Kindle Direct Publishing: An Overview 

February 24, 2022

Key Points

  • Kindle Direct Publishing — or KDP — is Amazon’s publishing platform, allowing independent authors to reach readers worldwide without needing to go through a traditional press.
  • There are almost countless benefits to KDP, such as its ease of use, the option to publish paperback books, you keep creative control of your work, and you can publish as many books as you can write.
  • Sponsored Product adverts and KDP Select are two popular ways to market your work.
  • You can choose from different royalty rates, which are typically much higher than what a traditional publisher would offer.

What is Kindle Direct Publishing?

Kindle Direct Publishing (or KDP) is Amazon’s publishing platform launched in 2007. It allows independent authors to reach readers across the globe without going through a traditional press. It is viewed as the most accessible platform for self-publishing authors because virtually anyone can create an author account, upload their writing, and sell their book through Amazon and without any setup cost. Plus all this can be achieved in a number of hours. Authors can create paperback books and ebooks without inventory orders or upfront costs. Plus, KDP gives authors full rights to their work (an uncommon practice with traditional publishing).

For these reasons, KDP has helped to open up the publishing world since its inception, giving ‘indie’ books great exposure. This is significant because writers of niche genres have been able to access a reading demographic when they otherwise would have been ignored by traditional publishing and consequently would have struggled with finding a readership. Bestselling authors such as Andy Weir (The Martian) and E.L.James (Fifty Shades of Grey) found success through this increased accessibility to self-publication.

What Can You Publish on KDP?

KDP allows the publication of ebooks (on the Kindle) and paperback books. KDP does not allow the creation of periodicals, magazines, or spiral-bound books. The sort of content that can be published using KDP include:

  • Children’s Books
  • Novels
  • Book Series
  • Cookbooks
  • Comics
  • Poetry
  • Textbooks
  • Journals

What Are the Main Benefits of Kindle Direct Publishing?

There are numerous benefits associated with using KDP. Let’s consider some of the most significant advantages:

  • Owned by Amazon: Amazon owns KDP and publishes its titles to the online marketplace. This is significant because Amazon is the biggest e-retailer of books around the globe. Where else would you want to present your work? You get access to millions of Kindle users, and as long as you own the rights to your book in every country it is sold in, then you can list your work for sales across global marketplaces!
  • Easy to use: Users of KDP find it straightforward to navigate and easy to publish with.
  • Release books quickly: With KDP, you can upload and publish your work in a concise space of time (sometimes within minutes). Furthermore, your book will then appear on Kindle stores worldwide within 48 hours of publishing.
  • You keep control: As an independent author, you retain creative control of your work. Using KDP allows you to control the price of your product as well as your digital rights and the categories your work is featured in.
  • Alter at any time: Another great benefit is that you can make adjustments to your projects at any time. This includes correcting spelling mistakes, updating your front cover, and changing pricing. KDP lets you make any changes you need.
  • View sales data: KDP allows you 24-hour access to both your sales data and figures so that you can optimise your publishing adventure.
  • You get a sales rank: When you publish your content, you get a sales rank which is fantastic news for indie authors as they are given equal opportunities to well-known authors, allowing them to increase their position and make sales.
  • No limit: There is no limit to how many books you can publish (even those under different categories or pen names!)
  • Publish paperback books too: With KDP, you don’t only have the option of publishing a Kindle ebook. You can also choose to sell a paperback book, which Amazon will print and ship to your customers on your behalf. This is useful as it saves you from purchasing a large amount of inventory in advance.
  • Buy books wholesale: You are also allowed to place a wholesale order of physical copies of your book, allowing you to give them to friends or family. Amazon prints the number of books you requested and ships them out to you. You pay for the printing costs.
  • Earn money: It is free to list ebooks for sale on KDP, but the sale revenue is split with Amazon. Traditional publishers generally offer a 10% cut. But KDP allows you to earn up to 70% royalty on sales! Your cut depends on the royalty option you choose and the size of your ebook file. More on this shortly in our Royalty Rates and KDP section.
  • Promotional chances: There are certain programmes, such as KDP Select, which lets a KDP author earn more money through Kindle Unlimited. We look more into KDP Select in our next section.

Advertising on Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon helpfully offers valuable marketing tools to help you get your books in view of potential buyers. Like on their general online marketplace, Amazon offers Sponsored Product adverts, a type of pay-per-click advertising (PPC). The concept behind it is that you set up an advertising campaign where you target specific keywords that are relevant to your writing (keywords that you think your intended demographic will utilise in the search bar on Amazon). When a customer then types those keywords on Amazon, your advert may appear on the results page, which the customer can then click on and open your book’s product detail page. PPC entails you bidding on clicks for those keywords, and as you might have guessed, the higher you bid, the higher the chances of your advert appearing.

Imagine you have written a mystery ‘whodunit’ thriller. You would then consider targeting relevant keywords such as ‘mystery novel’, ‘thriller novel’, and ‘whodunit novel’. If you negotiate your bidding well, your advert might appear within related search results (and could even appear on product detail pages for books of a similar ilk). This is a prevalent advertising choice as it helps you get your book out in front of potential consumers who already possess an interest in the genre of books you write.

KDP Select

We could not have written an article on KDP without mentioning KDP Select. It is another way that authors can get their work noticed on Amazon. It is an optional programme that is only eligible for ebooks. If you are interested in promoting your paperback, KDP Select is not the choice for you.

KDP Select is free and gives you a chance to reach more readers and earn more money at no extra cost. Furthermore, regardless of their country of residence, any author and publisher are eligible to enrol their Kindle ebooks in KDP Select. Kindle Unlimited is a subscription programme for readers that lets them read as many books as they like. If an author enrols in KDP Select, their books are automatically included in Kindle Unlimited, but they are also available for anyone to buy in the Kindle Store. The KDP Select programme lasts for 90 days, after which time an author can either opt-out of the programme or auto-renew for another 90-day commitment.

This may sound like a dream come true. But there are both pros and cons to this option. One of the primary benefits of the KDP Select service is that you have access to fantastic additional promotional tools. There is Kindle Countdown Deals where only KDP Select members can set up limited-time discounts on their ebooks to consumers. This allows the customer to see the standard price compared to the promotional price (and a countdown clock for how long the discount will last). There is also Free Book Promotions where you can offer your ebook for free for up to five days of each 90-day enrolment period. This is used by many writers aiming to get their book noticed and to build up reviews and downloads so that customers will be tempted to buy it when the promotion is over.

As we touched upon, enrolling into KDP Select means that your books are automatically enrolled into Kindle Unlimited. With this, you get paid per page that the customer reads from your ebook. This is beneficial as readers may not wish to buy a whole book by an indie author, but instead, they have the option of trying a few pages and may even provide a great review afterwards. Our final listed benefit is that you can get higher royalties in certain countries. KDP Select enrollment makes you eligible for 70% royalty on sales to customers in Japan, Mexico, India, and Brazil. If you do not enrol in KDP Select, this percentage is 35% for these same countries.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and KDP Select does have a few potential negative points. Firstly, you are only allowed to sell your book on the Amazon Kindle store for the 90-day period. You cannot sell it anywhere else, including your own website (if you have one), and it cannot even be given away for free. A second disadvantage is a potential for lower earnings than from book sales as the Kindle Unlimited royalties are paid per page, so you may not be reeling in as much money compared to someone buying your whole book.

Royalty Rates and Kindle Direct Publishing

When you publish a book through KDP, you will get paid in royalties. Both the author and Amazon get a percentage of the revenue. Amazon will start paying royalties 60 days after your first sale, with further payments arriving each month.
There are two royalty rates you can choose from: 35% and 70%. While you may think you should go for the 70% option, you must understand how to qualify for this rate and meet the criteria.

Qualifying for the 70% royalty rate:

  • You need to own the copyright to the ebook.
  • Your work must be enrolled in KDP Select to get 70% royalty eligibility in sales to consumers in Brazil, India, Mexico, and Japan.
  • If you sell physical copies of your books, the ebook price has to be at least 20% below the list price of the paperback.
  • Your ebook needs to be between £1.77 and £9.99.
  • A distribution fee (or delivery fee) needs to be paid for every purchase depending on the digital file size of the ebook. Amazon compresses ebook files, so it may not charge as high as you think.

Requirements for the 35% royalty rate:

  • You do not pay a delivery fee for this option.
  • If your book is priced below £1.77 or above £9.99, you get this royalty.
  • This is a fantastic rate for large books such as cookbooks or textbooks.

You can keep apprised of Amazon’s list price requirements here.

Do note that there is a different royalty structure for paperback books. KDP offers a fixed 60% royalty rate on paperback books sold on Amazon, which Amazon will then subtract from for the printing costs (this depends on ink type, page count, and the marketplace the book was ordered from). For a more detailed insight into how much you will be paid for your physical book, use Amazon’s Printing Cost & Royalty Calculator.

Final Thoughts

Getting your written work out into the world has never been easier with Kindle Direct Publishing. It allows your books to be seen by millions of potential consumers. It is notoriously efficient and straightforward to use, not forgetting the generous royalty rates and options available to advertise your work further. At NUOPTIMA, we specialise in Amazon brand growth and optimising your seller account. If you would like advice regarding your business, book your free discovery call with one of our experts today.

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FAQs

What does KDP stand for?
KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing.
What is Kindle Direct Publishing?
Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon’s publishing platform which allows independent authors to reach readers worldwide without needing to go through a traditional press. It is seen as the most accessible platform for self-publishing authors as anyone can make an author account, upload their writing, and sell their book through Amazon without any setup cost.
What is KDP Select?
KDP Select is an optional programme that is only eligible for ebooks, not paperbacks. It is free and gives you a chance to reach more readers and earn more money at no extra cost. Furthermore, regardless of their country of residence, any author and publisher are eligible to enrol their Kindle ebooks in KDP Select. If an author enrols in KDP Select, their books are automatically included in Kindle Unlimited, but they are also available for anyone to buy in the Kindle Store. The KDP Select programme lasts for 90 days, after which time an author can either opt-out of the programme or auto-renew for another 90-day commitment.
How much does Amazon KDP cost?
Perhaps the best part of self-publishing on Amazon is that there are no charges to upload or publish your book. Therefore you do not need to pay any upfront costs or carry any stock. If you have a physical book, KDP prints the book on-demand and then subtracts the printing costs from your royalties.

By: Alexej Pikovsky

CEO

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Alexej is the Co-Founder and CEO of Alphagreen Group, a global acquisition and incubation organization specialized in the health and wellness industry. He began his career in investment banking at Nomura before moving on to become a founding member of Delin Ventures, a venture capital arm investing in leading technology companies and VC funds. Alexej acquired board-level experience as an investor for a large-cap private equity fund before founding Alphagreen in 2019. The firm initially focused on CBD markets and then expanded to focus on all products related to pain, sleep, and anxiety management. The group leverages his interest and involvement in tech-enabled services and background in venture funding to deploy a 'hybrid aggregator business model' which helps brands to scale both locally and internationally. They achieve this through their own distribution channels, data science, growth agency and extensive external omni-channel network.

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