Here’s an unusual fact about me: I have been using the same exact brand and model of pen since I was 17-years-old and “accidentally forgot to return” one from the teacher that I borrowed it from because it was so stinking nice.
I needed a new pen a month or so ago and discovered that my local general store did not have Uniball Vision Elite .7mm black ink pens in stock. Goodbye Uniball Vision Elite, hello Pilot G-2 07. And you know what? It’s a pretty nice pen, too. It clicks instead of having a lid for me to inevitably break or lose.
The point is this: change is not only inevitable, but it usually works out in the end.
The big news of recent days has been the merge of Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) into one service. We are creatures of habit – we have to be in order to write. Naturally, this announcement by Amazon has created an upheaval in the world self-publishing as we scramble to find out what is going to happen to our beloved books and what this change is going to mean for our future works.
Without further ado about nothing (and pens), I give you the 10 Things You Should Know About KDP Print and How to Learn to Love the Merge.
The Good Stuff
How much is this merge going to cost us? Amazon must be phasing out CreateSpace and going with KDP Print for a reason, right? Amazon seems to be consolidating their Kindle ebook and print on demand (POD) services into one entity as a matter of convenience, but we will get to that later. The truth is that many of us will not be seeing a drastic change in printing costs.
There are some changes, and most of them are for the better. Depending on the trim size, there may be a reduction in printing costs for black and white books with 110-828 pages and for color books with 42-500 pages, with the latter experiencing the more significant decrease.
Often, you might find that the print costs stay the same. For example, the average 200-page book in black and white with a 5×8 trim costs approximately $3.25 to print through both CreateSpace and KDP Print.
However, there is an increase in printing costs for black and white books with 24-108 pages. Luckily, all sources seem to agree that this increase is minimal. If you would like to find out how much the printing cost of your specific book is going to change, KDP has provided a rather clunky, but functional downloadable calculator. There is no definitive word on if KDP is going to import CreateSpace’s calculators at a later time, but we can still get a good idea of what to expect beforehand.
Expanded International Book Distribution
Your book can now go places it has never gone before! KDP Print will provide access to distribution in Europe, Canada, Australia and more. The list continues to grow as more announcements are made.
It is important to note there are different printing costs in international locations. KDP has provided calculators for these price ranges as well in the section that I mentioned above. Don’t forget to change the distribution channel drop down menu to view the costs and royalties for each available country.
While several countries outside of the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia may not have local printing capabilities, Amazon will print the books at a different location and ship it to that country instead.
Available Book Trim Sizes
Has it always been your dream to have an unusually-sized book or one that stands out from the crowded shelves of your local bookstore? Maybe you want your coffee table book to be an actual coffee table without legs?
Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but KDP Print is offering customizable trim sizes. They are starting with the same standard sizes that CreateSpace offered and more sizes are being added every day. There is a section for you to type in your own size as well. KDP Print does have a range that your custom size must fit into. I was disappointed to discover this when I tried to enter a square trim size that was as wide as I am tall.
Keep in mind that you probably want your book to be easily stocked by bookstores and you will want to take note of recent market trends in your genre. KDP makes a note of this when it warns that it might affect your distribution options. But if you have your heart set on printing a few wacky-sized tomes to mail to your stepmother, go wild. (DISCLAIMER: the opinion that you should mail multiple sizes of your book to your stepmother belongs only to the author of this blog and may not reflect the collective opinion of My Word Publishing. However, the author of this blog would like to be contacted if you indeed decide to try this).
Amazon Marketing Services
Amazon is a marketing giant. Amazon is an everything giant, really, but the heart of this global, corporate behemoth is in marketing. If you have published an ebook through KDP before, you are probably aware of Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). AMS is responsible for the “sponsored” products that you see after searching for a general term on Amazon (such as “books about dogs”), as well as suggested products when searching for a particular book.
AMS has an option for “pay per click” ads, which was previously only available for ebooks. Through KDP Print, it is now being offered for your paperback books as well. This feature allows you to set a certain budget for a specific ad campaign that you would like to run. You are only charged for the ad when someone clicks on it and views your listing. How brilliant is that? Your ad reaches more eyeballs, but you only have to pay if the potential buyer clicks on it.
Not every click is going to end in a sale, but this is a significant opportunity to market your book to your specific audience.
When publishing your book to KDP Print, you get to enter a few keywords that describe your book such as “dog books”, “Buddhism”, or “humor” so that the listing can be matched to the search terms your potential readers are using when looking for a new book. CreateSpace only allowed up to five keywords per book, so each keyword had to be chosen with care.
KDP Print, however, is allowing anywhere from 7 to 21 keywords. Holy crow. 21 keywords. Your book is in SEO heaven! It is carrying a lyre and asking when it can begin scheduling a book signing.
When submitting your book, you will initially see there are only a few text windows for you to begin entering keywords. However, if you type more than one word in these windows, each will be treated as a separate keyword. You can keep stacking them until you reach 21 keywords. Be careful with two-word phrases. If you want to tag your book with the keyword “self-published,” be sure to hyphenate so both words are used as one keyword.
Simplified Sales Reports
Remember when you had to download multiple reports from several different sections of CreateSpace, log into KDP to download a separate report for your ebook, and then somehow wrestle them all onto your own Excel spreadsheet so you could translate the resulting gobbledegook into actual sales figures? With this new merger, it’ll no longer be a problem.
KDP is consolidating all of these reports into one. That’s right, you heard it. Your paperback and your ebook will be on one report. This report includes data from the day you hit that “Submit” button in KDP Print to present day. It’s like keeping every single report card and transcript you’ve had since preschool. Knowledge is power, and knowledge about sales and how to improve them is money in your pocket.
KDP University and KDP Jumpstart
Learning a new system is hard. There are countless authors making the move to KDP Print who have never used the service before. It would not be unexpected to find yourself a little lost along the way. Amazon is working to ensure that all of these question mark-shaped bases are covered with the combined efforts of KDP University and KDP Jumpstart. Both are considered to be the “help me” section of KDP, although each has a slightly different approach.
KDP University is a stockpile of articles, recorded webinars, help videos, and a YouTube channel. KDP University not only gets into the nitty-gritty of how KDP works, but it’s a resource for other authorly business like marketing, taxes, and payment options. More content is being added as time passes, so it might be a good idea to bookmark this page and check back in a few weeks.
KDP Jumpstart is a more step-by-step approach to KDP University. Through the use of helpful videos, this section will guide you through every process of publishing your book through KDP Print from beginning to end. If you are just starting out, it wouldn’t hurt to spend some time with these videos to get your bearings.
The Not So Great Stuff
When Your KDP Royalties Are Paid
Time for some potentially disappointing news. As you may or may not be aware, the earnings you made from your book on CreateSpace were paid out within 30 days at the end of the month. In KDP, you can expect to be paid in 60 days.
This means that if you sell your books in September, you will receive your royalties at the end of November. If you regularly make sales, this might only affect you during the first few months of going live with KDP. But if you stay on top of your marketing, you increase your chances of having a consistent, though potentially delayed income.
KDP Customer Service
CreateSpace has wonderful customer service. There are representatives available to speak to by phone and you rarely get stuck on hold listening to some funky elevator music while waiting for someone to answer you. KDP – not so much.
At this time, KDP does not have a customer service line by phone. There is a way to contact them through an online form, but the option is hidden at the bottom of their webpage.
Because of the move from CreateSpace, the representatives at KDP are being bombarded by questions. This means there will be a much longer turnaround time for your answers, but don’t forget – this is new to the KDP employees, too.
KDP’s response time is expected to improve, but no guarantees can be made.
Selling on Amazon Required
With CreateSpace, it was possible for your book to be available in expanded distribution, which means you could sell your book through other retailers, bookstores, libraries, and academic institutions, without an Amazon listing. This is not the case with KDP Print. In order for your book to be “live” (in expanded distribution) it must be available on Amazon. One of the suspected reasons for this merge is so Amazon can bring all of their services under the distinctly “Amazon” umbrella. It’s their right to protect and promote their brand, and this might be one of the ways they are keeping everything in-house.
Some More Important Stuff
We will no doubt receive more information and announcements about the KDP Print and CreateSpace merger in the weeks and months to come. If you are working with a My Word Publishing consultant during the publishing process, we will be working to stay on top of all of these changes so that your book can stay on the best path. Here is some advice on how to get the most from your move to KDP Print:
Make the move before the move is made for you
It is highly recommended that you take the time to move your titles to KDP as soon as you are prompted on your CreateSpace account. This will give you time to review your files to ensure they were not inadvertently corrupted in the transfer and to confirm your distribution options.
Be aware that you may lose your ranking temporarily
Amazon is transferring a massive amount of data during this merge, and your books will be losing their sales ranking for a short time. It is estimated this will only last a few weeks, but be assured you will regain your regal standing on the bestseller list (as long as you were already there before).
You may get some pushback if your ISBN was previously used with another print on demand service (i.e. IngramSpark)
Some authors are reporting an error informing them their book is already published when they attempt the transfer over to KDP. Of course it was, you published it. More information about this error is on its way. Some have suggested that you continue using the original printer associated with your ISBN until there is a better solution. Otherwise, if this is a new book and you intend to use IngramSpark, please please PLEASE upload it to KDP first before putting it up on Ingram.
There is so much information to unpack here, and there is always more to come. I strongly advise you to check out some of the links I’ve included below for more resources on the merge and KDP Print. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your My Word Publishing consultant if you need any further clarification or more specific information on how this change might affect your book. There may be some topics that aren’t available for answers immediately, but we’re all in this together. Perhaps we will discuss it over some pen-shopping, because I know a few good ones you should try.
Resources for the CreateSpace to KDP Print Move
KDP Print costs and downloadable calculators:
Kerry Roepke is a genre fiction writer and a publishing consultant at My Word Publishing. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Metropolitan State University of Denver and has a background in editorial journalism.