So you wrote a book and now you want to sell it on Amazon. And Amazon’s a great place to sell your book because everyone’s there. But as you’re looking for how to do that, all you can find is about how to sell other authors’ books, and you want to sell yours.
But…how do you do that?
Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and we’ll walk you through your options in this article. We’ll go over everything you need to know, including:
- The low down on publishers, distributors, and self-publishing
- The platforms you need to know (Amazon Advantage, KDP, and Author Central)
- The pros and cons of different methods
- How to market your book
When we’re done, you’ll have a pretty good idea on how you want to move forward with publishing your book. So with that in mind, let’s jump right in.
Publishers, Distributors, and Self-Publishing
It’s important to understand different ways of getting your writing out to your audience, and there are three common ways of doing that.
Most name-brand authors have book deals with some sort of publishing house. Authors who find themselves in this situation probably aren’t reading this article.
Book Publishers handle pretty much everything except the writing. So editing, formatting, printing, distributing, marketing, and selling your book are all taken care of by them. You just need to convince them your book is worth publishing.
The upside of getting a book deal is that you can really just focus on good writing. The downside is that you give up some control and a lot of profit in exchange. Publishers are like movie studios. They have executives that are mainly concerned about making money, and you’ll need to be able to convince them that your book can do that in order to get a deal.
Distributors are a lot like publishers, but with fewer features. Mainly, distributors aren’t as concerned with marketing. You bring the marketing, the audience, the writing, and they print the book for you and get it into stores.
Like with publishers, if you are working with a distributor, you’re likely not reading this article because your distributor takes care of getting your book on Amazon.
If you’re self-publishing, then maybe you have a printer, or maybe you’re looking for one. Regardless, if you’re self-publishing, this is the article you need.
Amazon can print your book, or you can print your book and sell it on Amazon. Either way works, but your situation in part determines how you approach selling on Amazon.
There are two platforms that authors use to sell their books on Amazon: Amazon Advantage, and Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). We’ll explore both of them here, and why you would use one over the other.
Amazon Advantage vs. Amazon KDP
The platform you choose to use to sell your book determines your relationship with Amazon.
With Amazon Advantage, you sell your book to Amazon. Amazon buys your book for 45% of the sale price (e.g. if your books sells for $20, Amazon would buy it form you for $9). Then, Amazon sells the book to the customer. However, there’s a catch. Amazon doesn’t buy the book from you until they’ve sold it to the customer. You send the books in (or Amazon prints them for you), but they don’t actually buy them from you until the customer purchases them from Amazon.
It’s very confusing. We know.
With Amazon KDP, you sell your book on Amazon. Even though customers purchase your book on Amazon, with KDP, the customer buys the book from you, and Amazon takes a commission.
The clear upside to Amazon Advantage is that you get your money before the customer buys the book. The downside is that you don’t get as much money. With Advantage, you get 45% of the sale. With KDP, you get 60% of the sale.
But of course, with KDP, you don’t get paid until the customer buys the book. In the end, though, it’s probably better this way. We wouldn’t recommend publishing your own book using Amazon Advantage. If your book doesn’t sell, Amazon might require you to do a buyback of the book.
Additionally, with Amazon Advantage, Amazon sets the price, not the author. So if Amazon finds that they can only sell your book if they drop it down to $12, well then you’re kinda up a creek in terms of profit because Amazon will start to try purchasing your book for 45% of $12 instead of the $20 you want to sell the book for.
Finally, which platform you use also determines whether or not there’s even a copy of the book in stock when someone orders it. With Amazon Advantage. You can either send in copies of the book that you’ve already printed, or you can have Amazon purchase and print books for you using the Kindle Enterprise Publishing. With both of these methods, when a customer buys a book, it’s a book that’s already been printed.
With Amazon KDP, though, Amazon won’t print a copy of your book until a customer buys it. This means that your book won’t be “Prime” and shipping will take longer to the customer. This is known as “Print-On-Demand.”
Here’s a table to break down the features of Amazon Advantage and KDP:
|Feature||Amazon Advantage||Amazon KDP|
|How much you get paid per sale||45% of list price||60% of list price|
|Who owns the book when it’s sold||Amazon||Author|
|Who sets the list price of the book||Amazon||Author|
Quick Note on Amazon Seller Central
What if you like the features of Amazon KDP, but you want your book to be sold with the “Prime” badge? This is where Amazon Seller Central comes in. If you get your own ISBN and printing figured out, then you can actually list your book on Amazon using Seller Central.
With Seller Central, you own your inventory and set your price. If you plan on selling physical copies of your book in other stores besides Amazon, then you might want to use Seller Central.
The downside to Seller Central is you can’t control the listing of the book. The book description, excerpts to display, pictures, etc. All that needs to be done through KDP or Advantage. And you also can’t advertise your book through Seller Central. So if you’re going to leverage Seller Central, it would probably be in addition to Advantage or KDP, not instead of them.
Which Platform Should You Use?
Ultimately, whether you use KDP or Advantage or Seller Central is up to you. There are successful authors who use each of these platforms. And part of answering that question depends on where you are in your career as an author.
If you don’t have a huge following, or if this is your first book, KDP is probably the way to go. You can start with e-books and add the Print-On-Demand service later if things are going well.
Additionally, KDP also offers free ISBNs for books sold on Amazon. If you decide to sell your book on other platforms, then you’ll need your own ISBN. But if you’re sticking with Amazon, KDP is significantly more affordable and accessible.
This is different if you’re further along in your career. If you have a following, and thousands of people read your book every month, then you’re probably willing to give up some profit in exchange for sales volume. Amazon Advantage might make more sense if you can go from 5,000 book sales a month to 7,000 book sales a month by adding the “Prime” badge to the listing.
But if you’re doing that much in sales, you’re probably beyond the utility of this article anyway.
…Then There’s Author Central
Okay, so here’s the thing. Advantage Central, KDP Central, and even Seller Central are all about your book. But there’s another platform that allows you to create your own profile and tie your books to that profile.
We know, this seems entirely unnecessary. You already have a KDP account. Amazon knows who you are. Why do you need another account for a profile picture and a bio that goes on your books’ listings.
We have absolutely no idea.
Amazon seldom makes sense.
But that’s the way it is, so once you get a book listed (either through KDP or Advantage), you’re going to want to create an Author Central account and link your books to your author account too. This allows readers to see all your books, learn more about you as an author, and follow your work.
It’s a little thing, but it’s important. It allows you to build trust with your audience, establish your brand, and create raving fans.
And so yes, unfortunately, there is a world in which you create 4 different Amazon accounts to sell your book.
But start with just KDP, probably.
Marketing Your Book
As mentioned before, you can’t advertise books with a Seller Central Account. But you can with Advantage Central and KDP. And this can come in handy if you want your book to grow by more than just word of mouth.
But here’s the thing about marketing a book…it’s tough. Usually you need to be building a following somewhere else to become a successful author. You want fans before you publish your books so you can launch your book well.
And this means creating content outside of just your book. It’s common and important for authors to not work in a vacuum. You might do social media, blogging, YouTube, or Indie Author groups and events to expose people to your writing. And you’ll want to do a lot of that before you publish your book.
That way, once your book hits Amazon, you have people waiting to buy it and leave great reviews. Once you have those reviews, your book will start to show up in other places for other customers to see. And that’s the best way to grow sales.
Think about the last book you read. Did you read it because an ad popped up, or because it was recommended to you? Was it recommended to you by a person, or by a platform that said that lots of other people were reading it too?
So yes, you can run ads for your book, and if it’s a field book (instructions or information people use), then you might be successful with that. But almost always, you’re going to want a following somewhere else, so you have a customer base before you have a book.
So What’s Your Next Step?
Okay, that’s a lot of information. So where do you go from here? That’s where we come in. We can walk you through the process of getting your account set up, what keywords to include where, and how to put your best foot forward in marketing on Amazon.
Then, as you continue to write and grow your content, we can help you grow your sales.
It’s worth a chat to see if we can help out.