For those new to self-publishing and considering KDP as a platform, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
1. How Steep Is the Learning Curve? While there is a learning curve, it is short compared to other publishing options. Your two biggest hurdles will be A) formatting your manuscript (see below) and B) learning the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) dashboard and platform — but both of these ARE within your grasp. The good news is that once you’ve successfully completed your first project, each subsequent one becomes exponentially easier.
Still not convinced? Here is a video introduction to publishing on KDP that shows you exactly how simple it is!
2. What If I’m Not Technical? If you have basic computer skills, you CAN self-publish. The one essential skill you will need is to know how to upload files from your computer onto the KDP website (for your manuscript and cover photo.) If you don’t know how to do that, here is an online tutorial.
As far as the rest of the KDP platform, if you can read and fill in boxes (with prompts), you can do this!
3. What Are the Basic Steps to Self-Publishing on KDP?
- You will need a finished manuscript, as well as an image for your book’s cover.
- Next, you’ll need to format your manuscript (don’t panic – you’ve got this!)
- Then, log in to your Amazon/KDP account (or create one if you don’t have one.)
- Look for the word “Bookshelf” towards the top of the page. This is what KDP calls their publishing dashboard, and it is where you will prepare and upload your work.
- Work your way through the four pages of the dashboard, filling in text and answering questions along the way.
- When you’re ready, hit “Publish Your Kindle eBook”, and your work will appear in the Kindle Marketplace within 72 hours (and usually much sooner than that.)
4. What If I Don’t Have a Kindle Account? If you already have an Amazon account, you can sign into Kindle Direct Publishing with the information from your existing account, using the same user name and password. If you don’t have an Amazon account, you can sign up on the KDP home page. You can learn more about signing up/signing in here.
5. Formatting Scares Me – Help! Ahhh, formatting … arguably the biggest barrier to self-publishing, it sadly holds many authors back — when, with just a bit of time and effort, you could jump onto the self-publishing bandwagon and take control of your publishing destiny!
There are three basic ways to overcome formatting fears:
- Jump in and learn how to do it yourself: Not as scary as it sounds. After all, look at other scary things you’ve tackled in your life – from jumping off the high dive, to sleeping in the dark, to even killing spiders (okay, the last might be a stretch for some of you!)
- Use formatting software: I like the Kinstant Formatter.
- Outsource it: Sites like Fiverr or other gig-sites have lots of vendors that will do the formatting for you.
6. How Much Will I Get Paid? KDP lets you choose either a 35% or a 70% royalty option. To get the 70%, your work needs to be priced at $2.99 or higher.
[NOTE: While it may seem counter-intuitive to charge (and earn!) less (including free), there are many reasons to do so (i.e., as a means of using your work as a loss leader or a means of self-promotion.)
While KDP does not let you set your price at zero, there are ways around it either by: 1) Enrolling in KDP Select (meaning your book cannot be sold anywhere else, including your own website), which lets you make your book ‘free’ for a certain number of days, or 2) Using a workaround method which is discussed here.]
7. Do I Have to Copyright My Work? Many people do not realize that a copyright is formed the moment your unique work is created and fixed in a tangible form (either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.)
However, there are a two steps you will need to take in order to enforce copyright protection. One is to ALWAYS include a copyright notice in/on your work, i.e.:
The other, which involves time and expense, is to register your copyright with U.S. Copyright Office. While there are benefits to following through with this step, it is a requirement if you intend to sue someone for copyright infringement.
You can learn more about copyright protection at the U.S. government copyright office FAQ page, as well as this thread in the KDP forum that discusses copyrighting published works. Additionally, here is link to a publication on copyright basics by the U.S. Copyright Office.
8. Can I Put Affiliate Links in My Book? In researching this topic, I found conflicting information about this (with arguments and email screenshots from both sides of the coin.) Personally, I would caution against it to simply err on the side of caution. Is it really worth taking a chance of being forever banned from the powerful behemoth and money machine that is Amazon?
Here is a link to the “NO” side of the argument, courtesy of The Book Ninja.
[P.S. – for those who do not know what affiliate marketing is and may want to learn more about this popular method of making money online, I recommend the Super Affiliate Handbook, as a great introduction to the topic.]