The Kindle Publishing Business Model Explained: Is It Worth It?

Everything you need to know about self-publishing online!

The Kindle Publishing Business Model Explained: Is It Worth It?
Table of contents

As far as side hustles go, self-publishing isn't exactly brand new. The thing is, it's already generated millions of dollars in royalties, has a better track record than most side hustles on the market, and has only gotten more accessible over the past few years. There are tons of book aggregators, distributors, and publishing platforms out there for self-publishers these days, yet Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing consistently ranks at the top because it has virtually no barrier to entry and costs nothing. But is it worth it? That's the question of the day.

We know self-publishing won't be everyone's cup of tea, but hopefully, this blog post will help you make sense of everything if you've been seeing our ads and want to get a better idea of what the publishing process actually looks like.

Would you rather watch the video version instead? Skip straight to our 100% free publishing webinar to see how anyone can tap into Amazon's multi-billion-dollar market with zero writing or publishing experience! Our students have seen results like adding an extra $500 and even $10,000 a month to their income with our proven system. Click here to sign up.

What's the Scoop on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing?

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, is a platform that lets you publish and sell your books to Amazon's massive audience just by creating an Amazon account and uploading your manuscript/cover directly to the platform. It even has step-by-step prompts to guide you through the entire process.

KDP eliminates the hassle of going through traditional publishers and lets you sell paperback books and Kindle eBooks to make money. The platform allows you to do it without any upfront costs or inventory management, and you get paid by the royalty system for each and every book sale. These royalties are automatically released to you within two months of the actual book sale.

Just how big is the Kindle eBook market?

Well, according to Statista:

  • The eBooks market worldwide is expected to generate nearly $15 billion by the end of this year alone, and that revenue is expected to remain steady through the next decade.
  • The number of eBook readers is expected to hit over 1 billion by 2027.
  • The United States dominates the market and is expected to keep generating the highest revenue for eBooks this year.
  • Over 2 million self-published books have been published on the Amazon marketplace.
  • It's estimated that nearly 40% of all authors publish with KDP.

A fun fact is that many of these books are published under a pen name or author alias, which means you don't have to give up your anonymity to generate income online.

While we're on the topic, here's a pen name generator to play around with:

(Slight disclaimer: Be sure to double-check that a pen name hasn't already been taken if you decide you want to move forward with it. This goes for any AI generator you use online.)

Why You Should Publish Books on Kindle

These are some major reasons to consider joining the Kindle eBooks game:

  • Cost-Effective: With print-on-demand services automatically available for every publisher, publishing on Kindle eliminates the need for printing and inventory. You can upload and update your book on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing for free, making it a budget-friendly and accessible option for most people.
  • No Website Required: Because Amazon gives you instant access to your own KDP dashboard and promotion tools, you won't need to create your own author website unless you really want to. Amazon exposes your work to millions of potential readers and handles all the customer service for you.
  • Higher Royalties: A traditional publishing house typically offers only about 10%- 20% in royalties, while Amazon KDP offers up to 70%, putting more money directly in your pocket.
  • Brand Development: Kindle lets you build and expand your author brand with author pages and promotional programs like KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited without paying extra for these services.
  • Accessibility and Global Reach: A lot of other publishers only focus on one market, but Amazon lets you publish in several book markets all at once at the same time that you upload your manuscript.
  • Flexibility and Control: You maintain complete creative control over your book’s content, cover, and marketing, which means you can update or remove your content at any time, no questions asked.
  • Immediate Publishing Turnaround: You get to skip the lengthy waits associated with traditional publishing and publish on your own terms as soon as your manuscript is ready. Amazon will still have to review the manuscript to make sure it meets all their standards, but this process is mostly automated and usually done within two weeks. Just a heads up!

Cons Of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

As we mentioned earlier, Kindle publishing works but only for those who work it.

Here are some things you might want to consider before you decide to start your Kindle publishing business:

  • Exclusive to Amazon’s Ecosystem: One of the main limitations of using Amazon KDP is being tied to the Amazon ecosystem. This can restrict your book’s exposure if you opt into the KDP Select program, which requires exclusivity for 90 days, preventing distribution through other platforms like Apple Books or Kobo.
    • Side note: While being tied to Amazon's KDP can seem limiting due to the exclusivity required by the KDP Select program, it also places your book in one of the largest marketplaces in the world, and three months really isn't that long in the grand scheme of things.
  • Fixed Pricing Structure: Amazon requires eBooks to be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 for a 70% royalty, which might seem restrictive.
    • Side note: This range is specially designed to maximize earnings while keeping books affordable for a broader audience. In other words, it balances earning potential with competitive pricing, which can help you reach more readers. The Amazon algorithm also regularly boosts books and changes the pricing on their end without taking away from your royalties. This is a GREAT thing!!
  • Limited External Distribution: Expanding your reader base beyond Amazon can be difficult even without KDP Select. You might face marketing hurdles and lower visibility on alternative platforms, which could hinder potential sales.
    • Side note: Although focusing primarily on Amazon might limit visibility on other platforms, it simplifies the marketing process by letting you concentrate your efforts on one single platform. Piggybacking off the last point, you can still choose non-exclusive agreements with other platforms and explore wider distribution after the initial exclusivity period.

Can You Really Make Money with Kindle Publishing?

Anyone can turn publishing on Kindle into a solid side hustle or profitable business if they're willing to put in the work. We can't stress that enough.

But let's break the numbers down!

Is It Profitable to Publish on Kindle?

Business Insider and Forbes have showcased plenty of authors and publishers who are making well over six figures from their self-published books on Kindle, including this couple who make up to $17,000 a month selling their journals and coloring books.

Of course, not everyone who gets their book published is going to strike gold like they did, but making decent book sales might still be more common than you'd think.

Our Student Success Hub features the stories of couples, single parents, and college students who are all making more money with their books than they ever would if they tried to sell physical products instead.

The income from Amazon KDP varies quite a bit among indie authors and publishers, but it's pretty straightforward: Every time that your book is purchased, Amazon automatically owes you royalties that range between 35% and 70%. And they owe you these royalties in perpetuity. Yes, even if you haven't touched the book or published anything else in months (or even years).

Of course, recurring income takes work on the front end to get the flywheel turning, so you won't exactly be printing money the first day your book goes live. Still, most indie authors and publishers find that the prospect of working for themselves and eventually creating recurring income is more than worth it, especially compared to the corporate grind (that, let's face it, just isn't working for most people anymore).

The average newbie publisher might only make a few hundred dollars their first month, but publishing is one of those businesses that compounds with time.

The better you get at it and the more high-quality content you publish, the more the royalties can start stacking on top of each other to bring in recurring income.

It's nearly impossible to make six figures with a traditional publisher these days, but the same can't be said about self-publishing!

Cost-Benefit Breakdown

KDP offers two royalty options: 35% and 70%.

Choosing between these options will affect your profits, and you do have a choice!

The 35% royalty rate is available globally for books with a minimum list price of $0.99, whereas the 70% royalty rate has certain eligibility criteria you can find on the KDP pricing page. Keep in mind that there are no delivery fees for the 35% option, so your profit will be 35% of the listed price.

Now, we know math isn't everyone's forte, which is why the next section has a handy tool we recently released to the public for the very first time.

Calculate Your Potential Earnings

To estimate your earnings potential, you'll need to consider factors like your book's price, royalty rate, printing type, and projected sales.

For instance, if you sell a book at $4.99 with a 70% royalty rate, you will earn $3.49 per sale.

If you sell 100 copies, you'll make $349.

To save yourself the trouble of crunching all the numbers, you can also just head over to our Free Kindle Direct Publishing Royalty Calculator, and we'll walk you through each part of the equation to show you instantly how much you can earn from your book titles.

Alternate Revenue Streams for Authors & Publishers

Apart from royalties, there are other ways to earn money with Kindle Publishing, too.

Some authors and publishers use their books as lead magnets to generate revenue from online courses, coaching, speaking engagements, and affiliate marketing (though you can definitely just stick to selling books and expand your offering with book series, book bundles, or exclusive book covers).

That's the beauty of this business model. You get to mold it however you want.

How Page Reads Convert into Commissions

Aside from outright sales, you can also earn money through Amazon's Kindle Unlimited (KU) program.

KU is a subscription-based service where readers can access a giant library of books for a monthly fee. Authors and publishers are paid based on the number of pages read by people who have borrowed your book through the program instead of traditional book sales.

This means that even if your book isn't being directly purchased, you can still make money from KU subscribers who read your work. Student Testimonials

Hear from three students who never thought they'd start online businesses or publish books and haven't looked back since starting!

Jamie talks about overcoming massive debt and a business failure by pivoting to publishing online with KPD:

In less than five years, Brock went on to earn over $100k from his books.

He made tons of mistakes along the way that he shares below:

Stephanie had to overcome some major challenges on her self-publishing journey, but she's been able to use that as fuel to inspire teenage girls and really make a difference with her books:

Content Creation Strategies

You've got two options to self-publish a book: Take on all the work yourself or outsource the parts you don't have the skills or time for.

(The majority of our students end up doing the latter.)

Writing Your Own Books

Writing your own books is obviously going to be much more time-intensive, but it might be your only option if your budget is really strapped.

You'll be responsible for:

  • Conducting market research (which consists of competitor research and customer research)
  • Planning your series and branding
  • Continuously working on your writing skills
  • Maintaining consistency in style and tone throughout your manuscript and/or series
  • Conduction keyword research to make sure your books show up in customer searches on Amazon

Outsourcing Book Creation

If writing isn't your strong suit or you lack the time, you can opt for outsourcing the book creation instead. This involves hiring skilled ghostwriters or content creators to collaborate with you to write your books.

Even though they'll be doing most or all of the writing, you'll still be responsible for:

  • Keeping the project on track with deadlines and voice/tone
  • Providing consistent and constructive feedback
  • Editing and formatting the manuscript (or finding another formatting service or professional to help)
  • Marketing and promoting the book

We'll get more into all of this later!

Types of Books You Can Publish with Examples

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offers a ton of book categories you can explore, but there are three main types of books you can publish with your KDP account:

1. No Content Books

No content books typically include journals, diaries, or planners.

These books contain formatted pages with little to no text but serve a specific purpose for the reader.

The audience can use the loose structure provided to record their thoughts or organize their day, but ultimately, they have a lot of freedom.

Here are a few examples:

  • Dot grid journals: Intended for bullet journaling, feature evenly spaced dots on each page.
  • Sketchbooks: Blank pages suitable for drawing, doodling, or sketching.
  • Weekly planners: Designed to aid users with time management skills, these books have a weekly overview of tasks, appointments, and events.

2. Low Content Books

Low-content books have some content within them, but their primary focus is providing templates or frameworks for the readers to interact with.

These books encourage readers to contribute their own input, and they're especially popular in the productivity and relaxation niches.

Examples include:

  1. Coloring books: These books contain various illustrations or patterns for readers to color in, and they're not just for kids! Adult coloring books are huge these days!
  2. Activity books: These books are geared towards children and adults and include puzzles, crosswords, mazes, trivia, and more.
  3. Workbooks: Ideal for self-improvement, workbooks serve as guided instruction in specific areas like fitness, finances, or therapy. They generally contain exercises, prompts, and additional resources.

3. High Content Books

High-content books are much more content-rich and text-heavy and usually contain more specialized knowledge or ideas on a specific subject.

The genre can range from fiction to non-fiction, depending on the author or publisher's intent.

Here's a tiny list of examples:

  • Novels
  • Biographies & Memoirs
  • Self-Help Books
  • Guides
  • Reference Books

How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book on Kindle?

The short answer to how much it costs to publish a book on Kindle is that it's technically free. Amazon doesn't charge anything to create an Amazon account, house your books, or sell books on the KDP platform.

The longer answer is that the cost of publishing depends on how much of the work you want to DIY. Getting help with writing, editing, formatting, and designing your book in different formats (i.e., an eBook version, audio book version, paperback, and hardcover) is going to set you back anywhere from a few hundred dollars to the $1.5k-$2k range.

Hiring Writers

If you're not writing the book yourself, you'll need to hire a writer to create your manuscript.

The cost of hiring a writer varies depending on the length and complexity of your book and the writer's experience.

Generally, prices can range from $0.03 to $0.10 per word, which means a 30,000-word book could cost $900 to $3,000 on the high end.


Once your book is written and polished, you'll need to start formatting it with all the correct page breaks, line spacing, font styles, and images. You can either learn to format the book yourself or hire a professional formatter.

If you choose to outsource this task, prices can range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the complexity of the project and the formatter's experience.

You can also find affordable options such as pre-made templates and DIY formatting tools (like Reedsy).


Promoting your book is the step that makes a lot of new publishers groan, but this is how you'll reach your target audience and increase your sales. There are tons of great promotional strategies, such as paid advertising on Amazon and social media, book giveaways, email marketing, and reaching out to reviewers and influencers.

Depending on your campaign goals and tactics, the cost of your promotion efforts can range from $50 to $2,000 or more per month.

The good news is that Amazon also offers programs like KDP Select, which provide additional promotional opportunities for authors and publishers who choose to list their books on Amazon exclusively.

Building and Operating a KDP Business

If publishing is just a hobby on the side, that's cool! But if you're looking to scale, you'll eventually need to make the mental switch to being a business owner running an online business.

Business owners know how to see the long-term vision and how the day-to-day will get you there with the right habits and routines. They're not afraid to invest in themselves or their business because they know that, at the end of the day, that's the only way to grow.

You definitely don't need to run out and establish an LLC right away, but it's not a bad idea somewhere down the road. In the meantime, you can publish eBooks as a sole proprietor while still having that business mentality that you're working towards the bigger picture.

Step-by-Step Publishing Guide

Here's the rundown of bringing a book to life:

  1. Choose a winning topic: Pick a topic that resonates with your target audience and has a proven demand in the market. (The proven part is non-negotiable for our students because we want them to actually make $$$)
  2. Outline your book: Create a detailed outline to organize your thoughts, making it easier to write your book. (You can totally outsource this to ChatGPT and then go back in and make tweaks btw)
  3. Design the book cover: Craft an eye-catching cover that stands out and attracts readers. (It sounds so obvious, but we've seen book covers be the ONLY thing in the way of sales sometimes)
  4. Format your book: Properly format your book to meet Amazon's KDP standards and test it out on different screens like a Kindle device. (Formatting isn't always fun, but it does make a world of difference to the reader experience)
  5. Create an account and upload your book: Finally, sign up for a KDP account and upload your book to the platform. (Yes, you can use your regular Amazon Prime login)

And here's how to scale your publishing business from there:

  • Diversify Your Formats: Beyond eBooks, consider offering paperbacks, audiobooks, or even hardcovers to reach different reader preferences. (the more formats, the merrier the royalties)
  • Develop Complementary Titles: Build out your non-fiction series by adding titles that complement the original book. For instance, if your first book is on personal finance, you could expand with titles focusing on investing, saving for retirement, or budgeting for families. (having a solid book title for your series helps keep it in your readers' minds...everyone's heard of the "For Dummies" series)
  • Branch Into Related Niches: Use the authority and audience built from your initial publications to explore related topics. (never ever fake authority or a degree—it's super illegal—but if you know what you're talking about and you know you can help others, go for it!)
  • Offer Translations: Reaching a global audience can boost your Kindle publishing income. By offering translations of your best-selling eBooks, you can tap into non-English speaking markets. (This expansion strategy requires investment for hiring professional translators because AI isn't quite there yet, but this is a growing trend we're seeing in the publishing market right now that isn't going to go away for a long time.)
  • Offer Bundles: Bundling your eBooks provides your readers with a discounted option, encouraging them to buy several books at once. (The best part? Bundling can also create additional upselling opportunities. For example, a reader who only intended to purchase one book from your series might instead opt for the discounted bundle.)
  • Sell Your Publishing Business: After establishing a profitable series (we're talking years down the line), consider selling your publishing business. A well-organized operation with strong brand recognition and a loyal reader base can attract buyers looking for a proven, scalable venture. This is where the big bucks are!

Selling his publishing business for over $120k is exactly what Ed Fahy (one of our kickass coaches) did.

Listen to his story here:

Steps to Hiring a Ghostwriter

Scouting for Talent:

Kick off your search on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, which house ghostwriters and other creatives from all backgrounds and experience levels.

  • Craft a compelling job post detailing exactly what you’re looking for. Be specific!
  • Pro Tip: You'll get more bites if you have a verified payment method on your profile. You won't actually be releasing the money upfront to the freelancer. Instead, you'll release it to the platform once you choose somebody, and the platform will only release it to them once you approve their work.
  • Consider searching for audiobook narrators from Upwork or ACX if you’re expanding into audio formats, too!

Choosing the Right Match:

  • Test the waters with a trial project to see how potential writers handle your content, or check their portfolios for a sense of their style and consistency.
  • Focus on writers who have a track record in your niche or who have penned books similar to what you’re envisioning.
  • If the budget is tight, you can also give a beginner a chance. Don't take a lack of reviews to mean a lack of talent. There are SO many great writers out there who just need someone like you to give them their big break!

Fine-Tuning the Partnership:

  • Begin with clear and to-the-point constructive feedback. Writers are used to it and want to know what's working and what's not. Protecting their feelings isn't going to make a great book! (We're not saying to be a jerk here, but sometimes hard conversations are necessary for the greater good.)
  • Give them a chance to make revisions, set reasonable timelines, and try to check their work every few chapters to avoid any major overhauls in the future. If things aren't working out midway, then they're not working out.
  • If you ARE a fan of the writer, ask them to stay in touch for future projects. This is another win-win. They get regular work, and you get a reliable collaborative partner, which makes scaling so much faster and easier.

Finding the perfect ghostwriter isn't always a smooth process—Just because someone has a book written doesn't mean they're going to be the right person for the job to write your own book. If you're early on in the process and have already given them the chance to make the requested revisions and it's still not working out, sometimes it's best to just move on.

Yes, this sucks, and yes, it's going to feel like a total waste of time/money, but should it get in the way of you putting out a really great book? Heck no! Easier said than done, sure, but you're much better off channeling any frustration into things that keep your business moving forward.

What You Need to Know About Publishing on Amazon & KDP Hacks

Here are some more Kindle Direct Publishing quick tips:

  • ISBNs and Rights: Amazon will provide free ISBNs for every book, but acquiring your own can offer more flexibility, like publishing on other platforms.
  • Amazon Author Central: Set up your Amazon Author Central account and claim your books to build out your author profile. You can add your biography, photos, videos, and upcoming events, which helps in building your brand.
  • Cross-Promotion Techniques: Link your books to each other by mentioning them within your eBook and on your Author Central page. Use your back matter to promote other works or your email signup to keep readers within your ecosystem.
  • Pre-Orders: Setting up your book for pre-order can build anticipation and lead to a spike in sales on release day, which can boost its rankings and visibility. (Learn about the 3 phases of a book launch here!)
  • HTML in Descriptions: You can use basic HTML tags to format your book descriptions on Amazon. This includes bolding, italics, and bullet points, making the description easier to read and more attractive to potential buyers.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Choosing Kindle Direct Publishing Over Traditional Publishing?

How does KDP self-publishing compare to the traditional publishing model?

Pros of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP):

  • Greater control over your book's production, design, and marketing
  • Faster time to market compared to traditional publishing
  • Higher royalty rates, usually between 35%-70%
  • Global distribution through Amazon

Cons of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP):

  • Limited exposure to brick-and-mortar bookstores
  • Reduced chance of receiving professional book reviews
  • No advances, unlike traditional publishing deals
  • Increased responsibility for editing, design, and marketing efforts

Optimizing for Kindle Search Algorithms

"Optimizing" might be one of the most overused words on the planet right now, but it typically has to do with SEO or "Search Engine Optimization." This basically means making sure the right results pop up when a person searches for a particular word or phrase. So, in the book world, it relates to how your book appears in the Kindle store. Is it on the first page or page 30?

Be honest: When's the last time you looked at anything past page 3 or 4 during your own searches? It doesn't happen often, right?

Think about the Kindle store as a candy store. Your readers will be faced with distractions and temptations left and right. What makes YOUR book stand out?

Here’s how to pinpoint the best keywords for Kindle Publishing:

  • Define Your Core Topics: Start by identifying the central themes of your book.
  • Brainstorm: List possible keywords that relate to your themes, considering what a reader might search for.
  • Research Tools: Utilize tools like KDSpy to expand your list and see how your competitors are performing.
  • Selection and Application: Narrow your list to 5-7 optimal keywords. These should be highly relevant and have a strong search presence without being overly competitive.
  • Metadata Matters: Incorporate these keywords into your book’s metadata fields in the KDP dashboard, including the book title, subtitle, description, and keyword sections.

SEO isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it deal. It requires ongoing adjustments and updates:

  • Monitor Performance: Regularly check how your keywords are performing. Are they bringing readers to your page?
  • Adapt and Update: As market trends shift, so should your keywords. Refresh your metadata every so often to stay relevant.

Maximizing Visibility and Sales

Pricing Strategies for Maximum Impact

Knowing how to price your Kindle books can be hard for a newbie publisher. You want to make sure you're getting paid a fair amount, but you also don't want to scare your potential readers away.

Here’s how to refine your pricing strategy:

  • KDP Select Promotions: Enroll your book in the KDP Select program to take advantage of promotional opportunities such as Kindle Countdown Deals or Free Book Promotions.
  • Dynamic Pricing: Test different price points to find the sweet spot that appeals to your target audience without undercutting your profits. Start with a lower introductory price to attract readers and reviews, then gradually increase to your target price point as your book gains traction.
  • Competitive Analysis: Regularly review the pricing strategies of similar books in your genre. Adjust your pricing based on market trends and seasonal demand to stay competitive. We tell our students that the sweet spot after the book launch is usually just above the competition.

Customer Reviews

Positive customer reviews boost your book’s credibility and improve its search discoverability on Amazon.

Here's how to generate more reviews:

  • Free Review Copies: Consider giving away a limited number of free copies to readers who are likely to enjoy your book and politely asking them to leave an honest review about their experience.
  • Engage via Email: Use your email list (if you have one) to connect with your readers. Provide them with updates and insights about your publishing journey, and kindly ask for reviews. Personalized communication increases engagement and the likelihood of receiving feedback.
  • Community Engagement: Participate in online communities related to your book’s genre. Interaction in social media groups, book forums, and other reader communities can help you increase your book’s exposure and encourage reviews while staying compliant.

The easiest ways to break Amazon's terms and conditions regarding reviews are to:

A) Have close friends and family or anyone that's connected to your address leave reviews

B) Incentivize or bribe people for reviews

How Does Amazon KDP Compare to Other Publishing Platforms in Terms of Profitability?

While platforms like Apple Books, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble Press also provide competitive royalty options, Amazon KDP's real edge comes from its massive audience. With millions of Kindle users browsing daily, your chance to earn more significantly increases by publishing with KDP.

Some might want to debate this, but Amazon is on track to fully take the publishing industry's market share. Check out these Amazon KDP facts as proof!

Navigating Intellectual Property in Kindle Publishing

Intellectual property rights and publishing pretty much boil down to three things:

Understanding Your Rights

  • Copyright Ownership: You automatically own the copyright to your original work, which gives you exclusive control to reproduce, distribute, and display the book. Platforms like Reedsy make it easy to insert copyright disclaimers at the front of your book to discourage others from stealing your work.
  • Amazon's Assurance: Publishing through Amazon KDP means you retain your rights to the content forever, giving you the freedom to publish your work elsewhere too or take it down at any point.

Using Third-Party Content

When incorporating external content like images or quotes, keep in mind:

  • Permissions Required: Make sure you secure the necessary permissions to use third-party content to avoid legal issues.
  • Public Domain and Creative Commons: You can use any content available under these licenses, but make sure you adhere to any specified attribution requirements. These are usually in the terms and conditions of the stock image sites or tools you find online.

Canva Images in Your Kindle Book

Canva provides a versatile toolkit for creating book designs:

  • License Awareness: Use only those images you have rights to, whether through a free or Pro Canva account. Pro accounts typically offer broader usage rights, which are suitable for commercial projects.
  • Avoid Editorial-Only Images: To comply with legal standards, do not use images marked for editorial use in your commercial book projects.

Canva has grown a bit controversial over the years, and some publishers claim their books have been taken down by Amazon because of Canva's images. If this happens, you usually just need to email them proof that you are a pro user, along with a screenshot of the terms and conditions that allow you to use certain images.

Of course, if you're nervous about potential account penalties, you can also take your Canva design to a graphic designer and have them tweak it to make it truly original.

Troubleshooting Common KDP Issues

Here are some problems you might run into as a newbie publisher:

KDP Won't Accept the File Format

If you upload your book in the wrong format, KDP will automatically kick back an error, letting you know that your manuscript wasn't accepted. For your eBook publication, KDP accepts common formats such as Word (.doc/.docx), ePub, and Kindle Create (KPF) files.

If your file isn't in one of these formats, consider converting it using a reputable conversion tool like Reedsy! PDF is the preferred format for print books, and ePub is more common for Kindle eBooks.

KDP Won't Accept the Book Cover

Your book cover consists of the front cover, back cover, and spine, and KDP has specific requirements for dimensions and resolution.

Make sure your cover image meets these requirements:

  • eBook: Minimum size of 1000 pixels on the longest side. Preferred ratio 1.6:1 (e.g., 2560 x 1600)
  • Print Book: Dimensions are determined by your chosen trim size. Submit the cover file as a PDF.

KDP Won't Accept the Book Title

Your book title should be unique, relevant, and follow KDP's content guidelines.

If your title is being rejected, check for the following issues:

  1. Duplicate or misleading titles: Make sure your title doesn't closely resemble an existing book or confuse readers by appearing too similar to another work.
  2. Prohibited keywords: Avoid the use of keywords that are misleading, offensive, or restricted (e.g., "Free," "Bestseller").
  3. Offensive or inappropriate language: Refrain from using derogatory or explicit language in your title. This one sounds like a "duh," but even adding asterisks or punctuation marks to cuss words can hurt your sales, so we usually tell our students to avoid it altogether whenever possible.

If you've addressed these concerns and are still experiencing issues, consider reaching out to KDP support and keep following up (In our experience, sometimes you need to be persistent).

What Affects Your Best-Seller Rank on Amazon KDP?

Your best-seller rank on Amazon KDP depends on various factors, such as sales, reviews, and the competition in your specific niche. The more copies you sell and the more reviews you receive, the higher your book will rank in the best-seller list. Additionally, showcasing a well-designed cover, providing an engaging book description, and targeting the appropriate keywords will improve your chances of reaching higher rankings.

Overall, your BSR is affected by things like...

  • Sales Volume: The more copies you sell, the better your ranking. Even a burst of sales over a short period can boost your rank temporarily.
  • Customer Reviews: High-quality, positive reviews can improve your book's visibility and appeal, indirectly boosting sales and your rank.
  • Book Quality and Presentation:
    • Cover Design: A professional and appealing cover can make a significant difference in attracting readers.
    • Engaging Description: A well-crafted book description grabs potential readers' attention and can increase sales. It should be clear what the book is about, but you shouldn't give too much away to the point that readers feel they don't even need to read your book to get the answers they need to solve their problems.
    • Keyword Optimization: Using the right keywords can help your book appear in more relevant searches, increasing visibility and sales. (We covered this earlier)
  • Competition: The level of competition within your book's category or niche also affects your rank. More competition might require additional marketing efforts to stand out.

What Is the Success Rate of Authors Using Kindle Direct Publishing?

The success rate of authors using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) who fail to put in the work is 0%, but that can be true of any business venture at all. Ultimately, it's always going to vary based on things like writing quality, marketing efforts, and finding the right target audience.

Some authors and publishers start crushing it in their first six months, while others may not see the results they desire. What we can tell you without a doubt is that dedication, perseverance, and a strategic approach all but guarantee success on the KDP platform.

The publishing business is all about learning...and, yes, failing too.

You can read about some of our own mistakes here in an exclusive interview featuring Rasmus Mikkelsen, one of the co-founders of!

What Can Self-Publishing Lead to?

Self-publishing can lead to pretty much anything you can think of—sailing the world, funding your kids' college tuition, retiring at 40. The proof is in the pudding!

Becoming a Speaker at Live Events

By successfully establishing yourself as an author or publisher in your niche, you create opportunities for participating in live events. Event organizers often seek out experts in the field to speak at their conferences. As a publisher, you'll have a platform to showcase your knowledge, expand your network, and even sell your books.

Hosting Webinars

Another potential avenue you can explore is hosting webinars. This can be an excellent way to share your expertise, grow your audience, and generate additional passive or recurring income. With webinars, you can provide valuable content to your target audience while also promoting your Kindle books.

Hosting a Radio Show or Podcast

Similar to webinars, hosting a radio show or podcast can help you reach your audience. You can use these platforms to share insights, interview industry experts, and discuss current trends in your field. Podcasts and radio shows help you connect with listeners and enhance your credibility as a publisher.

Just ask Jacob, whose books led to non-stop podcast, radio, and interview requests:

Traveling More

Publishing gives you the flexibility to set your own schedule and work from anywhere. This gives you the opportunity to travel more and even attend international events related to your niche. Moreover, you can use your experiences to inspire new book ideas.

This couple is set to retire in their 40s and travel the world together:

Spending More Time with Family

The flexibility that comes with publishing doesn't only apply to traveling. You can manage your workload, write or publish at your own pace, and control your income streams. This translates into more time for spending with your loved ones, while still growing your publishing business.

As a single mom, Carolina just wanted more time with her 3 boys, and publishing made that possible:

Long-Term Sustainability

Most side hustles are better suited for short-term cash grabs, but that's not at all how publishing works.

We teach our students how to create long-term stability, even through recessions and iffy market conditions. Building a Kindle publishing business is a long-term commitment that can pay dividends for years to come if you approach it with integrity.

Adapting to Market Changes

We all know a lot of people are going through some hard times right now. Companies are laying people off, the real estate market is absolutely bonkers, and AI advancements are moving crazy fast.

Publishing is an industry that requires agility and constant adaptation.

Here’s how you can maintain relevance and cater to your readers more effectively:

  • Content Updates: Regularly refresh your eBooks to align with current reader interests and incorporate the latest information, which can extend their relevance and appeal. (At the same time, try not to fall into the trap of "SOS" or "Shiny Object Syndrome" and make too many changes in a short period of time)
  • Working On Your Presentation: Continuously improve your eBook formatting and design to meet evolving reader expectations and enhance their experience. (The better you become at publishing, the more you'll pick up on small formatting nuances like line spacing and page breaks. It all takes practice!)
  • Improving Your Marketing: There's a bit of a learning curve to running Amazon ads, but it's 100% worth it to get your book in front of the right readers. Think about it this way: People hate being bombarded with ads on random websites and Facebook, where they're scrolling to forget about their day, but people scrolling through Amazon are happy to buy something then and there.

Balancing Content Types

Part of running a stable Kindle Publishing business is balancing evergreen content with seasonal content:

  • Evergreen Content: This forms the backbone of your catalog, providing steady revenue as it remains relevant throughout the year.
  • Seasonal Content: This type of content might have temporary spikes in interest and boost short-term earnings instead.

Mixing these content types diversifies your portfolio and stabilizes your income stream across different periods. Read about the best time to publish in each niche here!

Common Misconceptions About Publishing

Here are three common misconceptions that we hear about publishing all the time:

You Have to Have a College Degree

Many people believe that to be a successful publisher, you need to have a degree in English, Journalism, or a related field. Cue the buzzer! This is simply not true!

Some of the most successful publishers don't have any formal education in writing or literature. Instead, they've honed their craft through practice, learning from others, and staying updated with industry trends.

You Have to Invest a Ton Upfront

Another misconception is that self-publishing is costly, requiring a large upfront investment.

While it's true that you need to invest some money into the process, it can be much more affordable than most people might believe.

Unlike a degree that could set you back six figures in debt, you can DIY every step of the publishing process with AI tools or outsource 90% of the work, knowing that more work and more investment upfront can lead to even greater returns in the future.

And you are always 100% in control of your budget.

Self-Publishing Isn't Respected as Much as Traditional Publishing

The idea that self-publishing is less respected than traditional publishing is fading fast. Over the years, numerous self-published titles have become bestsellers, proving that it can be just as successful, if not even MORE successful, than traditional publishing.

How Do I Become a Kindle Publisher?

If you got bit by the publishing bug after reading this blog post, all the information you need to become a publisher is already out there in this blog and out on the interwebs for you to figure it all out on your own. It's just a matter of how much time you have to make your income and schedule dreams a reality.

If You Want to Take the Long Way: Peruse Amazon KDP Resources

Amazon has tons of guides, flowcharts, tools, and help articles on pretty much any publishing topic you can imagine, including a file setup calculator, file previewer, and cover templates.

When in doubt, check out their free KDP resources!

Combing through all their online resources is going to take a hot minute, but if time is on your side, knock yourself out (and take notes).

If You're Ready for the Quick Way: Drop By Our Free Webinar

We've already combed through every online publishing source imaginable and made all the mistakes, so you don't have to. We condensed it all in one tiny webinar, so if you're looking to skip Netflix tonight and take ONE step towards this next phase of your life, we'll see you there!

We'll show you:

  • Why publishing is one of the lowest-barrier side hustles out there on the market right now
  • What technology Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are pouring billions of dollars into, and how to make it work for you
  • How you can get started publishing on a part-time schedule that fits around your family obligations and values

Stop by here!

Royalties calculator
Free Royalties Calculator: Instantly Predict Your Incoming Amazon Earnings
Calculate Now
The freedom shortcut
The Freedom Shortcut: Generate True Passive Income Online, Escape the 9-5, and Live Anywhere
Get Our Book
Free webinar
Free Webinar: Make Money on Amazon Without Selling Physical Products
Watch Free Training