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  • Writer's pictureHaley Keller

Publishing a Book with Amazon KDP

Me holding the activity book I published

I am excited to share that I created a kids activity book and it’s now for sale on Amazon! My A to Z Activity Book is designed for kids ages 3-5, which (surprise) happens to be the age of my two kids. If you decide to purchase a copy thank you so very much, and ratings and reviews would be really appreciated.

I created this activity book in about 100 hours at a cost of $61.24, and now it will generate passive income on Amazon. Here’s how:

The idea: During our long road trips we have purchased many, MANY kids activity books. Ideally these books would keep our kids engaged, help them practice “academics” which at this age is mostly counting and letters and penmanship, and be able to work independently. We found many books that didn’t work for one or all of those goals. Some had a new set of instructions every half-page we needed to read through and explain to the kids. Others started super easy and progressed to be way too hard. And some were just not exciting for the kids and they didn’t want to do them.

By the end of this last summer, my husband Dave and I had a mental list of the problems and possible solutions that would make a better kids activity book. When our summer road trip ended and the boys were back in preschool, I decided to give a try making one of my own! I already had a paid Canva Pro account so decided to use that for the creation. And I had researched Amazon’s Kindle Direct Print (KDP) publishing option and planned to use it for publication.

The creation: I started by making mazes in the shape of alphabet letters and the idea of the book evolved from there. I decided to have four activities for each letter, and then repeat them through the alphabet, so the activities would only need to be explained once to children. The activities were chosen and put together in an order that provided varying and alternating degrees of fun and education. Each letter has writing practice, a dot-to-dot, counting, and a maze.

Once I completed the initial letter and the general layout of the pages was set, it took me about 3 hours to create the two activity pages for each letter. I am sure there are easier programs for creating activity books than Canva, but I stuck with it. It was especially hard for doing mazes with curved or slanted lines and took meticulous work changing the X and Y coordinates of each end of the lines to try and get them to line up well. Some letter mazes made me want to pull my hair out!

When I finished a letter, I headed to Office Max and printed out two copies – we don’t currently have a working printer at home. My boys were (for the most part) so excited when they would come home from preschool and I had another finished letter for them to do. It was especially exciting for them when there was a mistake they would catch. Over the course of about 2 months, I completed the entire alphabet of activity pages. Then following the instructions on Amazon KDP, I created the intro pages and artwork for the cover. Once it was all done, it was time to upload it!

The publication: Amazon KDP is Amazon’s in-house publishing and printing program. I was able to sign into it through my current Amazon Prime account and filled out the requested tax and bank account information. Once I finished creating the book in Canva, I simply downloaded PDF print files of the book’s inside “manuscript” and cover art and uploaded it to Amazon KDP. I then chose the title, subtitle, product description, keywords, and print size among other things.

The Amazon KDP process was extremely easy. There are also a ton of well explained how-to pages about the process, everything that is needed inside the book, a calculator that gives exact dimensions for the cover art based on number of pages and print size, and every other step along the way.

Once a book is uploaded to Amazon KDP, proofs can be ordered to take a look at a physical copy before publishing and it can also be paged through online. I decided to order a couple proofs for mine before publishing to see what it looked like printed. Proofs (and Author’s copies of the final product when published) can be purchased at Amazon’s print cost plus shipping (whether you have Prime or not you pay shipping) plus taxes. A few days later they arrived in the mail and I was ecstatic!!! My book was a REALITY! I was holding it in my hands!!! Such an amazing feeling. After receiving the proofs, I went through and nit-picked the book and made changes to it in Canva. Then I simply re-uploaded PDFs of the manuscript and cover and re-ordered a proof to check again.

When I felt it was ready to go, I simply clicked a button to publish it. There was a day or so delay when it was “in review” and then I received an email with a link to the product live on Amazon. BOOM. And now when someone orders the book, Amazon prints a copy of it on-demand and mails directly to the end user - it can even get to them in Prime shipping time. So that means once I created and uploaded the book, I don’t have to do anything else! I don’t have to purchase a bunch of copies from a printer and hold onto them, I don’t have to receive orders, and I don’t have to package and ship out books. It’s completely hands-off for me. Amazing.

The revenue: Oh, and what about pricing and earnings?  Here’s the calculation equation as listed on Amazon’s website:  “(Royalty rate x list price) – printing costs = royalty”.  My book is 56 pages long, printed black-and-white inside on white paper, and 8.5” x 11” size.  Amazon told me that costs $2.84 to print, and the royalty rate for paperbacks is 60%.  You can do some math, or they will just tell you the minimum price.  For my book, I can list it at $4.73 and earn absolutely nothing.  Then it goes up from there!  You can play around with this using their royalty calculator and see your revenue for various book lengths, sizes and list prices.  After researching similar book prices on Amazon and making sure I earned at least a modest amount from each, I decided to list my book at $6.48 which earns me $1.05 per copy sold. 

The cost: I went back and estimated my time and expenses for creating this activity book. I estimate it took me 100 hours to create and then list on Amazon. My only added expenses were printing, because we currently don’t have a working printer at home, and ordering proofs. Those costs were $17.55 for printing about two copies of each page and $17.71 for ordering 3 proofs. I already pay for CanvaPro, but adding that in for 2 months of use is $25.98. In total, I spent $61.24 to create this book (including no value to my time). That means I need to sell 59 books to break even, but probably a decent amount more if I decide to pay for Amazon Ads to bring visibility and hopefully increase sales of the book.

Conclusion: Overall this has been a really fun process. I loved creating the pages for this book, and especially sharing them with my kids. I also enjoyed learning the process of creating a book to publish on Amazon through their KDP program. It was really exciting to get assigned a real ISBN and physically receive a copy of the book in the mail. And now it’s amazing seeing something I created for sale on Amazon. It’s also great that once it’s created, it’s completely passive income going forward. If this turns out generating a worthwhile amount of revenue I will certainly create more in the future.


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