How to Self-Publish a Book on Amazon (KDP): Tips From My Experience

I was that kid who dreamt of writing a book one day.

And now, just shy of 40 years old, I can call myself a published author. Well, self-published.

This blog takes you step-by-step through my self-publishing journey. Click here to skip to that part.

Why I wrote a devotional

You can click here to read the full story behind this devotional, but I’ll share a bit below. (You can also view my eBook and paperback on Amazon here.)

It’s funny how fulfilling a dream rarely looks exactly like you once imagined it would. At least, that’s my experience.

First, my childhood dream of being an author looked like having a book published by an actual publishing house. Not Kindle Direct Publishing—though, in my defense, Amazon and Kindle weren’t around back then.

My dream also looked like writing fiction. That’s what I read. That’s what I knew. In fact, I avoided most non-fiction books because they felt hard to get into. I was never itching to finish them. I might have even blamed a lot of non-fiction for “ruining” reading for me.

Lastly, I never imagined I’d write a non-fiction, Christian book. Even though I grew up reading the Bible in church, I never felt adequate to teach anything biblical. That seemed like a gift only super Christians possessed. Not me. I loved to listen and learn about God, but being a leader in that sense seemed both unattainable and, honestly, undesirable to me.

Yet, here I am, a self-published author of a non-fiction, Christian devotional book.

God created younger me with that desire to write a book. God created me with a love for reading and writing, because writing a book was part of His plan for my life. Regardless of how I imagined it. Regardless of the path that got me to this point. God gives us passions and loves to help us see them through.

He certainly helped me write my devotional. Yes, I was obedient to write it; however, I needed His guidance and wisdom every step of the way. That, I want to acknowledge before I dive into the HOW of self-publishing.

If you also have a dream of writing a book, I hope this helps you get started and make it happen!

This is not meant to be an exhaustive or extremely detailed list. I simply want to share briefly what I did to give you an idea of the process if you’re considering it yourself. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions I don’t cover here.

1. Research how to self-publish a book

Personally, I had no idea where to start or even if self-publishing was the best way for me.

I found a few podcasts on writing a book that discussed pros and cons of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. That helped me decide on self-publishing. For you, that might be different, so I encourage you to seek out information to be sure.

In the process of researching, I also came upon a book on self-publishing that gave me insight into all the steps. This way, I had an actionable plan to follow instead of working aimlessly without a guarantee I was doing it right.

Here are a few podcast episodes (and the book) I recommend:

2. Start writing your book draft

If you know what you want to write about, great! If not, that may be another thing for you to research.

Personally, I knew I was writing a devotional for women pursuing eating disorder recovery (ed). My next step was outlining the topics by day and then actually digging into the Bible—and my past experience recovering from an ed—to create a draft.

Writing my draft took dedication to anywhere from 5 to 15 hours per week for about a month and a half. Of course, that was for about 68 Google doc pages, not a novel or even a longer non-fiction book. Yet, it also required a LOT of time in God’s Word, plus prayer, and careful consideration to the people who would read it and what I hoped they would get out of it. The writing itself was fairly quick. It was the preparation for the writing that took the longest.

For an idea of how long it might take you, consider:

  • How much time you have to dedicate each day or week. For me, I didn’t have to make time, but I did have to prioritize the time instead of watching TV or scrolling on my phone.
  • How quickly you generally write. That will vary, but, it may go quicker if it’s a subject you’re especially passionate about—and I hope it is!
  • How much research you’ll have to do. Again, this will vary. Maybe your book requires little to none. Maybe it requires a LOT. If the latter is the case, pace yourself and find a system that works for you—whether that’s doing all the research upfront, or doing research for one section and stopping to write before researching the next section. You know how you work best, so you do you.

Parts of a book

Depending on the type of book you write, here are other parts to consider in addition to the main text:

  • Title page — includes title, subtitle, and your name as the author
  • Copyright page — the book Published I referenced above goes in detail on creating this page, but you can also find useful information and templates here.
  • Forward — not necessary unless you would like to include an endorsement from someone else at the front of your book
  • Table of Contents — if your book has chapters, you’ll want to include chapter titles and page numbers for easy reference
  • Introduction — this is where you introduce yourself, why you wrote the book, and what you hope readers will get out of it
  • Body of the book — generally, organized in chapters, but not always
  • Works cited page — I only cited a few sources and opted to share the source as a footer on the page; however, if you cite a lot of sources, it may be best to include a works cited page at the end of your book using the MLA format
  • Epilogue — completely optional if you’d like to close your book with a summary or conclusion
  • Other resources — the beginning or end of the book is a great place to add a call to action (CTA) for readers to engage with your website, podcast, other books, social media, etc. (My devotional book includes a music playlist at the end.)

Do you need permission to use Bible verses in a book?

It depends! If you plan to write a Christian book with scripture—depending on the version you use and how many verses you use—you may need permission.

This was news to me, I’ll admit. I naively thought anyone could quote any version of the Bible in a book. No questions asked. But nope. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

For my devotional, I decided to use a few versions that are in the public domain (aka. available for public use with no copyright restrictions). Here is a list of public domain Bible versions.

All versions that aren’t in the public domain will require you to include copyright information on the copyright page of your book. The NIV is one such version.

I learned that I could use the NIV version without permission because the percentage of NIV verses to total text was low enough. However, I did still have to include a copyright statement for the NIV version on my copyright page.

Click here to see a list of version and the copyright information (and restrictions) for each. You’ll need to scroll down to see the English version list, and then click on the individual version to see both the copyright statement to put in your book, as well as any permission requirements. Each version is different, so be sure to click on every one you want to use!

3. Proofread, proofread, proofread

Even though you’re probably proofreading as you go, don’t rely on that alone. Once you finish what you feel is a solid draft, read it from start to finish again and check for misspellings, grammar, and overall flow. Make changes as you go.

If you know an especially good proofreader—family or friend—who is willing to look it over for you, that doesn’t hurt.

Your goal here will depend on whether you plan to hire an actual editor or not. Yes, you can hire an editor even if you self-publish, which leads me to my next step.

4. Do you need to hire an editor?

This is completely up to you and your ability to edit. If you feel your manuscript draft is perfect or nearly perfect, you may opt to skip finding an editor.

I did not skip it.

Being my first foray into self-publishing, I wanted to do it right. The book Published I mentioned above has an entire chapter on deciding whether or not you need an editor and how to find one if you do. Freelancers are generally the way to go; however, I found a Christian company that offered what I needed—basic editing services at an affordable rate. The company is Affordable Christian Editing, if you’re interested.

If you go the freelance route, I can’t speak to that, other than offer a few freelance sites to check out: Upwork and Fiverr. I’ve not personally used these, but I know you can find editors using either one. The price will vary by who you hire and how much work they need to do for you.

Tip: Look for someone who has experience in the genre of your book, if possible. That’s why I ended up using Affordable Christian Editing, because of the editors’ experience with Christian-based books specifically.

For my devotional book, the editing process took about a week. That included emails back and forth with my editor to discuss details and also her workload at the time. Don’t expect an editor to be available immediately and have it done in a day or two—especially if your book is longer than mine, which is likely.

5. Do you need to hire a formatter?

Because I planned to publish my book as both an eBook and a paperback through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) via Amazon, I knew I needed two versions.

Maybe you only want an eBook version. Maybe only paperback. Or, maybe you want both plus a hardcover book. Whatever you decide, your book’s pages need to be formatted correctly for each type.

This includes not only the margins, line spaces, and page numbers, but also the style of the book—things like font, how the chapter titles look, how any graphics or images will be shown (if any). Those are just a few aspects of formatting and I quickly realized it was something I could either take a LONG time to figure out myself—and maybe still not get just right—or I could pay someone to do it.

Thankfully for me, Affordable Christian Editing also offers this service. Or, you can find a freelancer for this, too.

Tip for eBook version: whether you hire someone or do it yourself, I recommend making your table of contents clickable with hyperlinks to each chapter.

6. Create a book cover

This is something you also may want to hire out. It all depends on your skill level with digital art… or whether you know someone willing to design a cover for you.

Can’t do it yourself and don’t know anyone artistic? Finding a freelance cover designer is your best bet.

Things to consider:

  • eBooks only need a front cover
  • Paperback and hardcover books need a front cover, spine, and back cover
  • The size of the book (if you opt for paperback and/or hardcover).
    • Choosing a standard size will likely be easier (and cheaper); but consider the type of book and what makes the most sense for your content and audience.
    • Standard sizes include: 5″x8″ or 5.5″x8.5″ and 6″x9″
  • Once you know the size of the book and the number of pages, you can use the KDP cover calculator and template generator to determine the exact margins and trim area to use for your cover design. You can even download the template and then upload it to Canva to use as a template. (That’s what I did, and I only have the free version of Canva.)
  • Tip: If you use the template in Canva, be sure to delete all of the template layers before downloading the final cover. I missed deleting a tiny bit of text that blended into my cover, and KDP did not approve my book till I removed it.

7. Use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to publish your book

Create a KDP account

If you already have an Amazon account, this step is easy. Visit and sign in with your existing Amazon Account.

Not an Amazon user? Click “Sign up” and go through the steps. I signed in through my Amazon account, so I’m not able to speak to this process.

Set up your KDP account

After logging in, click “Your Account” at the top of the screen. This will take you to your profile page where you’ll want to verify and complete the following:

  • Author / Publisher Information: Business type (individual or corporation), name, date of birth, and contact information.
  • Getting Paid: Sync up your bank account or the account where you’d like your book sale royalties to go.
  • Tax Information: Complete a few details to verify your individual or corporate tax information.
    • Yes, you will have to pay taxes on any profits you make from selling a book.
    • Also, I recommend doing this several weeks before you plan to launch your book. The tax information you submit does go through an approval process.

Utilize the KDP Help Center!

For those who have no idea what to do next, the Help Center is a fantastic resource. Click the “Help” header at the top of your KDP account to access it.

On the lefthand side of the Help Center, you’ll see multiple categories with links to subcategories. Each offers more information on topics like:

  • Setting up your account
  • Formatting your book (if you choose to do it yourself)
  • How to create a book or series
  • Your Amazon store and detail page
  • Marketing and distribution
  • How to update your book
  • Payments and reports
  • Legal and content guidelines
  • User guides

Through the Help Center, you can also reach out to Amazon via a “Contact us” button, if you can’t find the answer to a question.

I recommend reading through as many of the Help Center categories as you need. It’s possible not all will apply to you—for example, if you’re not publishing a hardcover book, that subcategory won’t be useful.

Take what you need for your book.

Publish your book with KDP

Once you have an edited and formatted manuscript for the book type(s) you plan to publish (eBook, paperback, and/or hardcover)—AND your KDP account setup is complete—you’re ready to create your book.

In your KDP account, click “Bookshelf.” It’s not one of the headers at the very top of the page, but you’ll see it near the top next to the Kindle Direct Publishing logo.

On this page, click the yellow “+ Create” button to get started.

The next page will ask you to select which type of book you’re creating. (If you plan to create an eBook and a paperback, for example, you’ll need to upload each one separately.)

Because I only created eBook and paperback versions for my book, I will briefly touch on those two.

Steps to publish an eBook on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Kindle eBook Details page

Below is the information you’ll need to complete on the first page of the eBook creator:

  • Language
  • Book title
  • Subtitle (optional)
  • Series (if it is part of a series)
  • Edition number (optional)
  • Author information
  • Contributor information
  • Description (I used what I put on the back cover of my book, but that is not required)
  • Publishing rights (Note: even if you have not officially copyrighted your book, you still own the rights—unless you signed them over to someone else or a publisher at any point.)
  • Keywords (that someone might search to find your book)
  • Categories your book fits into (max 2)
  • Age and grade range (optional)
  • Pre-order or make available now (with “now” meaning it will go live within 72 hours)

Kindle eBook Content page

On this page, you’ll need to complete the following:

  • Upload your manuscript. My formatter recommended using a Word document for the eBook version, not a PDF.
  • Kindle eBook Cover.
    • Reminder: you only need a front cover.
    • Note: it does need to be in JPG or TIFF format
  • Kindle eBook Previewer (to review how it looks)

Kindle eBook Pricing page

On this page, you’ll need to complete the following:

  • Decide if you want to sign up for KDP Select Enrollment. You can review more information about it to decide if it’s for you.
    • You must agree that your eBook will be exclusive to Kindle.
    • KDP Select allows you to set your price to $0.00 for temporary promotions—which can be a great marketing strategy for more downloads.
    • This option also gives you more opportunity to tap into other Amazon promotions.
  • Which territories you’d like to sell your book in (worldwide or no?)
  • Selecting your primary marketplace (aka. country)
  • Determining pricing, royalties, and distribution
  • Reviewing the terms and conditions

At the bottom of this page, you have two options:

  1. Save as draft
  2. Publish your Kindle eBook

Note: when you click publish, it can take up to 72 hours for your book to be live on Amazon, because it will go through a review process. In the case that your book does not meet approval as is, you will receive an email from KDP.

If you have a specific date in mind to release your book, keep this in mind.

Steps to publish a paperback on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Paperback Details page

The “Paperback Details” you have to complete is exactly the same as the eBook list, with two exceptions:

  1. Instead of an age range, you are asked if the language, situations and images are appropriate for children under 18 years of age.
  2. There is no pre-order or availability option.

Paperback Content page

Once you complete the “Paperback Details” page, you’ll move on to “Paperback Content.” This is where you can obtain an ISBN number if you don’t have one. (And, if you’re self-publishing, it’s safe to say you likely don’t have one.) Select the “Get a free KDP ISBN” and you’ll be assigned one. But note that, because you’re publishing with KDP, this ISBN number is only valid through KDP.

Here is what you’ll need to complete on this page:

  • Publication date (skip if it hasn’t been published previously)
  • Print options
    • Black and white or color
    • Trim size (the actual size of your book when printed)
    • Bleed settings (read the notes on this one)
    • Paperback cover finish options
  • Manuscript (uploading your actual manuscript as a PDF)
  • Book cover (you can use KDP’s cover creator, or upload a PDF version of your cover if you already have one)
  • Preview (once you upload the manuscript and cover)

Tip: I recommend reviewing the preview closely to make sure everything looks correct before approving.

Paperback Rights & Pricing page

Here is what you’ll need to complete on this page:

  • Territories (worldwide or no?)
  • Primary marketplace (aka. country)
  • Pricing, royalty, and distribution
  • Terms & Conditions (to review)
  • Request a book proof


  • I recommend reading the additional information on each of these above to decide what’s right for you.
  • Pricing, specifically, will be very much up to you and your book. It can help to research similar books on Amazon to see what they are selling for.
  • I definitely recommend requesting a proof of your book before you take it live—to verify what it will look like when others order it, and also for the thrill of having a copy to show as a preview when you launch!

At the end of this page, you can either save everything as a draft, or you can choose to publish your paperback book. If you choose to publish, note that it can take up to 72 hours to go live—again, because it will go through a review process. Keep this in mind if you have a specific date you want to launch.

Pop up message from Amazon KDP that your paperback has been submitted.

Review can take up to 72 hours and the book will appear "In Review" during this time.

Launching a book on Amazon

Once your book is reviewed and approved, the Amazon KDP team will send you a confirmation email. If you publish more than one version (ex. eBook and paperback), you will receive a separate email for each.

eBook email:

Email from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing confirming that ebook is now live and available for purchse.

If your book does not pass the review, you will receive an email describing what you need to fix.

For my paperback, I accidentally didn’t remove a small section of text from the cover template that blended in with my cover design. KDP caught it and emailed to let me know. I then had to remove the text in Canva, re-save it as a PDF, upload the new cover in my KDP account, and then click publish again for my book to go back into review.

Paperback email when it was finally approved:

Email from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, stating a paperback book has been approved and is live on Amazon

Do you want to write a book?

That’s the question I’ll leave you with.

The barriers to publishing are not what they used to be. You CAN self-publish that book you’ve got swirling in your head right now. I hope these tips and steps above will help you get started.

Let me know if you do. I’d love to answer any questions, or simply cheer you on!

5 thoughts on “How to Self-Publish a Book on Amazon (KDP): Tips From My Experience

  1. Pingback: Why I Published an Eating Disorder Recovery Devotional – adventure and the girl

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