How Long Does It Take to Make Money on KDP? | 5 Common Mistakes That Prevent Authors From Earning

November 29, 2023

Generally, it may take 6 months to 1 year to make money on KDP. Although you can make money as soon as people start purchasing your book, KDP follows a 60-day payment schedule and implements a minimum threshold requirement before they send your earnings. The average author makes $150 per month on KDP while successful authors may earn $20,000 per month or higher. If you’re investing $1,000 or less, this means you can get your ROI (return on investment) in less than a year once people start buying your books. However, it may take you more than a year or so if you invest over $2,000.    

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or Amazon KDP is an online platform where authors and publishers can showcase and sell their works, ranging from low, medium, and high content books. Usually, the amount and frequency of earning may differ from each author, depending on the quality of their product and their marketing strategy. Amazon releases more than 1.4 million self-published books each year on Kindle Direct Publishing. They also pay over $520 royalties to over 1 million self-publishing authors. Overall, the company sells around 300 million print books and 487 million Kindle ebook copies each year.  

KDP can be a profitable yet challenging business model to pursue. In this feature, we’ll tell you what to expect, what mistakes to avoid, and what some authors say about their experience trying to make money online through the platform. We also share about a far superior business model you can check out, if you’re hoping to generate passive income with lesser work than writing and publishing books on KDP.

The 3 step process of making money on KDP

Step 1: Submit your book for approval

Assuming you’ve already spent time researching, writing, and producing your book, the first step is to publish it on the KDP platform. Submission is easy and approval only takes 3 to 10 days.

Step 2: Wait for sales

Buyers will start seeing your book once it goes live on Amazon. This means you can begin making money as soon as people begin purchasing your product online. However, you’ll have to reach the minimum threshold before you can get the money. It may take several months or up to a year before some authors get paid from their books on KDP.

Step 3: Collect the royalties once you hit the required amount.

As mentioned, authors and publishers need to hit a threshold requirement before they can earn money from KDP. Different Amazon marketplaces and payment methods have their own requirements. Moreover, the platform offers several payment options for ebooks and paperback books. Check the graphs below for the full details.

How Long Does It Take to Make Money on KDP?

It can take 6 months to 1 year to make money on KDP. The amount of time it takes to earn and the total earnings often vary from one author to another. Several important factors come into play, such as the book’s quality, marketing strategy, and niche demand, among others. Some authors make money in a few days or weeks after putting their books on the KDP website. Meanwhile, others struggle and take much longer before they earn anything on the platform.

That said, it is also worth noting that Amazon KDP offers different royalty packages for authors and publishers to choose from. For ebook royalties, the platform has the 35% royalty and 70% royalty options. The latter allows you to make more money with your books and can help you earn back your ROI faster.  

For paperback royalties, KDP offers a 60% royalty rate for print books sold on Amazon distribution channels. On the other hand, those sold through the Expanded Distribution channels receive a 40% royalty rate.

In a YouTube video, Gem Blackshaw of Project Rich Mum shares how she made zero sales during her first two months on Amazon KDP. The publisher from the UK had her first sale in the third month, earning only £0.40 ($0.49). Eventually, she decided to up her game and started creating medium content books (children’s books, workbooks) instead of merely focusing on low content books (notebooks, etc). She finally earned £116.90 ($142) in her fourth month and then £255.91 ($312) in the sixth month.

Today, Gem has a total of 142 books on KDP and earns around £1,000 to £1,200 ($1,200 to $1,460) per month. So far, her biggest month was January 2023 where she made £1,659 ($2,021). Her current best sellers are workbooks. “To be successful on KDP, it is much easier if you have more of the medium content books. Books that require you, as the author, to put in more effort,” says Gem. “In return, the customer feels like they are getting something that is more value for money.”

On Quora, Moneygirl writes, “I sold my first KDP book 3 weeks after creating it. One book. Then another 3 weeks later.” “Every book and every experience is going to be different and you'll have your own story to tell,” the Quora user also adds. “The most important thing is to take the time to produce quality books.”

Meanwhile, Redditor GM_Reinstra talks about earning only $60 in royalties after 2 months. “I'm about 70% done with the rough draft of the sequel,” the KDP author likewise mentions. “I've heard it's easier to gain a bit of a following if you have a decent inventory of published works.”

What is KDP's payment schedule?

KDP’s payment schedule is 60 days after the end of the month of meeting the minimum payment threshold. This means that if you hit the threshold in January, you will receive your royalty payment by the end of March and so forth. Meanwhile, Expanded Distribution authors and publishers get paid after 90 days of reaching the threshold.

Technically, KDP pays royalties each month but payments are only sent once the threshold is met. The website also tells us that the “timing for the delivery of funds to your account or mailing address” depends on your chosen payment method.

For example, direct deposit payments usually take 1 to 5 business days before the money reflects on your bank account. For banks in India, however, direct deposit payments may take up to 7 to 10 business days after the date of payment. On the other hand, wire payments require 5 to 10 days while check delivery may take up to 30 days.

Is there a minimum earning requirement before I can withdraw my earnings?

Yes, there is a minimum earning requirement before you can withdraw your earnings. Royalty earnings should reach a minimum amount before the platform issues wire and check payments. The threshold amount also varies depending on the marketplace and preferred payment method.



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Generally, EFT/WIRE transfers require 1 to 5 business days before the amount reflects in your account while check payments require 2 to 4 weeks before arrival. 



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5 Common Mistakes That Prevent Authors From Making Money on KDP

1) Improper niche selection

New authors sometimes do not realize that proper niche selection can make or break their KDP business. It’s always difficult for beginners to compete on the platform. So your goal should be to find untapped yet potentially profitable niche markets.

You can start by doing keyword research and market analysis. That way, you can decide which niches are best for you. Just keep in mind that KDP is not a get-rich-quick scheme, so don’t expect to make money easily, especially on a saturated platform.

2) Not spending money on advertising and marketing

While it’s possible to publish and sell books without spending on advertising, doing so will only delay your opportunities to earn on KDP. Sure, there are free ways to do book marketing such as social media, Author Central, and other resources. Still, it's also a wise idea to invest in ads to boost your visibility and reach more of your target customers.

Amazon Advertising gives you exposure to potential readers through ads that appear when they shop on Amazon. “Ads are cost-per-click so you only pay when customers click on your ad,” the site tells us. “You can create ads for books that are available for purchase or listed for pre-order.”

3) Focusing on too many book types

Another common mistake why some authors and publishers fail to make money online is that they’re selling all types of books on KDP. They target a broad market which eventually ends up consuming much of their time and energy. Doing so also prevents them from developing an effective system for their business.

In general, successful KDP authors start with one book type, such as a short story, a paperback book, a coloring book, a print book, or several low content books. With this, you can simplify your process and come up with a focused marketing strategy.

Of course, you’ll need to pick the right categories and keywords. Choose those that are accurate and specific to your book type and intended demographic. Also, decide what format you will offer your book in, such as ebook, print, or both.

4) Neglecting importance of your book cover

A well-designed cover can help attract the attention of your target market. As people browse to find books to buy, you want to make sure yours will make an impression on any potential reader. You may have written a masterpiece but it will likely take you long to make money on KDP if your cover is not intriguing or visually appealing. In many ways, your book cover functions as your main marketing tool.

As YouTuber and KDP seller Gem Blackshaw says in a video, “That old saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ most definitely does not apply on Amazon. People are literally judging your book by its cover and they're judging it against page after page after page of similar books. So you have to find a way to make your book stand out.”

You can hire a professional designer for your covers but if you don’t have the budget, you can try Canva. “One of the great things about doing KDP our way is that you don't need to have any artistic ability,” KDP seller Sue Irven tells Business Insider. “Now, we make $5,000 to $10,000 per month on average, and our highest profiting month so far brought in $17,000.”

5) Failing to take advantage of available tools

Some KDP beginners likewise fail to recognize there are a number of useful resources available for them, such as the ones listed below.

  • Book Bolt. This book publishing software is ideal for developing, listing, and optimizing low content or no content books. It allows you to design covers and interiors for your calendars, coloring books, journals, logbooks, sketchbooks, and others.
  • Amazon Associate. This affiliate marketing program can provide you with an additional income stream, on top of your royalty payment. With Amazon Associates, you can share about products and services with your audience and then make money when they purchase or take action (such as joining a free trial program).
  • Amazon KDP Select or Kindle Select. This free 90-day program is only for Kindle eBooks. Authors get the chance to “reach more readers through Amazon and Kindle promotions.”
  • Kindle Create. Users can use this free Amazon software to format their manuscripts into high-quality print books or ebooks. 
  • Amazon Prime. As a KDP author, you can make your books available for Amazon Prime members to read for free for a limited time.
  • Kindle Unlimited. This subscription program for readers allows you to offer your book on the platform as you enroll with KDP Select.

Related Articles on Amazon KDP

  • Is Amazon KDP Profitable? - Can self-published authors really earn a good profit from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing? We discuss that in this article and even show you the most common complaints against the publishing platform. 
  • How To Make Money on Amazon KDP - What are some proven strategies to help boost your earnings on Amazon KDP? We talk about that, along with the top 3 mistakes publishers make on Amazon KDP. 
  • Make Money Publishing Books on Amazon KDP Without Writing - Got no time or skill to write a full book? We teach you how you can still make money on Amazon KDP (such as publishing low content books and hiring ghostwriters, among others. We also share tips on how you can market your product better. 

Conclusion: Is Amazon KDP Worth the Time, Effort, and Money?

Yes, Amazon KDP is worth the time, effort, and money but it’s definitely not a business model for everyone. If you’re a passionate writer or a creator of low content and medium content books, KDP could provide you with an outlet for your releases and could help you earn extra money. Just don’t expect to make thousands of dollars right away, like some YouTube videos would have you believe. 

Take note that some KDP niches have now become overly saturated. The entry barrier is low, and it’s really easy for anyone to get into the platform. There is intense competition because aside from independent publishers, some traditional publishing companies are also entering the market. You’ll need to do your homework and research a profitable sub-niche that’s both profitable and has low competition levels. Also, be ready to spend on marketing and advertising to gain traction for your books.

If you’re starting out, it’s best to do KDP as a side hustle instead of treating it like a full time job. Besides, you can’t expect a steady income stream because earnings usually vary from month to month. So you’re putting time and effort into writing and publishing without the safety of a monthly paycheck. While there’s a possibility for a KDP business to make passive income, it doesn’t always work that way for everyone.   

So yes, Amazon KDP can be worth it for some but it’s definitely not as easy as others might say. No wonder, some authors and publishers even invest in Amazon KDP courses to learn tricks of the trade.  

Why Local Lead Generation is the Best Online Business

Compared with Amazon KDP publishing, local lead generation is a more stable online business model to explore - even for newbies. First off, market saturation is never an issue with lead gen. You’re not competing with thousands of book creators in the same niche but are only aiming to rank your website on top search engine results in a given area and industry. This means you’re only going against 5 to 10 or so local businesses. Considering that there are 41,683 zip codes in the United States alone, you definitely have plenty of locations you can target. Every city is also its own market, with 50 to 100 small business niches you can explore, including deep cleaning, electrical repair, garden care, plumbing, and more.

When done right, lead generation can also bring you consistent monthly earnings - and quite possibly, passive income. With KDP, your earnings will vary each month, depending on your sales. You’ll also have to create and release hundreds of books over time to boost your income. It’s a different story in the lead gen business. You’ll only have to build a few service websites (depending on how many you can manage and afford to invest in), rank them on Google, and then rent them out to local business owners. They’ll gladly pay you as you bring organic leads and traffic for their companies. 

Local lead generation

As an example, I built this Grand Rapids tree care website years ago and it requires little or no maintenance for the past part. To this day, it still makes me $2,000 per month. And since I provide the same service to several businesses, I earn up to $52,000 a month in total. I also teach a lead generation coaching program for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to learn the skills and expertise to make this business model work for them.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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