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How to Sell eBooks on Amazon

I’ve got a couple of eBooks up on Amazon (One Bad Gallbladder and The Vintage Vegetarian, for example) and I’ve found the process to be straightforward…once you know what kind of information you need in order to list your books. So last time I was uploading an eBook for sale, I took a few screenshots of the process to help walk you through it. You’ll see that it’s really not so difficult!

So dust off that old manuscript, and let’s get into it.

Step One: Format your manuscript.

First thing’s first, you need a manuscript. Eventually I’m going to put together a list of hot topics for eBooks (I’ve gotten pretty good at this market research!) but for now, you’ll have to bring this to the party yourself.

There are specific formatting guidelines that you should be following. Luckily, Amazon has a pretty comprehensive guide right here for you to follow.

Here, you can see the front matter for my Vintage Vegetarian book. It includes the title, subtitle, and author up top. Lower down is the copyright notice, the publisher name (me!), and my website. The website isn’t necessary to include, but you can add whatever you’d like to these essentials.

Note that you can keep your copyright info short like this, or include a separate page with a longer legal disclaimer. There are plenty of examples of legal statements you can insert online. It just depends on how thorough you want to be.

Step Two: Get on KDP + eBook Details

KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing. This is how you get your eBooks up on Amazon. You can get to the website here.

Once you’re logged in (and I believe you can just use the same login you use on Amazon.com – someone correct me if I’m wrong), you can click on “Kindle eBook” under the “Create a new title” section of the page. That should take you to this first form:

We start off with some basic information. Pick the language your book was written in, and enter the title and optional subtitle.

Next, you’ll have to enter the description. This is the blurb that readers will see on the main page of your listing – think of this as the back-of-the-book selling point.

After this, indicate the publishing rights. This is actually pretty simple. If you wrote the book yourself, then you should state that you own the copyright for this book. If you’re publishing a public domain work – let’s say you’re uploading an edition of The Iliad that you formatted – you would label this as a public domain work, indicating that you do not own the copyright.

You’re able to enter 7 different keywords. I would strongly encourage that you use them all – because why not? Keywords will help bring people to your book and increase your overall traffic.

If 7 keywords don’t immediately leap into your mind, you may want to try using keyword tools, usually used for SEO research. There are many out there, and most of them offer a paid service – but some will let you use the tool for a certain number of searches for free. One that I like to use is KWFinder. No affiliation here, I just find that it’s a pretty useful tool. Check out what people searching for your keywords are looking for.

It’s easier if you go into it with a slightly specific keyword in mind. Rather than searching for “vegetarian”, I tried “historical recipes”. This brought up similar keywords that were more useful.

Next, pick your categories. You get to select two. This is one of those things that a little market research can help with. Find out what categories are easier to break into, and what specific niches your book will fall into. If you’re working in a very specific category, it’ll be much easier to rank high in that category with just a few sales of your book.

After this, you can indicate a grade or age range if your book is intended for kids. This section is optional.

You can also indicate if your book is going to be available for pre-order. If you have a big online following or want to do some serious marketing for your book release, you may want to set a release date in the future. This way, you do all the work now, and your book will release on a set date later on. This can be a good way to build hype for your book!

Step Three: eBook Content

Once you’re done with the detail page, click on through to the content. This is going to be the page where you upload your manuscript.

The first thing you’re going to have to decide is if you want to enable Digital Rights Management (DRM). What is this, exactly? Well, imagine this: you’ve posted your eBook on Amazon and John buys it. He really likes it, and recommends it to his sister. He’s bought the eBook already, so he sends the digital file over to his sister so she can read it too.

When DRM is NOT enabled, this is able to happen. It basically means your text is shareable.

If this doesn’t sound like something you want, you can enable DRM. This means that your digital file is protected; it won’t be shareable between devices. John’s sister will have to buy her own copy of the book.

Next, you’ll have to upload your manuscript. It’ll take a couple of minutes to process, but this part is pretty self explanatory. The recommended formats are listed right on this page: .doc, .docx, HTML, MOBI, ePub, RTF, Plain Text, and KPF.

Now you can upload your book cover. I think Canva is a great tool for creating an eBook cover, as they have a default template for you to work from (and it’s free)! There’s also a cover builder available through this page on KDP. Just remember that you need to have your image as a JPEG or TIFF file.

You’ll be given the option to preview how your eBook will look on an eReader like the Kindle. You can flip through the pages and see how your formatting translated into the digital version. If you don’t like what you see, go back and alter the original file and then reupload it. You can’t do any editing from this panel.

If you like how things are looking, then you can accept and move on.

You’ll be given a chance to put an ISBN for your book. eBooks aren’t required to have an ISBN, so you can leave this blank if you don’t have one.

Inserting a publisher name is also optional. If you run a business, you could use its name here, or even put your own name in. This isn’t necessary, however.

Step Four: eBook Pricing

At the top of the pricing page, you’ll be asked whether you want to enrol your book in KDP Select.

This is a bit of a tough choice. Basically this means that your book will be entered into the Kindle Library. People that subscribe to this library (a monthly fee, I believe) can read as many books/pages as they want. Based on the number of pages of your book that they read, you will receive some extra money.

Sounds good, right? There’s just one catch. As long as your book is in this library, they won’t allow you to sell your book via other platforms. So if you want to sell your ebook via Kobo, or on your own website, or anywhere else, you’ll have to opt out. It makes your book exclusive to Kindle.

The other tricky part? If you opt in, you can only opt out after 90 days.

Personally, I have seen plenty of action from this option. I’ve also opted out for certain books. It’s really up to you what you’d like to do. And if you’re just trying it out, mark the renewal date on your calendar so you don’t forget to un-enroll.

Now we come to pricing. First of all, you’re asked about distribution rights. Do you want your eBook to be available on all Amazon markets (worldwide)? Or do you only want to sell in a certain market? This matters if you’re distributing a book for someone else, or if a company owns partial rights to your text. In general, you’ll probably want to pick worldwide.

When it comes to setting an actual price, Amazon is going to be quite helpful, and take the data from the previous pages to give you a suggested price point for your book.

Now there’s a thing to know about the royalty plans. There are two levels of royalty plans (and royalties = the money you earn).

  • 35% Royalty Plan
  • 70% Royalty Plan

Now, of course it seems obvious that you would want the 70% royalty plan. That means that you receive 70% of the amount that the book sells for. However, there’s a catch – you can only opt into this level of royalties if your book is priced at $2.99 or higher.

This means that for a book that sells for $1.00, you’ll receive $0.35. For a book that sells for $3.00, you’ll receive $2.10.

It’s usually in your best interest to aim for this higher price point. But keep in mind of how much your book will sell for, the kind of content you’re offering, the length of the book, and the popularity of the subject. All of these will help to dictate the price.

And, as I mentioned, Amazon will give you a suggestion based on their data. Here’s what they suggested for The Vintage Vegetarian:

I decided to take their advice and sell my book at $3.99 USD. This means that I earn $2.76 per book sale. This is 70% minus a $0.04 delivery fee. Don’t ask me why they have to charge this. I think it’s probably a tiny scam.

But of course, I’m in Canada. I’m not using USD. But many of my customers are, which is why Amazon will allow you to customize the prices for different marketplaces.

As you can see below, Amazon will automatically populate the prices for different markets based on whatever USD price you set. However, you can customize these if you wish.

That’s really the hardest part of pricing your eBook! There are just a few more settings to check off.

Kindle Matchbook is a service that is offered to books that are being published both as a physical book AND an eBook. Basically, if someone buys a physical copy of your book, you can allow them to buy your eBook at a discounted rate. If you’re not also selling a physical book, you don’t have to worry about this service.

Remember what I said about Digital Rights Management? If you want to try something similar without allowing free distribution of your book, you can allow Kindle Book Lending. This just means that one Kindle user can lend the eBook to a friend for 14 days to try it out.

Finally, you can click publish and wait for the book to release!

Your book will sit in review for a few hours. Typically it takes 24 hours, but I’ve seen it happen quicker. This is basically just the process where Amazon authenticates your book and adds it to their system. You’ll get an email when it’s all done, and you can start sharing your URL!

 

And that’s it!

I hope this guide has helped make the process of selling an eBook on Amazon a little less daunting! Eventually I’ll be posting a few more eBook launch guides, so if you want to stay connected to find out more, subscribe to my email list right below here. Thanks for reading!



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Welcome to The Lucky Sprout! I’m Rebecca and I’m a creative consultant, entrepreneur, and maker of things. I love inspiring others to step up into their purpose, and here on my blog you’ll find all kinds of content to inspire and empower you.

If you want to connect with me, I’m never far – you can find me being silly on Instagram, roaming farmers markets, or sipping tea lattes under the nearest blanket!

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© Offshoot Creative Consulting + Rebecca Wilson, 2019.

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