Self-Publish Quickly on Amazon—Includes 20-Step Checklist
  • Costs and timelines for Amazon and IngramSpark
  • A 20-item check list for faster book production
  • Includes cross-reference links to additional help
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Self-Publish Quickly on Amazon—Includes 20-Step Checklist

Sometimes it is necessary or preferable to quickly self-publish a book, and usually that means publishing on Amazon using KDP.

Perhaps there is an event or holiday, but more commonly it’s a marketing opportunity (a “hot market” opportunity) which is difficult to predict or is unexpected. For example, you or your business won an award. Or something newsworthy is happening and you are an expert.

Five assumptions if you plan to quickly publish a book

1. You are prepared to be decisive.

The surer you are of what you need, want, and can afford, the faster things will go. Publishing requires lots of decisions—some you need to make, some made in consultation. Allow more time if you are a consensus builder, or indecisive. Examples of decisions that often benefit from discussion with others include book cover design and pricing.

2. Legal reviews are unnecessary or have already been completed.

Books that reference trademarks, use extensive excerpts, quote music lyrics, include unlicensed images, or make certain claims or promises should be reviewed by an attorney with experience in copyright law.

We had a project get tied up for six months due to a legal review that should have been completed while the book was in manuscript form. Entire sections of the book had to be rewritten.

Also, if your book was previously published, you should have proof that the rights have been reverted to your ownership. Amazon usually requires this.

3. Editing has been completed, so text requires few or no changes once the book has been typeset.

How confident are you about the text? Changes during the book layout process can be costly both in terms of time and money. And this isn’t only about proofing.

Show the book to trusted readers, ideally those that have strong opinions about your topic and are not your friends. After making any adjustments, hire a copyeditor. Then a proofer. The book design and layout process will fly after this.

4. You are publishing a paperback and eBook.

A book in print will take more time to produce than an eBook but less time than an audiobook. Also, the best quality is achieved by producing each format in succession, not concurrently.

  • eBook-only publishing can go much faster than print book publishing.
  • An audiobook can take weeks or months to produce, and the book must be complete before starting. There is narration, editing, and mastering. Once done, Amazon’s ACX takes at least 14 days for processing.

5. You wish to make the book available for the public to purchase.

Is your book only for your family, friends, or business, and not for purchase? If so, you can’t use KDP, because printed proof copies are not intended for sale. The book must be approved for publication before you can order a finished copy. Otherwise, unpublished books (author proofs) have a “Not for Resale” band around the cover, spine, and back cover as shown below.

The alternative is to create the files and then have some other printer produce your book. A simple and affordable way to do this is to use IngramSpark, as noted below.

Amazon KDP print Not for Resale band

Minimum requirements

  1. Book cover formatted to Amazon KDP specifications.
  2. Interior contents of book typeset to Amazon KDP specifications.
  3. An ISBN for the print edition. Caution: this decision is forever. After a print book is published, the only way to change the ISBN—or any of eight other metadata elements—is to republish it. In that case, you may forfeit any customer reviews your book has accumulated. (Our 20-item checklist below notes the elements that cannot change.)

See our help page for information on book imprints and ISBNs. Also see David Wogahn’s My Publishing Imprint.

  1. A KDP account established in your name or the name of the publisher.
  2. The metadata you’ll supply to list the book for sale. See the checklist below.

Minimum publishing timelines

Either you or your publishing services provider will require a set amount of time to design the book and prepare the files. For example, you can see our standard timelines here.

Once you have files, Amazon has its own timelines.

Amazon needs time to process your book files—a multistep, automated process—before your book appears in one of the Amazon stores. Amazon will be checking for these things:

  • Will any of the text on the cover be cut off when it is printed?
  • Is anything blocking or overlapping the barcode?
  • Is any of the content in the book freely available on other websites?
  • Do you have the rights to publish this book?

Kindle eBooks

  • Amazon states your Kindle eBook will be in available in less than 72 hours.
  • AuthorImprints experience: the publishing process takes an average of less than 24 hours before the eBook is for sale.

Print books

  • It is recommended that you order an author’s-proof copy of your book. Processing takes less than a few hours and they have three shipping speeds. You can usually have a proof in less than a week.
  • Once you publish, Amazon states your book will be live in the store in three to five days.
  • AuthorImprints experience: it takes about two days for the book to be available for sale. However, you may see certain elements of your book’s sales page missing during this period. It is temporary, and the full book listing is usually complete in three days.

(Click the image below to enlarge it.)


  • Amazon’s KDP is free to use, but ISBNs are an additional charge, should you decide to invest in one or more. (Amazon’s free ISBN cannot be used with any other printer.)
  • See the IngramSpark section below for Ingram’s fees.

Publishing tasks that take extra time

You probably want to avoid these additional steps, or book features, if you are pressed for time.

  • Index: the book must be complete before you can begin indexing
  • Library of Congress Control Number and/or Publisher Cataloging-in-Publication cataloging block (more here about the Library of Congress programs, or see David Wogahn’s Register Your Book for instructions)
  • Pre-publication reviews using advance reader copies
  • Pre-order setup: there are many reasons why your file(s) might be delayed
  • Printing the book in volume, called a print run: print-on-demand is the ideal solution for self-publishers trying to rapidly publish a book
  • Hardcovers with dust jackets: they take longer to print and require more time to prepare than a paperback cover

IngramSpark (as an alternative to KDP or in addition to)

IngramSpark is a wholesaler and printer, and its process simply takes more time and money. This is a summary of what to be aware of.

  1. There is a book setup fee of $49 and a revision fee of $25.
  2. Once you upload your files to IngramSpark, it takes days and possibly more than a week for processing, compared to hours for Amazon.
  3. Since early 2021, paperback proofs require one week for printing in the US (two for hardcover). Once printed, shipping time takes several days.
  4. Once your file has been approved for distribution to online retailers, it can take a week or more for the book to appear in those stores.

A 20-item checklist for quickly publishing a book using KDP

This is a list of items you need, or need an answer to, before you can expect to sell your book on Amazon.

Assumption: you are not choosing a release date. The release date is “ASAP.”

Account setup

  1. KDP
  2. (if in the US and buying ISBNs)


  1. Paperback book cover (PDF)
  2. Interior file for paperback (Word or PDF)
  3. eBook cover file
  4. eBook ePub file (several formats are supported, but ePub is safest)

Metadata (information about the book)

  1. Title*
  2. Subtitle*
  3. ISBN* (if not using the free ISBN)
  4. Publisher name* (if you bought ISBNs; using the free ISBN means Amazon is your publisher and the book cannot be printed by anyone else)
  5. Author name*
  6. Names of contributors (such as illustrator or foreword writer but not editor unless the book is an anthology)
  7. Language*
  8. Edition number*
  9. Selling prices (click here for help with pricing)
  10. Two categories where the book will be sold (one is the minimum; eight may be added later for a maximum of ten)
  11. Keywords
  12. Book description (click here for help with descriptions)
  13. Print book dimensions*
  14. The type of paper you plan to use for your paperback*

*This information cannot be changed after you publish your print book, unless you republish your book using a different ISBN. If you have reviews, those usually stay with the old version.

What is the right timeline for your book?

Rushing a book to market is not something we often recommend, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Many AuthorImprints clients are eager, for one reason or another, to launch their book on Amazon as quickly as possible. We nearly always can accommodate rapid-publishing requests.

Contact us to talk about what you can expect for your book. We can review your circumstances and guide you down the path that makes the most sense for your goals and budget.

2 thoughts on “Self-Publish Quickly on Amazon—Includes 20-Step Checklist”

  1. I have a bound book of flowers and text entitled, My Southern California Garden”. 86 pages of drawings and 86 pages of text, with 10 pages of colored drawings at the end. It could be a garden book, coloring book, or picture book. How can I get it published and what are your thoughts on cost for printing and distribution ?

  2. Hello Eleanor,
    That’s a wide range of options. I’d look at comparable books and decide where yours fits. If you’d like a quote, complete our publishing query form.

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