Self-Publishing on Amazon: Pros and Cons
Amazon has surely changed the game when it comes to self-publishing. Getting your book out there has never been easier. But before taking this step, you might be asking yourself: is this the right path for me? Or should I be going down the traditional publishing path instead?
Well, each route certainly has its perks as well as its downsides. To help you make up your mind, we are going to look at the pros and cons of self-publishing on Amazon.
How to Self-Publish on Amazon?
Before we dive in, let’s first examine what the self-publishing process is exactly, and why many authors go down that road.
Amazon offers a publishing service called Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which allows authors to skip the processes of writing a query letter, finding an agent, and negotiating the terms of a contract. Instead, it enables them to launch their books in about two or three days.
Here are the instructions for publishing on Amazon KDP:
- Create a KDP account.
- Add a new Kindle ebook.
- Write the title and description of your book.
- Enter author info.
- Verify your publishing rights.
- Choose your keywords, categories, age range, book release option, and DRM rights.
- Upload your book and book cover.
- Select your pricing and royalties.
- Hit publish, and your book will appear in the Kindle store within about a day.
What are the Pros of Self-Publishing on Amazon?
As you might have guessed from the process mentioned above, there are many benefits to self-publishing on Amazon. At its core, publishing on Amazon is simply much easier than doing so with a traditional publisher. Let’s look into more of these advantages!
Ease of Use
The most obvious advantage of using KDP is not having to go through the hassle of traditional publishing. There is no potential rejection from literary agents or publishing houses; you don’t have to worry about hearing back from a publisher, either. All you need is your manuscript, book cover, and an internet connection to get your book published.
Another perk of using KDP is having full control over the creative part of the process. You get to adjust your book content, title, cover design, and even your target audience. There are no gatekeepers to influence or reject your vision for your book. And even though you might need to work with editors and designers, you still have the final say over how you want the book to be.
Getting your book traditionally published is a long process that needs patience and time which not everyone necessarily has to spare. KDP gives you a quick solution to getting your book out to the masses. This means you don’t have to wait for months before your book reaches the market. The process of self-publishing on Amazon Kindle takes a few minutes; after that, your book will appear in the Kindle store within about 72 hours.
Full Control over the Cost
Now let’s talk money. It’s well-known that it may cost you a reasonable sum or a ridiculous fortune to publish a book. This includes designing the book cover, formatting, editing, and printing. While you might still need a book designer and book editor to polish your ebook, the cost of printing is absent unless you intend to publish in print.
As a result, what you spend on your ebook is really up to you. To lower the costs, you can look for deals on the various publishing services or even learn to do them yourself.
Everyone seems to be talking about the high royalties Amazon offers, and they certainly should be. Usually, a first-time traditionally published author receives a royalty of about 10% of the sale price of each book sold. This means that if the book is sold for $10, they’ll get only $1. Besides that, the royalty rates vary from 8% to 25% depending on the publishing house. This seems too little given the amount of time and effort put into the writing process.
Amazon, on the other hand, offers royalties that go up to 70%, which isn’t bad given that it’s one of the biggest online markets right now.
When you publish on Amazon, you may get the chance to join the KDP Select program, which allows you to offer your book for free for a limited time. While this may seem counterproductive, it’s actually a great way to market your book and build up a reader base.
In addition, no matter what Amazon services you use, you also have the option to sell an audiobook version of your book through Audible, which is a subsidiary of the company. This way, you’re selling all versions of your book in one market for your readers’ convenience.
Tracking Sales & Quick Earnings
Amazon allows self-published authors to track the sales of their books with real-time reports and the royalties earned for the past 90 days through the Kindle Sales Dashboard. You can also filter the data by the marketplace, book format, title, and time period.
And the great thing is, self-publishing Amazon royalties are paid every month through direct deposit, wire transfer, or check. This happens about 60 days after the end of the month in which the sale took place. Compared to the usual 6–month waiting period of traditional publishing, this is a great deal.
Reaching a Wide Audience
Since Amazon is one of the largest online book markets, publishing using KDP means that your book will be available to all Amazon users, which number in the millions. It also means that you can publish your book from wherever you are based and it can be read by anyone anywhere.
Moreover, you can use Amazon Ads to promote your book to your target readers, who are most likely to purchase your book. Amazon also allows you to set a monthly budget for the ad campaign and choose how much to bid per click.
If you already have a large audience that you want to promote this book to, then this option will definitely come in handy. Amazon allows you to make your ebook available for preorder. This will give you the time you need to market your book, which can be as early as a year before the release date.
Although many authors use KDP to publish ebooks rather than paperbacks or hardbacks, you can still have the best of both worlds. With this option, Amazon allows the authors to offer a printed version of their book. The cost of printing is then subtracted from the royalties.
Another really cool option that comes with self-publishing through Amazon is that you can publish an ebook with audio and video files, as well as clickable links and images. To make sure that your ebook is compatible with Amazon’s requirements and supported features, try validating it with Kindle Previewer before uploading it on Amazon.
What are the Cons of Self-Publishing on Amazon?
While the advantages of self-publishing on Amazon may seem ideal, there are some downsides that you should consider before going down that road. So if you are still wondering if publishing on Kindle is worth it, then you might want to take a look at the cons and then make up your mind.
If you publish through KDP Select, you agree not to publish your book on other platforms, like Kobo and Lulu, for a 90–day period. Amazon retains exclusive rights to any ebook versions of your work during that time frame; however, this does not apply to paperback or hardback books and audiobooks.
Doing All the Work
Perfection is hard to attain, and it’s harder when you are the one doing all the work. Editing and formatting the book, as well as designing the cover and marketing the book can be a daunting process, especially if you don’t have the necessary experience. And if you decide to get professionals to help you with that, it might cost a lot of money you may not be willing to spend.
The fact that KDP is free and available to anyone makes it a highly competitive marketplace. This makes it very hard for your ebook to get noticed, and even harder to get those first reviews that help increase your ebook sales. What makes it even harder is that only those who purchased the book can write a review. As a result, you might need to set aside a budget for ads to market your book.
Not Always Getting the Maximum Royalties
Now if you decide that the effort and time you put into your book is worth more than the $9.99 limit Amazon puts, then you are not going to get 70% of the royalties. This is in addition to other conditions, such as selling in certain territories. Otherwise, you’re going to earn only 35% of the royalties.
And let’s not forget that if you did price your book between $2.99 and & $9.99, you’ll still need to pay for any delivery fees in case someone orders the paperback version of your book.
Another thing that you have to keep in mind is that getting high royalties means including your book in KDP Select. This will also affect your revenue as users can borrow the book instead of purchasing it. You will then get paid on a per-page-read basis, instead of getting the full book price.
No Paperback Preorders
While people can pre-order your book in its digital form, KDP doesn’t allow users to preorder the paperback version. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a good plan for your marketing campaign.
Limited Interactive Content
Interactive ebooks are becoming more and more popular than ever. And while it is true that you can include multimedia files in your ebook, you can’t publish an ebook that includes book widgets through Amazon. So if you are creating an ebook with a lot of interactive features, then Amazon isn’t the best option.
What Are Some Alternatives to Amazon for Self-Publishing?
If you are still hesitant about self-publishing on Amazon and would like to know what else is out there, then we have you covered. Thankfully, the convenience of the internet has allowed many great choices to appear over time. Consequently, even though Amazon is one of the major players when it comes to self-publishing, it is not the only one.
You can also self-publish using one of the following platforms:
One of the best things about creating and selling your ebook through Kotobee Books is that it can be done with a few clicks, and you get 100% royalties for your ebook. That’s right; no fees deducted. Moreover, Kotobee allows for integrations with different payment services so you can choose what meets your requirements.
The famous Barnes & Noble bookstore chain has its own self-publishing service, which is free, fast, and easy to use. It also offers tips and tools that help authors with the publishing process.
Kobo is the leading ebook reader in Canada, which means that you can reach a wider audience with your ebook. And just like Amazon, the royalties Kobo offers range from 45% to 70% depending on the price of the ebook.
Unlike other self-publishing services, Apple Books gives the authors 70% of the royalties regardless of the price. It also allows authors to offer free books to customers, which isn’t available on KDP.
Lulu is a pioneer in the print-on-demand service. The self-publishing process there is also pretty easy and straightforward. All you have to do is go to their website, choose if you want a printed book or an ebook, upload your EPUB or PDF file, and you’ll have yourself a published book.
This platform is actually an aggregator that has been expanding a lot in the past few years; it has even recently acquired Smashwords, a major ebook store and aggregator. Needless to say, Draft2Digital has one of the easiest and fastest self-publishing processes out there. Whether your book is digital or print, they make sure that it is distributed to all major online retailers as well as hundreds of storefronts worldwide.
Self-publishing on Amazon can be a great option for new authors seeking to get themselves established and get some exposure. But it also has some drawbacks that you have to be mindful of. So our advice to you is to do your research, read the fine print, and take your time before deciding what to do.