Independent Publishing: Part 2: Getting started with Amazon

Disclaimer: If you read my first post then you've already read my disclaimer. If you haven't read the first post I'd suggest you start there at Independent Publishing: Show and Tell: Part 1. My reason for putting this information out there is to help anyone else looking to make their way through the process of publishing their own work. I am not anti-Traditional publisher, in fact, this process has made me ever more aware of just how much they do and the time and effort involved in bringing a work of the imagination to the masses. If you have any questions I would urge you to take a look at some of the links listed on my Independent Publishing page and, as always, you can email me at and I will try to help or point you in the direction of help. As I said before, What I don't know could fill a book, but I still might be able to lead you in a direction where you can find your answer

Where to Publish?
My list grows every day as I learn of new avenues for publication. There are also places like that will distribute your work through their "premium catalogue" to outside resellers such as Barnes and Noble, Sony, iTunes, etc.

Right now, as I type this there are three major outlets for our work. Each has their own benefits and downsides and each have an equally confusing set of demands or qualifications for publication with their site. Today, I'm going to cover Amazon. I'll be going over some of the other publishers in later posts. I'll also try to list some of this information on my Independent Publishing page, but you should always check their site for any changes to their rules and restrictions.

Amazon -  Kindle Program
Alphabetically, they're first in line. But there are other reasons for looking at Amazon first. If you want to debate the merits or downfalls of the global monstrosity and the vast market share that they maintain then there are places to do this. But not here.

Amazon publishes ebooks through their KDP Dashboard system. This Dashboard enables the author to upload content, set price, upload cover, pick the distribution (,, etc.) and also this will give you the option of viewing your book before you set it live. You can view how the readers will look at your book when they download it. This can be a very important tool.

Amazon also gives you the chance to enroll your ebook into the Amazon Select Program. This makes it part of the program that makes books available at a special price to Amazon Prime Customers and allows some participants to borrow your book. Books enrolled in the Amazon Select Program are still available to everyday Amazon customers. They are able to purchase the book at the price you set. The Select Program also gives you the ability to promote your book for 5 free days during the period. Many authors disperse these over the course of the program as a way to boost sales and rankings.

NOTE: The biggest stickler to this program is that you must grant exclusivity to the program for a 3month program. No Smaswords or Barnes and Noble. Just Amazon. You need to decide if focusing on one market is worth it or if you would prefer to bypass the select program offer and publish at Amazon with the ability to trade in other markets.

How Does it Work?
When you log onto the Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Dashboard you will be greeted by a header that includes four sections, Bookshelf, Reports, Community, KDP Select Program.

The Bookshelf is where all of your titles will be listed and where you will automatically default to when you sign in. In the box below it will list a introduction to the KDP Select Program. This gives you the information on the program and also tells you how big the fund is for the current month. Anytime that anyone borrows your book you earn a portion of the fund for that month.

Below that is where your titles are listed. From here you have an "actions" drop down menu and a
add a new title button". If this is your first time to the rodeo you would click on the new title button, but if you already have a title available there are a lot of options available to you under the actions menu that you should be aware of. From here you add an existing title to the Select Program, change or edit the book, edit rights, royalties and pricing, and if you wish, you can unpublish from here. If you book is already part of the Select Program you can choose to extend it for another 90 days. You can also manage your promotion or "free" days from here. I'll get into "free" days a little more when I talk about marketing.

Uploading Your New Title
Your first decision is whether or not to commit to the Select Program. This choice is entirely up to you. My first Independently Publishing book Three Truths was a book that I had gotten the rights back on from a previous publisher. This is the case for a lot of authors who have the rights to previous work, but aren't entirely sure what to do with their back list. In this case, I decided to forgo the Select exclusivity and made it available also at Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. (But that's a tale for another blog). For Stealing Darkness: A Darkness Paranormal Novella, this was a totally new story for me. I wanted it to get all of the attention and chances it deserved and I went with Select hoping it would be promoted more readily. It's done reasonably well considering the market and I've had some accomplishments not seen with other books, but how much of that is because of the Select program? I'm not sure.

  • BOOK NAME: Do you have one? Is it catchy? Does it represent the genre and feel of the book and will it entice the reader paging through hundreds of titles?
  • If it's part of a series you would enter that here along with the volume reference if needed (book 1, etc.). Mine is part of a novella series I've written so I added this information.
  • DESCRIPTION: This is that blurb for your book that you've worked so hard on for so long. This is the back cover copy that would normally suck the reader in and immediately download the book. Writing short promo copy isn't easy. But there are some great workshops and articles out there on doing it. All else fails and you aren't sure what to do, go read some of the other descriptions listed and model yours after theirs. (Just don't plagiarize!)
  • LANGUAGE AND PUBLICATION DATE: Language is pretty obvious. The publication date is the date of publication for your work.
  • PUBLISHER AND ISBN: Both of these are optional. Note that Amazon will automatically assign you an ASIN number to track your book in place of an ISBN.
  • VERIFY PUBLISHING RIGHTS: Do you hold all rights to this work or is part of the public domain?
  • TARGET YOUR BOOK TO CUSTOMERS: My biggest advice for this is to look at what other writers in your genre list their books. If you write Romance, Vampire saga then go for Fiction: Romance: Paranormal. You can add up to 7 keywords. These are what readers will put into the search engine when looking for a book.
  • UPLOAD YOUR BOOK COVER: Just follow the instructions on this one. 
  • UPLOAD YOUR BOOK FILE AND SET DRM: DRM (Digital Rights Management) is a process to help protect your work from being copied and distributed. IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO ENABLE YOUR DRM RIGHTS IT CAN NOT BE FIXED LATER. 
  • Note: The maximal size for your book file cannot exceed 50MB. There are some formatting considerations to be done before you upload the book. I'd suggest reading their formatting guidelines before you do it and make as many changes before you hit upload.   

Since there is so much information still to be processed when it comes to publishing with Amazon I've decided to break it up and give all of you and myself a break. Plus the son is begging to be fed. So, next I'll talk about the next step. Hope to see you back here again.


Nina Pierce said...

Teagan - This is a great series. I know there are a lot of people who are looking at self-pubbing. To put it all in one place like this is a great resource.

Diane said...

Very helpful! Thanks for taking the time to do this.


Michelle Libby/JIllian Hallowell said...

You've given a wealth of info. Helpful info at that. Thanks for doing this. I'm on to read part 3.


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