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How to publish a Kindle eBook: how do I get it listed on Amazon and win sales?

Congratulations! If you’ve followed our guide “How to publish a Kindle eBook: how do I write and upload it?” then you’re now an author. Only one problem: you’re not yet a published author. Let’s change that.

Point your browser at kdp.amazon.com and sign in with your Amazon account. You’ll need to agree to the terms and conditions for publishing Kindle eBooks, but so long as you’re happy with what they contain, you will eventually find yourself at the bookshelf. This will be empty, but it’s where you’ll organise and manage your growing library of published books over time.

How to publish an eBook: Build your bookshelf

Start by clicking “+ Kindle eBook”. Select the language in which your book has been written. The range is bewildering. As well as regular European and Asian languages, it includes Malamayam, Manx and Breton, but sadly not Esperanto.

Work your way down the form, entering your book title and subtitle, author name, and a description. Be careful with your title. If the words don’t appear on your cover there’s a chance it will be rejected. If you want to include a strapline (something like, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”, which worked so well for Jaws), make sure it’s included in your cover art.

Amazon will need to know that you have the rights to publish your book and haven’t just copied somebody else’s work, so select the appropriate option in the Publishing Rights section, then add some descriptive keywords. Think of these the same way you would think of the tags that you applied to a post on a blog. They will be used to help surface your book in searches, so be quite specific.

If your work is a mediaeval murder story set in a small Welsh launderette, don’t just choose crime; add meaningful descriptions, like Wales, murder, “dark ages”, “drowned in softener” and so on.

How to publish a Kindle eBook: Categories

The same goes for the categories, which appear in the section immediately below. Although you would naturally want the book we’ve just described to appear in the crime section, just choosing crime would be a mistake. You’ll be competing against millions of other books, many of which have been written by more famous authors than you.

Instead, then, dig down through the categories until you get to the absolutely most relevant subsection. The deeper you go, the more places you will show up. For example, if you dig down through fiction to thrillers, and through thrillers to suspense, you will appear in all three of those categories, not just suspense.

publish a Kindle eBook
Choose your categories wisely…

You can choose two categories in total, so in both cases go as deep as you can. You may find that over time your book gets added to other categories to which its relevant without you making any changes, so don’t worry if the exact classification you’re after doesn’t appear.

Unless you’re writing a specific children’s book, you can ignore the age range section. Leave Pre-order set to the default, which is that you’re ready to release your book now. Click Save and Continue.

How to publish an eBook: uploading your work

You’re now in the content section and you need to decide whether to apply digital rights management to your book. If you do, it will stop people sharing it around without the recipients having paid for it. If you don’t, anyone who downloads a copy can share it with anyone else.

It’s entirely up to you what you choose. While nobody wants to see their work ripped off, having it shared among a wider audience, even if they haven’t paid, is a good marketing opportunity, so if you’re planning on building a career out of publishing your own books, you might want to consider disabling DRM.

Just bear in mind that whatever you choose here can’t be changed later, so don’t rush into it.

Click Upload eBook manuscript, locate the compiled file you exported from Scrivener and then do the same in the section below for your cover.

Why do you need to upload the cover when it’s already part of the book? Because this cover, not the one in the compiled file, is the one that’s displayed on the Amazon listing. If your book has a predominantly white cover, then we would recommend adding a very fine grey line around the edge of the cover you upload to Amazon so that it stands out on the listing.

publish a Kindle eBook
There are little tweaks you can do to make your cover stand out

When both the cover and book file have been uploaded, Amazon will check them. It will pick out any spelling errors and quality issues with the cover file. This can take a while, so make some lunch and come back in an hour.

Assuming all went to plan, you need to preview the book before it can go on sale. There are two ways to do this. You could preview in browser (which we would recommend) or you can download the file to preview using a Kindle app on your computer, or a Kindle device.

Remember when we said you didn’t need an ISBN? If you ignored us, enter your number in the final section of the content page.

Click Save and Continue.

How to publish an eBook: setting your price

Pricing your eBook is a bit of an art. Do you want to sell a lot of copies at a low price, or a few copies at a high price? You might make more money doing the former, and certainly if you can generate a buzz around your work by getting a lot of people to buy it cheaply there will be opportunities to increase the price later. If you go in at a high price right away, your sales might be flat and your book may not achieve the kind of recognition it deserves.

There is another consideration, though: the royalty level. Amazon offers royalties of either 35% or 70%. Naturally, we’d all like to earn 70% of the cover price of each book we sell, but you will only be eligible for that if you charge at least £1.99 and no more than £9.99 in the UK. If you want to go in at 99p to try and generate interest, you’ll only be able to earn royalties of 35%.

There are good reasons not to take the price of your work above £9.99 unless you’re prepared to charge a small fortune for your work. At £9.99 you’ll learn £7 from each copy sold. Increase the price by 1p, though, and you’ll slip out of the 70% royalty range. You’ll suddenly be earning just 35% of the price of each book, and your income will halve to £3.50. You won’t beat £7 that you earn for a £9.99 book on 70% royalties until you increase the price all the way up to £20.

You may well think your work is worth that much money because you know how much effort it was to create it, but very few eBook readers will agree with you. Don’t overprice your work if you’re not a well-known, bestselling author already.

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Being greedy can lead to lower revenues!

Choose where the book should go on sale in the Territories box. The simplest option is to choose worldwide rights for global release, but if you prefer you can restrict availability of your book to only certain territories. This may be useful if you have a conflict of interest elsewhere or your subject matter is politically sensitive in some states.

That just leaves three small matters to do with supplementary earning potential. The first of these is KDP Select, which is Amazon’s exclusive programme allowing readers who have enrolled in the scheme to download and read your book for free. You will receive a royalty payment for every page they turn.

The catch is that if you sign up to KDP Select you will not be allowed to sell your eBook through other stores. If Amazon finds out that you have done you may be penalised.

Matchbook is only relevant if you have also published a print edition of your book, as it allows readers who have bought that to also buy your eBook for £2.99 or less. Book lending let’s Kindle users lend your book to friends and family for 14 days. You won’t earn any royalties on the loan, but once again this is a useful marketing tool, bringing your work to the attention of a wider audience who may go on to recommend it to friends or by your other books.

Publish a Kindle eBook: Go go go

When you have completed the form, read the terms and conditions and, if you agree with them, click Publish your Kindle eBook. Amazon will run some final checks on your files and if they pass your book will be on sale within 72 hours – and often much sooner.

By all means tell your friends, family and colleagues that you’re now a published author, but don’t sit on your laurels. This is just one book out of many, and the more that you write, the more likely it is that a new and growing audience will discover your work. Start book two right away.

About the author

Nik Rawlinson

Nik should have paid more attention at school, but he's making up for it now through the wonder of Duolingo. Se vi komprenas ĉi tiun frazon, bonvolu sendi al li retpoŝton. Li bezonas la praktikon.

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