Chris A. Baird | March 23, 2023
Amazon Kindle Self Publishing Guidelines for Authors in 2023

Are you now ready to publish your books on Amazon? Here are the Amazon Kindle guidelines for authors that you must know before putting your books into the platform.

Getting your account terminated on Amazon is serious business. You're going to want to avoid that by becoming familiar with the guidelines on Amazon. So that you don't fall into the trap of breaking one of the many many rules they have.

Well, that's the reason why in today's topic, we are going to discuss a deep dive into Amazon Kindle Self Publishing Guidelines for Authors in 2023. 

Amazon Rules for Authors: Contents

First, start with Amazon rules for authors related to contents. Now, the first thing you need to know is the contents that you have. You need to make sure that what you have in the book isn't violating any copyright rules or intellectual property rules when it comes to the content that you're putting in there.

It has to be either original content or you need to cite the sources that you're using. In addition, the content you're using shouldn't be offensive material like hate speech, pornography, or other types of excessive violence that you would be promoting in your book.

You also are not allowed to promote illegal activities like drug use, terrorism, or other subjects that could get you in serious trouble. Amazon's not looking to promote this and I know recently I saw within just the last year, they were getting a little bit of trouble.

Because some of the books that they were allowing on there were pushing some of these topics and that is a serious problem. Amazon does not want that you can risk your account getting terminated for violating this specific guideline.

In addition, you need to make sure you don't have misleading information or false claims about what your book's going to be able to do within the contents of the book. So, that's something you're going to need to watch out for. 

Amazon Rules for Authors: Covers

But what about Amazon rules for authors related to covers? Here are a couple of things there to keep in mind. They should be professional covers, something that's visually appealing.

In addition, you need to make sure your covers accurately represent the contents of the book. For example, if your book's about puppy training, you shouldn't have a picture of a glass of milk on the cover or something. It needs to be related to the topic.

Some people found that by putting images that were a little bit controversial on the covers, they could get people to click on the covers as clickbait. But in reality, the contents of the book did not match what you were putting on the cover. That is a huge “No-No” when it comes to Amazon.

In addition, you need to make sure it doesn't contain any offensive material. The same rules that we talked about previously when dealing with the contents of your book. Finally, you need to make sure that your cover is not violating any copyright or intellectual property rights.

I recently had one of my covers challenged. It was using one of the images from Unsplash. It was completely free of copyright or intellectual property. I'm allowed to use it however I wanted to but Amazon said, how do you know you have the right to use this specific image?

We had to look it up on Unsplash and a cover designer looked up and said, look this is a free-to-use image. I responded immediately to Amazon which is what you need to do if you ever get a warning from Amazon.

Then based upon that, I sent it in and they came back within 24 hours and said, okay this image is just fine to use with the book.

Amazon Rules for Authors: Table of Contents

The next category, Amazon rules for authors: the table of contents. This one has gotten people in trouble before as well. There was a strategy several years ago when they were figuring out how many pages a person read if you put the table of contents at the end of the book.

The person would get to the table of contents and it would count as though they had read the whole book that ended up with some people getting their accounts banned. I still see some books that show that table of contents right at the very end of the book.

That's a terrible idea on a couple of fronts. First, it could get you banned for trying to cheat one of their systems and the second thing is the table of contents is a place where you can sell your book when somebody does the “Look Inside”, they're able to see what exactly the contents are.

But you need to make sure that your table of contents accurately reflects the structure and in terms of the content of the book. It can't just be some random table of contents and then the contents of the book don't match.

In addition, it needs to be easy to navigate and understand. I can tell you that's one of the reasons I even started learning how to do formatting. Now, I have my Book Formatting Course that goes specifically through the steps. 

To make sure that the table of contents is correct, easily readable, and links click and take you to the correct pages for your books. This was one of the reasons why I wanted to learn how to do it myself.

Jutoh is by far my absolute top pick. It is the program for the formatting of your book. To make sure that the table of contents is flawlessly correct. It represents the contents of the book and is easy to navigate. 

Amazon has never criticized any of my books. I have 230 books on Amazon without any problem at all with this table of contents. 

Amazon Rules for Authors: Links

The next set of rules is Amazon rules for authors regarding links. Now, links to external websites are just fine but they have to be relevant to your specific content. It should not be violating anything like copyrights or intellectual property.

You're not allowed to use these sorts of links, they will get you in trouble. Amazon previously also did allow you to have links to their products in there. But I found that on other websites like Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and some of these others, they did not appreciate using affiliate links within the books.

So, you need to be careful when it comes to links. The links need to be useful and not just trying to manipulate sales rankings or reviews. When we say that you can ask people to leave a review and have a link.

Check out this related article: Can Publisher Rocket Help Your Amazon Ads Take  Off?

But in terms of if you say, I'll give you a free book for your review or something like that, I'll give you a free something just leave a review. Click on this link and leave a review, now you are violating Amazon's policies. But just asking people to leave a review that's completely fine in the contents of your books.

Amazon Rules for Authors: Content

Next one, Amazon rules for authors: content. So, what about the content of the book? The content of the book needs to be formatted correctly and free of errors. This is one of the reasons why I said you should learn how to do formatting yourself.

Do not outsource this to somebody else. Figure out how to use the tools to get your books formatted in the correct format. So that you won't have a problem with Amazon at a later point or some of these books get through Amazon and then the readers are complaining.

They are giving you one star because the formatting is so far off. It's so easy to avoid, just learn the tool Jutoh. It is an amazing tool and will help you get through the formatting part. The other thing is it shouldn't contain any hidden code or malicious software.

This is a little bit trickier but you could have code there. Where somebody types the code that you have in your book or a link to that code and then puts a virus on their system. That is completely unacceptable but that could also get your account terminated.

So be very careful with these sorts of games. It should violate any laws or regulations. It's kind of like we would expect when it comes to just the general content of the book.

Amazon Rules for Authors: Quality Assurance

What about Amazon rules for authors: quality assurance? Amazon itself reserves the right to review and remove any content that violates its guidelines. The other thing is authors are responsible for ensuring the quality of their content.

It's not Amazon's problem that you're not putting quality content on Amazon. It's up to you to make sure the quality of the content you're putting out there is above par. Also, how are you supposed to get positive reviews if the quality of your content is not so positive?

Amazon Rules for Authors: Titles and Subtitles (Metadata)

So, Amazon rules for authors: titles and subtitles in your metadata. Titles and subtitles should accurately reflect the contents of the books. I can also say you shouldn't be using keyword stuffing when it comes to your titles. That can get you in trouble.

Check out this related article: How To Write The World's Best-Selling Book on AMAZON

In the old days, that was completely acceptable, any standard practice. Nowadays, you need to make sure that your subtitle is a sentence that flows. It can be long, but they aren't going to complain about that.

But if you put parentheses and then a bunch of related keywords, that will get you in trouble. Or if you're repeating the same word over and over in the title and subtitle, that's also going to create problems for you as an author.

The next thing is they should not contain any misleading information or false claims. Your subtitle and title should be telling people they're going to lose a thousand pounds in a week or some crazy nonsense.

Maybe they're going to say something else that's not true. For example, claims that you're just not allowed to do that. You can't just make any claim with your titles that you want, they shouldn't violate any copyright or intellectual property rights.

A big important point on this one is to make sure you're not using trademark terms. This can get your account banned as well because you don't own the rights to certain keywords. I remember several years ago, people were doing I think Instant Pot or some sort of these.

Then what was happening was they were getting in trouble because they don't have permission to use those. You can say it like some sort of a high-pressure cooker or something but Instant Pot is a trademarked term. Accounts were getting in trouble for using that exact term.

So, be very careful if you decide to go that route. Just stay away from these terms, they're not going to permit you to use their trademark terms. So you're just going to have to live with that.

Amazon Rules for Authors: Descriptions (Metadata)

Next, one Amazon rule for authors: descriptions in the metadata. The descriptions should accurately describe the contents of the book. That's the whole point of a description.

But I would say it should be sales. You should use sales copy so it should be very engaging. Its goal is not to describe everything in the book but rather to pull the reader into your story or to make it clear.

The points you're covering, the problems you're going to solve with your non-fiction book for your readers. To make sure they're very clear over that but doing it persuasively. It has to tie together to the actual contents of the book.

It should be well-written and engaging and that's what we mean by sales copy in the description. It also should not contain any misleading or false claims. That's a really important point when it comes to what you're going to put in the description. Don't claim something in there that you're not going to be able to deliver on. 

Amazon Rules for Authors: Keywords (Metadata)

Next, Amazon rules for authors: keywords and metadata. Your keyword should accurately reflect the content of the book itself. In addition, they should not be misleading or irrelevant.

Some people discovered a little trick which is using keywords that are not related to the contents of the book. This can also get you banned.

The same goes for the categories that you're going to choose. So make sure that these all fit together. Otherwise, you risk problems with your account. 

Amazon Rules for Authors: Publishers (Metadata)

Amazon rules for authors: publishers metadata, you need to make sure that the publisher name should accurately reflect the name of the person and company publishing the book. You can't publish first of all names that are already used by other publishing houses.

Random House would be a terrible name for your publishing when you're going to type in Publisher into the metadata. Because it is protected, you're not free to go doing that. The same goes if you're writing with another author's name, be very careful about using that name.

I would never do it, use your name use a pen name. Make sure the name doesn't already exist on Amazon because otherwise, you risk getting in trouble for ripping off other people's content.

Amazon Rules for Authors: KDP Select Exclusivity

So, Amazon rules for authors: KDP Select exclusivity. This is a favorite theme. The thing is as an author, you can enroll your book into KDP Select and agree to make your book exclusive on Amazon only.

Now, this is only the ebook version of your book that you're saying, for 90 days, I agree not to sell it on any other platform. In exchange, they will do special marketing for your book. They will allow you to run promos like free promo days.

During the countdown days and even during the 90 days, we'll do special promotions on your books. So, that's one of the reasons why you want to consider going with this particular thing. If you're going to want to do these sorts of promotions.

Otherwise, I would say going wide is usually a great option. So, we expand our books. Also, don't limit it, if your account were terminated, hopefully, you're running your books on other networks and other distributors, not just Amazon alone. 

Amazon Rules for Authors: Pre-Orders

Now, Amazon rules for authors for pre-orders are another one. Authors can set up pre-orders for their books before it's released. So, that is where people can place an order for the book even though it hasn't even come on the market yet.

The final version of the book needs to be uploaded three days before the release date for your book. The reason for this is that they just need to make sure the thing is there. Because if they say it goes live and you have no book, we have a serious problem.

Check out this related article: How To Format Your Books For Amazon KDP  

But some people have found they can build up a bit of traction. But for new authors, this is a terrible idea. Don't worry about pre-orders because ultimately, it's going to cannibalize the actual sales of your books.

Unless you're able to build a massive amount of pre-orders and as a new author that is not going to happen. So, I mostly would tell you from a strategy standpoint, stay away from the pre-order thing. But it's good to understand the guidelines.

Amazon Rules for Authors: Reference List

Now, Amazon rule for authors: reference lists. So, authors should provide a reference list. You're going to want to provide a reference list for any sources that are used in the book so they'd be able to go through it.

It should be formatted correctly and accurately. To reflect the sources that you used to produce your book if you used other sources. 


In conclusion, what you're going to hear throughout all of these different things is that you ultimately are responsible for following Amazon's guidelines. This is not something that you can just blow off.

There are major consequences, some of them mean when you're going to publish your book, you're going to go back and forth with Amazon. Because they're not going to approve your book in the first place.

Other problems you're going to face when you're trying to publish your book is you'll publish it and then Amazon will say, you're violating our terms in the guidelines that we provide and those change from time to time.

That's one of the reasons why you need to stay plugged into a source like going through the latest rules regarding Amazon and things that can get your account in trouble. To make sure that you are not going to stumble into one of these mistakes.

But my question for you is have you ever violated any of Amazon's guidelines? If you have, write “Yes” below in the comments and if not, write “No” below in the comments. Also, check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

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