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How to Publish a Book on Amazon Step-by-Step (Easy!)

This post on How to Publish a Book on Amazon has been updated for 2024. It’s still good!

So you’ve written your amazing book and now you want other people to read it, too. If you’re planning to indie-publish a book, then Amazon will surely be a stop on your publishing journey. Whether you choose to stay exclusive to Amazon or go wide (also release your book through other platforms like Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, your own website, etc.), you’ll most likely choose to get your toes wet with Amazon.

Don’t get intimidated by the publishing process. It’s very straightforward once you know what to do. I won’t say it’s fun to publish a book on Amazon, but it’s certainly not as scary as new authors often expect. Read on for an easy step-by-step Amazon KDP publishing guide + a downloadable checklist at the bottom.

How to Publish a Book on Amazon

Step 1. Create your KDP account.

Your main stop for all of your Amazon publishing will be the KDP website. You can login to KDP here using your normal Amazon account. If you’d like to create a separate account for KDP, you can, but keep in mind that you can only have ONE KDP account. A second account could get you banned.

When you create your KDP account, you’ll need to provide your bank information (so that you can get paid!) and your tax information (so the IRS can tax your income). You won’t be able to be paid until you do this step, but you can go ahead and create your books.

Step 2. Enter Your Book Details

You’ll need to know your book information and metadata to proceed. I’ll provide a list of everything Amazon will ask for in a section below. For now, it’s good to know your book description, keywords, and categories because they are what will get your book in front of the right people and convince them to buy it.

Your book description, categories, and keywords are major factors in deciding how well your book does on Amazon. Don’t rush through these.

  • Description: Consider this the sales copy that will persuade a potential reader to take a chance on your book. What would they want to know? What would entice them to buy? The book description is often very similar to what a query letter would look like. You need to hook the reader in about 250 words.
  • Keywords: What would someone search for to find a book like yours? You get 7 keyword slots with 50 characters each, so plan out and use your 7 keywords well!
  • Categories: Amazon allows you to manually select the two BEST categories to “shelve” your book in. Imagine you’re in a bookstore—where would someone look for your book? Technically, you can write in to KDP and ask them to place your book in more categories (which isn’t a bad idea!) but you want to make sure your main two categories really represent your book.

Step 3. Upload Your Manuscript

For an ebook, you can upload .doc(x), .rtf, .epub, and .mobi. Yes, Amazon will accept an .epub even though they give readers a .mobi. Amazon will convert it for you.

To publish in paperback, you must have the book formatted as a print-ready .pdf file. To publish in hardback, you must go through another route, like Ingram Spark.

Step 4. Upload Your Cover

Every book published on Amazon KDP must have a cover. Amazon does have a cover creator, but I don’t recommend you use it. The cover is the first thing potential buyers will see, so make sure it’s:

  1. attractive
  2. genre-appropriate
  3. legible at thumbnail size

Ideally, you’ll have a professional cover designer create your cover for you. In a pinch (a real pinch) you can create one yourself using a program like Canva. N.B., if you go this route, you will really need to study the genre your book is in and do your absolute best to make it fit in with that genre, so potential readers will intuitively know that it is the kind of book they like to read. Creating your own cover won’t be very easy if you’re doing a fantasy or sci-fi genre where there’s a lot of illustration involved, or a romance/erotica genre where you’ll need to do mash-ups of stock photos. A non-fiction genre may be easier to pull off.

For an ebook, you can upload a .jpg or .tiff file.

For a paperback, you must upload a .pdf for the cover, as well. You cannot upload an image file (.jpg, .tiff, .png, etc.).

Check Out: 7 Triggers of Writing Imposter Syndrome: Reclaim Your Confidence

Step 5. Review

Before you publish a book on Amazon KDP, you’ll get the opportunity to review it. Amazon will provide you with a live viewer to see what an ebook will look like when a customer opens it, and if you’re doing a paperback, too, you’ll also approve that. Do note that you will have to do this process twice if you’re doing both ebook and paperback—they are set up as separate books, but easily linked.

Step 6. Hit Publish

After you hit publish, it will take around 48-72 hours before your book is approved by Amazon and live on the site for sale. If you’ve followed Amazon’s guidelines for formatting, cover, and content, you shouldn’t have any problems getting approved. You may be more likely to run into a snag publishing a paperback, as the cover guidelines can be confusing for newbies. If you’ve used a professional cover designer and book formatter, there shouldn’t be any problems here!

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Decisions to Make + Information to Have Ready to Publish a Book on Amazon KDP

Amazon will ask you for the following information, so you’ll need to have it ready, and in some cases, you’ll need to know what you want to do.

  • Language the book is in
  • Book title
  • Book subtitle (optional)
  • Series information: If the book is part of a series, you’ll need the series name and the number the book is in the series (optional)
  • Edition number: Leave this blank if it’s the only edition (optional)
  • Author information: This is you or your pen name
  • Contributor information: If you had a co-author or another contributor, you can enter them here (optional)
  • Description: This is important! It’s the blurb that will show up at the top of the Amazon sales page for your book, and it should be optimized for selling your book!
  • Publishing rights information: This is where you’ll declare that you own the copyright to your book.
  • Keywords: 7 keyword slots with 50 characters each.
  • Categories: 2 BEST categories.
  • Age and Grade information: This is usually only applicable to children’s books or erotica. Amazon will want your book tagged for 18+ if it shouldn’t be shown to children viewers.
  • Pre-order selection: If you are putting your book on pre-order, you’ll enter the date here (optional)
  • Digital Rights Management choice: This is your one chance to decide whether you want to put a DRM on your ebook or not. You cannot change this after publishing.
  • ISBN: If you’re using your own ISBN, then have it ready; if you are not using your own ISBN, Amazon will assign you an ASIN instead.
  • KDP Select Enrollment: If you choose to be exclusive to Amazon, you can opt into KDP Select (Kindle Unlimited).
  • Territories: Where do you want to sell your book? You must hold the rights to all territories.
  • Royalty & Pricing: You can set your own price for your book, and Amazon will tell you exactly what royalty to expect for each sale at a given price, so you can choose the price that makes the most sense for you (and is in line with your genre).
  • Matchbook: If you have a paperback and an ebook, you can offer the ebook at a reduced price to people who buy the paperback.
  • Book Lending: You’ll make a decision to include your book in the Kindle Lending Library or not. If you are enrolled in KDP Select, this choice is automatic.
  • Terms & Conditions: You must agree to Amazon’s T&C.

Pin This Amazon KDP Publishing Checklist for Easy Reference ⤵

Image says: KDP Publishing Checklist: Everything Amazon Asks You to Publish a Book on KDP, followed by a checklist.

After You Publish a Book on Amazon

So you’ve published. What next? Once you publish a book publish on Amazon, the next critical step is marketing it effectively to reach your target audience and maximize sales. Here are some essential tasks to add to your to-do list:

  1. Optimize Your Amazon Author Central Page: Create a compelling author profile by adding your biography, photos, and linking to your social media accounts. This page is your opportunity to connect personally with your readers and provide updates about upcoming projects.
  2. Utilize Amazon KDP Select: Enrolling your book in the KDP Select program gives you additional promotional advantages, such as the option to offer the book for free for a limited time, which can boost downloads and visibility.
  3. Leverage Social Media Platforms: Use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote your book. Share behind-the-scenes content, book excerpts, and reader testimonials to engage your audience.
  4. Engage with Online Book Clubs and Forums: Participate in discussions on sites like Goodreads and BookBub. Consider offering your book for free or at a discounted rate to book clubs in exchange for reviews.
  5. Run Amazon Ads: When you publish a book on Amazon they ask you if you want to run adds. You can invest in Amazon advertising to appear in front of potential buyers. Target your ads based on keywords, genres, and reader interests. Make sure you do some research into this before you start spending!
  6. Collect and Showcase Reviews: Encourage readers to leave reviews on your Amazon book page. Positive reviews enhance credibility and attract more buyers.
  7. Host Virtual Book Launches and Readings: Utilize platforms like Zoom or Instagram Live to host virtual events that can reach a global audience. Readers LOVE to meet their favorite authors.

Don’t let it overwhelm you, though. None of these must be done today. Pick a place to start and take a baby step forward each day and you can significantly increase your book’s visibility and sales on Amazon!

Congratulations, author!

Let’s change some lives,

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PS — 🩵 When it feels right, here are 3 ways I can help you turn the page:

  1. The Book Map. Imagine having a GPS for your book-writing journey, guiding you from “I think I have an idea!” all the way to “OMG, I did it! I wrote a book!” That’s what the Book Map can do for you. It’s a supercharged roadmap for your writing journey. It’s not just about outlining chapters; it’s about diving deep into what you want to say and the best way to say it, ensuring every word pulls its weight. You’re not just writing a book; you’re crafting a masterpiece that feels as if it almost writes itself. Ready to make your book dream a reality? Let’s Book Map it!
  2. One-to-One Book Coaching. I have a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching world-changers to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey. I see a future where we build trust in our words, worlds, and work with our books, and where the world becomes a better place because of the books we write. My commitment is to bring to life books—fiction and nonfiction—founded on integrity. I’ll bring the map, and you’ll take us on the journey. If you’re ready to change the world with your book, your quest awaits. Apply for a free discovery call here. It takes 3 minutes.
  3. Listen to the Podcast. The Book Coach Chronicles: A podcast for writers of books, people who want to be writers of books, and y’all in the back who’ve been thinking about it but don’t yet consider yourself a writer. Listen on AppleSpotify, or Everywhere Else.

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Holly Ostrout is a book coach with a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching big-idea entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers, and authors to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey.
Holly Ostrout

Hi I’m Holly. If you’re going to change the world with your book, fiction or nonfiction, I can help you do it.

I'm a book coach for high-achieving, creative coaches, consultants, service providers, speakers, and authors who want to build a sustainable business around their book—whether that’s fiction or nonfiction.

I help you share your wisdom, ideas, and gifts by writing & publishing a life-changing book that helps you streamline your business, bring in more money, and change more lives.

I believe books are the most important human invention. And yours can change the world.

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Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours​

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout

Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours

Writing Ritual Tracker from Books & Alchemy

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout
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If You Want to Change the World with Your Book, You've Got to Write It.

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Creator & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.