By Amanda Miller
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform has been an amazing tool for independently published authors to get their books into the world and hit a big market—not only swiftly but affordably. Not only is KDP’s platform easy to use, but it is ever-evolving with fresh, new developments for authors to take advantage of. Let’s take a dive into the 9 features every author should know about.
1. Hardcover Books
In 2021, KDP finally made it available to create and publish hardcover books, which made many of us in the publishing world very excited. However, since this is a new feature on the KDP platform, there are some limitations:
• There are only 5 book trim sizes available: 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9, 6.14 x 9.21, 7x 10, 8.25 x 11.
• Only case laminate hardcovers are available; no dust jacket, cloth bound, or other special printing options are available at this time.
• The minimum and maximum page count is 75 – 550 pages (which means you cannot produce a standard 32-page children’s picture book).
• Different cover requirements and measurements are used to format a hardcover cover file than what is used to format a paperback cover file. Be sure to use KDP’s cover calculator and template generator or hire a professional cover designer.
• Hardcover cannot be sold through the Amazon Japan store.
• Hardcover is not eligible at this time for expanded distribution.
Expanded distribution is important to note if you are an author who wants to get your books into as many bookstores, libraries, and retailers as possible. Amazon’s expanded distribution networks enables your book to be available for various retail stores, booksellers (i.e. Barnes & Noble), and libraries. If you cannot enable the expanded distribution feature that means your book will only be available for purchase through the Amazon store. The expanded distribution feature is currently only available for paperback and eBook formats.
2. A+ Content
Kindle’s new A+ Content feature is a great new marketing tool KDP has offered published authors through their KDP accounts. It enables you to create content for your book’s sales page in order to drive more book sales.
To get started, you need to create engaging and eye-catching graphics that share your brand story and author bio or showcase your books and editorial reviews. Then, you upload them through Kindle A+. It will take up to 8 weeks to be published on your Amazon’s book sales page. Once approved by Amazon, your graphics will be showcased on your sales page for customers to view when considering your book.
Here is how a book sales page looks before enhancing with Kindle A+ Content:
In this example, the sales page does not have any visual graphics to showcase and sell the book. The reader is limited to editorial reviews and previous reader ratings. With quick, at-a-glance visual graphics, potential buyers can learn about your book’s story and message with ease.
Here are examples of sales pages after enhancing with A+ Content:
While A+ Content is great for all authors it is especially useful for authors with multiple titles so they can promote and emphasize the differences within their collection of books. For more visual books such as cookbooks or journals, A+ content offers a variety of content layouts that will help showcase the interior of the book.
3. Kindle Instant Book Preview
Most of us are familiar with Amazon’s “Look Inside the Book” feature. It allows people to sample pages of a book on the Amazon sales page, just as they might in a bookstore.
Now, the KDP Embed Tool offers the same tool for your own website! Rather than walking down the bookstore aisle, grabbing a book, perusing the cover, and flipping it over to read the back, your readers can access all of this on your website.
How do you find the KDP Embed Tool?
Once your book is live on Amazon, go to your sales page (not your KDP page, but your Amazon sales page). On the right-hand column, scroll down until you see the social media icons. The <Embed> tool is right there. Click on that and follow the prompts.
For more information on this feature click here.
4. Sharing Your Book’s Sales Page on Social Media
In the graphic for #3 above you can see the social media icons next to the embed tool, Amazon provides these for authors to share their book’s sales page directly to their social media pages. Simply click the appropriate icon and you can create a post to share with your audience, driving sales directly to your book!
5. Nominate Your eBooks for Kindle Deals
Nominating your eBook for a Kindle Deal is currently in Beta form—meaning the program is not fully released. But, you can still take advantage of it. If you have an account already opened with Amazon KDP and your eBook is published, you can Nominate your Ebook for Kindle Deals by logging into your account and clicking on the “Marketing” tab. Halfway down the page you will see this:
When you nominate your eBook for a Kindle Deal, your eBook will be offered for a limited-time discount, lasting from one day to multiple weeks. If your book is eligible (check the requirements) your eBook could get special placement in the Kindle store or additional email marketing. While the nomination program is in Beta, you will receive royalties on the discounted price for every sale during the deal, according to your selected royalty plan.
If KDP accepts your nominated eBook, they will send you an email offer that you can accept or decline. If you haven’t heard from them within 90 days, your title was not selected.
6. Prime Reading Promotions
In #5 above, you will see that Prime Reading is right next to Kindle Deals under your marketing tab, found in your KDP account. Prime reading allows authors to offer their books for free, exclusively to Amazon’s Prime members. This promotion is like free advertising and assists your book in gaining more exposure and improving your book’s sales rank. Authors who have been accepted into the program report that Prime readers are more likely to look at your backlist and purchase one of your other books that is not enrolled into the special promotion. Unfortunately, in terms of royalties for your book, you will not receive compensation on those books sold through Prime Reading Promotions. However, many authors think of Prime Reading Promotions as a loss leader for their portfolio of books: offer one for free and in return, hopefully you will gain some new fans.
7. Audible Author Pages
If you already have an Amazon Author Central account open and you create an audiobook through Audible, be sure to link your audiobook to your Amazon Author Central account when you are finished. That way, Amazon will seamlessly link your author bio to its own Audible Author page and automatically populate over to Audible. To open up your Amazon Author Central account, go into your KDP account, click on the Marketing tab, and you will find Amazon Author Central. If you are in the United States, you select the “.com” market.
8. Kindle Vella
Many of us are familiar with that anticipatory feeling of starting up a really good TV show and then having to wait until the following week to view the next episode. Now, readers can be held to the same anticipation by authors through Kindle Vella, Amazon’s new program that allows writers to release weekly chapters of their book. Instead of publishing a whole book
authors can serialize the book.
Kindle Vella is great for series authors or those writing short episodic narratives. You may even want to consider starting your publishing journey here and building an audience before publishing a larger work. The minimum word count, per entry, to publish on the platform is 500, while the maximum is up to 6,000.
If you already have works published, you are not allowed to repurpose them on the Kindle Vella platform—all content must be original content.
Author compensation is based on Kindle Vella’s token system where readers can purchase token bundles in order to access content. For example, if one token redeems 100 words and a reader would like to read a story that is 600 words long, then it will require a reader to purchase and use about six tokens. Once a reader makes a token bundle purchase, the author gets compensated based on 50% of the money that the reader spent on purchasing the bundle.
Rumor has it, it’s hard to outshine the authors at the top who have already made it on the platform. Compensation is slim. However, writers are enjoying the platform for its ability to motivate them to write one chapter at a time as a precursor to a full manuscript that they plan on releasing in a more polished form. Essentially, make some bonus money off pre-published book, create a readership, and release the full book in print at a higher price.
To access Kindle Vella and get started: Login to your KDP account by going to kdp.amazon.com and logging in. Then at the top of your screen you will see this:
Once here, click on “Kindle Vella Library” until you see the following page:
Then, click on “Start a story”.
9. The Product Description Box
In the past several months, KDP finally updated their product description box where authors would add their marketing blurb about their book. Before, authors had to write up their product description, copy and paste it into an HTML formatting tool and then copy and paste the new description back into KDP so it would show up correctly. Luckily, KDP has updated this feature so that you no longer have to labor over getting the spacing and bolding of your text just right. Now it is seamlessly integreated into their system when you go to upload your book. Yay!
Whether you are just starting your publishing journey or are a literary veteran, KDP will continue to create new offerings. We understand that it can be overwhelming to stay up-to-date on the industry tools and news, so feel free to leave it to the publishing experts to keep you informed. If you have any questions, reach out to Amanda Miller.
Amanda Miller is a publishing consultant with My Word Publishing. She guides authors through the entire publishing process: production, publication, distribution, even marketing. You can contact Amanda here.
BlueInk Review offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books penned by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine, a highly respected review publication that reaches 60,000 librarians. For more great tips about writing, publishing and marketing, sign up for our free newsletter.