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. Read on for Amazon self-publishing pros and cons.
The pros of Amazon self-publishing
With Kindle Direct Publishing, there is quite a lot to consider. Some of the most notable pros of Amazon’s self-publishing are the 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. So 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 could truly be groundbreaking for some.
In the current world of publishing, writers now have to consider what type of medium they would like to produce – digital or printed. With Amazon self-publishing you have flexibility in terms of the type of medium you decide to publish your book into. You can publish strictly in a digital format (an eBook) or you can publish in a paperback, or both. The choice is yours.
Depending on the package you select and the market in which you wish to sell, you may have the option to set your 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 when considering the pros and cons of self-publishing on Amazon.
With KDP, you have the option of setting your royalty plans. 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 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. What this means is that if you make $100 in August, you won’t receive that $100 until October.
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, being dependent on Amazon’s marketplace and its accompanying algorithm, and the exclusivity clause when signing onto KDP Select.
Lack of built-in marketing strategy
Out of the pros and cons between traditional publishing versus self-publishing 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. So while you may be able to get your book into a printed (or digital) format, the next challenge will be to get people to buy your book.
Amazon marketplace algorithms and paid-only reviews
With the strong presence of social media in our lives, many marketing strategies rely on free giveaways and the resulting 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 the most visible to readers.
Another con to consider when choosing a self-publisher, is any 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. What this means is that 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.