60 percent of the list price minus book printing costs, page count, ink type, and the Amazon marketplace your paperback was ordered from.

Amazon provides a printing cost calculator - or use this simple equation:

(Royalty rate x list price) – printing costs = royalty

Advertising your book

You’ve written your book, designed a cover, typed out a product description and installed it on the KDP platform. Congratulations, you are a published author! But your work is not done. Now you must advertise your e-book in order to make some sales.

Lucky for you, Amazon handily provides some very cool book marketing tools to help you get your work in front of potential customers. One of these tools is called Amazon Advertising.

A kindle and a camera

Amazon Advertising

If you've been selling physical products on Amazon, you're already familiar with sponsored product ads. These ads are part of Amazon's pay-per-click (PPC) advertising formula. This is how it works:  

Create an advertising campaign in which you target certain keywords that are relevant to your e-book. These keywords are the words your intended audience will likely use in the Amazon search bar when they're looking for a book to buy—and there are a lot of people looking for a very wide range of books on Amazon.

When a customer searches for the keywords in the Amazon search bar, your e-book will appear within the search results - hopefully on the first page! Just like Google, appearing on the first page of results is the main aim of all Amazon sellers. When the customer sees the ad, they can click on it and then arrive at your book’s product detail page.

With PPC, you must bid on clicks for your keywords of choice. The higher your bid, the more likely it is that your ad will appear in the results.

For example, you published a romance book set in Italy through Amazon Kindle Direct publishing. Through the PPC program, you will target the following keywords—-romance, Italian novel, romance novel, romance in Italy.

If you choose the right bid and keyword, then your ad could appear in someone’s search results, since there are a number of people searching for romance books and books set in Italy. That’s why there's a high likelihood that people could discover your book if you pay a high enough bid.

This is a smart way to promote your book to potential customers and readers who have a proven track record in buying similar sorts of books—in this case romance novels.

Words on a Kindle screen

Promoting your book using KDP Select

KDP Select is another way e-book sellers can achieve some exposure on Amazon. This program is eligible only for e-books, not paperbacks, and you can opt in or out of it.

As Amazon states, “KDP Select is a free Kindle book program that gives you the opportunity to reach more readers and earn more money at no additional cost. All authors and publishers, regardless of where they live, are eligible to enroll their Kindle books in KDP Select.”

While you can “reach more readers and earn more money at no additional cost” there are some downsides to enrolling in KDP select, as well as some benefits.

Benefits to enrolling in KDP Select:

  • Increased royalties in certain countries

    Your Kindle book is eligible for 70 percent royalty earnings from all sales based in Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico. Without KDP Select enrollment, your royalty is  35 percent for these countries.

  • Promotional tools

You can access Kindle Countdown Deals. KDP Select authors are able to offer limited-time discounts to customers on and You can access Free book promotions. Authors can choose to give their title for free for up to five days in each 90-day KDP Select enrollment period. No, you can’t earn royalties through a free book promotion, but it can give you a high number of downloads and reviews, which creates social proof around your book, making the book a better offer to paying customers after the promotion ends.

  • Kindle Unlimited

Your book is automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, the program that gives customers access to an unlimited amount of books for $9.99 a month. Instead of being paid the usual royalty price, you are paid per page the customer reads in your book. Surprisingly, this scheme can pay off. How? Kindle Unlimited users would be less inclined to pay for a book by an unknown author outright, but they can browse a few pages, then become engrossed by the material, and leave a great review.

Downsides to enrolling in KDP Select:

  • Tendency for lower earnings than from book sales

Since the royalties are paid per page that is read, authors may not make as much money as if readers purchased the title outright.

  • The e-book must be sold exclusively on Amazon

You agree to a minimum 90-day enrollment period for the sale of your book only on the Amazon Kindle store—not another marketplace, your website, or even offered somewhere for free.

Reading a kindle in a hammock

How to sign up for a KDP account

With KDP, you can list your titles for free and create paperbacks using Amazon’s print-on-demand. If you’re a writer, selling your books on Amazon through KDP makes a lot of sense and it’s good value. It’s easy to sign up for an account, too. You can have your own e-book published in no time.

Head to the Kindle Direct Publishing site and click on “Sign up.” Fill out the forms with your information, and start uploading your books.

Kindle Direct Publishing log in

Before you upload an e-book

When it comes to publishing your e-book, make sure the manuscript has no errors. Run it through a program such as Grammarly or better yet, get a friend—or three—to read your title from beginning to end. Readers won't take any book seriously if they find grammar or spelling mistakes.

After this, ensure you have a cover design that you're happy with. You can take photos yourself or head to Canva to use their free design tools and find some inspiration. It's important that your cover design is high quality since it's the first calling card to customers.

Next, focus on writing a succinct book description for the content section of KDP. Customers and readers love clear and concise book descriptions. Keep sentences short and engaging. You can read the KDP Content Guidelines before uploading your ebook.

How to Upload a book

To start, log in and go to “Create a Book” and choose between a Kindle e-book or paperback.

Kindle Direct Publishing creation

Next, fill out the form, describing the title, edition, author, an optimized product description, publishing rights, and keywords.

In the next section, you will upload your manuscript, e-book cover, and an optional Kindle e-book ISBN. We don’t recommend using Amazon’s cover creator, since you’ll get better quality from Canva’s offerings.

You can also upload your manuscript into the KDP program where it says “Kindle e-book Content.”

Kindle Direct Publishing content uploader

Once you do this, you make sure the chapter headings are in alignment and that you have chosen the right formatting.

Next is pricing your book. In this section, choose if you want to enroll in KDP Select, the territories where you want to list your book, and your royalty rate and price.

Kindle Direct Publishing pricing

Under “Royalty and Pricing”, you can choose the 35 percent plan or the 70 percent plan. Amazon will show you what your royalty will be based on your list price.

Kindle Direct Publishing royalties

Remember, if your price is over $9.99, then you are only eligible for the 35 percent royalty.

After you fill in all this information, your book is ready to be published! Just like that, your very own published e-book or paperback will be available to millions of people regularly browsing on the Amazon platform.

As book sales grow, adjust your marketing and advertising efforts to maximize conversions, whether that’s advertising on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, or creating a blog around your publishing business.

Good luck! And be sure to check out the Threecolts blog for even more tips on running a successful e-commerce business.

About Us

Threecolts acquires, launches, and grows e-commerce software with a robust suite of offerings such as SellerRunning, SmartRepricer, SellerBench, Tactical Arbitrage, Bindwise, RefundSniper, ChannelReply, and FeedbackWhiz.

Reach out to SellerBench for help with shipment reconciliation and FBA fee reimbursements; it's the most robust profit recovery platform for Amazon and Walmart. Because 99% of FBA sellers are owed money. Get your free audit today.

If you are more interested in the #1 Amazon Arbitrage software, try TacticalArbitrage. With over 6,000 users, TacticalArbitrage will help you discover profitable products to resell on Amazon.

SellerRunning is an entirely new way of selling on Amazon. Discover a global network of Amazon marketplaces for seamless listing, smart pricing strategies and increased profitability. Outdo the competition and win the Buy Box with prices that are automatically updated according to your rules.

Bindwise will help you to identify costly issues with your Amazon seller accounts. Receive instant Bindwise Alerts about everything related to your store on Amazon.

RefundSniper is an international Amazon reimbursement service that runs audits on both Vendor Central and Seller Central. Find out how much you are owed by Amazon today.

Try effortless, instant and automated repricing today with SmartRepricer. It's the world's #1 repricer to safely automate your Amazon pricing, win the Buy Box, and increase your sales.

If you're looking for a way to streamline multi-platform e-commerce support, ChannelReply has you covered. Cut your customer response time in half by having all your customer information in one hub.

FeedbackWhiz is an Amazon sellers management software that helps merchants scale their business by automating email campaigns, improving seller feedback, getting more product reviews, monitoring listings, and analyzing profit and accounting data.