Before I get to the nitty gritty of the good, the bad, and the ugly of making a paperback with Amazon’s KDP Print program, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to all for your heartfelt condolences regarding the passing of my grandma last week. It was great to share a little bit of her with the world and I’m thrilled her pictures gave many of you a little smile.
Okay, on with the review of KDP Print…
What Is KDP Print?
Basically, this is Amazon’s new self-publishing service to create print-on-demand paperback books. It was just announced last year and is still technically in beta mode. As with other POD services, you upload a properly formatted PDF file of your manuscript. You then upload your cover (or create one using their templates if you don’t mind the super-obvioulsy-self-published look), enter your book details, wait for approval, and you’re done. Since I’ve been using Createspace (an Amazon company) for my paperbacks, none of this was anything new.
Why Did I Try KDP Print?
Previously, the primary way to get a paperback onto Amazon was to publish it through Createspace. Createspace has always been a great service (although a little slow sometimes regarding approval and shipping), but notes are drifting on the self-publishing air that Createspace may be going bye-bye. Some services have been cut and support in other areas of the Createspace team have been eliminated. Can you hear the death knell tolling?
I still have my first three books of the Osteria Chronicles on Createspace, but since I don’t want to get caught with my publishing pants down I knew I needed to give KDP Print a try. The trouble was that KDP wasn’t offering any discount for author copies or proof copies (Createspace always offered them at cost). This policy (and others) kept me from trying out KDP Print and had me shopping around for a different POD company.
However, like a stroke of publishing luck, just as I was finishing up The Bonds of Osteria a few weeks ago, Amazon announced that they will now charge only printing costs for proof and author copies. Talk about a sign from the book gods!! I had to try it out.
Why Bother with Print?
Despite what the e-book industry would have you believe, many people still love print books. I had several months last year when my print books far outsold my ebooks and in a little questionnaire to the recipients of my newsletter (to which you can sign up here and get free stuff), an overwhelming majority of them said they prefer print books to electronic books.
And as an indie author why wouldn’t you make a paperback? You’ve already done the hard part (writing the book). Since it’s super simple to set up the manuscript for print, it seems silly not to get your book out in as many formats as possible.
KDP Print: The Good
Free is a very good price: As with Createspace, you can distribute your book for free if you take one of KDP’s ISBNs (which I do). The other main option for your print books is Ingram Spark which charges $50 to upload a manuscript, requires you to buy your own ISBN (which are stupid expensive in the U.S.), and (correct me if I’m wrong) charges you $25 if you need to upload a revised manuscript after making changes to it. Since I update my books every time I publish a new one (sometimes more), Ingram’s upload fees alone would kill me. No matter how you feel about Amazon, the fact that they make print publishing possible for any budget is a great policy,
Book Cost & Shipping Speed: As I mentioned above, Amazon was charging full price for proof copies. They changed this and now the cost for proof copies is the same as it was with Createspace (about $3.50 for a 300-page book). The shipping is also pretty cheap, but unlike Createspace who would take almost two weeks to get me my proof copy, Amazon had mine on my doorstep within four days!
Making Changes: With Createspace, when you make changes to your book, your book goes offline until the changes are approved (sometimes a three-day wait). KDP Print keeps your book live and then just swaps out the old manuscript with the new once the changes are finalized.
No Required Physical Proof Copy: Another print-on-demand option I looked into required users to purchase a proof copy every single time a manuscript was uploaded. Now, I buy a proof copy for each of my new books to make sure the formatting looks good and to use for my final read through. But once that book has been approved, I don’t buy it again even when I make changes since I can proof those changes (which are usually just small changes to the back matter) online. Requiring proof copies at every change seems like a greedy and wasteful policy and one that KDP Print does not have. YAY!!
KDP Print: The Bad
The KDP Dashboard: Okay, this isn’t a KDP Print complaint, it’s just a KDP complaint. Making updates on the KDP Dashboard is a nightmare. Unlike Smashwords or Draft2Digital where you can simply go in and update prices or keywords or descriptions with the click of a button, on KDP you have to wait for the system to re-upload your book and cover (even if you’ve made NO changes to these) every single damn time you change something. Seriously Amazon, work on this! How can you have One-Click shopping, but I have to spend five to ten minutes trying to change my book’s price? Sigh….
Distribution Limits: Createspace gave you the option to publish on various retailers beyond Amazon. Even though the royalties were horrendous, it was nice knowing my book was out there on retailers other than Amazon. So far, Amazon is only distributing KDP Print books to its own store. It’s also not distributing to Amazon Canada, which makes no sense and the only thing I can figure is some guy in the Amazon office is holding a weird grudge (probably related to curling) against Canada.
Bound to Amazon: This does tie me into being reliant on Amazon/KDP for my paperback publishing, which also means being tied into any changes to policy regarding royalties, distribution, or publishing costs that Amazon tosses my way. Still, since Createspace was essentially an Amazon company, I was pretty much already tied to these whims.
KDP Print: The Ugly
There is no ugly! The book was perfect! Often my Createspace covers ended up printing a lot darker than the image I provided, but the colors on the front cover of Bonds came out vibrant and the whole thing looks even better than it does on the computer. As with Createspace books, the interior features high quality cream-toned paper (60#, I believe), the print is crisp and clear, and the binding seems to be sturdy.
Is KDP Print A Winner?
For the most part I’d give KDP Print a big YES. I’m not thrilled with the distribution options (and really hope that guy gets over his grudge with Canada), but other than that (and the slow-as-a-dead-turtle KDP Dashboard) I thought the process was super smooth and the product went beyond my expectations. Although I’ll hate to see Createspace go, at least I now know the KDP option is a viable one.
What do you think? Do you like the cover? Have you tried KDP Print? Is Createspace on its way out? How do you create paperbacks? I’d love to see any thoughts you have rattling around in your head, so please share them!!