Sunday, December 29, 2019

9 Things I Learned as an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Author

2019 is ending. Another glorious year as a self-published KDP author. I wish to share with my readers the things I have learned as an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing author.

My debut novel 'Without You' came out in June 2015. The paperback had been published by Write India publishers. Then in September 2015, I self-published the eBook version on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Within a day, my book went live. I began to get readers from around the world within hours. What followed after that was an unforgettable journey. Over the last four years, I have published seven novels, two short stories and three children's books on Amazon. 

So, what are the lessons I learned via my journey as an amazon bestselling self-published author?

1) The myth that writers can't earn through writing is a myth

For my debut novel, I had invested a few thousand rupees in getting it edited, the paperback published and marketing. Overall, I didn't get back even 1% of what I had invested. The only perk was that it had won the hearts of most of the readers who read it. 
But once I published the eBook version, I began getting a regular income as royalty every month. I have earned manifolds of whatever I had invested initially in getting the paperback published from the sales of that book alone.
With every book I add to my published list, I gain more readers and earn more. A few months ago, I quit a well earning day job to concentrate more on what I enjoy doing best. Writing!
Many indie authors earn more than what traditionally published authors are paid as signing amount for a book in just a month. 

2) Readers will read your books in any format if they like what you are writing

Among the readers who have written to me, I have had staunch paperback fans who are slowly discovering the advantages of eBooks. Just because eBooks are relatively new, it is not true that you won't have readers. Going by the status of my own books, I am blessed to have many readers who have discovered the advantages of eBooks via my books.

3) Visibility via Kindle Direct Publishing is constant

You invest your time in writing a book, spend hours marketing it once it gets published as a paperback by a reputed publisher and then after a period, the book just disappears from the shelves of bookshops. Unless you are an established bestselling author, your paperback just vanishes from the market.
But via Kindle direct publishing, your books remain for purchase even years after it has been published. Amazon itself creates promotions for older, popular books and talks about it to readers across the world via their newsletters. 'Without You' my first book along with three of my other books are now part of Amazon Prime Reading, via which Amazon allows subscribers to read for free some selected books published on Amazon.

4) The taboo associated with self-publishing is slowly vanishing.

Initially, when I started publishing, none of the traditionally published authors was ready to even consider self-publishing via Amazon. Now I personally know at least six or seven authors who have successfully experimented with self-publishing. According to them, the plus points in self-publishing are the freedom, transparency in sale statistics and the higher royalty rates. 
In traditional publishing, even the top publishers often don't give you clear statistics about book sales. But via KDP, you get to know the sales and pages read instantly via the KDP author dashboard.
In traditional publishing, the max royalty for eBooks is 25%. On KDP, it is either 35% or 70% depending on how we price the book. To get 70% royalty, the price has to be Rs 99 or more. Anything less earns you 35% royalty.
Of course, there is this reality that a self-published author would never be invited to any literature festival. There the taboo still exists.

5) Readers are the gatekeepers of good literature

Be it traditional publishing or self-publishing, readers are the gatekeepers without a doubt. Many books rejected by reputed traditional publishers have won the hearts of readers via self-publishing whereas readers have rejected many traditionally published books. As a reader myself, I do not look at who the publisher is when I buy a book. Mostly it is the author. If it is a new writer, I often read through the blurb, sample etc before buying a book. I have never ever bought a book just because it is published by a reputed publisher. I guess it is the same logic that drives other readers.

6) Indie books undergo the same kind of publishing standards as traditional books.

When I publish my book on KDP, I use an editor, a proofreader and beta-readers to make sure it lives up to professional standards. Though I design my covers myself, many other indie authors use professional cover designers. 

7) Reviews matter but they don't drive sales

Initially, I used to think that the number of reviews affected sales. Some say that Amazon algorithm actually considers the number of reviews before promoting it. In my experience, that is not the case. The keywords, category, genre and popularity of the book matters

8) You decide the content, cover, title of your books.

Being an Indie author, I can decide what I want to include in my book. Even if an editor suggests a change, it is up to me to decide whether or not to accept the corrections. I don't think that is the case with traditional publishing. The editors have the upper hand. 
The case is similar for the cover layout, title, etc. Also, with self-publishing, we can change the content, cover photo and even title without much ado even after the book becomes available for purchase.

9) You publish more.

I published three novels and one book set this year. I don't think any traditional publisher would publish more than one book by an author a year. It is just not viable for them. 
But with KDP, you can publish as many books as you can if you have the manuscripts ready. I know indie authors who publish a book a month. Especially authors in the West. 

I am grateful to have discovered Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and I hope it will bring light into the lives of many more authors in the coming years. 
Hope you found this article helpful.
Have you tried Amazon Kindle Direct publishing? 
How was your experience?


  1. This was a very inspiring read Preethi.I have always admired your writing and honesty in sharing your experience.Kindle has made life easier for people like me too.Thanks to your guidance, I was able to carry on publishing my books on KDP