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The 3 Ways To Self-Publish Or Sell A Book On Amazon

I self-published a book for family and friends and have been wondering how to get it on Amazon – for wider distribution and so that folks can give feedback through Amazon’s reviews.

I Self-Published This Book And Am Considering Selling It On Amazon

So I asked San Francisco freelance writer Angela Privin (Wall Street Journal, Yoga Business Times) to research self-publishing/selling on Amazon and write an article on it. Here’s her summary:

Amazon has three programs for self-publishers to choose from:

  1. Create Space
  2. Kindle Direct Publishing and
  3. Advantage.

1) “Create Space:” Create Your Print- Or E-Book On Amazon

Amazon’s first option is Create Space. This online subsidiary company and self-publishing arm of allows the user to create and format a book for either print or digital distribution on demand.

The service is free and Create Space automatically assigns an ISBN number, which is required to sell books on Amazon.

An ISBN number is a 10-digit number that uniquely identifies books to allow for efficient marketing and identification by retailers and libraries (note: an ISBN number also makes it easier for authors to get listed in Wikipedia!).

With Create Space, the user pays for the book to be printed and royalties to Amazon when the book is sold. This is an example of their fee structure.

It is free to sign up and upload a PDF version of your book on the Create Space online software program. If your book is 100 pages and 5 inches by 8 inches in size the cost of publishing will be $3.66 each unit.

Amazon will only print and charge you when a customer orders a copy from the site.  Amazon takes 40 percent of the selling price, however they do let self-publishers set their own price.

So, here’s an example of the economics if you price the book at $15:

  • $3.66 will be subtracted to publish it, leaving a balance of  $11.34.
  • Amazon’s cut will be $6.00 (40% of the selling price)
  • You the author get the remaining $5.34

This publishing price assumes the book will be in black and white. Color and illustrations make it more expensive.

Create Space will also convert the PDF files of your book to the PRC e-book format  (used by Kindle and a few other digital readers) for a $69 fee.

They’ll also assign an e-book ISBN number that is different from the ISBN number for the print version (note: if you ever want to divorce your book from Create Space then you will lose your ISBN numbers (Create Space owns them) and you’ll need to get another ISBN for any electronic copy you want to sell).

After converting your e-book, Create Space hands it over and collects no additional royalties or fees. Now you can sell on Amazon’s Kindle site and/or chose another e-book retailer.

Unlike other self-publishing programs (like, Create Space doesn’t let you write and format the book with its publishing software.

It requires the front, back and interior of the book be uploaded as PDFs.

If you’ve already created a book in another self-publishing program like Blurb there’s no easy way to convert and upload it to Create Space.

2) Kindle Direct Publishing: Selling Your E-Book On Amazon

If you want to sell an e-book on Amazon you must go through the Kindle Direct Publishing program.

Kindle’s advantage is that it also has apps available on the iPad and other devices to serve people who don’t own Kindles.

Here is an interesting blog post from author Catherine Ryan Howard who raves about the success of her self-publishing when she sold her e-book on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and another platform called Smashwords.

Howard sells hundreds of e-books per month with what sounds like minimal marketing — that should be an inspiration to you want-to-be-authors!

With Kindle Direct, you can choose either a 35 percent to 70 percent royalty structure based on what country the book is sold in, delivery costs and other pricing considerations.

Currently, you receive 70% royalties when your book is sold in these countries:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • Switzerland
  • Austria
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg

You receive 35% royalties for all other counties.

There’s a few other nuances so click here for fee structure details for Kindle Direct Publishing.

3) Amazon Advantage: Publishing On Amazon If You Have A Print Book

What if you’ve already printed hard copies of your book or are working with another online publishing program that prints on demand?

You can still sell your book on Amazon. If you have an ISBN number you can use Amazon’s Advantage program. Advantage is a self-service consignment program that lets the author promote and sell media products directly on

Getting an ISBN is a relatively easy and inexpensive process, and will be discussed later in this article

Unlike Create Space, Advantage is not free. There is a charge of $29.95 per year plus a 55 percent standard royalty. Advantage is for printed books, music and DVDs but doesn’t sell e-books.

After signing up with Advantage, will automatically begin ordering copies of your book once a week to meet customer demand.

You ship the books to the Amazon warehouse on a weekly basis and they pay you when the book sells, taking out their royalty.

Advantage handles payment, shipping, and all customer service issues, including returns.

Once your book is listed on it will look the same as any other retail book page with an author bio, book description, look-inside pages and a section for customer reviews.

How To Get AN ISBN For Your Book

If you don’t want to use Create Space and convert to PDF you just need an ISBN number. can help you do this.

You can apply and instantly be assigned an ISBN number online. The cost for one ISBN number is $125 and can be done for both print and e-books.

Once you obtain your ISBN number it can be printed on the back cover of the book.

Good luck!