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Self Publishing with Amazon – It Can Be Confusing

Posted on: November 8th, 2019 by Publisher Services


Over the past 20 years Amazon has successfully transformed how and where books are sold. Their disruption to the book industry has also made it easier for authors to self-publish their work and get it in front of potential readers around the globe. 


Amazon provides self publishers different solutions to offer their books but unfortunately their communication and processes can be quite confusing. Due to their gargantuan growth and ongoing changes, some of the self publishing content on Amazon’s website is overwhelming and outdated.  This blog post will explain the available Amazon self publishing programs (as of November 2019) and provide insight on which type of ISBN is needed for each.


kindle diect publishing

Kindle Direct Publishing (aka Amazon KDP) is now Amazon’s comprehensive self publishing platform.  Many authors contact us and express confusion at the name since they assume “Kindle” only applies to ebook publishing. Kindle Direct Publishing enables self publishers to upload and manage their manuscript for BOTH printed and ebooks.   Previously, authors would establish accounts on KDP Direct which was Amazon’s ebook publishing platform.  A few years ago, Amazon purchased one of the largest print-on-demand (POD) companies in the US called CreateSpace.   During this past year Amazon merged the functionality of CreateSpace with their Kindle platform and established Kindle Direct Publishing.   Unfortunately Amazon still hosts pages referencing CreateSpace so it is confusing. (Click here for an example.)


The primary benefits of this comprehensive solution are that authors can manage their books in one single portal, leverage print-on-demand technology (no inventory costs), and have access to the largest global marketplace for books and ebooks.  There is one catch.  Authors are completely responsible for all cover design, book formatting and title data.  Once an account is established and an author uploads their manuscript, there are no humans checking the formatting and data to insure that the resulting book looks professional and is correct. Before merging with Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace used companies, such as Publisher Services, to assist their clients with cover design, interior formatting and ebook conversion.  Amazon’s new POD model means that GARBAGE IN = GARBAGE OUT.  The Kindle Direct Publishing portal does have an abundance of tutorials and templates for authors to perform these tasks themselves. Publisher Services does provide a complete array of services for Amazon publishers. Click here for information.




Authors who wish to publish their books to stores around the globe and use Kindle Direct Publishing must obtain ISBNs registered in their own name.  The Publisher Package consists of an ISBN registered to the author and a digital barcode ($129). It is important to note that Amazon does offer free ISBN assignments through their Kindle Direct Publisher for which the ISBN is registered to KINDLE Publishing. These ISBNs cannot be used anywhere else, so an author would have to obtain additional ISBNs for books published and sold outside the Kindle marketplace.


fulfillment by amazon


Whereas Amazon KDP is a print-on-demand solution authors, the Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) programs rely on an author/self publisher to handle all the printing functions and respective inventory holding costs. Self publishers get to leverage Amazon’s vast distribution and sales infrastructure. Amazon offers two variants of fulfillment programs. The most common FBA program involves authors sending in books to an Amazon distribution center so Amazon handles all shipping/returns with customers. In this consignment-type model, authors are only paid when books sell. Authors are responsible for book production, inventory carrying costs and Amazon labeling costs. One of the benefits is the ability to have your book(s) be included in the Amazon Prime programs. Not only do Prime members get free two-day shipping, but Prime product listings are typically shown first on display.


The alternative option for authors to having Amazon store/ship their books is where authors ship books direct to clients. The fees charged by Amazon are significantly less since all warehousing/shipping costs are the responsibility of the author. In addition, these books would not be part of the Amazon Prime program. Larger and established self-publishers might use this model for some of their sales to keep a direct connection with their clients.  


The table below provides a quick snapshot comparing Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon FBA programs. 


Amazon Programs


It is important to remember that Amazon’s primary goal is to maximize their customers’ buying experience and their self-publisher programs are geared towards efficiency. It is the author/self publisher’s responsibility to provide a professional product. Consequently, we encourage our clients to focus on making sure their book is ready to compete in a marketplace of publishers of all sizes. Amazon’s website has an abundance of content enabling authors to set up an account but they do not provide any phone support. If you need assistance in preparing your book and/or getting it listed through one of the Amazon programs, please contact us at 800-662-0703 or