What to Consider Before Self-Publishing a Kindle eBook

If you’re eager to release your book to the world without many overhead costs, self-publishing online tends to be the fastest route to making this a reality. Most think of Amazon’s Kindle as the leading eBook platform, but is Kindle Direct Publishing the dream it’s cracked up to be? While publishing through Amazon won’t be for everyone, for many it has the potential to be a great option – as long as you consider the hidden challenges of self-publishing a Kindle eBook.

How much work is involved?

Self-publishing your manuscript on Kindle only takes several minutes to set up and your book will appear online within 48 hours, but before this quick debut, you’ll need to put in work on the backend to make sure your book is thoroughly edited and formatted correctly. Omit tables, read up on image formatting, and hire an editor if possible so that you don’t have to pull down the published text later for major fixes.

You’ll also need to be aware that there’s no marketing done through Kindle – you’ll still have to get the word out about your book. Until your manuscript climbs the ranks for its category, it’s possible no one will see your masterpiece if you don’t drive the sales yourself.

If you’d like your book to have an ISBN for another platform, note that this is something you’ll need to buy yourself. Your book will instead be assigned an Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) upon publication through Kindle eBook and an ISBN isn’t necessary for this process, but it may be something you want to take care so that it’s included on Kindle.

How much will you make?

Publishing an eBook through Kindle Direct Publishing is theoretically free, but after spending so long writing your book, hiring an editor, and putting in hours of marketing, you’ll definitely be looking forward to those royalties.

Amazon offers two royalty amounts: 35% and 70%. It’s worth looking into other online self-publications to see if you can land a better offers, but even the seemingly-stingy 35% is a higher rate than what many traditional publishers offer, which is often around 15%.

To earn the maximum 70%, you first need to check that your region is eligible, as some countries and territories are exempt. The book will need to be listed between $2.99 and $9.99; any more or less and you wind up with only 35% royalty.

Amazon touts earning additional money by signing your eBook up to Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but agreeing to participate in the lending program is actually something you need to agree to in order to be eligible for the 70% royalty. If you go with the higher option, the size of your book also affects the delivery cost, which will be taken from the sale before the royalties are calculated. This doesn’t apply to a 35% royalty, so if you have a large book that you’d like to charge much more for that $9.99, it could be in your interest to take the royalty cut.

Familiarize yourself with the fine print

If you’re still on board after analyzing the royalty packages, take some time to sift through the fine print on the Kindle Direct Publishing site to make sure there aren’t any deal breakers lurking beneath this dream.

For example, if you already have a physical copy of your book listed on Amazon, note that the digital version must be at least 20% lower in price than the list price of the physical version. Amazon can also put your book on sale or price match it if it’s on sale elsewhere for a lower rate, so make sure to read up on pricing particularly if you do have your book on sale elsewhere.

Kindle also reserves the right to deem your work inappropriate or “disappointing to customers” as per their Content Guidelines. One of the criteria for a disappointing work is the vague “content that does not provide an enjoyable reading experience.” While most works should be fine to publish, be warned if you’re planning to publish anything with an unusual format or lots of images, as this may not translate well to the platform.

Is it worth it?

At the end of the day, it comes down to whether Kindle Direct Publishing seems like right fit for you and your objective. Are you focused on accessibility and reach? Are you willing to do the marketing yourself or keep your price point low to earn the maximum royalties? There’s a lot to consider, but once you’ve prepared your manuscript for publication and weighed your options, if the Kindle platform is for you, you could have your friends reading your book by tomorrow.

  • Posted by Julia McAlpine
  • May 14, 2020 11:01 AM PDT
While publishing through Amazon won’t be for everyone, for many it has the potential to be a great option – as long as you consider the hidden challenges of self-publishing a Kindle eBook.