How to Successfully Self Publish on Amazon

How to Successfully Self Publish on Amazon

Publishing a book is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority in your field. It can help you attract more clients and increase sales. Plus, it will give you something great to add to your portfolio! And guess what? Amazon makes publishing a nonfiction book easy with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). 

Publishing your book can be daunting, and I can guide you through it. 

All strategies and tasks can be implemented by anyone regardless of experience level or expertise within the industry they work in, but of course, it will be faster and you can expect to get better results when you work with a professional.

So let’s get started!

The self-publishing industry is rife with scams and misinformation, but if you keep the following in mind, you will have a strong foundation and clear outline of what you need to do to publish your book on Amazon. 

  1. Content

What type of book best suits you and your business? Will it be a “how-to” type of book, an authoritative guide, a memoir-style book? There are so many different styles and formats you can use. Stick to the one you are most comfortable with and that you can write enough to fill an average-sized book. 

What angle will you write from to differentiate it from the other books published? Your book needs to positively stand out to show your reader that you understand them and have what they need and then package it in a way that makes sense to them and that they can relate to.

Don’t get too hung up on volume. Quality over quantity wins every time. Respect your time and your readers’ time. Don’t waffle if you can say something clearly in fewer sentences. Elaborate with examples, illustrations, case studies where necessary. Personal antidotes and stories are great, so your reader gets to know you. If you speak and act in a certain way, have this carry through in your writing, or there will be a disconnect when your reader reaches out to you. Simply be yourself but make sure it is your very best self you are putting forward. Don’t be afraid to show some adversary or challenges you overcame, so you are relatable.

It would be best to have a solid hook to draw readers to you and a clear call to action. Whatever you promise the reader that they will get from the book – deliver!

The reader needs to be able to see the next step they need to take, should be able to benefit in some way from the book, or you have lost your reader.

The opening pages of the book should have your best content. You have to consider what happens if the reader does not finish your book, therefore, keep it engaging and interesting, so they will want to continue reading.

Any superfluous content needs to go at the back but keep the ‘About the Author’ page and ‘testimonials/reviews’ at the front to show your authority.

Make sure you keep to a detailed plan for your book with chapter titles and various subheadings and bullet points of items to cover and tick off when done. Write everything first, regularly reviewing to make sure you haven’t begun to drift or go off-target, or you will end up writing a very different type of book to the one you planned to write and that you believe you will get the best feedback from. Test samples of your content for a response from your marketplace – market validation is important to make sure you write a book that your readers want to read. Please do not forget to get it professionally edited when you are happy with everything. Believe me; you will not see all the loose ends that need to be tidied up. Editing is not just fixing typos! If only it were that easy.

Amazon has templates to suit several book sizes, so if you go to kdp.amazon.com and type in book template in the search bar, you will download a zipped template folder. Unzip and select a template you like – make sure you pick a template consistent with the book dimensions most common for your book category. If in doubt, measure the dimensions of books on your bookshelf in a similar field or go to amazon and check the details for several books.

  1. Creativity

Your book needs to look like it belongs with the other Amazon books in your category. Does your book have that spark of creativity to make it stand out, how can you make it yours, what have you learned, challenges, what made you who you are, be authentic, the story that connects you to others is vital. The secret to success in today’s crowded marketplace is mastering the art of storytelling. What journey are you taking your readers on, and why should they listen? Look at existing positive and negative reviews of other books similar to yours – what can you incorporate in the book to make it the best it possibly can be? Creativity applies not just to content but to cover design, internal book layout, copywriting, and marketing. 

  1. Credibility

Does your book hold up to scrutiny? Are you credible as an author? If your book lacks depth or substance, you lose a valuable opportunity to show how you really are the expert and leader in your field. If you publish a book hoping to win business or generate leads, you do not want negative reviews highlighting where you have failed to deliver. Of course, there may still be negative reviews, but you have to take them on the chin. Not everyone will like your book, and Amazon tends to leave bad reviews as they are deemed valid unless they are way off the mark or highly inappropriate.

  1. Cover design

Sadly, cover design is one area that is most neglected in book publishing. My most vital advice is that if you have to outsource anything, leave the cover design to the professionals. Even though I say leave it to the professionals, it does not mean you blindly let go of any responsibility for the produced cover. After all, the designer isn’t really going to know much about your book, so some guidance will be beneficial to ensure the cover aligns with the book’s theme.

Go to Amazon and see what the best-selling books in your genre and book category look like. Is there a common theme you can spot? How about the font style and colour scheme? Are they text-only covers or text and graphics? What are you drawn to? What seems to work from a reader experience on the first view? People do judge a book by its cover, so the title and subtitle and all cover elements need to work.

Take screenshots and share different covers you like, and say what you like/don’t like about each of them.

Send this to the designer. Believe me, there will be fewer reworks, and you will get a cover you love faster.

Don’t try to be too quirky with the cover design, or it will look strange and not look like it belongs with the other books. Show your uniqueness in other ways!

If you picked a book dimension for which there are templates on Amazon, you can download a cover template and send that to the designer. To do this is easy. Just go to kdp.amazon.com and type in the cover template, and you will see options for filling in the page number, paper colour, ink colour, whether it is paperback or hardback and book dimensions. Download the resulting template and send it to the designer.

If you want to design the cover yourself, you can either download the template and generate the cover by adding text and graphics/images or colour and export to a pdf with RGB colour profile. Again, check the guidelines given on kdp.amazon.com for cover creation and export criteria to ensure the cover passes Amazon’s quality control checks.

Another option is that you can use Amazon’s Cover Creator tools. Again when you search for cover creation on the KDP Amazon site, you will easily find it. They give a few different options in layout and style. If you find something that works for you – great!

  1. Book layout

The book content and creativity should blend into a great layout that is simple, uncomplicated, and that enhances the reader experience. There should be a good balance between white space to allow content to breathe yet not have the pages appear too stark and empty. Break up long paragraphs with graphics or illustrations, boxed content, bullet points or different font styles to emphasise certain items.

Be consistent in the styles you use and keep the font clear and easy to read.

  1. Distribution

What I love about Amazon is that there is no charge for uploading a book. Also, whether it is a print book or ebook, they allow unlimited edits. One thing to remember, though, is to be sure before you publish your print book that you are entirely happy with the title of the book as this cannot be changed once published – there is no issue with the ebook, and those details can be changed. I just wanted to point that out – you can modify the content, and cover design but not the title, subtitle and author name-that becomes locked when published.

Before the book gets distributed, several steps need to be taken. They are broken down as follows:

  1. Go to kdp.amazon.com to create your author account. Note: this is different from another account you may have on Amazon, where you may have purchased items in the past. This is specifically an author account. Complete all the necessary steps to complete your account setup.
  2. Once your account details are complete, you are ready to upload your book.
  3. The next stage involves filling out data for three areas – paperback details, paperback content and paperback rights and pricing. 

Fill in the book title, subtitle, author name, description, keywords and categories. Next, select if you want to avail of Amazon’s free ISBN or apply your own ISBN and upload the cover file and book file as pdfs. The automatic Amazon quality control check will then kick in, and you will be able to see if your book provisionally passes to the next stage.

You can either opt to get a printed proof where the book in draft form gets posted to you, or you can set it for Amazon’s full validation, which can take a few days. You will be notified when complete via email at the address used to set up the account.

For pricing, I recommend you keep your price consistent with most of the books in your category. You will have some flexibility but also some constraints as the price is also determined by page count and whether your book is in colour or black and white.

Remember, no matter what sale price is determined, you get to buy author copies at cost price, not list price!

  1. Discoverability

Finally, discoverability depends on how well you understand your market and readership and how well your book fits into the categories and subcategories selected. KDP will only give you two categories to choose from, and though they may not be the best, you can mail support to have your book put into better categories. You just need to provide them with the full path from parent category down to subcategory. 

How well your keywords reflect what is being searched for and how competitive they are, how interesting and compelling your description is. How the cover and title work and whether the price works for the reader. This, in a nutshell, is everything you need to consider to set yourself up for successfully publishing your book on Amazon. I cover the above in significantly more detail on my Gold standard non-fiction publishing course. Contact me if you would like to learn more.