Something didn’t work out. Now you want to delete a book after it is published.
It can happen for a lot of reasons. You self-published a book on Amazon and got some terrible reviews.
Perhaps you had a change of heart about the subject of your Kindle ebook.
For whatever reason, you want to delete your book and stop any further distribution.
You can’t completely delete a book after it is published
If you want to delete all traces of your book or ebook from Amazon or any other online book retailer, you can’t.
I know that’s not what you want to hear.
All you can do is unpublish and remove it from distribution and sale.
I’m not a fan of Goodreads, but it gives a good explanation as to why you can’t completely delete a book.
Just as a library would not remove a record from its catalog, so do we not remove books from our database.
If you are an author on Amazon KDP, these notes from KDP help explain what happens when you unpublish a book or Kindle ebook.
You can’t delete books that have been published. Also, paperbacks that were assigned an ISBN can’t be deleted. When you unpublish an eBook from the Kindle Store, it becomes unavailable to buy and unsearchable on Amazon. It won’t be available for purchase until you republish it.
When you unpublish your paperback, customers won’t be able to buy new copies through KDP. Third parties may still sell used copies of your paperback on Amazon. That means your paperback’s detail page will stay live on the website. However, customers won’t be able to buy new copies through KDP unless you republish your paperback.
If you have self-published a book and now want to delete it, all you can do is unpublish it.
The same applies if you are managing the books of a deceased self-publishing author. This will remove it from sale and distribution. However, it will not stop possible sales by third parties on mass-market distribution.
Unpublishing an ebook
On most self-publishing platforms, you only need to unpublish your ebook.
On Amazon, click on the hamburger menu next to your book. Then click Unpublish eBook.
Your Kindle ebook will be filed as a draft in your dashboard. But you cannot delete it.
It is a similar process for Smashwords and Draft2Digital. However, Draft2Digital does have a delete option.
Your ebooks will be removed from sale and distribution, and your ebook detail page will return a page not found result.
However, anyone who bought your ebook or downloaded it for free will still have a copy.
There is no way to remove your ebook from a reader’s device or ebook library.
If your ebook is available in Kindle Unlimited via KDP Select, readers who have started to read it will be able to finish reading it.
It will also remain on sale for your current ninety-day enrollment period in KDP Select.
You can check the remaining time of your enrollment by clicking KDP Select Info from the hamburger menu.
You will see this warning when you unpublish your Kindle ebook.
Once you click unpublish, your ebook will be removed at the end of your enrollment period.
Unpublishing a print book
You can use the same process to unpublish your print-on-demand paperback on Amazon.
Select your title on your KDP dashboard and unpublish it the same way as for an ebook.
But unlike an ebook, Amazon will not remove it from sale altogether.
It will remain listed and available on Amazon as an out-of-print or mass-market book.
Copies of your book may remain available through other third-party sellers on Amazon.
It’s similar to selling used books in a secondhand bookstore, so it is something you can’t control.
Once you publish a physical book, the ISBN will remain in book databases forever.
There is no way to delete all traces of a book completely.
Archive your unpublished books
On the KDP dashboard, you can archive your unpublished titles.
When you do, you won’t see them appearing on your bookshelf any longer.
To archive a title, click the three-dot menu, and click the Archive Title option.
Now you will only see your published books that are available for sale.
Your Amazon Author Page
If you have unpublished your book or all your books, you won’t like this.
When you unpublish a book, Amazon will remove it from your Author page. But any other data, details, or images about you as an author will remain.
All you can do is remove as much information as possible with the edit options on your Amazon Author page.
If you delete a book after it is published, don’t forget to delete your posts from Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms you used.
It might be a slow process and time-consuming if you shared a lot of book promotion posts.
But if you want to remove all traces of your ebooks or books on social media, it might be worth the effort.
With the Internet, it’s extremely difficult to delete your writing and posts entirely. All you can do is do your best.
Republishing a previously published book
Because your removed books go into a draft file, you have one other option.
You might consider editing, changing, or repackaging your old book.
It’s possible to republish a book with a new title and cover, and it will be like publishing a new book.
Sometimes this is a better option than trying to delete a book. It gives you a second chance to try and succeed with your book.
It will also mean that your new version will replace your unpublished version, so it will not result in a dead link or blank sales page.
The only possible drawback to this option is that if you got a lot of poor book reviews, they will remain on your book’s sales page.
Very few new authors think about how to delete a book from KDP or other platforms when they write and publish a book or ebook.
It’s an exciting time, and all you want to do is get your book or ebook published and available for readers to buy.
But once you are a published author, you will remain a published author forever.
There is no way that you can completely delete a book after you publish it.
However, removing your title from sale is relatively easy if you only published an ebook.
It will not show on any listing or sales pages after you remove it. But your author name will still appear on the Amazon Author Page.
For a paperback, though, removing your title from book databases and its Amazon sales page is impossible.
All you can do is use the delisting process to remove it from being directly available for sale.
Related reading: Can You Opt Out Of KENP Kindle Unlimited With KDP Select?