Carla Acheson

Historical Fiction Author

Stuck in that mode of should I or shouldn’t I?

When I was deciding whether or not to self-publish my book, I searched high and low for a definitive answer to my question.

I kept asking people if it was the right thing to do. The replies I generally received were, ‘We can’t answer that because we really don’t know. It’s your book. It’s totally up to you.’

The only people who had some over-riding opinion on the matter were the general marketing companies, faux-publishers, or profiteers who I very quickly felt weren’t genuine, and didn’t come anywhere close to caring about my work as much as I did.

It turned out that I spent so much time worrying about whether or not I should go it alone, that I felt physically nauseous, lost and confused.

I mean a whole year of work was sitting in my folder, and  my main worry was that I could literally ruin it in a heartbeat, or allow someone else to. What I really wanted was the publishing fairy to say, yes or no. And  given that the traditional publishing  avenue seemed like such a far off dream and Amazon its viable alternative, KDP was a strong contender.

But, as it turned out,  choosing to publish independently  wasn’t the biggest  decision I ever made.  Looking back now I wish I hadn’t worried quite so much because I found out that there is no actual wrong or right answer to whether you should or should not self-publish your novel. It’s not a life or death situation,  the choice simply remains yours after you’ve looked at all the options and worked out a plan.

After a few weeks of headaches, this is what I learned about self-publishing on Amazon.

KDP is a very functionally sound service, and at the time it was the biggest and easiest route to getting my novel on a book-selling platform.  Amazon doesn’t bury your book in a locked vault where you’ll never have control of it again, (but of course new authors don’t know this until they upload it there and get to grips with the way it all works.) 

  • Merely throwing a book up on Amazon doesn’t exactly draw in heaps of readers.  They’ll literally publish anything, (not the best thing for good independent authors) and uploading a book to them is merely granting them permission to make your book for sale. So you need to be the marketing leader and get it seen whichever way you can.
  • You’re not signing away copyright of your text though you can give Amazon exclusivity to sell your e-books via an option called  ‘KDP Select,’ but again, it’s optional. You still have creative control over your work, and any changes made. 
  • Getting readers to see your book and then buy it is largely down to your own efforts.  And yes it’s tough, but not impossible.  It wil be a learning curve that will work better for you if you do some research to find out what helps attract readers.
  • The opt-out and unpublish clause is always there. You can un-publish any individual book at the click of a button at any point in time. There’s also no reason why you can’t publish on KDP and other places too,  in either paperback and/or e-book format.
  • Uploading a book to your dashboard is the easy part, but the answer to self- publishing success… well, that lies in your own actions.  So how determined are you?  More importantly, how confident are you to take that journey?

And here are some more things you can do on KDP, with the emphasis on YOU because Amazon, like everything else, is not going to market your book extensively for free. 

  • YOU can promote and market your book  by learning the various ways to get Amazon’s reader’s attention, (via it’s self-promotional marketing tools.)
  • YOU can build an online presence as a successful author by trying, failing, trying, failing… oh yes.. and trying again until you hit some kind of jackpot. It’s been done.
  • YOU can earn a royalty income every month if you work hard enough – this is true. (When cheques fell through my letterbox each month I was both amazed and impressed with my full 70% royalties.)
  • Amazon will pay out direct to your account and give you a whole rundown of statistics.

By the way, Amazon aren’t paying me to call out these benefits, these are the things I learned along the way.

I feel that it’s a good option for those that want a lot of control over their work, but it’s good to know just what to expect from it. There are many benefits to self-publishing on KDP, but when books aren’t selling on the site authors grumble, often without knowing why, yet there could be a hundred different reasons for such inactivity, and  possibly none directly to do with Amazon’s service. ( But that’s a whole new post.)

So have you tried out the KDP journey?  Have you found a way to make it work for you, or do you have a negative opinion about it?

Add a comment or contact me with your thoughts, I’d love to hear them.


Carla is a successful historical fiction writer and workshop leader. When her fingers aren’t tapping on piano keys, she’s relentlessly guiding ambitious new writers to the finish line with heaps of inspiring advice and motivational techniques.


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