I get asked how to self-publish ALL the time.

And I know it can be confusing if you’ve never done it before. So to make it easier, I’ve created a step by step guide for the entire process.

I am not going to dive into how to find a cover designer or formatting or all the details of formatting in this post. Let me know if that is something you want to see in another article.

Here are the things you need to self-publish on Amazon:

  • Two versions of your formatted book; one as a docx, EPUB, or KPF file (formatted for ebook) and the other as a PDF file (formatted for the physical version/paperback).
  • Front cover in JPG format (for ebook) and wraparound cover with a spine in JPG format (for physical version/paperback).
  • Summary/book description (same as what is on the back cover of the physical book).
  • An idea of the two Amazon categories you want to publish in.
  • The price you want to sell the ebook and paperback versions for.

You do not need to buy an ISBN, Amazon will provide you with one for free for each version.

Step 1: Create an account on KDP.

Go to kdp.amazon.com and sign in with your same Amazon login.

My homepage on KDP.

The “Bookshelf” tab is where you upload books and also see a list of all books you’ve published.

The “Reports” tab shows how many books have been sold in each format and your current royalties, as well as how many Kindle Unlimited pages are read. There is other info as well. You can just click through the tabs to familiarize yourself.

The “Community” tab has forums and a knowledge base, and the “Marketing” tab shows advertising options through Amazon.

Step 2: Upload an ebook.

On the “Bookshelf” tab, click +Kindle eBook.

You will now see 3 pages of steps to publish your ebook. Let’s go through them one by one.

Kindle eBook Details

This is the page where you’ll input all the book details.

Start by typing in your book title and subtitle (if any). If you don’t have a subtitle, leave this blank.

If your book is part of a series, you will do the series step. If not, skip it.

If you are publishing a new book, then you will not fill in the edition number. This is only if it is a new or updated version of an existing, already published book.

Add your name as author.

If you have an illustrator, editor, co-author, introduction writer, or any other contributors, add their names and role under “Contributors.”

Next, you will add the book description in the text box.

Check off that you own the copyright to your book.

Select up to 7 keywords or keyphrases that describe your book. These can be anything you want but should be related to your book’s topic and themes. These keywords help Amazon know when to show your book when shoppers search for related topics.

Now you will select 2 categories. These are the categories your book will be listed in on Amazon’s book listings.

You can choose any categories you want. Take your time to go through the various options and categories to see what makes the most sense. You can only choose 2.

In the next section, if you’re uploading a children’s book, you can select age and grade ranges. If it is not a kid’s book, skip this step.

If you plan to upload the book ASAP, ignore the pre-order option.

Click Save and Continue.

Kindle eBook Content

This is the page where you will upload your manuscript and cover, as well as actually see what it will look like.

At the top, you will need to select if you want to enable Digita Rights Management (DRM). This is up to you. Here are 3 resources that go deeper into details on what DRM is and the pros and cons so you can decide:

Next, you’ll upload your book manuscript as a docx, EPUB, or KPF file. If it is a docx file, it still needs to be formatted correctly for Kindle.

Then you’ll upload your front cover image (not the wraparound cover) as a JPG or TIFF file. You could use the cover creator to create a cover on your own, though I have not used that tool.

Once the interior and covers are fully uploaded and processed, click on Launch Previewer to see how it will look!

It is important to flip through this and make sure the cover looks good, the interior pages look right, and that KDP doesn’t flag any issues. At the top of the screen, you can change the previewer to Tablet, Phone, or Kindle e-reader to see what your book will look like on various devices.

It is common for the sizing or formatting to be slightly off. Read the menu on the left side to get details if something isn’t right and give that information to your cover designer and/or formatter for any needed adjustments. You’ll take the adjusted files and reupload them in this same place and review the previewer again.

If you are satisfied with everything, click Approve.

Last on this page is the ISBN. If you have already purchased an ISBN, paste it here. If not, skip this step, as ebooks do not require one.

Click Save and Continue.

Kindle eBook Pricing

Last is the pricing page.

You’ll start by selecting if you want to enroll in KDP Select. KDP Select gives you access to promotions and other things but is a 90-day requirement that will auto-renew unless you remember to change it. Here are 3 resources to decide if you want to enroll:

For territories, you can choose if you want to have your book sold in all Amazon territories around the world or if you prefer to limit it to specific areas.

Under Primary marketplace, you can select your “home” Amazon. For example, if you are in the US, this will be Amazon.com. If you are located in India, it would be Amazon.in.

Then comes pricing! Here you will choose either 35% or 70% royalty. If you want the 70% royalty, your book MUST be priced between $2.99 and $9.99.

With 35%, your price can be anywhere from $0.99 to $200.

You will see the converted priced and royalties per sale for all territories below.

Finally, you’ll see the Book Lending section. If you choose 70% royalties, you will automatically be enrolled in Book Lending and cannot remove it.

Click Publish.

Congrats! Your ebook is submitted. You will receive an email within 72 hours from Amazon KDP either telling you the book is live and giving you the link OR explaining any issues and telling you what to fix before it can go live.

Step 3: Upload a paperback.

Now that you have uploaded your ebook, it’s time to do the paperback. Once you hit “Publish” for the ebook, KDP will give you a popup pop that asks if you want to go ahead and do the paperback. Click yes.

If you did not see the popup or accidentally clicked no, simply click +Paperback in the center of the “Bookshelf” screen.

Paperback Details

If you clicked yes on the popup, KDP will autofill in this information from the ebook details. Verify it is correct and change anything you need.

Save and Continue to move onto the content.

If you clicked +Paperback, it will not autofill the Paperback Details page and you’ll need to fill it in with the same information from the ebook: title, author, description, keywords, categories, etc. before you save and continue.

Paperback Content

At the top, you will see the ISBN section.

If you purchased your own ISBN, click “Use my own ISBN” and paste in the number. If not, select “Get a free KDP ISBN” and the system will randomly assign you one.

Under publication date, you can choose any date starting from today. If you have a specific date you want to launch, find and select that day. If not, just put today’s date.

The next section is Print Options.

In the top area, you’ll select whether you want a black and white interior with cream or white paper or a color interior. Keep in mind that black and white is cheaper to print, giving you more royalties from each sale.

Then you’ll see Trim Size. Trim size is the size of your physical book. You will have already chosen this size when you had a cover made and the interior formatted, so you should already know this. The cover and interior have to be formatted to fit your specific book/trim size.

KDP supports a ton of different sizes. Here’s a full list of sizes you can choose from. 5×8 and 6×9 seem to be very common.

You’ll also choose if you want bleed or no bleed. Bleed is when the background color or images go all the way to the edge of the page, no bleed means it does not extend to the edge and has a small border on all sides.

Select if you want your cover to be matte or shiny.

Next, just like with the ebook, it’s time to upload your manuscript and cover. Manuscripts can be PDF (recommended), docx, HTML, or RTF.

Upload your wraparound cover as a PDF file.

Launch the previewer, review, and approve. Take note if there are any issues, as you’ll need to resolve them before it will let you publish the book.

Paperback Rights & Pricing

This page is the same as the ebook pricing page. Choose your territories, marketplace, and your pricing. Generally, paperbacks cost more than ebooks.

Finally, click Publish Your Paperback Book.

Congrats! Wait for the email from Amazon with a live link or any issues.

After You Publish

AFTER your first book is live on Amazon, you’ll go to Author Central to create an Amazon author page.

Step 1: Go to author.amazon.com and create an account and fill in your profile info.

Step 2: Click “Books” at the top to add your books to your profile page. Here is what my profile page looks like: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B074MBKFZN

Every single time you upload a new book, you’ll go to Author Central and add it to your page.

You will also need to contact Author Central’s customer service to have them merge your ebook and paperback into one page. If you don’t, Amazon counts them as separate books and each version will have its own page. You want them to be on one page so you can see all formats in one place.

If you need more detail on Author Central, here is a step-by-step guide with images: 3 Steps You Must Take After Publishing Your Book

And you’re all set!

I know this is long but I hope it’s super helpful. Let me know if you have any questions!


Check out my book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book and learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book! Or check out my newest release, an anxiety journal: But…what if? A Journal For Anxious People.

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