So, your book has been edited, and your designer has sent you an amazing, genre-appropriate cover. Congratulations! Now it’s time to upload it to the Amazon store, a retailer which accounts for 70% of the US e-book market. This article will take you through the process step-by-step and point out any pitfalls.
How to Find Keywords
Amazon is the largest search engine after Google, which owns YouTube. Readers find book listings through typing words and phrases into the search box. By picking appropriate keywords and keyword strings, you tell Amazon which categories to place your book in, and more importantly, which readers to recommend it to.
Do this research before you begin uploading your book and keep a record. Keywords are important for uploading further books in the same series, but also for advertising further down the line.
Method One (Free): Create a list of keywords, starting with one to three phrases specific to your book, such as “Military Sci-Fi Space Marines” or “Small Town Cowboy Romance.”
Use characterizations like “teenage witch” or “Navy SEAL,” genre descriptors like “Dark Romance,” or tropes like “enemies to lovers.” Or list relevant settings, such as “Victorian London.”
Method Two (Free): Go to the best-selling books in your genre. Take note of recurring words in titles, subtitles, and blurb. These are keywords you can use as well.
Method Three (Paid): KDSpy is a browser extension (US$97*) that provides revenue metrics, keywords, competitor research, book tracking, and more at your fingertips. https://kdspy.com
Method Four (Paid): Publisher Rocket is a software (US$97*) which makes keyword research very easy, not only for your listing on Amazon, but also for advertising and genre research. https://publisherrocket.com
*Price at time of printing.
Besides keywords, you need to know in which categories KDP should list your book. The paid methods above will help you with categories also. For a free approach, note the categories while looking for keywords with Method Two.
Ready to upload your book?
Make sure you have an account with Amazon and navigate to the Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard at https://kdp.amazon.com.
Page 1: “Kindle eBook Details” Page
Click on ‘Create a New Title’ on the KDP dashboard to arrive at the Kindle e-book Details Page. This is where you input your project details as they appear on your book listing page.
Book title and subtitle: Don’t be tempted to keyword stuff by stringing them together artificially, but if your book is a “biker comedy romance,” use that as a subtitle so readers can find their favorite trope.
Series: Create a new series if you’re planning further books. This will help Amazon link your books as you write them so readers can easily read through from one to the next.
KDP will ask you to add your series title, whether your books must be read in order, and a series blurb. If you don’t have one, the system will use the description of book one instead.
Enter your Author name and the names and roles of any Contributors (e.g. illustrator, translator, or a co-author).
Description: This is where you add your blurb or book description. Many writers find this difficult, but usually, their problems stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of what a blurb is.
A blurb is not a summary of your book.
This is your opportunity to sell your writing, to let readers know what your book is about, and ultimately, to entice them to buy. One simple formula to write a blurb is to establish what the protagonist wants, what’s in the way, and what’s at stake if they fail. Finish with one last sentence which shows the reader why this book is for them.
For more information, here’s an article going into more detail: https://blog.reedsy.com/write-blurb-novel
Pro Tip: A badly-formatted blurb will impact your sales. Use white space, bold, and italics to add emphasis. The Kindlepreneur Book Description Generator will help you turn your blurb into a html-formatted text which you can copy and paste into the KDP description box: https://kindlepreneur.com/amazon-book-description-generator
Keywords: This is where you enter your keywords. Dave Chesson did some great research on best practice and suggests you use all 50 characters per keyword box. His article explains the reasons: https://kindlepreneur.com/7-kindle-keywords
Categories: These categories are based on the BISAC, an industry standard code that KDP uses on their backend where you are required to pick up to two categories. The Amazon store front, however, uses categories that reflect what readers search for.
Pro Tip: Contact Amazon via email and request up to ten more categories. You must include your ASIN number and the full category link, such as Kindle eBooks > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Reference. Alex Newton of K-Lytics explains the process in more detail: https://k-lytics.com/bisac-codes-vs-amazon-kindle-storefront-categories
Pre-order: Here you can specify a future date if you’re not ready to publish yet.
Page 2: “Kindle eBook Content” page
On this page, you’ll upload your e-book cover and content.
Manuscript: You’re asked to make a decision on DRM. Digital Rights Management is meant to stop piracy, but unfortunately, it is very easy to strip DRM from a document. It may also upset readers who purchase your book, but can’t read it on a non-Kindle e-reader if DRM is enabled. Many authors don’t use DRM for that reason.
Upload your manuscript in either EPUB or DOCX. The MOBI format is no longer supported by KDP.
Kindle eBook Cover: Upload your cover as an image file. Ask your designer for help if there are any problems with the upload.
Kindle eBook Preview: Sometimes, the cover layout needs to be adjusted, or there’s a mistake inside your book. The preview catches any errors and makes sure your project complies with KDP’s standards.
Kindle eBook ISBN: You don’t need an ISBN for a Kindle e-book. You can assign one if you wish, but also feel free to skip this section. Press Save and Continue to advance to Page 3.
Page 3: “Kindle eBook Pricing” page
KDP Select Enrolment: Would you like to enrol your book in Kindle Select? Enrollment requires you to be exclusive to Amazon for ninety days. There are some benefits to the program, such as access to Kindle Unlimited readers (16-17% of the US e-book market, in addition to Amazon’s 70%). You receive royalties for pages read (KENP) rather than a percentage of the purchase price.
If you want to “go wide” instead of being exclusive with Amazon, look at
Territories and Primary Marketplace: Tick “All Territories” if you want to sell worldwide and choose the marketplace where you expect to sell most. This uses the currency of your primary marketplace to determine the price levels for all other markets.
Pricing: KDP will pay 70% royalty if you price your book from $2.99 to $9.99. Outside of that range, you earn 35%.
There are many different pricing approaches, depending on whether you write in series or your promotion strategies. Research your pricing in advance.
Pro Tip: Manually adjust prices in different marketplaces to make them familiar to readers. For example, adjust an automatically determined price of €2.78 to €2.99.
Pro Tip: KDP charges delivery costs of a few cents per book when using the 70% royalty option. However, if you include images in your project, the delivery fees can become a considerable cost to you.
Your last action is to click ‘Publish Your Kindle eBook.’ KDP promises that your listing will go live within 72 hours, but you may find it often takes less time.
Congratulations on launching your first e-book on Amazon!