If you’re struggling with or uninterested in conventional publishing, you’ve likely considered self-publishing. One of many options within this route is self-publishing on Amazon: with its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, the giant online marketplace has now stepped into the publishing world.
Before you commit to self-publishing on Amazon, make sure you understand the pros and cons of self-publishing itself, and what the alternatives are. Start with this great resource on navigating the publishing process, from self-publishing to finding an agent, and everything in between.
If you think that self-publishing is the route for you, or want to learn more about Amazon’s self-publishing platform, read on for self-publishing on Amazon pros and cons.
The pros of self-publishing on Amazon
Where publishing used to be an elites-only club, Kindle Direct Publishing allows writers to enter the literary world on their own terms. Some of the most notable pros of Amazon’s self-publishing are the site’s ease, accessibility, flexibility, pricing, royalties, and payments options.
KDP makes self-publishing easy. They’ve provided detailed documentation, how-to videos, FAQs, forums, and a help center, all of which can help you understand your self-publishing options. Whether you’re new or experienced, you’ll be able to use Amazon’s self-publishing services easily.
Self-publishing truly opens up the elusive publishing world to new writers. Having free self-publishing options can make that writing dream become a reality for people who may have thought it was impossible. Self-publishing can sometimes be a pricey option, so having an affordable and feasible option for writers is truly groundbreaking.
In the current world of publishing, writers now have to consider what type of medium they would like to produce – digital or printed. Amazon self-publishing is flexible: you can publish strictly in a digital format (an eBook), you can publish in a paperback, or you can sell your book in both media. The choice is yours!
KDP allows most authors the option to set the book’s pricing. There are some restrictions, though. For example, if you select the 70% royalty program, then the maximum price that your eBook can be sold at is $9.99 in all applicable markets. Be sure to read through the fine print carefully while considering the pros and cons of self-publishing on Amazon.
KDP lets you set your royalty plans, giving authors a greater amount of control over their own financing. There are two options to choose from: a 35% royalty plan or a 70% royalty plan. It’s important that you do your research to figure out which option is best for you. For example, with the 70% royalty plan, you do need to account for printing and delivery costs, while with the 35% royalty plan, you don’t need to account for those fees.
Last but not least, Amazon gives reliable payments to authors. Authors are paid on a monthly basis, but with a 60-day window. So, If you make $100 in August, you won’t receive that $100 until October. This payment gap is notably large for the publishing industry and something to consider when weighing the self-publishing pros and cons.
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The cons of self-publishing on Amazon
Unfortunately, there’s some bad to consider with the good. Some of the cons we’ve found are the lack of a marketing strategy for authors, a forced dependence on Amazon’s marketplace and accompanying algorithm, and the exclusivity clause when signing onto KDP Select.
Lack of built-in marketing strategy
There are many pros and cons between traditional publishing versus self-publishing, but the one that affects most KDP authors is the lack of a built-in marketing approach. A traditional publisher will usually help plan out a marketing and press strategy before publication, but when you self-publish, this responsibility falls onto you. While you may be able to get your book into a printed or digital format, the next challenge is getting people to buy your book, and that challenge falls entirely on you.
Amazon marketplace algorithms and paid-only reviews
Social media has re-terraformed the literary landscape; thus, many marketing strategies rely on free giveaways and Amazon reviews. Unfortunately, Amazon has restricted reviews to paid customers only.
This means that even if your readers were given the book for free, they’ll be unable to leave an honest review on your book’s page. Reviews are important because they’re a part of Amazon’s algorithm when choosing the books that will be most visible to readers.
Another con to consider when choosing a self-publisher is the exclusivity clause. If you choose to sign up with KDP Select, one of Amazon’s publishing options, then be sure to read through each section carefully.
When authors sign on with KDP Select, they agree to only have their books available in the digital format with KDP. If a digital version of your book is available elsewhere then KDP will pull your book from their marketplace until you have removed other digital versions elsewhere. Luckily, this exclusivity clause seems to only be relevant for eBooks and not for paperback books.
Authors are paid on a monthly basis, but the 60-day window from earning your money to receiving it is notable and something to consider when weighing the self-publishing pros and cons. If you make $100 in August, you won’t receive that $100 until October.
Self-publishing can go beyond Amazon
When you’re doing your research, be sure to weigh all the pros and cons of self-publishing—whether on Amazon or not. Publishing your own work, regardless of platform, generally means more control, less stakeholders, and increased royalties. It also means generally fewer sales and no free professional editing, formatting, or cover art.
If you are looking for a different publishing platform, there are plenty of Amazon alternatives for self publishing, like:
Should you self-publish on Amazon?
Amazon has established itself as a reliable, affordable online marketplace, and has brought its expertise into the publishing domain. From our research, we think Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is a great option for new authors seeking to self-publish.
However, we strongly advise you to do your own research, read the fine print carefully, and even get legal advice (if possible or necessary!).
When deciding on a publisher—whether traditional or self-publishing—it’s absolutely critical that you be thorough and weigh the pros and cons effectively to find the best option for you.
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