I believe that every person on this planet has one time in their lives imagined writing a book. It is a pretty romantic idea actually — writing your life story, teaching your wisdom to future generations long after you’re gone.
I think it was Hemingway who managed to popularize this profession the most. So now when we picture being a writer in our heads, it is often Hemingway’s lifestyle that pops up — writing on an old typewriter, with a glass of Daiquiri, reminiscing all the worldly adventures and escapes from death, unscathed in Havana.
But, even if you haven’t dared to dream of writing the next Great American novel, you must have surely written something in your lifetime, and thought to yourself — wow, if only I could publish this!
Nowadays, scientists have to self-publish their research to stay current; stay-at-home moms shyly self-publish poems and some actors surprisingly publish children’s books. We all have different reasons.
Luckily, modern times have pushed the limits of traditional publishing and now there are numerous other ways to explore the idea of publishing. Can you imagine just a few clicks keep you away from self-publish on Amazon?
- 1 How to Self-publish on Amazon?
- 2 Traditional vs Self-publishing
- 3 Is Self-publishing on Amazon worth it?
- 4 Conclusion
How to Self-publish on Amazon?
Easy. Just follow the traditional path of 3 Ps of publishing: Prepare, Publish, and Promote.
I highly recommend the Amazon route because when you sit down to publish, you really won’t have to do anything. Self-publishing on Amazon is a piece of cake. Amazon made publishing as easy as filling in the blanks. They give you building blocks and you just have to choose from the pieces. You are ready to self-publish in a matter of minutes.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Write a book
Or a scientific research paper, a manual, a guide, a cookbook, a coloring book, etc. Maybe you decided to self-publish on Amazon all the posts from your blog. Whatever tickles your fancy, or pickle.
It is always a good idea to write about something you know about. For example, if you are a woodworker, you can self-publish on Amazon an instructional guide to tools. But, you don’t have to write an eBook based on your expertise. You can go the opposite route and base your choice on the current trends in literature, or even after closer inspection of the level of competitiveness in different book categories. Smart choices for 2020 include Prepping and Working from Home.
“For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.”
Choose the Title carefully
If the name sucks, if it doesn’t grab the attention, make people come inside and take a look, it all doesn’t matter.
A short and free tutorial I read about writing effective headlines completely changed my perspective. I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to the titles of my posts. Luckily, that changed.
Case Study from Pick the Brain: How a Headline Made the Difference Between 100 and 5000 Visits illustrates the same point. Headlines don’t get enough attention. In the study, the articles were exactly the same, apart from the headlines, and one of them attracted 50 times more people. It goes to show you should be putting more effort into writing catchy titles and openings.
You can use free online tools like Grammarly, or get paid Hemingway Editor to help you with spellchecking, grammar, and punctuation while you are still writing. Paying for Premium Grammarly is well worth the cost because it helps with stylistic errors.
After your eBook is finished, you should get some outside help with editing. A fresh set of eyes can spot typos faster. You can ask your friends to help you with punctuation and grammar mistakes, but if they are not writers, you will need professional help with stylistic editing.
Getting a professional edit does not come cheap. You can expect to spend anywhere between $300—$2000, depending on how long your eBook is and the editor’s experience and level of expertise. You can find freelancers on Upwork or Fiverr.
You can format your eBook yourself using free software like Scribus. You can also use Microsoft Publisher and Adobe Design.
You can get your eBook formatted professionally at affordable prices (around $100). You can hire someone on Upwork and Fiverr.
This is maybe the most important step, as far as book sales are concerned. The book cover is the first thing people see. So, it is smart to let professionals take over this part and make your book stand out.
Paying a professional to design your cover is a good idea even you are good at arts. They have the market expertise and offer different packages. Prices range from $100—$1000. You can find affordable, but still great designers on Upwork, Fiverr, or 100covers. Also, I recommend trying out 99designs. You can put up a posting describing what you need, and then graphic designers bid on your posting. They will make designs from which you can choose one, and pay for that one only.
In 2020 you can choose between more traditional and non-traditional ways to get published. You can find a publisher who will publish your book, you can decide to fund your own book publishing, and you can self-publish on Amazon via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), for example. Another way to self-publish a book is with Lulu, Book Launchers, etc. which are all great options as they are like Amazon mostly one-stop-shops.
A step-by-step guide to Self-publishing on Amazon
1. Go to Amazon.com, scroll down to the bottom — Make Money with Us.
2. Click on Self-Publish with Us at the bottom of the page.
3. There are three options when you self-publish on Amazon: Publish to Kindle, Publish to Print and Publish to Audio. I suggest that you not only self-publish to Kindle, but also publish to print, because it doesn’t cost you any more money, and it will increase the chances of more sales. Print publishing also makes your book look more established and legitimate.
4. Click on Get Started (Publish to Print).
5. Log in to your Amazon account (or sign up).
6. Update your tax information on your account, and finish setting up your KDP account.
7. Fill in the information — the name of your project — Title, and subtitle,
8. Write a great book description. Make it enticing, empathetic, and eye-catching. Don’t write it like a summary of your book, but more like an ad.
9. Click that you want the paperback, and select the Guided setup process.
10. Fill in other information carefully and accurately. The Guide walks you straight through the process.
You set your own price for your printed book, typically around $10.99 — $17.99. At this point, you can choose to sell your book internationally, which is a great opportunity.
You can check out how much Amazon pays you with a tool called the Royalty calculator. You will get paid less if your book is longer because the printing costs get higher. The minimum page count on Amazon is 24 pages.
You can also buy a copy of your own book, at a much cheaper price. This way, if you want to, you can sell the printed copies yourself.
Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.
11. Click on Get started (Publish to Kindle) to self-publish an eBook online. Sign in to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) with your existing Amazon username and password.
12. Choose the right keywords so people can find your book easily. Also, put keywords into the description of your book. This is a crucial element when you self-publish on Amazon.
Amazon will give you seven keywords to choose per book, so think about SEO at this point. Better keywords equal better ranking. You can use Ubersuggest — a free online keyword tool for hundreds of suggestions.
13. Amazon lets you list 2 different categories to list your book in. This hugely affects how your book will sell. Different categories are more or less competitive. You can use this knowledge to place your book in an “easier” category, with better chances of becoming a bestseller. With the bestselling status, you can get featured on the front page on Amazon, and be listed in the 100 most popular books of that day. After you self-publish on Amazon, this will give your book a valuable selling boost.
14. Upload your Manuscript and the Cover design. Before you do this step, note that your manuscript should be in a kindle supported format — for the best results, Amazon recommends a Microsoft Word DOC/DOCX or a KPF file created with Kindle Create.
You can use the Previewer to see if your book is converted successfully, and always check their page if you get stuck.
15. Continue to pricing. Set your own price. Make sure you are pricing your eBook to sell, usually around $2.99 — $9.99.
16. Continue to date of publishing. Again, set your own timeframe.
17. Press Publish & Launch.
Beware that there is an ocean of books that authors self-publish on Amazon, and your eBook can easily get lost, no matter how good of a read it is. There are more steps you can take to ensure your book gets noticed, sold, read, recommended, and sold again and again.
3. Promote Before and After you Self-publish on Amazon
The whole process of promoting your eBook falls on your shoulders if you Self-publish on Amazon. Take it seriously because this is the most important part. How well you market your final product decides how many books will ultimately get sold.
You should actually start promoting your eBook while still writing. It takes a long time to get the word around, so start with your family, friends, and neighbors. You want to build up their expectations, so give them updates on how your book is coming along, and when exactly you will self-publish on Amazon.
If you want you can purchase promotional materials, put ads online, etc. Amazon offers their Advertising service. You have the option of making your eBook free for a promotional event. There are many other Amazon strategies you can do like Kindle Countdown deals, eBook pre-order, and Sample Chapters, all implemented to help you sell after you self-publish on Amazon.
When you are close to publishing, send notifications about launching via email, post on Facebook, and other social media outlets. You really can’t overdo it. Post updates; give previews of your eBook, all to build hype. Schedule your eBook launch, notify everyone, and ask them to share. Be persistent.
You have to ensure that people see your book, find it and buy it!
After you self-publish on Amazon, you can create your author page on Amazon Central. Here you can post your bio, pictures, details on your eBook. This is where buyers can find you and information about your other work.
Don’t stop promoting after you self-publish on Amazon! Continue reminding everyone individually about the book, send free copies to get reviews, write in your blog about it, and promote wherever you get the opportunity, so you don’t kill the momentum you have painstakingly created.
Plan promotions that drive sales on Amazon every three to six months. This way, if you self-publish on Amazon, your book will be shown in suggestions and new people can see it.
Traditional vs Self-publishing
The traditional route is ultra-competitive. To get to the publisher, you need an agent. There are thousands of agents who get tens of thousands of letters from authors per month. The agent is a middleman between you and the publisher. You have to be lucky to get the attention of a publisher let alone one of the Big 5 publishing houses. For new authors, it is extremely hard to stand out and get published at all. There are a lot of Martin Edens out there…
Self-publishing is free and easy. Anybody can do it quickly if you Self-publish on Amazon, or Lulu, for example. With the traditional route, you are more likely to receive a rejection letter from an agent and publisher, and it can take years before you get published at all.
With traditional print, your book gets a certain time period that it can spend on the bookshelves in stores. After some time, they will take your book off the market. This doesn’t happen when you self-publish on Amazon. Your eBook is going to be listed forever.
Many other aspects make these two ways of publishing completely different.
If you are interested in more details, take a look at this video where numbers and your control over the publishing process and book rights are further explained.
Is Self-publishing on Amazon worth it?
It is so easy, so it is worth at least a try. If you self-publish on Amazon, choosing a shorter eBook is a good idea. Formatting is no problem if you have just a word document, no tables or images.
When you Self-publish on Amazon you gain valuable experience, not just a profit from book sales.
Being a published author, even on Amazon, can boost your credentials.
Times change, and so do things in the publishing world. Some myths around publishing just aren’t true anymore.
Literary snobs like to think that self-published books are of lesser quality. Anyone can indeed publish an eBook, but only good, popular books persevere, which time will tell.
Some choose the path of traditional publishing because they prefer to leave the marketing part to the publisher’s team. But, unless you are already an established, successful author, your book will not get a big marketing budget.
Can you really make money Self-publishing on Amazon?
Yes, ranging from $1 upwards, depending on your success. Amazon KDP gives you royalties of 70 percent on eBooks and 35 percent for print books. You can calculate your earnings with their online calculator tool.
If you are asking if you can make a living if you self-publish on Amazon that is much harder to achieve. You would have to sell a ton of books! The silver lining is that you can still earn money from a book in the future. Your eBook is your passive income.
According to Amazon’s own blog, a thousand independent authors earned more than $100,000 in royalties in 2019.
Mashable gives a list of self-published authors actually making a living. The record-breaker is L.J.Ross who wrote 19 novels in 4.5 million copies. She writes murder mysteries with a modern twist, in case you were wondering.
Why writers fail?
Don’t procrastinate. I am guilty of this sin, like so many other writers. What helped me enormously is trying to hit a set word count. In my case, I have to write 1500 words every day. This is my minimum that I just have to achieve, no matter what.
Don’t wait for inspiration. Only amateurs think that you need to have an epiphany to produce a great book. Just sit down and write, and then edit it later. In an interview with The Paris Review, E.B. White, the famous author of Charlotte’s Web said: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
If you really need the stars all aligned to be successful, check out your horoscope for this month.
Don’t believe in writer’s block. You will often get stuck when writing, and if you catch yourself staring at a blank page, snap out of it as quickly as possible. Start writing whatever comes to your mind. You can delete it later, just keep going.
Turn off distractions. Turn off your phone, don’t surf the Internet. Go somewhere with no electricity, ideally. Set up a home office, buy a great chair, frame your favorite quote, surround yourself with pink crystals for endless calmness, and get started. I have a copy of a legendary Amazon book on my shelf — Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir by A. E. Hotchner Between 1948 and 1961, Ernest Hemingway and A. E. Hotchner traveled together from New York to Paris to Spain, fished the waters off Cuba, hunted in Idaho, and ran with the bulls in Pamplona. Everywhere they talked, and Hotchner took it all down.
Learn to Focus. Getting in the zone will increase your productivity. Learn Kamala Harris’s tricks on how to increase your productivity in other ways.
Learn to take criticism. Don’t give up easily. People will try to discourage you for different reasons. They might say that you could never be a writer. But, you don’t have to be a great writer to be a full-time one.
Take a writing workshop and master the craft. For starving writers, Alison offers free online writing courses. You can sign up with Minimalists for their free online writing materials — download their eBook, enroll in their course.
Different freelancing writing gigs can broaden your horizons. You can end up traveling the world while writing for travel magazines. You don’t have to get stuck in a genre, or a gig.
“All that matters is I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got.”
The War of Art
Do writers write every day?
Yes. They treat it like a job. To be a writer you have to actually write.
James Clear examined some famous writers’ habits and concluded they are masters of their daily routines.
“I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast-talk them or write them down.”
Put a value on hard work and daily routine over talent.
Paying taxes after you self-publish on Amazon
Royalties are taxable. Amazon, or any other publishing company, will report what they paid you, and you will be sent a confirmation. It is your job to report this in your taxes.
Becoming a published writer isn’t about luck any more than getting rich is about stumbling across a leprechaun in the middle of a forest with a pot of gold.
Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
The most important thing to remember is that with every attempt you learn something new. Don’t be disappointed if you have to erase a page, or ten, because you can always start fresh, with a new perspective.
The writers who survive just keep going. Self-publish on Amazon again.
Don’t get stuck, don’t give up, plan, persevere, work your butt off, and you will make it.
And when you do, it’ll all be worth it.
“Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway