Nick Daws suggests 12 thoughtful Christmas gifts for older people, ranging from tech gadgets to…Read More →
Nick Daws explores the profitability of self-publishing Kindle e-books. He offers publishing tips, pricing advice, and promotional strategies for prospective authors.
Many people dream of writing a book. But while this has many attractions, it can be a major project, and there’s no guarantee you will find a traditional print publisher. Even if you do, you are highly unlikely to make a fortune.
An interesting – and probably more attainable – alternative is to self-publish in e-book form. Perhaps surprisingly, this can be a lot easier than writing a print book too.
The huge popularity of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader devices means that more e-books are sold nowadays than traditional ones.
And Amazon has made it simple for anyone to publish and sell their own e-book by means of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP for short).
How does it work?
Publishing a Kindle e-book is a straightforward process. Essentially, all you have to do is create your book in Microsoft Word or similar, save it in standard DOC or DOCX format, and upload it to Amazon using the KDP website.
Or, for a more professional look, you can download Amazon’s free Kindle Create software. This features professionally designed themes with chapter titles, drop caps, image placement options, and other snazzy features. Kindle Create generates a publishable file (in KPF format) that can be uploaded to KDP as before.
Unlike traditional books, Kindle e-books can be as short as a few thousand words, so there’s no need to create an epic. You can write fiction or nonfiction, as you choose. A little time spent browsing the Kindle Store should give you plenty of ideas!
Once your e-book is published, anyone will be able to order it from Amazon. You can set your own price, and will then receive a royalty of up to 70 percent on sales (see below). That compares well with the 10 percent typically paid to traditionally published authors.
Some top tips
A few quick tips for new Kindle e-book authors include:
- Keep the formatting simple. Complex layouts may not survive conversion to e-book format and will likely not display as you intended on some devices.
- You are allowed to include diagrams and illustrations in Kindle e-books, but don’t go mad. Books with loads of graphics consume more bandwidth and Amazon may reduce the royalty they pay you in such cases.
- Create an eye-catching description of your book for the Kindle Store. You’re allowed to use up to 4,000 characters, so make the most of it. Check out the sales pages of some Kindle bestsellers for inspiration.
- Price your title between £1.77 and £9.99 – this should ensure you are eligible for Amazon’s highest (70 percent) royalty rate. Books priced outside this range attract just a 35 percent royalty.
- Make sure the first few pages of your e-book hook the reader. People can see the first 10 percent of your book free in the store. If the opening pages don’t grab them, they will soon move on to something else.
- Create an attractive cover image for your e-book. This can make a big difference in converting visitors to your sales page to buyers. You can use the KDP free cover-maker tool, or try Fiverr.com, where there are people offering to create e-book covers for just $5 (about £4.10).
- Spread the word about your e-book on any social networks you belong to, including Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, and so on. It can also help to create a blog, website or dedicated Facebook page for your e-book, and mention it on any forums you belong to (though do this sensitively, to avoid accusations of spamming).
- Aim to get a few reviews of your e-book up as soon as possible. Consider giving away free or discounted copies via social networks, forums, your blog (if you have one), and so on. Not everyone will end up leaving a review even if you ask them, but hopefully some will.
- You also have the option to publish your Kindle e-book in print and/or audiobook form on Amazon, thus providing extra income streams for you.
- And finally, once you have published your first Kindle e-book, don’t rest on your laurels! The more titles you have to your name the better, as you (and Amazon) can cross-promote between them.
Amazon has plenty more advice for would-be Kindle e-book authors on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. I also recommend Self Publishing To Amazon KDP In 2023, a guide by Brian Chessen available in print and KIndle e-book versions. As well as e-books, this also covers self-publishing in print and audiobook form on Amazon.
And yes – thank you for asking – I do have some published Kindle e-books of my own. As an example, you may like to check out my humorous, illustrated science-fiction novella The Festival on Lyris Five (see cover image below). If you buy and enjoy this (or any of my other Kindle e-books), a review is always much appreciated!
If you are very lucky (and/or talented) your Kindle e-book could become an Amazon bestseller and maybe attract the attention of mainstream publishers as well (as happened with multi-million-selling US author Amanda Hocking, for example).
But even if not, you will have the satisfaction of being a published author in the world’s favourite online bookstore. And you will have royalties from sales arriving in your bank account every month, potentially for many years to come.
If you have any comments or questions about this article, as ever, please do post them below.
Photo Credits: Pexels
Nick Daws is a semi-retired freelance writer and editor. He is the author of over 30 non-fiction books, including Start Your Own Home-Based Business and The Internet for Writers. He lives in Burntwood, Staffordshire, where he has been running his personal finance blog at Poundsandsense.com for over seven years.