Amazon has expanded their KDP service to include paperbacks. As a self-published author who likes holding physical books in her hands and at the same time didn’t want to have to make a CreateSpace account, I decided to spend the last six hours testing the system.
First off, just in case you don’t like Flash, the way I don’t like Flash, the proof program that you have to use to approve your book requires FLASH. FYI.
Amazon offers amateur typesetters like me templates to work off of. They claim that you can copy and paste your book into these templates and I mean, you should be good to go right?
These templates are Word Documents. In fact, they are old 1993 to 2007 Word documents. That means if you’re like me, your Word is going to open them in compatibility mode. Then, there is the other thing that Microsoft Office adores, auto-formatting. If (and I do mean if) you end up wanting to copy and paste into one of these templates, Please, take the time to change all the formats of the templates headings, normal fonts, body text and any other sort of text you use in your document into your preferred styles before copy pasting. Or else your document will end up being a complete mess and you’ll waste precious time fixing all your type faces and your indents and swearing at Word auto format.
Here is what I did instead. I downloaded their template. Wrote down all their page layout settings and then went into my original document and typed those settings into the page layout there! Then I saved that document as a different filename!
I spent several hours changing the formatting from an e-book style to a paperback style. (Using a favorite paperback to make sure I was doing it correctly.) Pages had to be moved. Chapters needed to start in the middle of pages. Indents needed to be made smaller. (And then I found more lovely Word Formatting errors. Thank you Lord for paragraph mode.) I needed to add headers for my name, the title and page numbers! I’m using an Amazon ISBN so that had to be added to the copyright page. I don’t care what they say. You won’t be using the same document for your paperback book that you do your e-book. Just ignore that.
The other thing I found out while doing this is that they say they want you to upload your book as a PDF. (This is the opposite of an e-book where they want you to use an HTML.) Unlike with the e-book protocol, you can use other types of documents for your paperback book, DOC, DOCX, HTML, HTMLX. But the instructions say they want a PDF. (A PDF is basically a document of saved JPG files in a row. It’s not a flexible document like, say an HTML file. This is why you can’t use it for an e-book, but it is great for a paperback if the document is formatted properly.) Well, to preview everything in the beginning I was using a DOCX file. I wanted to make sure my indents were correct and I had page numbers, my book name and my author name on the top. (Something they won’t do for you automatically. You have to program them into a header. Frustrating.)
Well, I decided that I was going to go fancy and put a pretty title page in using an image with the font I’d created. Because I could. However, I wasn’t sure that the DOCX file would upload with the image. I converted my file into a PDF and used that to upload it. Well, when I went to proof the file, the proof program was upset that the fonts weren’t embedded into the file. The program did it for me supposedly. But this is annoying when you know the difference between what a PDF and a Word/HTML document actually is and are seeing that they are asking for the impossible. (It’s a good thing I use Times New Roman.)
It’s only once you have your book formatted properly and you know the length, that you can start working on creating a book cover.
Why? Simple, spine width. The more pages your book has the wider it’s going to be.
But when I got into using the template they provided for me and had everything done and uploaded my “Print Quality PDF” and checked it in the previewer. The template size they gave me was too small. I had to write down the in inches size it was supposed to be. (Their template was 1/8 of an inch to small on the horizontal.) Go back into GIMP and make the Canvas bigger. Then came the second problem. It’s great and all that they are working in inches. When you’re working with physical paper, okay maybe it works out nicely to be 13.375. But when you’re working in a computer using DPI (which is dots per inch) your choices are slightly too big or slightly too small! I’m not talking about a big deal here, just 2 thousandths of an inch. That’s .002 if you need numbers. But the proof program will still tell you that it’s too big and they are approximating.
But hey, being a person who knows how to use these programs, I figured it all out. If you don’t know how to use these programs, I think this would be a nightmare.
The last thing about this new program is the pricing. KDP has a formula on how they will price your book, it goes something along the lines of print cost times royalty. And you can’t price your book lower than the 60% royalty. There is a fixed cost of the book with an additional price per page cost. Fixed cost for a book the size of the Lone Prospect is $0.85. Each page costs 0.012 to print. So 450 x .012 = $5.40. Add on the fixed cost, that equals $6.25 cost to print one book. Multiply that by the royalty of 60% it becomes $10.42. I priced it at 10.99 because I know how pricing works. And, well, for each paperback book sold, I’ll get 34 cents.
That’s right. 34 cents.
I honestly don’t know if this will be worth it at all. Either the system or the instructions or something needs improvement. I spent a small bit of time wanting to hit my face to the keyboard. I can laugh about it. Then, I am fairly computer savvy. I would feel awful for someone trying to do this that wasn’t computer savvy.
The Lone Prospect Paperback is currently IN REVIEW. I’ll definitely announce and probably spam twitter with new Friday Reads tweets.