Explaining Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) For Beginner Authors

If you're considering becoming an indie author, there's no doubt that you'll need to become familiar with Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

This article is all about learning the basics of KDP, one of the biggest indie publishing platforms in the world.

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We'll take you through what it is, the basics of its dashboard, and the main elements you need to master before publishing your book.

So let's dive right in!

Note: At this point, we should clarify that this post is in no way affiliated with Amazon KDP.

What is Amazon KDP?

Put simply, Amazon KDP or Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is a publishing platform for books.

It allows authors to upload and publish their book files within minutes, and make them available to the millions of Amazon visitors worldwide.

Authors like Mark Dawson, Hugh Howey and Joanna Penn, as well as myself, have all utilised this publishing platform to get our books into the hands of new readers.

Using Amazon KDP is free, with the platform taking a small percentage of your book sales royalties as its fee.

There are no upfront costs to publish with KDP; you simply sign up, enter your title's information and upload your book files.

Amazon KDP-3

Image via Unsplash

Benefits of Amazon KDP

So why would an author choose KDP?

For me, it was a no-brainer. KDP is owned by (and publishes its titles to) the biggest e-retailer of books in the world.

There was no way I was going to miss out on that.

But there are plenty of other reasons author choose to go with KDP...

  • Get your books out there fast. As mentioned above, you can upload files and publish within minutes. And your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24–48 hours (but usually a lot less).
  • Earn more money. Forget the 10% cut offered by traditional publishers – with KDP, you can earn up to 70% royalty on sales.
  • Take advantage of promotional opportunities. Additional programs like KDP Select allow KDP authors to earn more money through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
  • Maintain control. As an indie author, you get creative control over your work. Publishing with a platform like KDP builds on this by allowing you to control the price of your product, the categories it's featured in and your digital rights.
  • Change your project at any time. You can make changes to your project at any time. Whether it's changing pricing, correcting errors or updating a cover, KDP allows you to do it all.
  • Access your sales data. With KDP, you have around-the-clock access to all your sales figures and data, which helps you make the most of publishing.

And that's just a few of the benefits.

On a personal level, I found KDP easy to navigate and simple to publish with. The success of my first novel, Heart of Mist, is in part a testament to this platform.

Getting to know the KDP Dashboard

So now you know what KDP is, and why authors are choosing to use it, let's take a look at what you get access to when you sign up for an account.

Once you've signed in, you'll come to what's called your Dashboard. It'll look something like this...

Here, you'll find four main items in the menu as follows:

1. Bookshelf

This is where you can create a new title and view your existing titles (both draft and published).

Essentially, it's an overview of your books available on Amazon or drafted on KDP.

2. Reports

This part of your Dashboard is where all your sales data is held. It's where you can generate reports, view your previous month's royalties and generally just keep track of how your books are doing.

3. Community

This is where you can access the KDP forums. Here, people have published numerous pieces of advice and discussion surrounding all aspects of publishing on KDP.

It's an invaluable source of information, and is the best place to start should you have a specific question about the nature of the platform, or self-publishing.

4. KDP Select

This is where you can enrol your title in KDP Select, which is a special program for authors who want their books to be exclusively available on Amazon.

You can find out more information about it here.

Amazon KDP-2

Image via Pixabay

What will you use most?

The main sections of the dashboard you'll need to be really familiar with are the first two: Bookshelf and Reports.

So let's look at these a little more closely.

Your Bookshelf

When you sign in, this is the screen you'll see. It's where you can create new titles, or manage your existing books.

1. Create a new title

This is pretty self-explanatory, but just in case: here's where you create new books.

You can choose to create and publish a Kindle ebook or a paperback.

Within KDP, the paperback option is relatively new, with many authors still currently opting to use Amazon's print-on-demand company, Createspace, for physical copies.

In any case, once you click 'Create a new title', you're taken to a new page where you need to add your book's details.

It looks like this...

You then go through each aspect of publishing: adding the language, title, categories and keywords, as well as uploading the book file and cover and adding the pricing information.

We won't go through this in today's post. This is just a general overview of the KDP platform.

A step-by-step guide on how to publish through KDP can be found in our Crash Course in Self-Publishing.

2. Your books

Below the 'Create a new title' section is where your previously published or drafted books will be listed.

Essentially, it offers an overview of all your published and draft projects.

Here, you can change details and prices, upload corrected files, run KDP promotions and more.


Once you've published a title, this is the section of KDP that you'll frequent the most.

It'll look something like this...

Image credit: http://nicholasrossis.me/

As you can see, there are tabs for:

  • Sales Dashboard (Units Ordered and Kindle Edition Normalized Pages [KENP] Read from KU and KOLL)
  • Historical
  • Month-to-Date
  • Payments
  • Pre-orders
  • Promotions
  • Prior Months' Royalties
  • Ad Campaigns

This is where you can keep track of your sales data in (almost) real time. You can see how many books you've sold each day, how your sales look over time and when your royalty payments are due.

It's worth noting that if you were a traditionally published author, you wouldn't have access to in-depth sales data like this.

This is one of the many benefits of using this platform, and of being an independently published author.

Amazon KDP-1

Image via Unsplash

Final thoughts on Amazon KDP

As a indie beginner, you'll come to find that the best way to learn and navigate these platforms is to do so practically.

Sign up for a free account and explore the different aspects of the platform in your own time, with your own projects in mind.

Either way, Amazon KDP has changed the lives of many authors, myself included, and is something I very much recommend indie authors consider taking advantage of.

For those of you wanting a more in-depth, step-by-step guide to publishing through Amazon KDP and Createspace, be sure to check out our Crash Course in Self-Publishing.

It's a comprehensive, 34-lesson course focused on giving you the skills, confidence and resources to self-publish your books on Amazon with no technical assistance.


Got questions about Amazon KDP? Leave them in the comments below, and we'll do our best to answer everyone!

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