How to Make Money on Amazon KDP (3 Common Mistakes Publishers Make)

March 15, 2024

How to make money on Amazon KDP in 2023:

  • Pick a category that isn’t over-saturated.
  • Study your competitors.
  • Reel in your readers with your book cover. 
  • Lock them in with what’s written on those pages.
  • Have a marketing plan in place.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the easiest way to publish an eBook. It’s also one of the most lucrative ways to make money writing and publishing eBooks, especially if you’re just starting out. 

KDP authors who are just starting out make around $150 to $300 per month. More advanced and experienced writers, on other hand, earn up to $20,000 on a monthly basis.

Selling books on Amazon might sound like a smart idea because of the amount of users it has. However, keep in mind that you will also have to face tough competition.

Believe it or not, the easy part about Amazon KDP is setting up your account, writing your book, and publishing your work. You can make money with Amazon KDP in under 24 hours, as long as you have a book that is published.

However, what’s not easy about Amazon KDP is having to deal with a lot of competition, finding a topic that isn’t heavily overused, suffering from a lack of control over customer service, and many others.

Because of the influx of books being published every day, creating a book that sells is harder than one might think.

Here are some key stats to further help you understand just how big the KDP market is:

  • As of May 2022, there are close to 48.5 million books (both electronic and non-electronic) listed on Amazon.
  • There are over 12 million Kindle eBooks available on Amazon.
  • According to a study by Derek Haines, at least 50,000 new Kindle books are released on a monthly basis based on the Amazon Associate Central.
  • Approximately 1,670 Kindle eBooks are published per day.
  • Roughly 70 Kindle eBooks are produced hourly.

Not only are you at risk of competing with thousands of other writers and authors, you’re also subject to extremely saturated topics and categories. There’s also no guarantee that people will buy your book or even read it.

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You won’t have to worry about intense competition because every city is its own market, and each city offers hundreds of potential niches that you can get into. Unlike Amazon KDP, you’re not competing on a global scale with local lead generation. 

How to Make Money on Amazon KDP

1. Pick a Category That Isn’t Over-saturated

One of the biggest pitfalls in picking a topic is focusing on a category or book idea that is well known.

This might make sense to the average person, but it’s not always the right thing to do. 

Picking a topic that’s popular inevitably opens up a variety of issues such as oversaturation and intense competition. If you’re planning to write a topic that everyone knows about, what’s stopping thousands of other writers from doing the same thing?

Unless you can outperform thousands of other writers in an over-saturated niche, pick a topic that isn’t too prominent, then make it stand out.

Keep in mind that choosing a topic is one of the most important aspects of selling a book. 

Here is a list of the 5 best-selling book genres on Amazon:

  • Literature & Fiction
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense.
  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Romance

Here are the 5 least competitive genres on Amazon:

  • Nonfiction
  • Business & Money
  • Science
  • Professional & Technical
  • Crafts, Hobbies, and Home

You also have to be careful not to publish books under these categories on Amazon KDP:

  • Books that violate copyrights and/or proprietary laws.
  • Offensive content: Books that include content such as hate speech, pornography, sexual abuse, terrorism, and other related subjects.
  • Misleading content: Books that deceive or mislead people are not allowed on Amazon. Titles, subtitles, and descriptions should be in line with what is written in the book.
  • Public domain content: Books in the public domain are free from any copyright issues. However, Amazon does not allow multiple versions of the same book at once.

2. Study Your Competitors

Studying your competitors is essential for any business, especially if you want to succeed. Failing to analyze the competition puts you at risk of getting stomped on and left behind.

Here are a few reasons studying your industry rivals will benefit your Amazon KDP business:

It helps you identify their strengths so you can do the same in improving your product or business.

If you’re just starting out in the KDP space, analyzing your competitors should be one of your biggest priorities. Understanding what works for others will not only give you a head start in your launch, it will also put you in a decent position to compete against other writers and publishers.

A good way to do this is to find out who the most successful publishers are on the Amazon platform and find out their writing style, how they design their covers and pages, and other important elements in creating a book.

It allows you to pinpoint their weaknesses and capitalize on those flaws by thriving where your competitors are lacking. 

Getting ahead of the competition also entails identifying where they’re struggling, not just where they’re flourishing.

All authors and publishers have weaknesses, whether it be in the content of their books, their price points, or even the design of their materials.

However, finding out where your competitors are failing is only one part of the equation. It’s what you do about that kind of information that makes the biggest difference. 

Discovering where other publishers are stumbling gives you an opportunity to not only keep yourself from making the same mistakes, it also allows you to be better than them by providing what they cannot.

It gives you the ability to recognize your own flaws and better understand how you can improve on them.

Analyzing your competitors not only allows you to analyze their strengths and weaknesses, it also gives you an opportunity to identify your strong points and limitations. 

Think of it as “hitting two birds with one stone” - you’re taking advantage of your competitors’ deficiencies while also neutralizing your own shortcomings.

For instance, if an author or publisher has a book cover that’s more appealing than yours, maybe it’s time to revamp your designs and overhaul your own book cover.

A good company exploits the weaknesses of other companies, an excellent company recognizes their own flaws before looking at the weaknesses of others.

3. Reel in your readers with your book cover.

The cover is the most important part of a book because it is the first thing the customer sees. If your cover cannot captivate your customers and reel them in, how do you expect them to even open your book at all?

When constructing a killer book cover, you must consider three things:

The book title

The book title is basically an overview of your entire book. It should be able to capture the essence of your book while also being catchy, memorable, and persuasive. 

A good title won’t guarantee that your book will be successful, but a bad title will almost certainly guarantee that your book will be unsuccessful.

Here are some steps you can follow in coming up with a book title:

  • List down potential book titles: Brainstorming for ideas is one of the best ways to come up with a title that works.

  • Steer clear of titles that are already famous: because of the amount of books already published, it is not impossible to find a title that’s already been used or is very similar to your potential title.

  • Find out the best keywords that are associated with your title: You can either search for the top books on Amazon and look at their titles or use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to identify the best keywords for your book.

The subtitle

The subtitle is just as important as the title, as it will connect your book to your readers. It serves as a bridge between your title and what’s written in y. 

Not having a subtitle is like telling your readers to purchase your book without knowing what it is.

Here are some tips to help you draft a subtitle:

  • Your subtitle must explain what your book promises: It will serve as a brief explanation or summary of what’s inside your book.

  • Keep it short and simple: When people read your subtitle, they want to know what your book is all about in the shortest amount of words possible.

  • Brainstorm a list of potential subtitles: Brainstorming is a good way to get your creative juices flowing, which is essential in coming up with the best subtitle possible.

The graphics

Having photos, background images, or other creative elements is optional when it comes to creating a book cover. Not having these, however, could make your cover appear boring and dull. 

Keep in mind that your cover will largely influence a reader’s decision to read your book or not. If they find your cover uninteresting, their perception of what’s inside your book won’t be any different.

Try incorporating some basic designs to complement your title and subtitle. Use genre-appropriate fonts and colors to further enhance your cover’s appeal and elicit a positive emotional response from your reader.

For example, if you’re writing a book about finding inner peace, use light colors to set the tone for your reader. You can also try using a relaxed font style to maintain that serene mood you’re going for.

4. Lock them in with what’s written on those pages.

Just like the entrée in a five-course meal, what’s written inside those pages will most definitely be the main attraction of your book. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you in writing the contents of your book:

Conduct some preliminary research about the topic you will write about

Before you even begin writing, it is essential to research about the topic first and try to learn everything you need to know before-hand.

For example, if you’re writing a book about investing, try to find answers to commonly asked questions. Examples of these could be:

  • What exactly is investing?

  • When did investing begin?

  • Who are the most successful investors today?

  • Where can I invest?

  • What types of investments are there?

Doing this helps you quickly absorb the topic and allows you to familiarize yourself with the subject even before you write.

This also lessens the time you need to spend doing research while writing, which increases efficiency and productivity. 

Create an outline

It’s easy to immediately start writing with guns blazing once you’ve conducted some research, but this isn’t always ideal. 

You’re prone to losing your train of thought every time you stop, you’re more susceptible to mental exhaustion, and so much more. Having an outline eliminates these problems for you.

An outline serves as a visual map where all the important chapters and details are plotted out for you in advance.

Not only does this make writing easier for you, it also decreases the chances of a creative shutdown or a writer’s block from happening and lessens the number of times you have to stop and think.

If you need to stop, having an outline prevents you from losing your entire thought process, since everything is already laid out for you.

Finish your drafts and revisions

Drafting is one of the most importance processes in writing a book because it allows you to re-evaluate your ideas and make them even better. 

When you finally decide to write a final draft, here are some questions to consider:

  • Is my tone consistent? For example, if you’re after a more professional and scholarly tone, watch out for everyday language in your sentences.

  • Are my hooks and leads attention grabbing? Will my audience keep reading with the kinds of open loops I’m using?

  • Is it possible to eliminate any fluff? Are there parts of the book that are unnecessary? 

  • Does the book satisfy what my title and subtitle says?

  • Are my arguments and points coherent with each other? Are there any conflicts?

Drafting also allows you to proofread for any spelling and grammar errors and revise them. These errors normally come out during the first draft, but should be eliminated before the final copy is published.

Once you’ve finished drafting the final version, all that’s left is to publish your book over on Amazon KDP.

5. Have a marketing plan in place

Once you’ve published your book, you can either wait for people to take notice of it, or you can be proactive and market it yourself.

If you have the money for it, you can definitely use Amazon advertising to promote and market your book on the Amazon platform. 

However, if you prefer not to put up any money, there are two ways you can advertise your book for free:

Social media

With the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, advertising a product has never been easier. 

All you have to do is create a post which contains all the necessary information regarding your book, including:

  • A general overview or summary

  • A link to the book itself

  • How people can purchase your book 

Facebook also has a handful of groups dedicated to books, novels, and other types of publications.

Search Engine Optimization

Amazon makes it possible for authors and publishers to put keywords that will help their book become more discoverable. 

With the help of keyword research and SEO tools such as Google Trends and Ahrefs, you can find the best keywords that will help your book generate more traffic and potential sales.

3 Common Mistakes Publishers Make on Amazon KDP

1. Quantity Over Quality

Once you understand how the Amazon KDP business model works, it’s very enticing to create as many books as you can.

Publishing multiple books might help you establish a steady stream of income, but that would only work if people actually purchase and read your book.

Keep in mind that having as many books as you can will not guarantee that the money will start coming in. Neglecting the quality of each book you make is tantamount to failure. No one will purchase a book that is rushed, poorly written, and badly constructed.

Instead, focus on creating a book that is well written, backed by thorough research, and creatively designed.

2. Focusing Only on a Single Aspect of Your Book

It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of having an interesting title or a captivating cover art, but be careful not to spend too much time in just one part of your book.

Your book is composed of multiple elements that work together to tell a story. Putting a lot of effort into one aspect and ignoring the other is a recipe for disaster.

For example, if you have a killer title but the content of your book does not appeal to your audience, how do you expect them to keep reading?

On the flip side, if the content of your book is fascinating but your title cannot grab the attention of your reader, how will you be able to catch their interest and make them turn those pages?

From the title to the epilogue, every part of your book is equally important.

3. Relying on the KDP Platform Too Much

The KDP platform is not what’s going to guarantee your success - it’s you. Unless you’re planning to apply for the KPD Select program, there are other platforms you can use with Amazon KDP.

You can start your own website and publish your books there. This allows you to fully customize what you want people to see. You can include your bio, your accolades, your contact details, and other important pieces of information.

You can also use the power of social media to your advantage. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are good examples of places where you can promote your books.

Using Amazon KDP is not a bad idea at all, but relying solely on the KDP platform is not the best course of action if you’re looking to grow your audience quickly.

What is Amazon KDP?

Amazon KDP, also known as Kindle Direct Publishing or Amazon Kindle Publishing, is a publishing service by Amazon that allows authors and publishers to release all kinds of books for free, whether it be a low content book, a paperback book, a print book, a Kindle eBook, or even an audiobook.

Amazon KDP was first launched in 2007 and since then, thousands of “authorpreneurs” have released millions of books and other forms of written content. 

Here is a quick comparison between Kindle Direct Publishing and Traditional Publishing.

Kindle Direct Publishing

  • Any book that you publish on Amazon is fully owned by you, which means you won’t have any copyright issues. The only rights you are giving to Amazon is the right to distribute your work on their platform.
  • Higher percentage of royalties.
  • If you publish a book now, it will be in the market almost instantly.
  • You have full control over what happens to your book in all aspects (content, design, marketing, etc.)

Traditional Publishing

  • Chances of making even a single dollar are low compared to Amazon KDP, since closing a deal with a publisher is extremely difficult.
  • Once you work with a publisher, you give up full ownership of the rights to your manuscript.
  • It may take months, or even years, for your book to gain traction.
  • Publishers will have a say in what happens to your book.

According to the Amazon website, KPD offers royalty rates of around 35% to 70%, making it a very profitable business.

If you’re an Amazon KDP beginner, follow these steps:

  • Create an Amazon account on the KDP webpage
  • Pick a niche to focus on.
  • Once you’ve chosen which topic to write about, you can either write the book yourself or hire a ghostwriter to work for you.
  • Input your book details (Title & subtitle, description, names of authors, categories, and age ranges)
  • Set your desired prices

And that’s it! You’ve officially published your first book on Amazon KDP.

You can also upload as many books as you can on Amazon KDP, since Amazon does not have any regulations that specify the maximum number of books that can be published. However, there is a limit to the amount of drafts you can have on your account, which is set at 500.

Amazon KDP also only requires a minimum page count of 24, which makes it easy to finish and release books regularly.

Fast forward to today - you don’t even have to write the books yourself to make money on Kindle Direct Publishing. With the rise of platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork, you can simply hire someone to do the writing for you. All you have to do is handle the publishing and marketing.

What is KDP Select?

KDP Select is a premium version of KDP that allows publishers to enjoy benefits that the basic KDP plan does not provide.

These include:

  • Kindle Unlimited: Kindle Unlimited is a service that allows Kindle users to borrow books. Books under KDP select will be made available on Kindle Unlimited.

  • Higher international royalties: You will be eligible to avail the 70% in royalties even in international countries such as Brazil, India, Japan, and Mexico.

  • You will have access to marketing tools provided by Amazon. Examples of these are Amazon A+ Content, Author Central, Kindle Countdown Deals, and Kindle Instant Book Previews.

  • Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: Also known as KOLL, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is a great way to be discovered by users on Amazon and Kindle. It is a program that allows Amazon Prime members and Kindle Owners to download one free book per month. 

With the basic KDP plan, you can sell your books anywhere on the internet, whether it be on your website, on social media platforms, or anywhere else. However, if you apply for the KDP Select program, you can only publish your books in the Kindle store.

Is Amazon KDP Profitable? 

Yes, Amazon KDP is profitable. Amazon pays up to a 70% royalty for book sales. Those that write their own book from scratch and design their own digital artwork can keep this full 70% as profit. 

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

It costs nothing to publish a book on Amazon. Publishing a book on Amazon is free. However, how much it costs to publish a book on Amazon depends on what you decide to outsource. You may spend anywhere from $50 to $1,000+ on ebook related costs like marketing, content creation, and graphic design. 

An editor on Reddit claims that her client who published Amazon KDP books that are approximately 45K words in length spends an average of $6,000 per book to outsource publishing tasks like alpha reader, developmental editor, copy editor, cover artist, and advertising. 

how much does it cost to publish a book on Amazon kdp reddit

How Long Does It Take To Make Money on KDP? 

It takes between 6 months and 12 months to make money on Amazon KDP, generally speaking, However, how long it takes to make money on Amazon KDP varies from person to person. 

For example, one Canadian Amazon KDP author on Reddit made their first sale in just two weeks after publishing 11 of their books on the platform. 

However, another Amazon KDP author on Reddit claims they haven't broken even on their Amazon KDP investment after 4 years on the platform. 

Is Amazon KDP worth it? 

Yes, Amazon KDP can be worth it. Amazon KDP provides passionate writers with the opportunity to generate online income from their works, which can often be passive income as writers can continue earning long after publishing. 

What Do Kindle Direct Publishing Reviews Indicate About Amazon KDP? 

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing reviews indicate that Amazon KDP authors have mixed experiences selling on the platform. Some Amazon KDP authors like Mark Dawson have made millions of dollars on Amazon KDP, while many other have made nothing. 

Can You Make Money on Amazon KDP Without Writing? 

  • Writing reviews for Amazon KDP books
  • Creating and publishing low content books on Amazon KDP
  • Hiring a ghostwriter to write your Amazon KDP book for you

How Much Money Can You Make Selling Journals and Other Low Content Books on Amazon?

You can make $700 to $67,000 per month selling journals on Amazon. The typical cost of a journal or low content book on Amazon is $2 to $4. However, how much money you can make selling journals on Amazon depends on factors like how creative your journal idea is and how well you market your products. 

What Are the Top Amazon KDP Courses? 

The top Amazon KDP courses are:

  • Publishing CEOs
  • Kindle Publishing Income
  • Audiobook Income Academy
  • Fiction Profits Academy
  • Royalty Hero

Publishing CEOs

Publishing CEOs is a KDP course launched by Alex Kaplo, which was launched back in 2021. Since then, they’ve switched over from being a course to a “done-with-you” type of program.

Kindle Publishing Income

Kindle Publishing Income is a KDP course that teaches you how to find the perfect book idea and turn it into your best seller, without actually knowing how to write.

Audiobook Income Academy

The Audiobook Income Academy was launched by Christian and Rasmus Mikkelsen back in 2018. This course is focused on sourcing talents to create a book for you instead of doing it yourself.

Fiction Profits Academy

Fiction Profits Academy is a course launched by Karla Marie that teaches you Kindle / Amazon self publishing.

Royalty Hero

Royalty Hero is a course created by Sean Dollwet that was first launched in 2021. This course gives more emphasis on building your brand instead of teaching you how to become a good writer.

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  1. I love your write up on the Amazon KDP and Lead Generation.
    I would be very grateful if you mentor me on them.
    I am in Cameroon.

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