Can Amazon Self-Publishing Make You Money?

How to Make Money Self-Publishing Books on Amazon

Amazon publishing

Getty Images/Enis Aksoy


The internet has revolutionized so many industries and businesses.

In the publishing world, in particular, Amazon self-publishing, it has leveled the playing field, allowing authors to take control and publish their work without having to go through the “gatekeepers,” i.e. traditional publishers like Random House.

There are several ways to publish your work online… and make money, too! But one service, in particular, has become the go-to resource for authors because of the profit potential and ease of use: Amazon self-publishing.

Regardless of your experience level, Amazon has democratized the publishing business so anybody with an interest and desire to write and publish a book can do it. You don’t have to be a professional writer… or have been previously published… or have any internet business experience at all to start with Amazon self-publishing. Anybody can use this platform to get their work out into the world and into the hands of waiting audiences.

As the world's largest online bookstore there's an opportunity to get your book self-published on Amazon and reach your target audience regardless of your topic. You can write about something you’re passionate about. Fiction. Nonfiction. Biographies. History. Children's books. Popular categories on Amazon include self-help, health and fitness, cooking, hobbies, romance, travel, young adult… the list goes on. You can bet there is an audience for just about any topic out there.

You might already have a topic or topics in mind. If you don’t, that’s fine too. In both cases, you should check out Amazon and scan all the different categories and bestseller lists. This will give you an idea of what themes or subjects sell and have profit potential. If you see your idea often when doing this search — run with it. If not, you might want to try a more popular topic with a built-in audience. Books that are in the top rankings or have a lot of customer reviews and feedback are signals that there is an audience for your topic on Amazon.

You can also spot the “gaps” when doing your Amazon search. This means looking for popular and trending topics out in the world that are not covered well already by Amazon books. You can bet there are plenty of people who would love the buy the book you produce.

Of course, to have Amazon self-publishing create a steady income for you, you do need to take some steps. Your books aren’t going to sell themselves. Because you are the publisher, you’re also the marketer. You have to get the word out about your book. And you won’t be an overnight success. But you can make money… and the opportunity is growing.

One of the authors that is an example of this growing opportunity is Adam Croft, who writes and then puts out his mystery novels through Amazon self-publishing. He started in 2011 and was on track to make $1.4 million in 2016.

One other key thing to note, when self-publishing books on Amazon you don't have to write long books that can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. You can start off by writing shorter books that are very focused on a singular topic and charge a lower price for those books. As a matter of fact, Amazon Kindle books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 tend to generate the most amount of sales revenue per book sold. This is good news for those who suffer from writer's block and don't feel they have the time or focus to put out a larger traditional book.

Types of Self-Publishing Options on Amazon

The most cost-effective and efficient way to do Amazon self-publishing is through ebooks, which allows people to download your work directly to their devices, like the Kindle ebook reader. And Amazon has facilitated this process with Kindle Direct Publishing program, which has no fees to use — it’s self-publishing with no upfront costs. (You do need an Amazon account.)

This program has several advantages:

  1. You can upload your book on the platform in just a few minutes. And your book will be on sale in a couple of days at most.
  2. You retain the rights to your books and can set your own prices.
  3. For every book sold, you get to keep up to 70 percent of the sale price. Amazon keeps the rest.
  4. You can make changes to your book and upload changes at any time.

If you’d like to have a print book out there too, you can use a feature to do that. This option, with paperbacks, is also available in the Kindle Direct Publishing program. You can easily have your ebook converted into a print book which is an easy way to sell more books as there are many people who still prefer physical print books.

There are some differences. For example, with paperback Amazon self-publishing you get up to 60 percent royalties, instead of 70 percent. Also, because this is print on-demand, Amazon subtracts publishing costs from each sale too.

If you are publishing a with Amazon Kindle then you should surely take the extra step to offer a print version of your book as well. This will increase your overall sales and profits without doing any extra work.

Once you have a good handle on the Kindle Direct Publishing program, you could take it to the next level with the KDP Select program, which allows you to reach more readers and make more money, although there are important guidelines to follow.

Start with the standard program first, experience some success, then check out the Select version.

Marketing Your Amazon Self-Publishing Products

One key thing to sell your book is to create an attention-grabbing page for your Amazon self-publishing listing. A detailed description will “convert” more casual book browsers into buyers. And, when you use keywords related to your topic, people searching Amazon or Google will see your book high in the search results. Keywords also come into play when you pick your book title. Most people write very short descriptions on Amazon, but you have plenty of space to write a very long thourough description that can really sell people on the benefits of your book and why they shouod buy it.

Reviews are also vital in selling your book. People want to see what previous readers thought before committing to buying. So, as a new author, where do you get reviews? Send the book to people in the industry or experts in the topic covered in the book, co-workers, friends, and family… then ask them to submit an honest review. The key here is to be diligent in your follow up with getting reviews. Most people are extremely busy and even writing a short book review is something they are not likely to do without a little nudging.

You should also put out in the word out on your social media like Facebook and Twitter. Put up a website. Create an email list. Join forums related to the topic of your book and join the conversation… and casually mention your book. Comment on blogs in the niche, with links back to your book website or Amazon page.

Another option is to run ads though Amazon Advertising. You can run ads every time someone does a keyword search on Amazon and also show ads for your books when visitors are looking at other books related to your book. This is one of the most cost effective ways of doing paid advertising for an inexpensive book and still make a profit doing it.

This is a very powerful tool to get your book in front of the people who are most likely to buy it.

How You Make Money With Amazon Self-Publishing

The first step here: get your books online on the Kindle platform! And get the word out through intensive marketing. Don't be shy about telling the world about your book.

It’s also important you know that putting out just one book through Amazon self-publishing probably won’t bring in a lot of income. Those self-publishers who do make four figures per month — or more — have multiple books for sale. This gives you two important advantages.

First, this gives you more of a chance to write in a popular category and catch the audience’s eye.

Second, you’re more likely to have one of your books “cross advertised” with another — you know, when the Amazon site lists other products similar to the one you just bought or have been browsing? Many people click on those links to find out more about those related products, in this case books, and buy them too.

Again, you could easily accomplish this by having two shorter books rather than one longer book on Amazon. Aim for having a goal of having at least two books on Amazon for best results. It's a lot easier to get someone who bought one of your books to buy a second and third book than to get a new buyer.

How to Create Your Book

The first step here, of course, is to actually write the text of your book. A few tips here:

Once you have a topic create an outline, do your research… then start writing. Don’t put it off!

It can be tough to think about writing a whole book. But it’s not so bad once you break it into steps. Write a bit each day and before you know it your book will be done.

If you’ve already written a book — you could use that. Although you should read it over before proceeding. And if you write a blog or a journal, you could collect those writings into a book, if appropriate.

Next step — show it to a trusted friend or family member (or even better somebody you know who has experience or an interest in the topic you’ve written about) to get their feedback on the content. Based on what they say you might edit or tweak your book.

Once you have the content of your book sorted out, there are a few more steps before you can submit it for Amazon self-publishing.

You want your book to be presentable and look good. So first, you should hire a proofreader to make sure there are no typos or grammar mistakes. Mistakes are a big turn-off to readers. You can find affordable proofreaders on sites like If you know someone who’s a stickler for grammar, hire him or her.

Next, you should hire a graphic designer to create a cover (based on your specifications) and lay out the text into book format.

For Amazon self-publishing, you need to follow certain specifications that they’ll give you once you join the KDP program.

Great design and error free copy — plus, compelling content that readers find valuable — is key to getting positive reviews. And those are worth their weight in gold when it comes to increasing your sales.

Next Steps for Amazon Self-Publishing Success

Find a winning theme. Write the text. Get it designed. Join the Kindle Direct Publishing program. Upload your book… and start selling.

It’s a simple process. But that’s what Amazon self-publishing is all about.

As you go through these steps, you should take care not to spend too much time. You won’t be able to make any money unless your book is online and for sale. So get it as close to perfect as you can, then get it out there.