Testing Out Amazon’s KDP Print

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.

My cats usually wait until I’m trying to read the book before they take a nap on it.

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!!


What I’m Reading Now

The Geographer’s Library

Writing for the 21st Century



23 thoughts on “Testing Out Amazon’s KDP Print

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Interesting to read. I’ve heard about the new KDP Print so thanks for writing about it. My publisher goes with both Ingram Spark and Createspace for the paperbacks (and hardcover through Ingram Spark). They looked into using KDP Print, but some issue came up–can’t remember what it was. But if Createspace goes away, it looks like everyone will need to shift over to KDP Print.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TammieLP says:

      Does Ingram not distribute to Amazon? Or are the royalties just better if publishers go direct to Createspace? Now I’m curious to know what the issue was with KDP Print. πŸ€”πŸ€”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Ingram will distribute to Amazon; it’s just the royalties aren’t as good as Createspace. I think the KDP issue was something with the barcode. It had a specific place it had to be that did not match my cover. They did not allow flexibility in it. KDP Print is trying to have everything uniform for ease of use. At least I think that was the issue.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TammieLP says:

        That’s odd since it didn’t seem like CS gave you any options over barcode placement either. Maybe “real” publishers had the choice of barcode location on the cover with CS. Still, as KDP notes, Print is still in beta so I’m sure changes will come as they move along…I just hope they’re useful changes.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. JM Williams says:

    I think folks need to stop thinking of KDP and CreateSpace as different things. KDP is the new CreateSpace. Amazon bought out CS and is using those resources for their printing service. They are also shifting the options of CS over to KDP, as in author and proof copies. Yes, KDP doesn’t have expanded distribution yet, as I understand it (will likely come in the future though). That being said, an author on CreateSpace was highly unlikely to get any external sales due to those dirty royalties, and not having a proper ISBN. That’s why IngramSpark is still a thing. If an author wants their book on brick and mortar shelves, they need to invest a bit of money and go with IS. With IS you get the right distribution royalties and also get placed in their order catalog, among other things. If I self-publish a full length novel in the future, I fully plan to go with IS. For now, my first self-published work was just novella length, so I didn’t think it worth the investment. Good choice, too, because the sales have been weak. My current longer works are with indie publishers, so I don’t get a say in how they are published. Had a discussion with one of them about going with IS, and they didn’t want to spend the money. But I have been more than happy with the KDP prints, even of such a short work (though I did tweak the formatting to get 160 pages, which helped). The only trouble I’ve had with KDP is getting the new author copies to my APO address, but the customer service folks seem to be working with me (if they actually understand the issue, which at this point is not clear). From what I can see, your proofs came out real nice. That cover is so shiny! πŸ˜€ I’m very happy for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TammieLP says:

      Phew, that’s a comment and a half! Thanks for your thoughts

      Firstly, up until the recent changes and the beta rollout of KDP Print, KDP and Createspace were separate things – KDP for ebooks and CS for print – and, as I said, CS has been an Amazon company for years. Since CS is still available to authors and since KDP Print is so new (and still adding features, as you say), it’s hard not to think of them as two different things. I’m sure I’m not the only author out there right now who may have been wary of KDP Print and wondering what the options are going to be when CS is completely cannibalized by KDP Print. This is why I did a lot of research before trying KDP Print…and why I wanted to put up this review regarding how surprised I was by their service.

      As for no sales via the expanded distribution, I’ve always had at least 25% of my print sales come from the expanded channels…and some months over 50%. Granted the royalties weren’t the best, but it does put a wrench in the idea that other stores will only carry Ingram-published books (more likely, yes). As for a publisher who won’t go the Ingram route with your books, I would question partnering with that publisher. After all, if they’re not going to invest in you, why not just do it yourself (just curious, not trying to be confrontational)?

      As for brick and mortar stores, that’s not a concern for me right now since stores are a trad publisher’s playing field that I simply can’t compete in…the same for getting any notice in the catalogs. I’m more likely to get exposure by doing a few inexpensive ads on Amazon and saving the Ingram & ISBN fees to invest in coffee to fuel my writing :)).

      Liked by 1 person

      • JM Williams says:

        Thanks for the feedback. Great to know that even the CS expanded distribution was netting you sales. If you mind my asking, what venues were you getting expanded sales on? Regarding the publisher who didn’t want to go with ingram as I requested, I had the same reaction you did here. For now, I am under contract for my current work. In the future, what you say about investment will be a part of my calculus. Luckily, it is only a novella (which is likely part of the reason) and not one of my major projects. It will give me some exposure, and other than the IS debate, I have had a great personal relationship with the publisher. Thanks again for the post and the follow-up comment. I think this is very important for new authors to see. I still see a lot of authors on social media saying to avoid KDP and go with CS. Well, unfortunately, CS is going do die soon. There’s no other reason for Amazon to be copying over all the CS features to KDP. And as you have shown, the quality of KDP is pretty good. I love how my books have come out. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. The bigger question, I think, is how long will print books remain relevant. Here’s what the head of one of the publishers I work with recently said to us about print. The guy has a lot of sense about where the fiction business is going. (Hopefully he doesn’t mind me sharing this anonymously) — “paper products are moving more into a collectible category. Even if we have no plans for reading the paper product again, if we really loved the story, the paper book is something we want to display on our bookshelf…lend to others…put on the coffee table. The books we read say something about who we are. While digital products are convenient and compact, they lack the ability to be displayed or shared.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • TammieLP says:

        Unfortunately CS only reported “expanded distribution” as the sales venue so I’ll never really know where those books were going to.

        As you say it’s not a question of KDP vs CS as if it was a competition. It’s not. KDP will be the only choice between the two sometime this year, but I think authors are concerned what the quality of service will be. People are afraid of change and when you have folks out there saying the books from KDP Print are poor quality (which was my worry, besides the lack of distribution options), it only feeds the fear.

        As for print books, I think they will have a place in people’s hearts, at least until the Gen Z kids become the dominant demographic. As I said, 90% of the people on my newsletter list said they hated ebooks and only read paperbacks. I do think the ability to do something special with print books would make them more enticing to shoppers, but when you see your ebooks being offered for 99cents and readers still choose to buy the $15 print book, that says a lot about the strength of print. And, as I said in the post, since you already have your manuscript, if you can produce a print-on-demand paperback for free (no set up fees, no print run minimums, no storage), why wouldn’t you spend the extra few minutes and make one available? You may not sell millions of them, but you’re not going to lose those customers who prefer that form of your product.


  3. weekesgaehl says:

    Phewf! I’m so glad the tale ended with you being pleased with the result! The book looks awesome in the photograph and I bet ever better in person. Ugh, I guess those poor Canadians are going to have to smuggle copies over the boarder though – unfortunate but could be a lucrative black market kind of a deal? I hope they’ll allow us poor souls in the UK to enjoy the printed fun?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TammieLP says:

      Fear not, all they still distribute to all the European Amazon sites. I know you might have lost sleep over that one! πŸ˜‹ I’m not sure what the issue is with Canada, maybe some contract has to expire before KDP can step in? Still, if Trudeau wants to stop by and pick up a few copies for his countrymen and women, I’d be perfectly willing to accommodate! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      • weekesgaehl says:

        Haha I actually *was* a bit concerned I might have read something on a tablet!! Ummmmm please lemme know when Trudeau is gonna be there so I can hop on a plane and help you hand him a couple of books/kidnap him and force him to be mine in some sort of Misery scenario. Just kidding – I promise I’ll act totallllllly normal and cool around him!


      • TammieLP says:

        I can’t risk you’re being “normal” in any situation. I must keep him for myself…lure him in with books and then hold him for ransom until he allows me to move to Canada so I can escape this insane asylum formally known as the U.S.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. crawcraftsbeasties says:

    Ooooh, I didn’t think it was possible to be more excited about getting my sticky paws on a copy of “The Bonds of Osteria” in a couple of months, but that proof just looks so GOOD! I’m glad that KDP Print seems to be ticking most of the boxes, and that you have a source for “real books” if Amazon fully retire Createspace in the future… Because yes, I’m one of those people who still insists on reading her stories off paper. πŸ˜‚ Good to hear that they’ll be shipping to this side of the pond as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TammieLP says:

      Hey, no sticky paws on my beautiful books! I have to say I don’t think my Canadian sales have ever soared above zero, but my European readers do make up at least a quarter of my print sales each month, so I’m also VERY happy they aren’t killing off the distribution to Europe. Hope you can contain your excitement for the next couple months without spontaneously combusting!


  5. Shawn P. B. Robinson says:

    Thanks for a great post!
    I’m in the process of setting up a print book with kdp. I love their interface. It’s easy to use and really slick looking (compared with Createspace).
    The problem I’m having with kdp is the speed. With Createspace, I’ve ordered a proof copy before around 11pm at night and by 7am, the proof has been printed and dropped in the mail. It shows up at my door in no time. Last Friday, I ordered a proof from kdp and it still hasn’t been shipped (it’s been six days). I am afraid they are printing a page a day and I won’t see the proof copy till the end of the year. πŸ™‚ I’m toying with the idea of cancelling the order and deleting the book so I can throw it up on Amazon through Createspace. I don’t understand how kdp can be so slow. πŸ™‚
    Thanks again for a great post.
    One other thing. I have found Ingramspark to be incredible for distribution. They have the ability to get your book out all across the world in ebook and print format. They are pretty great!


    • TammieLP says:

      Hi Shawn,
      Oh that’s interesting about the shipping because I had the exact opposite situation: Createspace would take over 2 weeks to get me my book, but the one I ordered through KDP Print arrived within 4 days of me creating it. I guess the scribes they had working on my book were faster than yours. But Amazon has never been known for consistency with their shipping times.

      I’d love to take advantage of IngramSpark for paperbacks, but simply can’t squeeze the set-up fee and ISBN cost into my budget right now. Plus, with as often as I update the back/front matter in my books, the $25 change fee for each book and each update would kill me. One day, though. One day.

      Thanks for popping by!!


      • Shawn P. B. Robinson says:

        That’s funny! I wonder why the shipping/printing is so inconsistent…
        As for Ingram, so far I don’t think I’ve paid a penny. If you do a search, you can usually find a coupon code for Ingram. There’s one right now out there that gives you free setup or changes. Ignore the ones that give you free setup when you order 50 copies, though. I setup a book within the last two days for free. πŸ™‚


      • TammieLP says:

        If it had shipped, I might say it was the storms across the country, but since it hasn’t…who knows!? Ah, you know, now that you mention it, I do remember hearing about IS coupons on a podcast once. Thanks for reminding me. I’ll have to do a search for one and try them out. To set up for free, did you already have your own ISBNs? I’m still scratching my head why these are so much in the US, but are free in Canada.


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