Print on Demand, or POD, is a business model where you can create designs and then add them to a large variety of products which you can then sell. Third party fulfillment companies will print your design on their products and ship them directly to your customer. POD is a great business model for artists, designers and entrepreneurs alike.

Self Publishing Resources

Self Publishing Tools

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The Self Publishing Process

Method of Publishing

Determine if you want a POD setup or would rather print your own physical copies and manage the sales yourself

Research & Writing


Final Proofs

Read through the final physical copy for any errors, and have at least one other set of eyes review it.

Marketing & Promotion

Set a budget, explore pay-per-click opportunities and organize a book launch party. Turn your book into a can’t-miss-it event.

Self Publishing - Summary

Difficulty Level

KDP’s entire interface is extremely user-friendly. Help is available every step of the way through their support team. KDP will review your files to ensure they meet the requirements, and you can order a physical proof for a full review. To avoid any unnecessary errors with spelling, grammar or formatting, have a couple people read through the physical proof – ideally people to whom you have not yet told the story as they will be reading it with an objective perspective. They may catch errors like extra or missing line breaks, incorrect page numbers or an inaccurate table of contents. If you ensure your book is free of these errors, it will give your book the finess and quality of a traditionally published book.

Startup Costs

KDP does not charge to set up a title or distribute the final product to their web properties. The only costs are determined by what you want to spend on preparing the book itself. The only cost from KDP is ordering a proof, which with shipping is approximately $10. If you need to hire an editor or proof reader, you’ll likely spend $40-$75/hour for someone to read through your manuscript. Despite what we all want to believe, people do judge a book by its cover, and a professionally designed cover will elevate its value in a customer’s eyes. If you need to hire a designer for your cover art, you can set a budget and post the job on a site like www.upwork.com, where freelancers can apply for the job and share their design examples, and you hire the designer of your choice.


After writing your book and preparing your manuscript, you’ll need to allot some time for any of the jobs you hire out (e.g., editor, designer, etc.). For the interior file, KDP will provide a Microsoft Word template sized according to the trim size you choose. You can then copy and paste your text into this template chapter by chapter. The longer your manuscript, the longer this will take, but it’s a simple process nonetheless. Once you upload your exterior and interior files, you’ll wait approximately 24 hours for KDP to review the files and ensure they meet the requirements and specifications. As soon as you have approval, you’ll be asked to order a print proof, which will ship usually within 72 hours. This is a great opportunity to let someone else read through the proof and catch any spelling or formatting issues that may have arisen. Once everything is good in your eyes, you approve the final files and the title will be live within 24 hours.

Profit Potential

This depends on the discount that you give to Amazon to buy your book from you and host on their site. For example, if you wrote a 150-page book and give it a retail price of $9.99 for a physical copy, you can choose a royalty rate of 60%, subtract Amazon’s printing cost of $2.46 and take home a royalty of $3.54. For an eBook priced at $0.99, you can choose a royalty rate of 35% and take home a royalty of $0.35. If you want a higher royalty rate with an eBook, you’ll have to set a higher retail price as well, but keep in mind that eBook readers are generally looking for a less expensive read than a physical book.

Pros & Cons of Self Publishing


  • Total creative control over your project
  • Higher royalty per copy (up to 70% with eBooks)
  • Control your costs
  • Easily executed


  • Some people may view self-publishing as less legitimate than traditional publishing
  • No support of a publishing team
  • No advance on royalties



Self Publishing Explained

Sample Print on Demand Product

What is Self Publishing?

When an author releases a new book through a major publisher, they have a full team that prints, distributes and promotes their book on their behalf. Self-publishing is rather self-explanatory: Publishing something yourself, without the support of an established publisher. This means that you, the author, are responsible for formatting your book, setting it up through online distributors and managing all of your promotions. Sounds scary, right? The great thing is that self-publishing in this day in age is easy, efficient and economical – and it puts way more money from each book sale into your pocket instead of the publisher’s bank account.

How Does Self Publishing Work?

Back in the day, self-publishing required an author to print a large number of books, store them at home and manage the mailing for far-away orders. This meant that the author had to front a large sum of money for these copies. With the advent of Print on Demand (POD), authors were suddenly able to host their book through an online distributor and print a book only when an order is placed. This significantly reduces the initial investment and relieves the pressure of trying to sell a load of physical inventory.

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Different Types of Self Publishing

For those seeking a more traditional self-publishing model that doesn’t require an online distributor like Amazon, you can use a printing company that will print and bind your books. You can these out of your home, at craft fairs or at farmer’s markets. This does require you to invest in printing copies, and you’ll also be responsible for your own promotions and sales records. Keep in mind that your book will be visible to far more people than if you use an online distributor.

Amazon is the leader in POD. Through their publishing platform Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), authors can get their book to the mass market faster than ever before. All you need to do is choose your desired trim size, select a matte or glossy cover and upload your interior and exterior files. KDP manages all orders and transactions, as well as the shipping of the product. The printing cost is merely subtracted from the royalty. If you ever need to make changes to your book, you can easily upload a new file. You’ll also have access to your sales history. Other POD companies include Shopify, Lulu and Lightning Source.

Popular Self Publishing Categories

It’s a profitable time to be a self-published genre author. According to a 2017 Author Earnings report, more than 70% of all genre fiction purchases are ebooks. Of those ebooks, the larger portion of the market share belongs to independent publishers rather than traditional publishers. The most popular genres include romance, mystery, horror, science fiction and fantasy. Sales in these particular genres are more from self-published authors instead of traditionally published titles.

The report notes that because self-published authors can get their books on the market much quicker than traditionally published books are able to, readers are able to find more titles in their genre of choice. Ebook platforms like Amazon and Kobo use algorithms to serve up similar titles according to a given customer’s reading habits. If you have a book in one of these specific genres, your title could very well show up as a recommended title for readers.

How Do You Make Money with Self Publishing?

Like most things, you make money by selling your product. Because KDP has made it so much easier for authors to publish and distribute their work, you’ll be entering an increasingly crowded market. The marketing and promotional efforts are entirely in your court, so by promoting your book, you’ll help get it into the eyes of others. You can run a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign through KDP where you set a schedule and budget, and you’ll only be charged when someone clicks on your ad. This is a great way to promote your book while controlling your budget.

You are also able to print copies at cost and then sell them for the price you choose. You can share the Amazon link on your social media channels, utilize a paid promotion through KDP, host a book launch party and enter it into contests and festivals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Self Publishing

What are the fees associated with Amazon KDP?

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How profitable is self publishing? How much can people make?

When does Amazon KDP pay royalties?