Ahh, Amazon. We love it or hate it, but it’s the publishing goliath that writers want to be on, so here is a quick tour of what KDP is and what it can do for you in terms of publishing your book.
What is KDP?
Firstly, let’s talk about what KDP is. (If you’re old school, KDP is the new name for CreateSpace.) KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing platform and allows budding writers to publish their books straight onto the site. It’s fairly easy to use (although their submission guidelines are quite complicated. If you’re not particularly good with setting up documents with bleed and then converting to PDF, you might find yourself tearing your hair out and screaming “but it is the right size” even though KDP is telling you otherwise!) and you can link your printed book with your kindle version all in the same place.
You simply create an account (using your Amazon email and password) and fill out the information about your book; your title; your bank details and tax information; keywords and pricing. The account set up takes about 20 minutes and you do need a host of information which you may find a bit daunting, so I’ve created a KDP upload service which helps guide you through the whole process (We do this together, over zoom).
Then, once your account is set up you simply upload your formatted book and cover – and hey presto – you’re just a quick internal review* away from publishing your book.
*Once you hit publish, Amazon does a quick review of your file submission which can take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours.
The types of books you can print on KDP
Unfortunately, KDP only allows you to print soft-back books. If you want hardback or saddle stitch – a posh term for stapled – then you’ll need to use Ingram spark, I’ll be doing another blog post on how to use that platform at another date.
You also have a choice of colour and black and white (interior) and matt or gloss finish for your cover. You have quite a large selection of trim sizes (5 x 8inch and 6 x 9inch being the most popular for fiction) and you can even customise to your own size, as long as it falls between the smallest and largest size they offer.
This includes sizes suitable for children’s picture books and the full list of trim sizes are here.
Guide submissions for KDP
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the submission process, as KDP has lots of help articles on that very subject, but let me explain the basics.
You’ll need to have your book formatted so that it fits with their templates. This includes having the right inside and outside margins, page numbers and headers all fitting to their specs, depending on the size of book you choose.
Getting your book ready for print is really important. If you’ve set up the files yourself, this is where you could come unstuck. I always advise getting your book typeset by a professional. Let them know you’re aiming to upload to KDP so that they can export the PDF to the right specifications.
I do believe you can upload a Microsoft Word file, but as I’ve never used this feature just make sure you have all of your inside and outside margins set up correctly.
This is especially important when creating your cover, as you’ll need to calculate the spine width using their calculator. Your spine width will depend upon your number of pages your book has and which paper you decide to use.
Cover specs and paper choice
You get various choices when it comes to finishes for your book. You get two cover finishes; gloss or matt, and two types of paper; white or cream. The type of paper you choose affects your spine width; the cream paper being slightly thicker than the white. (Be warned, the cream is quite yellow.)
To access the cover creator, go here. There is also a handy calculator that gives you all of the measurements you need when setting up your file.
A note on images
Make sure that your images are set to 300 dpi (this includes inside images within your book and for your cover). If your images aren’t 300dpi, you’ll get an error message when you submit your files for review.
Make sure you have the proper copyright for your cover image as well. I-stock and Shutterstock have a plethora of images you can buy. If you’re using an illustrator (for images within the book) then no doubt you’ll be using one of their images for the cover.
A note on ISBNs
You have the choice of using a ‘free’ ISBN or one that you’ve already bought.
If you use the ‘free’ one, then you cannot sell your book anywhere else BUT Amazon. This means, you cannot sell your book directly from your site.
This is useful if you’re only using Amazon to promote and sell your book. If you want to sell your book elsewhere, then you’ll need to buy your own ISBN (or get one from me, details of which are here)
When you come to upload your book, it will prompt you to choose between the two. (You also have the choice of uploading your cover WITH your ISBN already on it, or letting Amazon put the ISBN on for you, just remember to check the approriate box when uploading your cover.)
Uploading your files to KDP
Once you have all of your banking, tax and book details submitted, you can then upload your PDF files. As I’ve said earlier make sure you have your files exported to the right PDF settings. You also need to include bleed on the cover (set to 3.175mm) and then you’re ready to submit your files.
Once uploaded you then follow the prompts for the preview/approve – which allows you to see your book all set up for print.
If there are any erros – you will get an error message to the left of your login screen and the corresponding pages where the errors are.
The most common errors are;
- Pagination – wrong page numbers displayed.
- Margin errors – text falls outside of their margins (usually inside margins)
- Text falling outside of the ‘safe zone’ (headers and bottom of the page text)
Ordering proof copies
Once everything has been uploaded it then gets approved by KDP. This can take anywhere from 12 – 48 hours. You will be notified when it’s live.
You can then order yourself a proof copy, just to make sure you’re happy. BE WARNED – your proof copy will come with your ISBN duplicated on the back – this will be removed when it’s live.
You can then order ‘author copies’ which are at a reduced price that what a customer would pay – just follow the promts on your KDP bookshelf page.
Getting your book uploaded and fulfilled by Amazon will target those who are not following you on social media.
However, I always advocate selling your books directly (from your website) as you retain 100% of the price.
Amazon will take a whopping 60% of your cover price, for the privilege of stocking your book, so that is a hefty chunk of YOUR money! However, the main benefit of fulfilling your books through Amazon is there is no upfront cost to you. Selling your book directly means you have to have your books printed first, and then fulfilling yourself.
Do let me know if you need any help with setting up your account. If I’ve designed your book then you don’t need to worry about any of the issues I’ve explained above!