Review: Amazon Self-Publishing, Is it Worth Your Time?

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

Recently, I decided to jump into self-publishing while using Amazon and its KDP platform. And although it’s been just shy of a month, I found the experience to be quite beneficial. But probably not for the reasons you might think.

No, I haven’t made a ton of money from my book. Sometimes the experience is worth more than riches, in the grand scheme of things.

To tell the truth, I’m looking forward to producing more books in the coming months.

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What is Self-Publishing through Amazon?

A lot of authors will go the route of self-publishing for a myriad of reasons. Amazon makes it easier through its Kindle Direct Publishing service. This means you can quickly get your eBook or printed copies ready for readers.

In this environment, you are responsible for every aspect of your book ranging from writing to marketing. Essentially, Amazon is just where people buy the book. Everything else is your responsibility.

Back in the day, authors would use CreateSpace.com to self-publish books on Amazon. Although those accounts on CreateSpace still allow you to log in, Kindle Direct Publishing has taken its place.

If you play your cards right, though, it is possible to make money with self-publishing through KDP.

How Easy is the System to Use?

KDP Self-Publishing with Amazon

After publishing my first book, I’ve found the KDP system of Amazon to be quite easy to manage for self-publishing. The platform is broken down into three main tabs that are quite self-explanatory.

In the first tab, you enter the book’s details, such as language and title. You’ll also input the description of the book people will see on Amazon as well as author information.

The second tab is where you enter the nuts and bolts of your book. This includes getting a free ISBN, the print options should you create a paperback or hardcover version, uploading the manuscript, and editing your book cover.

The last tab is set up for setting up the marketplace you want to use and how much you want to charge for your book. The KDP system will give you a breakdown of printing costs as well as what you make in royalties depending on how you want Amazon to display your book.

This is because you can choose to accept a smaller cut should you add your book to premium services to engage a much wider audience automatically.

All three of these tabs are similar whether you’re publishing an eBook or printed version.

What Can You Expect from Self-Publishing Through Amazon?

Throughout my experience, there was very little to point out as negative. For the most part, everything went exceptionally well while using Kindle Direct Publishing.

In fact, some elements were much easier to do than I initially thought.

Easy to Upload Your Books

One of the first things you’ll notice is how easy the system is all-around. Everything is laid out in plain language with tool-tips for extra information.

Overall, I think it took me about 30 minutes or so to add my book to Amazon. Well, outside of the verification and review process, which took 4 hours on its own. Still, it’s better than the 72 hours Amazon tells you.

Free ISBN for Printed Versions

When you set up a printed version of your book, Amazon will offer a free ISBN number. Now, this is important as it lends validity and identification.

An ISBN is a unique identification number used for a myriad of purposes. Normally, these aren’t too expensive to acquire for your book. But it’s nice that Amazon provides one for free.

Using Kindle Create

When self-publishing through Amazon, you have the option of using the software, Kindle Create. This is a formatting tool that can help you get the book looking how you want when people read it.

Although Kind Create does have a few useful tools built in to it, the software does have a bit of a learning curve. It’s not as intuitive as others, but I used it without a lot of difficulties to publish A Freelancer’s Tale.

The Cover Creator is a Bit Lacking

For those who need a book cover, KDP also has a Cover Creator you can use that is free. While you do have a bit of control regarding what your cover looks like, the tool itself isn’t nearly as robust as it should be.

Personally, I’d prefer using Canva to create book covers. Or, perhaps even Photoshop as it would give me absolute control. Still, for those who are not graphically inclined or can afford designers, Cover Creator can be of help.

Easily Make Changes After the Fact

What if you uploaded your manuscript and find a few errors in your book? KDP makes it easy to go back and edit nearly everything about the book. You can upload a new manuscript, change the cover art, or modify your pricing scheme.

Though, I would refrain from making too many massive changes. You don’t want to alienate those who may already have bought the book by adding new content they won’t get to read without making another purchase.

It’s a good way to lose your target reader.

Quick Publishing Response Time

Although Amazon tells you that it can take up to 72 hours for self-publishing your book to go live, it took mine less than four. The 72 hours gives staff enough time to verify the book, check for spelling errors, and review to make sure you’re not crossing community guidelines.

Write a good book that meets all the criteria, and it’ll be live in a relatively short amount of time.

eBook, Paperback, and Hardcover!

Another one of the most important facets for me as an author is access to print my book. Sure, eBooks are quick and easy, but I love the idea of having a book with my name on the spine on my bookshelf.

The print-on-demand services from Amazon aren’t all that expensive, either. And for those who don’t have thousands of dollars upfront for other publishing options, this is ideal.

Fast Print and Ship of Paperback Versions

I thought for sure that it was going to take quite a bit of time for Amazon to print and ship my book. I bought my first copy on a Friday and it was at my house that Monday.

In fact, my friend ordered her book and got it a day sooner than I had.

Buying Author’s Copies

When publishing paper versions of your book, you have the option to buy author copies from Amazon. These only cost the printing expenses of the book and shipping.

You can buy up to 999 copies at once through KDP.

Author Profile on Amazon Itself for Self-Publishing

After publishing your book, you can set up your Author Central profile for Amazon. This is a small page showing your bio and all of your books currently available for purchase.

It’s not as elaborate as a blog, but it’s nice to share your corner of Amazon with prospective readers and fans.

Excellent Print Quality of the Books

One thing I worried about what the print quality of the book. I stressed quite a bit because I doubted Amazon would have a good product shipped in such a short amount of time. However, I was greatly impressed.

During the live unboxing of A Freelancer’s Tale, I noted just how professional and amazing the book was in terms of quality.

Royalty Payments Take a Bit Long

In order for Amazon to send a royalty payment from KDP self-publishing, you need to hit $100. Then, it will take approximately 60 days before the monies are sent.

So, if you made $110 in royalties by the end of January, you won’t see money in your bank until the end of March!

You’d think with it being the 2020s, technology would allow for faster movements of cash flow.

Built-in Marketing Methods

Although there are a number of ways you can market your book after publishing, KDP does provide a few methods built into the system to make certain things easier.

For instance, you can set up an advertising campaign easily within Amazon itself for your book from your KDP portal.

YOU Own the Rights to Your Book

Lastly, and perhaps the most important, you own the rights to your book, not Amazon. In fact, Amazon isn’t even listed as the publisher. If you don’t want your book available, disable it.

Now, Amazon does own the ISBN for any printed copies. This is because every distributor has their own ISBNs for your books. But the book itself is completely yours to do with as you please.

Essentially, you’re licensing Amazon to sell and distribute your book, nothing more.

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Why I Find Self-Publishing Beneficial While Using Amazon

As I’ve said before, self-publishing isn’t about making money or becoming some side-gig that will help me retire. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if one of my books went viral and put me on the Best Seller lists.

However, there are far more important reasons why I am using Amazon to start my new career path. Well, at least to me.

Quick to Get Your Book in Reader’s Hands

Because of how Kindle Direct Publishing is set up, you can get your book in the hands of readers quickly. Unlike other publishing methods, it doesn’t take weeks or months to print copies of your book.

Instead, your book could be ready in mere hours.

Though, you still want to put adequate time into the editing process. Sure, it’s wicked fast to publish your book on Amazon, but you also want it to look and read well for your audience.

Don’t rush a book just to get it published. You may find the quality to be sub-par in the long run.

Building Self-Confidence to Write More Often

I had a feeling that self-publishing my first book on Amazon would boost my self-confidence levels. And it did…in spades.

With that feeling of accomplishment and pride comes the need to want more out of yourself. For me, it reinvigorated my passion for writing and made me realize just how much I missed doing so.

This, alone, was worth the experience of putting my first book up on Amazon. Sure, I don’t make a lot of sales at the moment. But the self-confidence boost was everything I knew it would be.

Amazon Is a Leading Book Retailer

Although the company has faced a massive backlash in the public eye recently, there’s no denying that Amazon is one of the biggest online retailers for books.

It’s better to settle for the Devil we know?

Unfortunately, this can also prove to be a difficult market to break into. Because it is so massive, it’ll take quite a bit of effort to get your book in front of more people simply because of the sheer volume of reading options.

Providing Excellent Experience About the Creator Process

Publishing A Freelancer’s Tale through Amazon has provided a lot of experience about the process. I’ve learned quite a few things about what to do and what to avoid.

And yes, I’m still learning as I go. But that’s the whole point, really.

It’s highly unlikely anyone’s first book through self-publishing is going to be a best-seller on Amazon. With that in mind, it’s the perfect method to learn and grow to make the next book perform that much better.

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How Much Have I Spent Self-Publishing on Amazon?

So far, I haven’t spent a single dime publishing my book on Amazon. As KDP is a print-on-demand service, there are no upfront fees to get started.

Since I handled the vast majority of producing the book myself, there was no need to hire external help. I already knew what I wanted the book cover to look like and my friend and I edited the materials with the free version of Grammarly backing it up.

Keep in mind that I purposely sought to see how much of the process I could do for free. If you have the money for an editor or graphic designer to help you, it may be worth the expense.

After all, no writer should ever edit his or her own work.

The only thing I plan on spending money on is the marketing process. Because there’s only so far you can take free methods of advertising for your book.

And no one is going to buy something they don’t know even exists.

Will I Continue Using Amazon for Self-Publishing?

So far, I’ve had a decent experience publishing my book through Amazon. Although I wish the reporting abilities were a bit more intuitive, it is an extremely easy system to learn and use.

In fact, I’m looking forward to filling my author profile page up with a whole library of my literary works.

Since I own the rights to anything I publish to Amazon, I have the freedom to explore other online venues such as Barnes & Noble, which is something I plan on doing in the next couple of weeks.

This isn’t to mention just how pleased I was with the printed copy of my book. I was very surprised, especially given the short printing and shipping period.

For the foreseeable future, I’ll continue to promote my books on Amazon.

Having the Right Mentality for Self-Publishing on Amazon

Perhaps one of the biggest contributing factors to my overall experience using Amazon is how I viewed the book in the first place.

Although I put in a lot of effort to put out a good piece of work, I never once thought it was going to be a moneymaker or a top-tier novel. I simply wanted a good book I could produce quickly to test how Kindle Direct Publishing worked.

Why is having the right mentality important?

For starters, you don’t have a misconception of success when publishing your book. This can lead to anxiety and frustration should you not sell a lot of copies. Then, you could wind up giving up on being a published author.

Don’t go into self-publishing with the hopes of becoming rich off of your creations. Test the waters and continue to work on writing books people will want to read.

When you put more emphasis on royalties than quality, you won’t go very far.

For me, I view self-publishing on Amazon as a win simply because of the sheer amount of experience I gained. From start to finish, I learned an awful lot that will only work to my advantage later on.

Is Self-Publishing with Amazon Right for You?

The decision to self-publish is completely up to the author. I’m not saying that self-publishing is superior to traditional methods, but that It’s simply another method you could explore should it be something that sparks your interest.

Not everyone has $3000 to hand over to an agent to get his or her book published.

I suggest trying it yourself with a simple, small book to at least test the waters. If anything, it’ll give you a way to put your name out there as an author.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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