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Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform has made self-publishing a book more accessible than ever for authors around the world. In fact, over 1.6 million books are self-published through KDP each year. 

Amazon KDP is a “print-on-demand” service, through which authors can publish paperback, ebook and even hardback versions of their books. If you want to include an audiobook as well, Amazon has a separate platform called ACX for that. And while self-published books have historically had a stigma of being lower quality, it’s now possible to self-publish a book that looks every bit as professional as a traditionally published book. 

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to teach you how to set up your KDP account, and publish your print and ebook titles. Unfortunately, even though it seems easy, the setup isn’t always as straightforward as one might think, so we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

How to Self-Publish on Amazon: A Beginner’s Guide to Setup

Setting Up an Account with Amazon KDP

Before you sit down to set up your Amazon KDP account, you’ll want to decide if you’re going to use your personal Amazon.com account, or set up a new business account. Keep in mind that even if you use your personal account, you can still set up a business entity for your payment and tax information. 

In Amazon, it’s easy to add a new credit card, so you can keep your business expenses separate by using a business credit card. 

It’s often easier to use your personal account so you don’t have to remember two logins, but it’s totally up to you. 

If you have multiple authors, or other people who will need to login to see your sales reports, you might want to set up a separate account.

Whether or not you choose to login to a personal or business account, you’ll still need to decide which entity is going to be receiving royalties for book sales. A business could be one that you’ve set up specifically for your book, or it could be an existing business related to your book (many nonfiction authors have coaching businesses, or they offer their expertise in other ways). Or you can be a personal entity, setting up your account under your own name. 

Regardless, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared with all of your tax information and bank account information before you go to set up your account.

Follow these steps:

Go to kdp.amazon.com

Login with your account info

You’ll need to accept the KDP agreement

You’ll be taken to a dashboard and see an alert at the top saying “Your Account Information is Incomplete”

Click the link to “Update Now”

You’ll be taken to a screen where you can fill in all the tax and financial info

Start with Author/Publisher Information

  • Use the name of the entity you’re setting up the account with. . . either you or a business
  • This isn’t necessarily the imprint name. If different, you’ll have a chance to set this up later
  • For the other info, use the address, etc of the entity you’re using (yourself or a business)

Getting Paid:

  • Enter all the information for the “Business” you’re using.
  • Bank Name, Account #, routing #, EIN
  • Name and Address associated with the account

Tax Information:

  • Using their form to fill out a W-9 to submit to Amazon
  • Follow the prompts and confirm/provide the info they request
  • They may automatically pull the info from your personal account. If so, make sure to review the information and update it accordingly. . . especially if you’re doing a business account
  • If you’ve set up an LLC, you’ll need to know what kind (Sole Proprietor, S-Corp, C-Corp, or Partnership)
    • If you’re a Sole Proprietor (aka single-member) LLC, then you’ll sign up in the “Individual” classification not as a “Business”
  • Double check that W-9 info is correct and submit form

What You’ll Need

After your accounts are set up, it’s time to make sure you have all of your final book files. Here’s what you’ll need before moving forward: 

  • Your final manuscript, formatted beautifully and in PDF format
  • Your final cover
    • A full spread in PDF, formatted to the template for your book
    • A front page in JPG 
    • A description of your book (the marketing copy that will appear on the Amazon book page)
    • Your retail price for both your print and ebook versions
  • Your retail prices for each format 
  • Your ISBN numbers
  • Your imprint name

Formatting Your Cover

Once you have your final manuscript formatted and in PDF form, and your final cover design (front, back and spine), you’ll need to make sure your cover is formatted to fit your book. Head over to Amazon’s cover template generator, and fill out the details for your book. Then, enter the total page count, using the total number of PDF pages (not the page numbers in your book). 

Ask your designer if they prefer the dimensions, or the actual template, or download both and send them over. They’ll make your full-spread cover fit the template, so when your book prints, it is the right size and thickness for your book.

Pricing Your Book

It’s a good idea to look at other books of similar length and genre to see what their retail price is. Make sure to look at the original price, not the discounted one, if it’s on sale. The best way to do this is to go to Amazon.com and gather some data on competitor book pricing. You’ll notice most paperback books are between $12.99 and $19.99, and hardcover books are generally over $20.

Next, you’ll want to use the KDP calculator to 1) find out what the print cost of your book will be (usually $4-$5 for black and white books), and 2) play around with different prices for your book. Plug several into the matrix to see what your profit will be.  Keep in mind that Amazon is going to take 30% of each book sale, but they’ve already accounted for this in the calculator’s “estimated royalty.” So that is the profit you can expect to earn from each book sale.

A good rule is to be as expensive as possible within the acceptable ranges for your genre and book type. 

A fun sidenote: If your book gets some initial traction and starts selling, Amazon might discount it for you. This is great news! If Amazon discounts your book, you still get the profit you would get from a full-priced book sale. Not only does it show that your book is selling, and Amazon’s algorithm wants to help it sell more, bu tit’s also a win-win for you and your readers.

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