Now that you have a professionally formatted interior and a beautiful cover, it’s time to turn your files into an actual book. There are all kinds of print-on-demand companies out there that can do that for you.
We’ve found the easiest (especially for first-time authors) is Amazon KDP. In less than 30 minutes you can turn your manuscript into a self-published book.
How to Upload Your Book to Amazon KDP in 10 Steps
Before we start, what is Amazon KDP?
Amazon KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing. They are the print-on-demand publishing arm of Amazon, and have been on the market since 2007. Through their easy-to-use interface, you can self-publish ebooks, paperback books and hardcover books for free.
Authors are paid book royalties from Amazon for every book sold.
There are a number of benefits to self-publishing with Amazon KDP, including:
- High book royalties (sometimes up to 70%)
- Retaining all your author rights
- Fast turn-around times (books are usually live and available for purchase in 72 hours or less)
Here is how to upload your book at Amazon KDP in 10 steps:
1. Create an Amazon KDP Account
To create your Amazon KDP account, go to kdp.amazon.com and create a new account. If you already have an Amazon account you can hit ‘log in’ and use the same log in information as your regular amazon account.
You will be asked to accept some terms and agreements and then taken to your dashboard.
Before you can upload any books, Amazon will need to collect some information from you including your:
- Mailing address
- If you are setting up the account as an individual you will also need your birthdate and social security number
- If you are setting up your account as an organization, you will need the date your business was established, and your EIN number
- You will also need a bank account number to collect royalty payments
It’s easiest to have all this information handy before you start the set up process.
2. Gather All Your Files
When you upload your book to Amazon KDP the files that you will need include:
- POD (Print on Demand) file. This is a PDF of your formatted book
- EPUB file. This is the ebook version of your book
- Cover template. Using KDP’s cover template generator you can take your designed book cover and adapt it to Amazon’s printing specs.
- A jpg. of just the front cover of your book for the ebook.
I like to get all these files together and put them somewhere convenient so I have them all in once place when it’s time to do the upload
3. Create your Book
Once you’ve completed your account set up, it’s time to create your book. From your dashboard click ‘Bookshelf’ and then click the big yellow ‘Create’ button. Select the format you’d like your book in. Your choices are
- Kindle ebook
I find it’s easiest to start with the paperback version.
Next, Amazon will ask for some additional information about your book. This includes the
- Your author name
- Who your primary audience is
- The book description
- Your ISBN and imprint
- Trim size
- If you want black and white, color, or cream pages
- A matte or glossy cover
4. Pick Categories and Keywords
Before you get to upload your manuscript and cover, you will need to pick your categories and keywords. Amazon allows you to select up to three categories and seven keywords.
Try to steer clear of broad categories. Rather, use the category selection tool to drill down into as many niche categories as make sense for your book.
Before selecting your categories, go out to Amazon and see what other books exist in that category. Do their readers feel like your readers? If so, it’s a good fit.
For keywords, try to imagine what questions or phrases people might type into a search engine that would lead them to your book.
5. Upload your Manuscript
The next step is to upload your manuscript and cover directly into KDP.
Once both files have been uploaded, launch the previewer to review a digital proof. Make sure the cover art is all falling in the correct spots, and nothing important is covered by the barcode (this shouldn’t be an issue if you followed a KDP cover template).
Scroll through a few pages to check that your interior formatting is aligned properly. If there are any major issues, KDP will issue a warning and give you page examples of where things need fixed. Usually this has to do with margins being too close to the edge.
6. Choose your Pricing & Distribution
The next step is to pick your primary Amazon marketplace, your distribution, and determine the price of your book. We very rarely do Amazon’s expanded distribution. We find you can get a better distribution by uploading another version of your book on IngramSpark. Also if you opt out of Amazon’s expanded distribution you can take full advantage of Amazon’s 70 percent royalty rate.
The next choice you have to make is your price. Amazon will determine your printing costs based on the length of your manuscript, so you can play around with the pricing a bit until you find something that meets your goals.
Just be careful you don’t price your book too high for its size and genre. It’s always a good idea to do some research and see what similar books to yours are priced at and go from there.
After you’ve set your main price, Amazon will auto calculate the price for the different marketplaces. You can go in and adjust these a bit to make them more appealing.
7. Order a Printed Proof
Before you publish, order a printed proof to triple check that everything is correct. You can order a proof directly from the pricing tab. It will ask you how many you would like, and from which marketplace.
After you have made your selection, the proof will appear in your Amazon shopping cart in about four hours. You can complete the purchase there. In the meantime, just hit save as draft in Amazon KDP and wait for your printed proof to arrive.
What to look for in a printed proof
Even if everything looked correct in the digital proof, sometimes Amazon’s printers can make mistakes. We’ve seen enough mistakes to know that we never want to skip this step of proofing a physical copy of the book.
We first look at the cover to make sure all the art elements printed correctly and there aren’t any traces of white around the edges. Is the title centered on the spine; things like that.
Then, we look at every single page. You can read your printed proof if you want, or you can just look at every page to make sure there are no glaring errors.
If there are any errors or things that need corrected in your original file, you will need to make those corrections and then re-upload the manuscript in step six.
If the error is not in your original file but is in the printed proof, you will need to contact KDP customer service for support. It’s a good idea to take pictures of what you are seeing to show them. You may need to order a second printed proof to double check that the changes and corrections came through properly.
8. Add your Ebook
While you are waiting on your printed proof to arrive, you can return to your Bookshelf tab on the Amazon KDP dashboard and locate your paperback. It should be in draft form. Click the button below that says + Create ebook.
Amazon will autofill most of the information for you (minus the ISBN) so all you have to do is upload your epub file and cover.
9. KDP Select
On the pricing tab for your ebook, Amazon will ask if you want to enroll in KDP Select. This gives Amazon exclusive rights to the ebook for a 90 day period, and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can access it for free.
If you are planning on doing any Amazon promotions then you are going to want to enroll your ebook in KDP Select. You can always unenroll once the 90 day period is up. Or, if your book is a genre that does well in KDP select (think romance novels, sci-fi, etc.) then definitely consider enrolling!
10. Go Live!
Once you are satisfied with your printed proof it’s time to go live!
From the pricing tab hit ‘Publish your Book.’ It can take up to 72 hours for the book to be made live on Amazon.
If Amazon finds anything wrong with your files, they will send you an email with instructions on how to fix the problem. Be sure to make both your ebook and paperback version live.
After your book is live there are still things to do like set up your Amazon Author Central Account. You may also want to consider uploading your files to IngramSpark for a wider distribution.