What the Heck is Amazon KDP? Everything You Need to Know about Kindle Direct Publishing

This is a guest post by Neil Lassen. 

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“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Over 3 years ago I was introduced to the world of print on demand and all of the benefits that it offers. Before POD (print on demand) I had tried almost every method there was to make money online. I made websites, I ran traffic campaigns, and I even sold on FBA like a lot of you! I even tried out Teespring and had zero success because I was not sure what I was doing.

Then, one day, I stumbled on the print on demand platform called Merch by Amazon.

When I jumped on and started trying it out, I realized a few things. 

The first was that Amazon handled EVERYTHING and all you had to do was upload designs.

Second (and this is the most important), Amazon provided all the traffic for FREE because it was on their platform. That meant that there was no customer service, no dealing with shipping product, and zero head ache. The more products I put designs on, the more money I made.

This is what started it all…

Then came what we will discuss in this guide and that is how to take your business assets (in this case, these are going to be simple designs you make) and repurpose them to make thousands of dollars with another print on demand avenue THROUGH Amazon.

If you have ever tried your hand at print on demand and creating designs to sell on different products, then you will find this method incredibly easy and lucrative with a little bit of effort.

What is KDP?

Amazon KDP

KDP stands for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and has been around for many years. The idea is that if you are an author you can either release your book through traditional publishing or you can decide to self publish your book. Self publishing has become more and more favored over the past few years and this is where KDP comes in. It gives you the ability to publish books ON Amazon for their giant customer base, and it also lets you start selling immediately.

Only a few short months ago, if you wanted to self publish your book, you would go to CreateSpace and publish your work. Amazon owns create space and decided to merge this company inside of KDP so that you can launch your print on demand books through the KDP platform.

“But wait, I don’t have a book! Why am I reading this?”

This is the best part! You can sell what are called low content/no content books through KDP. All you have to do is upload a cover (artwork/design), an interior, title, some keywords and hit publish. After that, your paperback book will be for sale on Amazon. Low content/no content books mean that the interior of the book is exactly what you may be thinking. They are very low on content! Think about journals, notebooks…all they are is lined paper!

Each time you make a sale, Amazon will print the book and ship it to the customer. You get paid for this without any additional work.

KDP Direct Publishing Dashboard

Why No Content Books Through KDP?

Almost all of the ebook sales on the internet go through Amazon. This number is over 80% according to some recently published studies. When it comes to printed books, almost HALF of the volume goes through Amazon. When you look at those numbers, you see that Amazon basically owns the markets for books and they have the customer base to keep on growing it.

So many people are shopping for these low content books on Amazon for many reasons. This could be a sketch book for their office, a journal for their school, or a music sheet for their hobby.

Using KDP, you can take any of the design assets that you may already have for your print on demand business and use them to sell brand new products. If you have 1 design file, you can sell this as a low content book, but you can switch up the interior of every book. That means that your 1 design file could potentially be 10 or more books for sale on the Amazon platform.

Uploading designs to KDP also gives you some benefits that other print on demand platforms just do not have such as:

  • No upload limits
  • No sales minimum
  • Multiple products (with the same cover)
  • Backend keywords


Use KDP For Your Business Assets

If you are already a POD seller, then you will probably still have some design files somewhere. You may have 10, or you may have 10,000. These are the assets that you have built for your business that you can turn into ANOTHER revenue stream.

If you do not have any designs, we will go over how to create some to use on Amazon KDP.

With just a little bit of effort on the side (or maybe your main gig), you can turn these designs into an extra $1,000 or more per month with print on demand low content books.

You owe it to yourself to put up some products and see how they do! Let’s get into how everything works!

Amazon KDP Print on Demand Method

To get this stream of income going for your business, you need 3 things:

  • KDP Account
  • Designs
  • Low Content Book Interiors

You should also have an idea of how to look up what people are purchasing off Amazon. If you are an FBA seller or a Merch seller, you know this means you will need to do a bit of research and understand keywords.

KDP Account

To begin, you need to get yourself a KDP account. Unlike other print on demand platforms, you can get a KDP account RIGHT now without any wait period.

Sign up for KDP here:  https://kdp.amazon.com/

Go sign up for KDP and then come back to this article…

Alright, now that you have a KDP account, click on your name in the upper right hand corner and fill out some information before you start uploading your books.

KDP Account Log In

You need to fill out your author publisher information. This is just going to be your name, where your live and your phone number. You need to fill this in because this is how they are going to know who they are sending money to after you start selling!

Second, fill out the payment information. You need to enter a bank account so that KDP can send you a direct deposit to your bank. Once you start making sales, you will get a lot of emails each month for different locales you are selling in, but more on that later.

Finally, fill out the tax interview. Answer the questions truthfully so that they know if they need to have any withholding on your account or not.

Designs/Artwork

You now have your KDP account set up so let's move on to the second step!

You need to get some designs to put on your books. If you already have some print on demand design assets, you can skip this part. 

You have two choices when you want to get some designs, you can either create them yourself, or you can outsource them to a designer. If you are looking to outsource to a designer, I suggest reading how to outsource designs on upwork or checking out a design service such as this.

For everyone else, you probably want to create your own designs or are wondering how to get them ready to put on books (and not clothing).

If you know how to use Photoshop or Illustrator, you can grab the templates for KDP right here. This will allow you to add your artwork that you create and turn them into covers.

If however, you are like me and have ZERO artistic ability and have a hard time using Photoshop, then you will want to check out the Book Bolt Designer. This designer is part of the Book Bolt software and will allow you to use a drag and drop editor to download upload ready PDF book covers for this KDP method.

First select a size (I like to use 6X9 for most books) and a page count. I generally like to use 120 pages for each book. This will then bring up the designer template where you can create your artwork:

Create KDP

Make sure that that when designing your book you add a background color. You can then add any images/text to your cover for the design. Remember, SIMPLE sells very well on notebooks/journals.

Design your book in Amazon KDP

As you can see, I now have a book cover design that is ready to download. Simply click on download from the top menu, and you have your PDF that is ready to upload to KDP!

Finally, we need a low content interior. You can create one yourself, buy one from a service, or download one of the free templates that Book Bolt offers here:  https://bookbolt.io/interior-wizard/

I suggest starting out with journal pages or college ruled paper (these are just lined pages). Make sure that these match up with your interior (match up the amount of pages, and make sure you select “bleed””.

Download the PDF and you now have the low content interior to upload along with your book cover.

You are now ready to upload your first print on demand book to Kindle Direct Publishing!

Uploading Books to KDP

Log back in to your KDP account that you signed up to in the beginning of this guide. You will see a place to create a new title. You can select Kindle ebook or Paperback. You will want to select the paperback options as no one is going to buy a low content book if they can’t physically write in it!

Create Amazon KDP Title

After you select the paperback option, you have 3 tabs to fill out. These are really easy but let’s walk through all the steps.

On the first page, select English as the language as the majority of your sales are going to come from Amazon.com.

The second box is going to ask you for a book title and sub title. The book title MUST match what the cover of your book has on it. If it does not, the KDP reviewers will deny the book. Match up the book title exactly, and then add in a subtitle that is SIMPLE and to the point (do not keyword stuff anything here).

Amazon KDP Book Title

In the next boxes you have the option to fill out a series and edition number. Skip these! Your no content book does not have any of these and you can also skip the contributor section since you do not have one.

You will need to add an author to your low content book. Fill out the FIRST and LAST name. These are going to be your brand and can be whatever you want them to be. They do not need to be your full name. As you can see from the screenshot, I set the first name as “book” and the last name to “bolt”. This means the book will be listed under the brand name “book bolt” on Amazon.

KDP Author Box

You will want to add a description for your book but do not go overboard here. Just give a simple description of who the book would be good for and leave it at that. You want to keep it simple because this is not the place to add keywords.

Next, make sure you have the radio button that says you own the copyright and hold the rights for publishing. If you created the design or had it created, then you should be selecting this radio button.

Finally, you get to a section to add keywords. This is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the entire process.

Amazon KDP Keywords

KDP suggests that you do not use the same keywords here that you use in your title when you were filling out your book details. I like to fill the keyword boxes ALL the way with keywords from other hot sellers in the niche. You can see these keywords inside of Book Bolt or you can take a look at Amazon and filter out all of the other products.

Once you have the keywords filled out, you can move on to the next step.

Select that your book does not include adult content (most likely it does not) and then pick a category for your book. Pick a category that is “close enough” but make sure that is relevant. Then, click on the save and continue button.

You only have 2 more pages to go and these are quick.

Click on the button to assign your book a free ISBN number to your book. 

Amazon KDP ISBN Generator

You can then decide to add a publication date. If you do, just select today’s date and move on to the next section.

Amazon KDP Print Options

Unless your book has a color interior, do NOT pick this option as it will make your book incredible expensive. You can select between white paper or cream paper. This comes down to personal preference but does not affect your book at all. I always go with white paper.

Next, select the trim size for your book. If you are following this guide and selected 6X9, then you will want to make sure that you pick that exact trim size inside of KDP.

Select a bleed setting. If you are using the free templates, select Bleed. This will depend on what templates you are using but make sure that you match this up with your interior template.

Finally, pick matte or glossy. This will be for your cover and does not affect the price of your book. Again, this is a personal preference.

Now that you have those filled out, you can finally upload your files.

Upload the manuscript (this is your interior file).

Amazon KDP Interior

This can take a while to process, so move on to uploading the cover for your book. Make sure to select the option where you have a PDF file and want to upload that (do not use their cover creator, it is AWFUL!).

Then, wait till they process!

KDP Upload

Once your files have processed, you need to look at them through their previewer and approve the file. Click on approve if everything looks good and you can then move on to pricing:

Amazon KDP Final Upload

The pricing is my favorite part. Not only do you upload your book cover and interior ONCE (and it never comes down or requires anything else from you), but it allows you to sell on multiple marketplaces at once.

Amazon KDP Pricing and Royalties

Give your book a price in US dollars and it will automatically fill in the other marketplaces. It will then tell you the royalty that you get on every sale. You will also want to select expanded distribution for a chance to make even more sales.

Price points for these books do VERY well around $6.99-$7.99 and you will make a few dollars per sale at these prices.

Finally, scroll to the bottom and click on publish your paperback book. This will send your book for approval. After it has been approved (typically 24 hours or less), your print on demand book will be for sale on Amazon!

Publish on Amazon KDP

That is all there is to it!

Once your book is live on Amazon, it will be available to millions of people who browse Amazon every day to purchase.

Wrapping It Up

Just like that, in the most simplistic explanation, you now know how to go from zero to your first print on demand book live on Amazon through the KDP platform.

There is unlimited potential here especially if you got into Merch by Amazon or are familiar with print on demand. If you are not, then it is really easy to get started today and get your first few products online. Even if you are an FBA seller or have another online business, this is a great opportunity to add ANOTHER stream of income to your process.

There is no barrier to entry and you can start today. You owe it to yourself to at least give it a try and see what happens!

Good luck!

About the author

    Neil Lassen

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