23 November 2021
A Guide to Optimizing Amazon KDP Metadata for Books Listing
TweetLinkedInShareEmailPrint Alright, the manuscript has been written and you are excited to publish your new...
Have you ever dreamed of seeing your name in print or considered writing a book? Perhaps you’ve wondered how much money you can make with Amazon KDP and book publishing.
As an Amazon Seller, you probably know Amazon started out as a bookseller and still hearkens to that beginning in many ways. Books are actually a popular FBA item, and there is a lot of potential in used books.
This post isn’t about that.
We’re going to explore self-publishing using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Platform.
KDP refers to Kindle Direct Publishing.
Amazon launched KDP in 2007 and with it they took on a massive undertaking. Self-publishing has existed since the beginning of the written word. That part is nothing new.
Amazon put the power of publishing into the hands of the authors themselves. Amazon KDP is a powerful platform where DIY authors can publish eBook and print books. It offers a level playing field for aspiring wordsmiths and you can see your own books alongside authors of renown.
In the same year, Amazon was about to start a new trend all by itself. The first Amazon Kindle hit the market in 2007 and revolutionized the eBook.
Again, eReaders weren’t new. However, Amazon put a great deal of effort into acquiring a vast library of free eBooks, so when the first Kindle sold in November of 2007, readers could acquire a lot of books and see the potential of a library in their pocket.
That first round of Kindles sold out within hours of its launch.
The “iPod of reading” was a hit!
That’s twice Amazon reinvented the wheel in 2007.
The traditional publishing landscape was like a fortress and the Big 5 publishers were the gatekeepers. Would-be authors would have to navigate a world of literary agents, query letters, and rampant rejection just to entertain a dream.
Now, anyone anywhere can publish a book and distribute it around the world with Amazon KDP and it’s completely free to use.
KDP and the Amazon Kindle created a perfect storm for early publishers on that platform.
So, is there still any money to be made in Kindle publishing and if so, how much? These are the questions we hope to answer.
You’ll see as you read on why Amazon KDP is worth mentioning. It is a massive opportunity to reach a global audience just like with Amazon selling.
If you have any aspiration toward the following, you’ll want to consider Amazon KDP:
Self-publishing makes it possible for you to take matters into your own hands. We wouldn’t even consider any of this if we had to navigate the traditional publishing route. Thanks to Amazon KDP, we can brainstorm an idea, conduct research for a proof of concept, create and publish the content professionally, and sell it on one of the biggest eCommerce sites in the world.
Why would you want to?
Let’s say as an Amazon seller, two of the products you sell most are coloring books and journals. You could scale these items to their own brands created by you with Amazon KDP.
Instead of sourcing these items, paying storage fees, etc., you could create them and only pay for printing. Then you would earn royalties up to 70% via Amazon KDP.
That’s pretty powerful.
Amazon’s marketplace spans 8 different websites around the world. Your books could reach readers in Australia while you’re sipping coffee in New York.
Amazon makes it easy to distribute worldwide.
Our previous coloring book and journal examples are both print options and a little more complicated to create than an eBook for the Kindle platform.
If you actually want to write your books, you can publish them in both digital and print formats for more income streams. That makes selling books a unique undertaking.
There are not many other products where you can test the market with a digital version and if it sells well, double down on a print version as well. We haven’t even touched on audiobooks at all!
No Kindle? No problem. In addition to a variety of reading devices at affordable prices, Amazon also provides free reading apps for smartphones and PCs.
Your books can be listed alongside bestsellers and hidden gems from around the world while millions of customer peruse Amazon’s digital bookshelves. Amazon KDP equips you with the tools to take advantage of all of this.
Sounds interesting, right?
It’s a lot to unpack. Publishing via Amazon KDP means learning a new set of skills. Much of it will look familiar, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
You need an idea that will earn you profits and you’ll research it just like you would a new product. Are the earnings worth it? You’ll have to decide for yourself.
These are the factors you’ll need to consider. Let’s break it down.
There’s a lot of potential in Amazon KDP. You can’t just jump the fence and start creating mediocre books. Amazon has been there, done that with publishers merely in it for a quick buck. They have safeguards in place that will make any churn and burn plan fizzle before it’s begun.
You need a quality book with professional editing and formatting. If you’re not willing to invest in a quality publication, then stick to what you’ve been doing. A low quality book will be a waste of your time.
People will judge your book by its cover. An amateur cover won’t get a second look, much less a click. Just like with your product images, your book cover will draw in shoppers. Your cover must be a professional presentation of your book.
If your book cover implores a click, your description should close the deal. Make sure your description, title, keywords and all your metadata is effective in selling your book.
Pricing is complicated with KDP. If you set your price too high, potential readers might scoff, especially if your copy isn’t up to snuff. If you set your price too low, that implies low quality. It’s a delicate balance.
At the same time, you must consider the two tiers of KDP pricing and the resulting royalties.
To command a 70% royalty on your eBooks, you must price your book between $2.99 and $9.99. Any more or less will result in a 35% royalty.
Paperbacks royalties are fixed at 60%.
You’ll want to price competitively and based on your research of your genre, length of book, and more.
Kindle Unlimited (KU) offers voracious readers an all-you-can-read buffet of never-ending books.
Enrolling your book in KU offers exposure to a massive audience and a share in the KU revenue from paid subscriptions. The problem is this isn’t as lucrative as it sounds.
Authors are paid per pages read and this often equals fractions of a penny per page. You make a lot more selling your book outside of KU, but you miss out on the extra exposure.
You can do both and appease all your potential readers. Just know that your book will be offered free as a part of KU to subscribers and you’ll only receive a small fraction of your regular royalties.
As an Amazon seller, you have experience with what comes next. You have a product, your book, and you have a platform which is Amazon.
Maximizing the discoverability of your product will be key in generating sales.
Ready to shine a spotlight on your literary masterpiece? Let’s set sail!
In order to be visible on Amazon, you have to optimize your listings with the Amazon search engine and algorithm in mind. Your Amazon selling experience will play a big role in helping you do that.
There are some things that apply to book sales that are unique. For example, you have full control over the product you’re selling. You can update the content, cover, etc.
As an author, you have access to some additional tools like Amazon Author Central where you can set up an author page that lists all of your books as a part of Amazon’s virtual ecosystem.
The more relevant and engaging your book appears, the more likely it is to be presented to potential readers. This brings us to…
Metadata is just a fancy word for all of the information about your book including, but not limited to, you title, subtitle, author name, book description, cover image, keywords, categories.
As a new author, your book cover will draw in potential readers. Now that you’ve earned the click your book description will then take over. Getting the sale depends upon the effectiveness of your copy and competitive pricing.
Choose your categories carefully. Landing in the wrong category can result in the suspension of your KDP account.
You can choose up to 3 categories and these should coincide with your genre as much as possible.
Don’t just go for the broadest category – be specific. If your book is a fantasy romance, consider choosing subcategories like “Fantasy Romance” and “Paranormal Romance.” This can help your book stand out in a sea of titles and connect with readers who crave exactly what you’re offering.
Marketing your books on Amazon is a full-on strategy. You’ll need to decide things like if you’re serious enough for your books to have their own social media accounts.
Reviews play a big role with books, and you need 15 reviews of 3.5 stars or better for your book to be considered “retail ready” by Amazon. You can build something called an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) team to help with this.
One of the cool things about books if that you can put a request for a review inside, so every product sells with a review request built in.
You’re going to need all the basic marketing channels like an email list to build an audience and brand in order to optimize your sales.
We touched a bit on royalties and how they work previously. Now it’s time to figure out how that results in deposits into your bank account.
Amazon KDP has its own reporting system and it’s not more user-friendly than your seller dashboard. You can review sales, estimated royalties and more using that system.
KDP will also send you some cryptic emails about “Remittance Advice”, but they never include amounts. It’s just and indicator that you’ve sold books for the month.
When you set up your Amazon KDP account, you will input your bank account information at that time. Bank transfers (EFT) or check are the only methods of payment depending upon your location.
Payments happen like clockwork – every month, around 60 days after the end of the month in which the sales occurred. So, for sales in January, you’ll see those royalties hit your bank account in March.
As an Amazon seller, you’re already familiar with how taxes work. You’ll be required to fill out or submit a W9 form when you set up your account.
Amazon will issue you a 1099 at the end of each year and you’ll be responsible for paying your own income tax on your book sales.
This is a lot of information, but we don’t want to leave you hanging without any practical tips to make selling books a profitable venture if you choose to pursue it.
Just like with selling other products on Amazon, there are ways to maximize your profits.
To see if your book idea is profitable, you can look on Amazon itself.
There are some fiercely competitive niches on there like romance. In that case, you’d want to niche down further and write something like paranormal romance or historical romance.
You can also check the best sellers list and even size up your competition by downloading a free book or two in your genre off the free list.
Monitor trends, both within your genre and in the broader literary world. This insight can guide your content creation and marketing efforts, ensuring you’re riding the waves of reader interest.
Think of your writing journey as a series of interconnected islands. Regular releases serve as bridges between these islands, guiding readers from one adventure to the next.
Consistency is key – set a realistic publishing schedule and stick to it. This not only keeps your audience engaged but also signals to Amazon’s algorithm that your content is fresh and active.
In this digital age, social media isn’t just a tool; it’s a free way to find and engage with people you didn’t know before.
Create author profiles on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Engage with your audience, share sneak peeks, and offer insights into your writing process. These platforms aren’t just for promotion – they’re your bridge to connecting with readers on a personal level.
The heart of your literary kingdom lies in your readers. Respond to your readers and thank them for their support. Show genuine interest in their opinions and feedback.
Consider starting a mailing list to keep your readers updated on your latest releases, promotions, and behind-the-scenes peeks. By nurturing a community of loyal readers, you’re building not just a following but a family.
There’s no limit, but there’s so many moving parts to the equation. The hard part is finding a path to success and good profitability that make the endeavor worth your time and investment.
There are many ways to go about it. You can do it yourself, hire someone with KDP experience, or a smattering of both.
It’s a viable path to expand your business and you can even use it to enhance your brand.
Should you choose to explore self-publishing with Amazon KDP further, I recommend these two guys for guidance: