Amazon's self-publishing platform Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is easy to navigate and can be a passive income machine...so what's the catch? Is the self-publishing route worth the time and effort? Can I even afford it? Long story short...the answer is yes. You can become a self-published author, and you can make money online without selling a kidney or donating plasma. Details below!
When starting any new online venture, you want to make sure you know exactly what you're getting into, and we don't blame you. There are tons of get-rich-quick schemes and fraudsters out there these days. We can confidently say that self-publishing on Amazon is NOT a scam because we help thousands of people do it every day. Why? Because the traditional publishing model is broken.
The best part of being a self-published author is that you're totally in charge of everything from the ideation to the copy editing and cover design. Depending on how big you want to grow and scale your publishing business, your costs can range from the price of a latte to a month's rent. Here's what we mean...
Note: We've helped thousands of people make life-changing income through Amazon KDP, and we can show you the exact steps they took to make it happen in this webinar.
Unlike the traditional publishing route, you can publish a book on Amazon for free.
That's zippo, zilch, nada.
Assuming you have the time and writing skills, there's nothing stopping you from creating a free KDP account, writing (if you are not a writer, you can use AI to help!), formatting, publishing, and marketing your own Amazon book however you want and making real money from it.
But that's not what most people do...
Kindle Direct Publishing is a legitimate method and business model to earn passive income on the side.
Like any business model, it's most lucrative to focus on your strengths and outsource or bring in additional support for the rest. Maybe you like writing, but you don't consider yourself the strongest graphic designer. Or maybe it's the opposite, and you're confident you can create a stunning book cover, but sitting down to write for hours is your worst nightmare. As a self-publisher, YOU get to make that decision.
No matter what you decide, publishing a book for the first time is always the most difficult. It gets easier and easier with time, and as you grow, you might consider investing more in your publishing business to turn a side hustle into a full-time online income.
We call it an investment because the more polished your book is, the more returns you're likely to see back. And it makes sense, right? Happy readers buy more books and leave more happy reviews that get seen by other potential readers.
Contrary to popular belief, outsourcing isn't evil. By outsourcing the writing, editing, and formatting, you give other creatives the opportunity to put food on their table doing something they love. It's a win-win for everyone.
You might hear the word "manuscript" floating around. In the publishing industry, it's just another word for a book that's in progress. Many self-publishers bring in professional help during the manuscript process to make sure they're setting their book up for success.
Here are some steps of the manuscript process you might consider investing in and what they'll cost you.
Self-publishing really is a "choose your own adventure" type of deal. You might consider getting help with just the outline of your book, or you might want a professional ghostwriter to write the whole thing. If you do decide to outsource all the writing, you're ultimately responsible for communicating with the ghostwriter about your expectations for the voice and tone of the project as well as the deadlines.
Some ghostwriters charge by the hour, while others charge per word or project. Sites like Upwork make it easy to connect with talented writers in every niche. A 30,000-word book will likely cost you in the $1k-$2k range, depending on how complex or competitive your niche is. A specialist with a particular focus on veterinary sciences, for example, might cost more than a general writer.
If you don't have the funds to bring on a professional writer, you can also utilize AI tools like ChatGPT, Jasper, and Grammarly to improve your writing, editing, and formatting workflow. Many of these tools have a free option, or you can upgrade to a premium account to unlock extra features like plagiarism detection.
A professional editor can help you refine your manuscript, correct any spelling and grammatical errors, and provide feedback about the overall structure of the book. Developmental editors can even help you rewrite bits and pieces of your manuscript to make it more engaging. Professional editing is a lot more comprehensive than some people would think.
The cost of editing can vary depending on the length of your book, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,000 for a full copyedit. Some copy editors charge per page in the range of $2.50 to $5 per page.
Oftentimes, developmental editing costs a tad more because it's a bigger process. Some developmental editors charge based on the number of pages total, while others charge per hour or per book. Sites like Upwork and Reedsy can help you connect with professional editors all over the world.
Keep in mind that an editor with minimal reviews isn't the same as an editor with bad reviews. You can always give a potential candidate a paid test project to make sure that their experience aligns well with the project and that it's going to be a good fit.
Unfortunately, readers WILL judge a book by its cover as much as what's inside. This includes cover design, formatting, spacing, headers, and more. A well-designed book can help you stand out from the competition and attract more readers, while a poorly designed book will have the opposite effect.
If you have design experience, you can create the cover art and formatting yourself using templates or software like Canva. However, if you don't have the necessary skills, you may need to hire a professional designer from a platform like Fiverr. The cost of a book cover designer can range anywhere from $20 to $1,000. It's not uncommon for our students to find incredibly talented designers on the cheaper end of the spectrum who are happy to gain the experience of working with multiple self-publishers.
ISBNs are the unique codes that are used to track books and products. Amazon allows you to assign a free ISBN to all of your products, but this ISBN number is exclusive to the Amazon platform. If you'd like to branch out to libraries and other retailers, you'll need a different ISBN number. You can purchase an ISBN from an online broker like Bowker for $125 each or a pack of ten for $295. (Obviously, the bulk package is a way better deal, which is also something to keep in mind if you're going to be publishing multiple books on Amazon).
WARNING: You absolutely cannot buy ISBNs in bulk and then resell them. They get attached to your business name, and it's not possible. Even if you do find a workaround, the risks of getting permanently banned from Amazon and other legal repercussions are not worth it.
Once all the writing, editing, and formatting are out of the way, all that's left to do is "hit publish." And Amazon really makes it that simple. Their KDP website walks you through the entire process of uploading your cover and manuscript files, choosing your categories, and setting your price. Their review process can take anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks, but the average wait time that we've been observing in our students is about a week.
While you're stuck in limbo, you have the perfect opportunity to plan your book launch and marketing plan to ensure your book sales skyrocket when the book finally goes live.
Know what's pretty cool? Making a book sale through the Kindle store without doing any marketing or advertising whatsoever. It happens all the time, but marketing is what gets your book in front of the most potential readers possible.
Investing in marketing and promotion, like most of the things in this guide, is NOT a requirement by any means, but it can significantly boost your eBook sales and take-home royalties each month. Here are some of the key expenses to consider when creating your marketing and promotion plan.
Whether you choose to publish under your own name, a pseudonym, or a brand name, you can use branding to your advantage. This includes creating a logo and author website, establishing a social media presence like a Facebook page, and building an email list. You can do most of these things for free, but investing in professional logo and website design and email marketing software can help you stand out from the competition.
Logo design might cost you anywhere from $5-$300 on websites like Fiverr. Most email marketing software offers a subscription model ranging from $10-$300 monthly (for enterprise plans), but there are also tons of free options. Website design might be a little pricier, ranging from the hundreds to thousands, depending on their level of expertise.
Paid advertising can be another effective way to reach a wider audience. Facebook advertising is a popular option for self-published authors, as it allows you to target specific audiences based on interests, demographics, and behaviors.
Amazon also allows you to bid for keywords on their platform. Amazon advertising can be even more lucrative than Facebook advertising because people who are browsing Amazon are in the mood to spend money. They're just looking for the right product (or, in your case, a book).
If you haven't noticed by now, you are fully in control when it comes to your publishing journey. You can customize ad spend and set hard limits per day, week, or month to stick to a comfortable budget.
A successful book launch and ongoing promotion can help you build momentum and increase sales over time. This can include activities such as offering a free book in exchange for an honest review, hosting a launch party or book signing, and reaching out to book bloggers and reviewers for coverage. You may also want to consider investing in press releases or other promotional materials to help get the word out about your book.
Many of our students have had luck with getting featured in their local newspaper. This often costs nothing but can give you a significant boost in exposure. It's especially effective for connecting with audiences that might not be on social media or online much.
Royalties refer to the percentage of revenue you receive from each book sale, while pricing determines how much your book costs for readers to purchase.
Amazon offers two royalty options for Kindle eBooks:
Royalties are calculated based on the list price of your book, not the sale price. This means that if you run a promotion or discount on your book, your royalty percentage will still be calculated based on the list price. The same is true if Amazon decides to discount your book. You will always get your guaranteed royalty rate, and they will take the difference out of their piece of the pie.
Amazon has set the minimum list price required to offset the delivery cost and printing cost of each book. Using their handy self-publishing calculator, you can see exactly how the page count and type of paper will affect the KDP printing costs and your royalties, so you know exactly how to price your book appropriately. We also teach our students how to change their book's price based on a tried-and-true method that maximizes reviews and royalties.
Before publishing, you can also order non-expensive proof copies of your book to ensure you're happy with the formatting. Then, once you're published, you can order author copies of your book for a fraction of the price that your readers would pay. This is an added bonus for those who want to share their completed work with friends and family.
Amazon charges a small delivery fee for each Kindle eBook sold to make up for the cost of storing its data. Delivery Costs are based on the number of megabytes each digital book file contains, and file sizes are rounded up to the nearest kilobyte.
Don't worry, this equates to mere cents per book and is less than the change you'd find in your couch cushion. In the US and Canada, the fee is $0.15/MB, and the fees in Europe are typically around €0,12/MB.
Indie authors are responsible for paying taxes on their book sales, which means you may need to register for a tax ID number and file quarterly or annual tax returns. Taxes are not a fixed cost, so they will vary by year and how much you earn in royalties.
Working with a certified tax professional might cost you between a few hundred dollars up to $1k, depending on the complexity of your situation and the state or country you're living in.
By diversifying your income streams, you can increase your revenue as a self-published author and build a sustainable business. Whether you're looking to turn your writing into a full-time career or just earn some extra income on the side, there are plenty of opportunities to monetize your expertise and experience.
Here are two popular options:
As a self-published author, you can leverage your expertise and experience to become a speaker at events related to your book's topic. You can charge a fee for your speaking services, which can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per event. This is great for people who get bit by the travel bug and want to see new parts of the world while getting paid to do it.
To get started, you can reach out to event organizers and offer your services as a speaker. You can also create a speaker page on your website or social media platforms like YouTube to showcase your expertise and make it easier for event organizers to find you.
Another way to earn additional revenue as a self-published author is by offering workshops and webinars related to your book's topic. You can charge a fee for attendees to participate in these events, which can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per person.
Workshops and webinars can be conducted online or in person, depending on your preference and the needs of your audience. They can also be a great way to build relationships with your readers and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
To promote your workshops and webinars, you can use social media, email marketing, and other digital marketing channels. You can also partner with other businesses and organizations to reach a wider audience.
Students of our top-rated self-publishing course are regularly making $1,500, $3,000, and even upwards of $10,000 per month selling books on Amazon. This is life-changing income that gets directly deposited to their bank account every month, even if they stop logging onto the platform and stop publishing.
What would that royalty check mean for your family?
Here's how publishing has permanently changed some of our students' lives:
“Just wanted to share some inspiration for anyone thinking about where they can take their publishing business in the long term. Me and Anthony published our first book in September 2020, and this month, 2.5 years later, we launched our group coaching program in the same niche, built off the back of the books!
“This launch was $45k in sales, with over $20k collected so far and the rest being paid over the next 2 month installments…”
“As long as you take action consistently, follow the proven paths, analyze feedback, and implement changes rapidly, success is inevitable.”
These numbers might seem out of reach. But realize that, back in 2020, Daniel started out just like you. He had no experience in this field, but he wanted something better out of life and decided to do something about it. You can do the same thing!
If you’re ready to learn more about self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP—even if you don’t yet consider yourself an author or publisher—check out our free webinar. Why wait another year to publish your first book when you can get started today?