Kindle Direct Publishing Through Amazon.com

An Overview of Amazon's KDP E-Book Self-Publishing Service

Man holding tablet and logging into Kindle ebooks
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If you are like many writers you have considered the reasons for and against self-publishing, and have decided to give self-publishing a try. These decisions required a review of the editorial packaging and sales considerations of publishing the story yourself and you decided to publish an e-book. E-books give readers immediate, mobile access to your words and one of the best places to market it is through the "Amazon.com" Kindle device.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) may be the answer to an e-book self-publishing service but it is not the only option.​ Other than KDP, you may want to review the offering of services link CreateSpace—also an Amazon product—and Apple's iBooks.

About Amazon.com's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Kindle Direct Publishing offers e-book-only publishing, a format popular with authors such as genre novelists (for Amazon.com's paperback publishing services, see CreateSpace). While of course, you should thoroughly review all the features and contractual points before signing up for any self-publishing service, here are some of Kindle Direct Publishing's highlights.

The site offers guidance to get new authors started. You will need to set up a KDP account that includes author and tax information.

KDP's Editorial & Design Services

Kindle Direct Publishing doesn't offer editorial services per se (though those services are available for a fee from KDP's Amazon sister company CreateSpace). In order to format the file for your e-book, KDP does offer a compact booklet (both in Kindle and PDF form) that provides detailed technical specifications for publishing your e-book successfully on the KDP platform.

KDP Book Package

Kindle Direct Publishing offers e-book-only format and, as stated above, gives parameters and instructions for the technical specifications for formatting the file. In addition to the instructions for the file format, Amazon.com strongly suggests that the book has a compelling cover image, though, for those books that don't have an image, the service will fill in with a simple placeholder.

Book Cost/Pricing

There are no upfront charges to self-publish on KDP. The author chooses the list price. "Amazon.com" offers options for 35% author royalties and 70% author royalties.

Each option comes with its own set of parameters for value-added tax (VAT) and delivery costs. KDP allows the author to switch royalty options if desired, but it's advisable to review the options carefully before choosing the first time.

Book Distribution

The Kindle Store provides KDP-published authors with a distribution channel. Amazon Kindle owners can purchase KDP content on the Kindle Store site and download it for reading on the Amazon Kindle wireless e-reading device.

Readers who do not own an Amazon Kindle are also able to read KDP content on their PCs or Macs by using Kindle for PC/Mac software or read KDP content on their mobile phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) with the Kindle app.

Publicity and Marketing

When an author publishes through KDP, it is included in Amazon's merchandising algorithms. It is not explicitly stated how a quickly a new book will be entered into the clickstream—presumably, it has to do with the topic, sales movement, and other characteristics.

Online merchandising may include the book jacket and description appearing when a customer is viewing another book's page. The ebook may appear under such cross-promotional areas as "More Items to Consider," "Customers with Similar Searches Purchased," and "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought." Promotional programs also may include customer sampling.

Kindle Direct Publishing's Proprietary Advantages

In addition to the obvious distribution potential of Amazon.com's retail site, those who publish with Kindle Direct Publishing, are offered the opportunity for additional advantages, such as added royalties, through a feature called KDP Select.

By enrolling in Amazon.com's KDP Select, authors make their book accessible to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (a readers' service whereby Kindle/Amazon Advantage users borrow books for free). Each month, Amazon sets aside a pool of funds and KDP Select authors share in them, according to the number of times their books are borrowed.

An author's share of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library Fund is calculated based on a share of the total number of qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles. For example, if the monthly fund amount is $500,000, the total qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles is 100,000. If a book was borrowed 1,500 times during that period, the book's author will earn 1.5 percent (1,500/100,000 = 1.5%), or $7,500 for that month.
Those who have already published to KDP can also enroll with KDP Select.