by Gareth Clegg
It used to be that anyone wanting to get their book published, needed to sell their soul and peddle their wares around town, sending a huge typed manuscript to a horde of seedy agents and the big five publishing houses. After waiting many months, some lucky minority may receive a reply to their enquiry with something other than the dreaded form rejection – “Thank you for your application, but frankly my dear, we don’t give a damn!” Or words to that effect. From there the million-to-one-shot’s might find themselves offered a publishing deal.
Now the age of technology means electronic submissions, lots of independent presses and even agents can be bypassed via the mystic art of Self Publishing.
Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon’s platform for distributing your books on the web-giant’s universe facing website. As with all things Amazon, there is a vast array of options, but it might surprise you just how easy getting your masterpiece onto this massive sales platform can be.
Before going much further, you may ask ‘Why Amazon KDP?’
Well, good question and here are seven major reasons you should publish through Amazon.
1. REACH – Let’s face it, Amazon is huge. They control over 80% of the book market worldwide with localised national stores all around the globe.
2. EASY – The KDP platform has made it a simple job to get your writing out into the world in both eBook and Paperback, with very little effort or technical know-how required.
3. MARGINS – You earn up to 70% royalty on your ebooks and 60% on paperbacks. This is massive compared to the traditional method, though you will need to do all the promotion work yourself (with a bit of help from Amazon, of course)
4. SPEED – With a manuscript ready to go you can upload your book through KDP and have it up on Amazon within minutes, and it only takes 24–48 hours for it to be available for someone on the other side of the world to press the purchase button – now that’s impressive.
5. COST – It’s free! Yes, you heard me. There are no upfront costs and even your Paperbacks are Print on Demand (PoD). So no stacks of old unsold copies littering your attic for the next twenty years.
6. CONTROL – You control the details for your publications and can change the price as you require to run special promotions or to tie in with advertising campaigns. You don’t need to go through a third party such as an agent or publisher to see what’s going on with your sales, and Amazon pays the money directly into your chosen bank account at the end of the month. Remember, this runs three months in arrears—So you won’t receive your January payment until April, but then everything follows on
from there on a monthly basis. With great reporting, the KDP dashboard shows you where you are selling—by book, geographic region, and your Kindle Unlimited page reads (We’ll talk about this in the next section). So, you get a comprehensive view of what is happening with your books and how well each of them is doing in almost real-time.
7. KDP SELECT – If you choose to sign up with this optional package, you give Amazon the exclusive rights to distribute your eBook. This means you can’t sell it from any other storefront—including your own. Having said this, Amazon promotes your work through their Kindle Unlimited service for eBook subscribers, and for each page read, they pay a dividend. Now don’t get too excited, this amount is minute, something like 0.02 cents per page, but if you interest enough readers, this can add up to a reasonable monthly payment. In fact, some authors make more on their KDP SELECT payments than they do from royalties when they start out. This isn’t a binary option either IN/OUT. You have the choice every three months to continue with KDP SELECT or to opt out again, so no permanent tie-ins here.
So we’ve bigged up the Amazon book publishing side, but it can’t all be roses, can it?
Well, you’re right to ask, and there are issues that cause some authors concern.
The main one comes from people who like Amazon against those who don’t. Some folk love the ability to go to a single global marketplace and buy just about anything, including books. Others feel the international giant is killing the high-street bookshop, even more than supermarkets are, and is a big reason for so many local bookshops closing. Do you really want to feed the monster that will someday rise up and devour all in its path? Well, you get the idea.
The other thing to think about is whether you are happy with all your eggs in one basket. If you’ve ploughed all your efforts into producing your work exclusively on Amazon and then one day, they decide to change the rules, you are stuck with them—like them or not.
You could transfer your portfolio and use some other book delivery platforms, such as Apple Books, Kobo, Smashwords or Google Play Store. And many people debate the benefits of an exclusive deal through Amazon vs Going Wide—making your books available through all the other stores as well. You might pick up additional sales, but you also lose some royalty rate from Amazon. With Amazon’s 81% share of the marketplace, the other ‘big three’ only pull in 19% between them with Nook at 9%, Apple Books at 7% and Kobo at 3%. So only you can decide if that makes it worthwhile to go wide, or to stay exclusive with Amazon.
So, as a final word in this article on Self Publishing with KDP, I’ll just say this. As a self publisher
myself, I’ve had no issues with Amazon, and have benefitted from their KDP SELECT exclusivity throughout the couple of years I have used them. I don’t feel I’ve missed out, or been treated as a tiny fish in a vast universal ocean. On the contrary, my experiences of KDP support have been excellent, with knowledgeable and friendly staff doing their very best to resolve my problems. Yes, there are occasional hiccups, as with all service industries, but they have always resolved things quickly and satisfactorily, and I for one will stay with KDP and Amazon as my primary distribution platform.
So if you have ever wondered about publishing your own work, there’s never been a better time to dip your toe in the water. Be aware though, that placing your book into the Amazon store is just the start of the hero’s journey. Getting it found among the millions of other books like it, is the real magic trick you need to learn. But then you’re into the seedy world and dark arts of Marketing and Promotion.
“Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog.”
Good luck with your quest, adventurer.