How does publishing on Amazon work?

Do I retain my rights and can I later send it to a print publisher if any becomes interested, and rescind from my obligations towards Amazon?

  • "You are entitled to terminate at any time by providing us notice of termination, in which event we will cease selling your Digital Books within 5 business days from the date you provide us notice of termination. " kdp.amazon.com/terms-and-conditions
    – user16226
    Mar 2, 2016 at 14:32
  • What has publishing… on Amazon or anywhere else… to do with Writing, please Aug 2, 2020 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


There are two ways to sell your ebooks through amazon. And your rights as the publisher depend on the one you choose. And Amazon "hosts" your content it doesn't buy away your publishing rights.

  1. Just using amazon as a publisher and not signing up for "kdp select". If you choose to go this way, you can sell your book elsewhere too. Even with other venues that compete with Amazon such as Barnes and Noble's. Or host it at your website too(for a price ofcourse). At no point can you give out your work for free and still put a price at Amazon's listing of your book. Its just unethical.You can post a sample chapter for free, for promotion/marketing (not sure maybe 10% of your content).

  2. Selling/publishing at Amazon and also signing up for " KDP select". Now if you do this you are locked in for a period of 3 months, during which you can't sell your work elsewhere. You can post a sample chapter for free (not sure maybe 10% of your content)

    • After 3 months of you can opt out of "KDP select", by doing so you get to sell elsewhere too along with Amazon (like I said in the first way).
    • if you choose to stay in " KDP select " after 3 months pass, the exclusivity again applies for another 3 months and so on.

What is KDP select is a whole topic it's own. Just visit Amazon's site for the whole Terms and conditions and fine print.

That's it comes to publishing with Amazon. Below are general stuff about copyright.

On a side note : Unless your content has been given out for free(excluding short promotion periods) you own the publishing rights to your work. Or if you sign it away for a sum of money(however small it may be), you give away your first publishing rights. Amazon isn't buying your rights, it's just hosting your content for a fee, which it collects after every sale.

Once you give it out for "free", or post it on some site. You give away your rights(electronic publishing rights) to publishing it. There are legal work arounds. But that a huge discussion.

Look into "First publication rights" or "FNASR", for a detailed study.

  • Thank you for your answer. I am not sure what it means to give away my rights to publishing it (if I post it on a web site for free, for example). Does it mean I cannot sell it, does it mean anyone could in theory publish it too? I was under the (possibly wrong) impression that, once you post something on the web, you hold its rights (since you can prove you were the first one). Take David Thorne, for example, who publishes all his material on 27bslash6.com, but he is still selling his books.
    – user
    Mar 2, 2016 at 16:22
  • "FNASR", Look into this term. In simple terms what happens is if you put out your book on a site, publishing houses(no matter what size) will not be comfortable buying your book. Its a loss for them if they do buy.
    – Akash
    Mar 2, 2016 at 16:30
  • I agree. Once you've gone the self-publishing route, it's uncommon to sign a commercial contract for that book. There are notorious examples like 50 Shades of Grey, however.
    – Stu W
    Mar 2, 2016 at 20:29
  • 1
    @stu I have read horrible reviews for that book. Maybe huge sales numbers were a help to get printed. But I doubt it had equal success on print, given the genre it is in. If you have some numbers, i'd like to know
    – Akash
    Mar 3, 2016 at 3:12
  • Google search listed as 10 million for the trilogy as of several months ago. And yes, it sucked (no pun intended).
    – Stu W
    Mar 3, 2016 at 13:00

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