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Hi there reader 👋, thanks for finding your way to my article on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).  I promise I’ll do my best to help answer your burning questions during our short time together. This article is written in response to the flood of queries received on a daily basis from curious writers regarding Amazon KDP.

  • You may be wondering if Amazon KDP is a scam?
  • How the publishing platform could help enhance your writing ambitions?

Spoiler alert: If you were unsure, Amazon KDP is simply an online platform enabling an author to (self) publish a book.

Let’s get this out of the way. This article is written for South Africans, by a South African.  (The land of biltong, loadshedding and the mysterious fokol.) My advice is based on a decade or so spent publishing 440+ authors from within South Africa (and beyond). By the end of this article, I hope to have helped you just a little bit.  

💡 Any thanks or criticisms would be greatly appreciated as comments down below. Seriously, a comment would really make my day. 🙏

Let’s do this.


1. JOINING AMAZON KDP SOUTH AFRICA


Is it free to sell books on KDP?

Aka How much does it cost to join Amazon KDP?

Aka How much does it cost to sell a book on Amazon?

There is zero cost to sell your book from Amazon KDP. Niks. Nada. Your books can be sold for ever and ever (and ever) and you’ll never see an invoice from Amazon.

How does the Amazon KDP platform earn an income?

Amazon (KDP) takes a % from the sale of every book sold.

Where do I signup to Amazon KDP?

For (South) African authors, follow this URL to create your Amazon KDP account. Please note, if you have an existing account with Amazon, this can also be used. However, you’d still need to access Amazon KDP via the link above to “enable” the publishing part of your account.

What should I have ready when joining Amazon KDP?

Here’s what you’ll need to have prepared in order to publish your book on Amazon.

  1. A single book interior file. (Word, PDF, ePUB)
  2. Your book cover file. (JPG, PDF)
  3. Your book metadata. (Information about your book, that’s not in your book.)
    • Your book list price. (In $)
    • 3x BISAC book categories. (Where does your book belong on the shelves?)
    • 7x Keywords. (What search-terms are your readers using on Amazon?)
    • Book sales description (blurb) of less than 400 words. (How to find your word count.)

Is that everything I need?

Before clicking on “publish”, I would also recommend that you complete the Amazon Tax Interview. Don’t forget to also add your banking information to the Amazon account in order to receive royalty payments directly into your SA bank account.

Will Amazon KDP market my new book?

No. Amazon acts similar to a very large physical bookstore. It has millions of readers browsing the shelves at any given moment, however this “foot traffic” in no way guarantee sales. Amazon certainly helps an author sell books, however it does not replace the marketing efforts needed to help make your book a success.


2. WHY AMAZON KDP?


Does KDP really pay?

To rephrase the question; Does Amazon KDP really pay its authors? Yes, yes it does. It’s not a scam and really can earn South African authors an income from the sales of their books. Note, the important part is to have written a good book first.

Why should I choose Amazon to sell my book?

Amazon has more than 300 million customers from countries around the world. It’s the dominant eBook retailer in most territories. Can you think of a better way to reach millions of readers?

But what if I don’t like Amazon?

Suck it up. Be where the readers are. Once you’re rolling in cash, you can afford to be fussy about how or where you sell your book. Too many authors shoot themselves in the foot by avoiding Amazon. You can be stubborn, or successful. Not both.


3. USING THE KDP PLATFORM


What book formats does Amazon publish?

Through Amazon KDP an author can publish the following book formats,

  1. eBook. (EPUB file format.)
  2. Paperback.
  3. Hardcover.
  4. Audiobook. (Via ACX)

How long should a KDP eBook be?

There’s no minimum length for an eBook published via Amazon KDP. Rather ask yourself how long you need to effectively deliver your story to the reader? I recommend simply aiming for the necessary word count needed to effectively complete your story.

  • Size doesn’t matter, as long as your story adequately satisfies the reader. 👌
  • A shorter eBook should have an appropriately lower price tag. (<$5)
  • Consider indicating in your Amazon book blurb if the story is a shorter read to avoid the risk of unhappy reader reviews.

* For a book less than ~7000 words, I recommend either using them as a lead magnet (giving away freely for exposure) or consider adapting your short story into a longer blog article where it can be freely accessed online.

** This helpful article from Podia recommends an average eBook length of 5000-20 000 words.

How many pages does a KDP book need to be?

I see the folks at Amazon ask for at least 24 pages in your printed paperback book.

How long does it take for KDP to approve a book? (Once submitted.)

Once submitted your eBook is typically available for purchase within 72 hours. In my experience an eBook will often be live sooner, within 24 hours.

Paperback books take a little longer before being approved, usually between 3-5 days before appearing on the shelves of Amazon. Read more about Amazon paperback timelines here.

* Naughtier books (erotica) or books discussing a hot topic (such as Covid) can often spend a few extra days in the review process.

** If your paperback does not appear live after 3 days, I recommend scanning your inbox for an email from the Amazon support team. They’ll often alert an author of a possible reason/s for paperback rejection via email.

What is Amazon print on demand? (For Paperbacks)

Print on demand (PoD) is where an author can sell their physical paperback book (internationally) without ever needing to lift a finger to print or courier a copy of their book.

Wondering how to benefit from print on demand? Simply submit the print-ready book cover and interior files to Amazon, as separate PDF documents. Amazon then showcases your paperback book for sale in all its territories. For example, a reader ordering a copy of your paperback book from the US or Europe will fund both the printing + shipping of your title to their physical address.

* Amazon’s paperback book can ship to South Africa. BUT the cost of print + shipping a single title often is not worth it. A local author is better off listing their paperback on TakeAlot for local book orders.

Can I print out an Amazon eBook?

The short answer is no. An eBook (ePUB format) is not designed to be printed. Whilst a determined reader might figure out a way, it won’t be easy. Or look good.

* Here are other opinions on the matter of printing eBooks.

Do I need to copyright my book before publishing on Amazon?

No. Amazon KDP doesn’t enforce or need your book to be copyrighted before publishing.

South Africa works a little differently to the US when it comes to copyrighting your book. Instead of a dedicated Copyright office, in South Africa an author automatically is deemed the copyright holder as soon as the manuscript is written. Why? Because South Africa is a signatory to the Berne Convention. That’s why.

* I recommend all authors include a copyright page within your books first few pages, known as the “front matter”. If you need examples of copyright pages, here you go.

Will Amazon publish a book written in my language?

Here is a list of the languages that the KDP platform currently supports. For SA authors, aside from English, Afrikaans is an option.

Will Amazon KDP stop my book being pirated?

No. There is no bullet-proof method of stopping a sufficiently determined pirate from making illegal copies of your book. Amazon does offer to implement a DRM (Digital Rights Management) option when uploading your eBook to the platform. Their DRM option is meant to deter thieves from making copies of your title. Most authors however don’t enable this DRM option when publishing their eBook.

Want to know more Amazon’s eBook DRM protection?

Amazon KDP DRM Protection for SA Authors
Amazon eBook DRM Tickbox

How do I publish my audiobook on Amazon?

For most authors around the world, Amazon ACX is the best option to distribute your audiobook to Audible.

* For authors from South Africa wanting to publish an audiobook, I recommend using the www.findawayvoices.com platform instead. (ACX doesn’t like us.)

** Recording your audiobook should be done professionally by a voice-over artist. I highly recommend any author exploring the audiobook option should first have an editor give their manuscript a thorough edit. Mistakes in your writing sound so much worse when spoken.


4. ABOUT AUTHOR EARNINGS


Is KDP still profitable in 2023?

Amazon KDP will always be a viable (profitable) platform for those authors willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty in the publishing process. If you’re an author who wants to solely focus on the writing part (not the marketing), then Amazon KDP won’t be earning you riches any time soon.

What % of each book sold does Amazon take?

For an eBook, an author earns either 35% or 70% of the eBook list price. (In $)

For a paperback book, the author earns a flat rate of 60% of the paperback list price $. Minus the cost of printing the book.

* Here is a video I created on the topic of Amazon KDP royalty rates.

** Struggling to decide on a price for your paperback on Amazon, I wrote this article for you.

How much monthly income from Amazon KDP?

The average author can earn upwards of R2700* ($150) in a good month. Before you publish your book, I recommend reading this article to help set your expectations on what Amazon KDP can and can’t do. Publishing a book is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Will Amazon pay an author from South Africa by EFT?

Yes. Amazon now pays royalties directly into your local South African bank account. 💰

When will I get paid by Amazon?

Quoting Amazon’s support page directly here: “60 days after the end of the month in which the sale was reported”.

* This is a very common question from new authors published on Amazon.

How long does it take for KDP to show sales?

Up to 48 hours for new book sales to reflect on your Amazon KDP sales dashboard.

* If your sales are not yet reflecting, before grabbing your pitchfork -> can any of your new readers actually show you a proof of purchase? (Many readers say they have purchased, yet few follow through.)

How to be successful on Amazon KDP?

  1. Write great content.
  2. Experiment on ways to engage, convince and convert prospective leads into readers.
  3. Repeat.

I know this may seem frustratingly simple. (Similar to how the instructions needed for your six-pack would be eating healthy and exercising.) 💪

* Here’s a list of the 6 most common publishing mistakes I see new authors making.

Is still Payoneer an option to receive payments from Amazon KDP in South Africa?

Short answer = yes.

I have used Payoneer for several years to collect my Amazon KDP royalties. However recently during 2023, Payoneer seems to have hiked their fees. As a result, I’m recommending all South African authors rather collect royalties directly using local banking details, instead of the Payoneer platform.

PAyoneer fees for Amazon KDP are too high


5. ADVANCED AMAZON KDP


What is KDP Select? (eBook exclusivity)

KDP Select is a program that an author can opt into when publishing their eBook through Amazon. Authors joining KDP Select are effectively agreeing to exclusivity of their eBook for at least a 90-day period. This naturally implies you shouldn’t be selling your eBook elsewhere. 

Why be exclusive? Authors enrolling in KDP Select will theoretically receive additional exposure and sales from having their title made available to members of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. Further benefits of enrolling in the KDP Select program are listed here.

* Here is a helpful post analysing KDP Select benefits for authors.

** For most new authors, I recommend opting into KDP Select. You’re free to opt out when you feel ready to explore other eBook retailers.

What is KU for eBooks? (Kindle Unlimited.)

Think of the Kindle Unlimited program from Amazon as a kind of “Netflix for eBooks” for readers. A reader pays $11.99 per month to Amazon in order to access to the Kindle Unlimited library of eBook titles. They’re able to read as many titles per month as possible.

* If an author chooses to enrol their eBook in KDP Select whilst publishing, their eBook is automatically added to the Kindle Unlimited selection of eBooks.

Why does my eBook appear for free on Amazon?

The most common reason an author’s new eBook title appears for “free” on Amazon is that the new title is unknowingly opted into the Kindle Unlimited subscription service via KDP Select. Amazon then promotes the eBook title as “free” BUT only if the reader is a paying member of the Kindle Unlimited program. The author is still compensated if the (Kindle Unlimited) reader choses to read their book.

* Here is an older article I wrote explaining how Kindle Unlimited works.

How does Kindle Unlimited pay an author?

Amazon pays an author per page read by the KU reader. The calculation Amazon uses to work out the rate paid per page can be found here.

What is Expanded Distribution (For Paperbacks.)

The Expanded Distribution option from Amazon applies to your paperback edition only. It essentially asks the author if they’d like to make the paperback available to more than just Amazon-customers. For example, could other book retailers and wholesalers also purchase your paperback? This helps an author gain additional exposure for their paperback book. Royalties are still earned from the sale of paperback books purchased via Expanded Distribution. The rate paid however will be less than if the reader purchased the paperback directly from Amazon.

* The author does not control the final list price of a book resold (via Expanded Distribution) on another retailers’ website.

** Further reading on Expanded Distribution from Amazon KDP.

How do I advertise my book with Amazon?

Amazon KDP enables an author to pay to promote a title on the platform. Amazon advertising allows an author to decide on an amount they’re willing to budget per click from the readers browsing Amazon shelves online. This paid advertising is good option for an author to experiment with, as the barrier to entry is not high.

* Here is a step-by-step tutorial I wrote for authors looking to launch their first paid advertising campaign with Amazon.

** Here’s another helpful article for those looking to dig deeper into Amazon’s advertising options.

Will Amazon accept my book if I use AI to help design the cover or interior?

Yes. Amazon will accept your book created in part by AI. Amazon KDP does ask the author to own up to where the AI had helped, including the specific AI software used. However, I have not (yet) seen any penalties from Amazon for those authors who received a helping-hand.


6. AMAZON KDP SUPPORT ISSUES


Why have I not been paid on KDP?

I do hear this one often. Here’s my advice,

  • Have you correctly loaded your banking information into Amazon KDP? (See how here.)
  • Why do your Amazon KDP payment reports indicate that the payments (might be) failing?
  • Have you completed your Amazon Tax Interview? (This needs to be updated every 2 years or so.)

Does KDP ever reject books?

Yes, I have seen Amazon reject titles over the years, here are the most common reasons –>

  • Poor reader-experience. This could be a bad interior layout, poor formatting or spelling problems.
  • Plagiarism concerns. This includes books crammed full of quotes from other people or books.
  • Violation of Amazon policy. Does your book profess to contain the cure for Covid?

How many books can I publish on KDP per day?

I see Amazon is now allowing an author up to 3 titles published per day. (I doubt any author would really need to publish more?)

How do I contact Amazon KDP Support?

My favourite method of contacting Amazon KDP support starts by logging into the Amazon KDP Bookshelf via kdp.amazon.com (For SA authors.)

Next -> scroll to the bottom of the screen and select the “Contact Us” link. Follow the support instructions on screen.

Done.

Contacting Amazon KDP Support for South Africans
Contacting Amazon KDP Support via your bookshelf

Bonus Question: Can you help me publish on Amazon KDP? 🤔

I would love to help you. I provide professional publishing services for those authors who may need a helping hand. I recommend browsing our publishing menu (ZAR) if you would like to know more.


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