KDP PRINT – IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?
Amazon.com’s newest venture is KDP Print.
Once you have uploaded and published your ebook in the KDP system, you can choose to publish that book in print form as well. Yes, you need to upload a cover for the print book (or use their cover design tool, if that’s what you’ve been doing), but you no longer need to go set up a separate Create Space account and go through the process of re-entering all your metadata, payment details, book description, and the like. KDP Print automatically populates details from the ebook to the KDP Print book, including categories and keywords.
Bravo! I always thought that it was silly to have two separate portals for print and ebook when authors usually publish in both forms. It’s about time, I thought.
But I wasn’t going to applaud until I did some due diligence on the Amazon site, and I’m glad I did. KDP Print may be the best thing since sliced bread for you…or it may be a mistake.
Let’s look at the differences between publishing on Create Space and publishing through KDP Print.
The Plus Side:
- It simplifies the process, since you’ve already entered all your metadata.
- Royalties are the same as with Create Space.
- Book Report reports KDP Print Sales. if you use it, and I suggest you should at least give it a free trial — it will include your KDP Print book sales in its reports. They do not currently include Create Space print sales. This integration will enable you to keep track of all your Amazon sales effortlessly.
The Minus Side
- KDP Print does not include Expanded Distribution. What does that mean? Expanded Distribution means that libraries and bookstores are able to order your book, the same way they’d order a commercially published book from Ingram or another book distributor. If you publish in print through KDP Print, they will not be able to do that. Yes, you can hand carry books to a bookstore or ship them directly to that store from your house, but that is a nuisance and many bookstore owners and libraries won’t do that.
- You do not get the proof copies that Create Space supplies for a minimal fee. This will be a headache as you proof the book for publication, since you really need to proof the book in its final print form before you can see all the potential ‘gotchas’. You will have to publish it, purchase copies to proof them, then unpublish it, fix it, and republish if you do find flaws. And you will. You always will…
- You cannot buy authors copies at the deep discount that Create Space permits. This can be a significant problem if you are selling or plan to sell the book directly, perhaps at seminars, conferences, local outlets, or to market directly to independent bookstores. The author discount allows you and/or a bookstore to make a profit from direct sales even after you pay for shipping and the cost of the book.
- No Professional Services are available. That’s not a problem if you contract for the services you need, but if you have relied on Amazon’s editing, formatting, and marketing services, you can’t use them for KDP Print yet. Well, ahem, a lot of excellent options exist out there, and you really should look at other options anyway.
Is it right for you?
Hopefully, Amazon.com will fix these issues in the future to create a streamlined process for dual print/ebook publishing. KDP Print is only in Beta right now, so there’s room for improvement. Meanwhile, these are the things you need to consider before you opt for either Create Space or KDP Print.
How Will You Sell Your Books?
While it’s nice to think that bookstores will be clamoring for your book, even if the book is available through expanded distribution, bookstore owners and librarians will only learn about it if customers ask for it. If you are a new author and writing in a popular genre that is mostly read in ebook form (romance, SF, most types of fantasy, cozy mystery, etc.) then that expanded distribution is probably not critical for your sales initially. If your books start topping the bestseller lists, then you may well find that bookstores and libraries will want your print books as people request them, and at that point, expanded distribution is a good thing for you.
If you plan to hand sell your book directly as you give seminars or do speaking tours, you need that author’s discount. It allows you to pay for the production and shipping of the books and still make a good royalty for yourself when you sell it directly to readers. If you have to pay the cover price and pay shipping for those copies as well, you’ll be selling them at a loss. Of course, if the only print copies you need are for family gifts and fan giveaways, then the author’s discount really isn’t so critical.
If you are writing in a genre that is populated predominantly by print readers — memoir, historical fiction, WWII nostalgia, certain types of mystery, and the like — you may need to market your books directly to independent bookstores and that expanded distribution is a must-have.
Proof Copies Matter
The lack of proof copies is a serious inconvenience. I am here to tell you that no matter how many times you stare at the pdfs of the book, when you hold it in your hands and start flipping pages, you’ll find a few more typos or see a formatting problem that you just didn’t see as you looked at the pdf onscreen…
Yes, you can still proof the book, but you’ll have to publish it, proof it, unpublish it and fix it, and then publish it again. Not really hard, but it’s…well…a nuisance. And if you’re doing an intense PR campaign to launch the book, how many readers will buy the ‘unfixed’ version and will one of them be a ‘typo nazi’ who gives you a loud, ugly review because of your typos?
Hey, KDP Print is in beta, it’s not even officially ‘done’ yet. I read about the service on Amazon’s KDP site, and it’s clear that they intend to implement both proof copies and expanded distribution. I would expect that these wrinkles will get ironed out before too long. It’s in Amazon’s best interest to streamline the publishing process, so I think authors and Amazon have the same goals here. And KDP Print may be fine for you if your print books are mostly used for gifts and promotional reasons.
But do give it some serious thought before you leap onto the ‘less bother’ train and sign up. It should evolve and get better!
My advice? Use Create Space for now, be patient, and stay tuned for news of improvements!