I’ve just unpublished ‘How to Print your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’.
It’s not the first book I’ve unpublished – I had to unpublish the two CreateSpace versions after CreateSpace ceased to exist. Nevertheless, hitting that ‘Unpublish’ button on KDP felt very odd, especially as I’m not sure whether I’ll ever republish in the same way again.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I unpublished the KDP how-to book because it was first published in 2018, and parts of it were now quite out-of-date. KDP only made a few changes, but Thorpe-Bowker [the agent for ISBNs in Australia], and the National Library of Australia, had both completely changed their websites. I would have to update much of the second and third parts of the how-to, and basically create a ‘second edition’ of the book.
Unfortunately, when you create a second edition of a book, you have to publish it with a new ISBN, and that costs money. Given that I haven’t earned a single cent from the how-to, it didn’t make sense to invest yet more money into a project that no body seemed to want.
Around about this point, I sat down and did some hard thinking.
Was the how-to bad? Was the Kindle Fire version too restrictive? Was the paperback too expensive?
Or could it be that people have grown used to finding information online? For free?
Given how much research I do online, for free, I could hardly fault others for doing the same thing. So I had to decide whether to keep flogging that poor dead horse, or move with the times. I chose to move with the times and publish the entire how-to, online, for free on my blog.
Was this a completely altruistic decision? Hah… -cough-
The truth is, self-publishing is hard. Making yourself visible on Amazon is hard. Selling your books and making money is next to impossible unless you’re:
very good at marketing,
have oodles of cash for advertising, or
have some way of enticing people to your blog
I suck at the first three, but I am good at teaching people how to do things. At least half of all the people who visit my blog are there for one of my how-to posts. So if that’s my strength, how do I translate it into increased visibility for the rest of my work?
Honestly, by the time I got to that question, the answer was pretty obvious – the smart thing would be to self-publish the how-to on the blog and hope that increased exposure would lead to…something. -shrug-
I’m realistic enough to know that very few of the people who come for my how-to posts stay to chat, or buy my science fiction. But you have to work with what you have. Besides, I’ve put so much work into my how-to books I’m damned if I’ll let them sink into complete obscurity.
So, allow me to introduce you to the new, updated, 2020 edition of ‘How to print your novel with Kindle Direct Publishing. -points to sidebar on the right-
Clicking that image should take you to a Table of Contents which contains all the links to all the sections/chapters of the how-to. Alternatively, you can click the link below:
On the Thorpe-Bowker welcome page, click the ‘Sign in/Register’ option located in the top, right hand corner of the screen:
On the next screen you have the option of signing in or creating a new account. Click the blue ‘Register’ button:
You should now see an option for ‘I am a new customer’:
Below it, there is a message from Thorpe-Bowker saying that new customers will have to pay a one-off fee of $55 before they can purchase an ISBN. This is a relatively new fee and meant to cover the setting up of your account.
As Thorpe-Bowker is the only company selling ISBNs in Australia, there is now way of finding a better deal. Those who only intend to sell through Amazon’s standard distribution channels may prefer to use one of their free ISBNs instead.
Those who wish to purchase print copies from the Australian branch of IngramSpark [located in Melbourne] will have to purchase their own ISBN as the KDP ISBN is only valid for KDP.
To continue, click the blue ‘I am a new Bowker Customer’ button.
Next up you will be asked to fill in a registration form. This is pretty standard with mandatory fields marked with a red asterisk. One of those fields is ‘Organisation Type’.
If you’re a self-publisher, don’t worry. Click on the small arrow next to ‘Organisation Type’ and you will see a drop down list which includes the option for ‘Self Publisher’ :
Click the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ button for promotional material and then complete the registration process by clicking the green ‘I Accept – Create My Account!’ button.
Once your registration is complete, return to the Thorpe-Bowker website and click Buy ISBNs & Identifiers on the main screen. Then select ‘Buy ISBNs’ from the drop down list:
Note: the option for ‘Buy ISBNs in Bulk’ will take you to a login screen for ‘VIPs’ who may buy ISBNs in their hundreds.
Next, you will be shown a page of sales options. Select the option/product of your choice by clicking the appropriate ‘Add to Cart’ button:
Bowker will display a summary of your order:
Click the blue ‘Checkout’ button.
The Checkout is fairly standard except for the fact that the only payment option appears to be Paypal:
This is rather misleading as there is, in fact, an option to pay by credit card, but you do it as a Paypal ‘Guest’.
Click the ‘Submit Order’ button and you will be shown the following screen:
To pay with your credit card, click the ‘Pay with a Card’ button.
You will now see a Paypal screen something like this:
Fill in the required details and complete your purchase.
You will now be returned to Thorpe-Bowker and a summary screen:
Note: you are under no obligation to take the survey.
To assign your new ISBN, click ‘My Account’ as shown above and select ‘My Identifiers/ISBN dashboard’ from the menus.
You should now be looking at a screen that displays information about your ISBN[s] :
The screenshot shows a number of ISBNs, all of them unassigned – i.e. not yet linked to an actual book.
To link an ISBN to your book, click ‘Assign Title’ opposite the ISBN you wish to use.
Note: once assigned, ISBNs cannot be re-assigned.
You will now have to enter information about the book assigned to that ISBN:
The first thing to note before you begin filling in the Bowker forms is that you only have to enter information in the fields marked with a red asterisk, such as ‘Book Title’ above.
The second is that you do not have to upload the cover of your book at all.
This is important because you will need an ISBN before you can finalise the cover of your book. It is needed to generate the barcode provided by both KDP and IngramSpark. These barcodes are generated for free so you only have to purchase barcodes from Thorpe-Bowker if you intend to publish with a company that doesn’t provide a barcode.
Finally, the default view is Basic – i.e. only the most commonly used fields are displayed:
If you need to enter details not shown on the Basic view, you may wish to change to the Advanced view which contains all available fields.
To begin entering information about your book, click in the field marked ‘Book Title’ and type the name of your book. This is a mandatory field.
Medium refers to the book’s material composition – i.e. whether it is a print book, an ebook, or an audio book.
Select ‘Print’ from the drop down list.
Format refers to the type of print book – i.e. hardcover or paperback.
Select ‘Paperback’ from the drop down list.
Subjects & Genres
Subjects & Genres refers to the category of book you intend to publish. You can select two genres, but only one is mandatory.
Select the most appropriate genre for your book from the drop down list:
Authors & Contributors
Contributor 1 is the author. As an Individual, the author’s full name and suffix may be entered, but only the ‘Last Name’ is mandatory.
Type your Last Name and as much other information as you wish to enter.
The next mandatory field is ‘Function’. It refers to the role the Contributor played in the creation of the book. The only checkbox that needs to be ticked is that of ‘Author’.
When to add another Author or Contributor
As a general rule:
If you co-authored a book with another author, then that author’s name must be listed as a second Contributor.
If you supplied material to an anthology, then all the other authors of that anthology must be listed as well.
If the anthology was commissioned by an editor, then the editor’s name must be listed.
If you wrote the text for an illustrated book – for example, a children’s book – the the illustrator must also be named as a Contributor.
If the book was originally written in another language and translated into English, the translator must be named as a Contributor.
If, however, you hired an editor to ‘clean up’ the book and a designer to create the cover, you do not have to name them as Contributors.
Sales & Pricing
There are four mandatory fields in this final section: Publication Date, Target Audience, Title Status and Book Price.
As the ISBN is needed in order to publish the book, there are two possible ways of interpreting this field.
the publication date is notional – i.e. a date in the near future when you intend to officially publish the book, or
it refers to the original publication date of the book. For example, let’s say you publish a non-fiction book in 2010. Ten years later you revise and update that book and publish it as a second edition. Each edition of a book requires its own ISBN, but the publication date of the book points back to the publication of the first edition.
Clicking the Help icon produces this explanation from Bowker:
Unless your book is specifically designed for one of the listed targets, click the option for ‘Trade’. Trade refers to trade paperbacks and is the general purpose classification.
Clicking the small down arrow opposite this field causes a drop down list to display:
‘Active Record’ is the status of any book that is [or soon will be] for sale.
Note: if the book is not due to be published for a substantial period of time – e.g. a year – ‘Forthcoming’ would be more appropriate.
As a self-publisher, you may want to vary the price of your book for marketing purposes. Or you may sell it to a number of different market places with different currencies/price points. For all these reasons, you do not want to be tied to one price in Bowker’s records.
Click the option for ‘Write for info [No set price or free] as shown:
When you have finished, click the green Submit button.
Bowker will display a congratulations screen and that will be that. If you click on My Identifiers, you will now see your book linked to the ISBN.
You can now type the ISBN into the Copyright page of your book and submit it to KDP or IngramSpark for the barcode on the cover.
Note: Be sure to copy the ISBN for your book exactly as it is shown, including hyphens.
Log out from Thorpe-Bowker.
In the next section we will look at the National Library of Australia, Legal Deposit requirement.
The information in Part 3 is tailored specifically for Australian Authors. In this section you will learn about the legal requirement to deposit a copy of your book with the National Library of Australia.
The National Library of Australia accepts both print and digital formats – i.e. paperbacks, magazines, maps etc and ebooks. Given the cost of printing a book and posting it, self publishers with both a print and a digital version of their book may wish to deposit only the digital version. To do so, contact the library and ask for the deposit to be digital only.
How to deposit Print material
Send printed material to:
Books Legal Deposit National Library of Australia Canberra ACT 2600
Journal, magazine and newsletter issues Australian Serials National Library of Australia Canberra ACT 2600
Sheet music Music Acquisitions and Cataloguing National Library of Australia Canberra ACT 2600
Maps Maps Acquisitions and Cataloguing National Library of Australia Canberra ACT 2600
How to deposit Digital material
To deposit your ebook, go to the National Library of Australia home page: https://www.nla.gov.au and select ‘Legal deposit’ from the Using the Library/Services for Publishers sub-menu:
Paperback Rights & Pricing is the final tab in the KDP setup process:
On this tab you can set distribution rights and pricing, check royalties, and request a printed proof of your book.
This section is about your rights – i.e. where you have the right to sell your Paperback. The two options shown are ‘Worldwide’ and ‘Individual territories’.
If you are a self-publisher and own the copyright to your book, click the button for All territories (worldwide rights). This will allow your paperback book to be offered for sale via Amazon’s standard and expanded distribution outlets.
Amazon in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada and Japan are deemed to be Amazon’s ‘standard distribution’ outlets.
If your paperback sells through these outlets, Amazon will take 40% of the sale price as payment for selling your paperback. Your share of the sale will be 60%, but the cost of printing is taken from your share.
As at July, 2018, all other countries in the world, including Brazil, Mexico, India, China and Australia [which have Amazon stores of their own], fall into the category of ‘Expanded Distribution’
Your paperback is not automatically sold in these expanded distribution outlets.
KDP does offer Expanded Distribution, but it does so by outsourcing the supply of your paperback to third parties. As these third parties must be paid for producing your paperback, your share of the sale price drops from 60% to 40%, but the cost of printing still comes out of your share.
As explained in the previous section on Distribution, KDP relies on third parties to produce paperbacks for Expanded Distribution.
If you tick the checkbox for Expanded Distribution, your Rate – i.e. your share of the sale price – drops to 40% because the cost of outsourcing comes out of your share as well. So now, the calculation looks something like this:
Using the same figures as before, the calculation would look something like this:
((10 – 4) – (20% of 6) – 5
(6-1.2) – 5
As you can see, the Author ends up 20 cents out-of-pocket.
To ensure this does not happen, KDP automatically increases the Minimum Price when Expanded Distribution is enabled.
Although this ensures that the Author doesn’t lose money, the fact that the increased Minimum List Price is applied to both Expanded and Standard Distribution outlets means that overall sales may drop [because the price in Standard Distribution is now too high]. It also means that authors will be limited in how much they can use pricing as a tool in their marketing.
The Primary Marketplace is the Amazon distribution centre chosen as the default. The List Price for all other Amazon marketplaces is based on the Primary Marketplace and its currency.
In the examples shown so far, Amazon.com is set as the Primary Marketplace, and the List Price of $12.99 is in US dollars by default. If someone wanted to buy that book in one of the other Amazon marketplaces, the price would be converted to the equivalent in that currency. But this assumes that the accepted price of paperbacks in the Primary Marketplace is the same for all Amazon marketplaces. This is not always the case.
For international authors, it makes more sense to optimise the List Price for the marketplace in which most books are likely to be sold. For example, an author in the UK might want to change the Primary Marketplace from the US to the UK.
To change the Primary Marketplace, click the small arrow next to ‘Amazon.com’:
KDP will display a drop down list of the other standard Amazon marketplaces:
Amazon.co.uk – is for the UK.
Amazon.de – is for Germany.
Amazon.fr – is for France.
Amazon.es – is for Spain.
Amazon.it – is for Italy.
Amazon.co.jp – is for Japan.
Amazon.ca – is for Canada
To change the Primary Marketplace, simply click one of the other marketplaces on the drop down list.
In the screenshot shown below, Amazon UK has been selected as the Primary Marketplace, and all the pricing is shown in English pounds [£].
All the other markets will now be based on the UK List Price.
KDP also allows you to set different prices for each of the standard marketplaces.
In effect, this means that you can optimise the List Price of each marketplace to suit the cost of books in that marketplace.
If you know the best price for each marketplace, this option can be a very powerful marketing tool.
To set the List Price for individual marketplaces, click 7 other marketplaces as shown below:
You should now see calculators for all seven marketplaces:
To change the List Price of one or more of these non-primary marketplaces, click inside the price box of the chosen marketplace and type in the new price.
To bring the List Price back in line with the Primary Marketplace, simply click the option to ‘Base this price on Amazon.com’. The name of the markeplace will change, depending on which country is selected as the ‘primary marketplace’.
Although you can make changes to your book after it has been published, I strongly recommend ordering and reviewing a printed proof before clicking the ‘Publish Your Paperback Book’ button.
To order a printed proof, click the blue link as shown below:
When you click ‘Request printed proofs of this book’, KDP displays the following screen:
At the top, KDP explains that proof copies ‘…have a ‘Not for Resale’ watermark on the cover and a unique barcode but no ISBN. You pay only the printing cost for your selected marketplace times the number of copies. Shipping and applicable taxes will be applied at checkout.’
You can order up to 5 proof copies at a time – i.e. for yourself and/or for beta readers.
Finally, you should select a marketplace that is the closest to where you live. This will reduce waiting time and shipping costs.
When you have selected the relevant information, click the Submit Proof Request button to be taken to the payment processing area.
Proof Copies vs Author Copies
Although Proof and Author copies are both supplied ‘at print cost’, Proof copies can only be requested before the book is published while Author copies can only be requested after the book is published.
Author copies can be sold by the author. Proof copies are clearly marked ‘not for resale’.
Publish your paperback
To go ahead and publish your paperback with Amazon KDP, click the yellow ‘Publish Your Paperback Book’ button located at the bottom of the screen.
KDP will display a confirmation screen which includes the following message:
Once the review is finished, you should see your paperback listed on your KDP Bookshelf and on Amazon itself. Congratulations!
Part III is devoted to information specifically for Australian authors. This information includes step-by-step instructions on buying an ISBN in Australia, applying for a US Tax Exemption, and the Australian National Library’s requirement that a copy of all material published by Australian authors is deposited with the library.
After both your manuscript and book cover have been submitted successfully, KDP generates a digital version of the book which you can review onscreen.
Note: you will have the option of requesting a printed proof of the book before giving your final approval.
Review your book
To review your book, click the Launch Previewer button located near the bottom of the Paperback Content tab:
Next, KDP displays the Print Preview screen:
On the left of the screen is a notification area. If there are any technical problems with the book, KDP will detail them here, under the heading of ‘PLEASE CHECK’. Any problems identified by KDP must be fixed or the book may be rejected.
A checklist of 8 common problems can be found on the KDP web page:
To fix any problems, click the Exit Print Previewer button near the bottom of the screen.
Edit the original manuscript [or cover file], upload the edited file, and review the book file again.
Thumbnails and the interior of the book
In the middle of the Print Previewer screen is the display area. It is set to ‘Two Page View’ by default, and displays the front, back and spine of your book.
To view the interior of your book, click the Thumbnail View option located at the bottom of the screen:
You should now be looking at a thumbnail spread of the cover and interior pages of your book:
While in Thumbnail View, you can scroll through the pages for an overview of the layout, or you can zoom in on individual pages by clicking the relevant thumbnail. When you click a thumbnail, the display returns to a full-sized, two-page view of the pages.
If you have your own ISBN, click the Use my own ISBN button instead.
The screen will change to display the ‘ISBN’ and ‘Imprint’ text boxes:
Type or copy/paste your ISBN into the ISBN field. Make sure you type it exactly as it appears – i.e. including the hyphens.
Note: Australian authors can find detailed, step-by-step instructions on purchasing an ISBN from the Australian agency, Thorpe-Bowker, in PART 3, Appendix 2, ISBN in Australia.
Next, for the ‘Imprint’, type the name you used when you purchased the ISBN. For example, as a self-publisher, I buy all my ISBNs using my own name, therefore the Imprint of my books will also be my name.
The only exception to this rule is if you have set up your own small publishing company and purchased your ISBN under that company name. If this is the case, use the company name as the Imprint of your book.
The trim size selected for the Print Options must be the same as the trim size chosen for the Page Setup of your book. To change the default Trim Size to the correct one, click the box labelled Select a different size:
You should now be looking at the Trim Size popup:
The default selection is shaded in yellow.
To select a different trim size – for example the one circled in orange – simply click the box that contains the trim size you need.
For the cover, KDP offers two choices: you can upload your own cover or make one using an online app called Cover Creator. ‘Use Cover Creator’ is shown as the default option:
To upload a cover created by some other application, click the button for Upload a cover you already have [circled in orange above].
The screen will change to display the ‘Upload your cover file’ button:
Important! Before clicking the Upload your cover file button, check whether your cover already includes a barcode. If it does, click the small checkbox [circled in orange above] to stop KDP from automatically adding a second barcode to the back page of your cover.
If you do not have a barcode of your own, leave the checkbox empty. KDP will generate a barcode for you using the ISBN assigned to your book. It will also insert this barcode onto the back cover of your book.
When you are ready, click the Upload your cover file button.
As with the interior, KDP will return you to your computer so you can locate and select the cover file for your book.
Note: the book cover must be in PDF format.
Depending on the size of your cover file, it may take a minute or two to upload the file. When the upload is complete, KDP will display a confirmation that your cover uploaded successfully.
In the next section we will look at using the online Cover Creator app. Please note that this is completely optional.
This is where you enter the name or pseudonym of the Author:
There are five parts to the Author Name, but only the ‘Last Name’ field is compulsory. This point is important, because how the Author Name is filled in determines how it will appear on the Amazon website.
For branding and marketing reasons, it’s vital that the Author Name displayed on the Amazon website is identical to the Author Name that appears on the cover of the book.
In the screenshot above, the Last Name field is filled in, but all the other fields are left empty. This is to ensure that the Author Name on the Amazon website appears in lowercase letters with no spaces, just as it appears on the Absolute Beginners guides.
Note: once the Author Name has been saved, it cannot be changed.
Knowing whether to add a contributor can be slightly tricky.
In the KDP Print Publishing Guidelines, Contributors are defined as:
‘…the people involved in creating your book, including the name or pen names of authors, editors, illustrators, translators, and any others who helped create your book.’
The operative word here is ‘create’. For example, anthologies are usually created by multiple authors who all contribute to the whole – e.g. by contributing short stories or poems or articles etc. In this case, all of the authors have to be named.
Furthermore, such anthologies are often organised and co-ordinated by one editor who may set the theme for the entire anthology. This editor may also take responsibility for the implementation of the whole project. In this case, their contribution is vital and they must be named as well. The same is true of translators who create what amounts to a new version of the book in another language.
When it comes to illustrators, the degree of contribution varies. In a children’s book where the illustrations are just as vital as the text, the illustrator would have to be named. The designer of a simple book cover, however, is not contributing to an integral part of the book – i.e. the book can exist without that particular cover – therefore they do not need to be named.
If none of these conditions apply, leave the Contributors section empty.
KDP is the self-publishing arm of Amazon.com. On the KDP website, you can create both digital and print versions of your book. The print version is produced using the Print On Demand [POD] technology described in the section on ‘Frequently Asked Questions‘.
Click the Sign in button and enter your Amazon ID and password.
If you do not have an Amazon account, click the Sign up button.
You should now see the following popup:
Near the bottom of the popup is a button to create a KDP account [circled in orange].
Click Create your KDP account and follow the instructions to sign up with KDP.
Note: if your country has a Trade Treaty with the US, you may be eligible to have the 30% Withholding Tax reduced to 5%. Amazon will prompt you to fill in a tax exemption form. You can sign it electronically.
After your account has been created, sign in to KDP.
Whenever you sign in to KDP, you will be taken to your Bookshelf first. This is where you will find all your books, both ebooks and paperbacks. The Bookshelf is also where you will ‘Create a New Title’ – i.e. start setting up your new paperback or ebook:
Other major areas include Reports, Community and KDP Select.
The Reports page allows you to view sales figures and royalty amounts. The Community option will take you to the KDP forums, and the KDP Select option provides marketing information for ebooks.
When it comes to the cover of your book, KDP offers two tools:
A template builder that specifies cover dimensions for use with a dedicated graphics package such as InDesign,
A free, online Cover Creator app. developed for KDP
Using the Cover Template Builder
The Cover Template Builder generates a template that is exactly the right size for your cover and its spine. These dimensions are based on your chosen trim size and the total number of pages in your book.
To use the template builder, type the following web address into the address bar of your browser: