4 Hidden Secrets of the KDP Self-publishing Journey
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Since it's been a week (ish) since my debut novel, The Nightmare's Truth, was released on Amazon, I figured I'd dive into some choice lessons I learned during the whole process which I found no answers for when I needed them.
Some, or all, of these might be no news to you. Maybe you've published lots of books through Amazon's KDP platform. That's awesome. This post isn't for you. No, this post is for the countless curious beauties with a glint in their eye which screams at them, "When, damn it? WHEN are you going to write that book you've been dreaming about? And how the hell do you even go about getting it out there?!" Yeah. All you guys n gals nodding right now. This post's for you.
Firstly, what is KDP? In short? A stupidly easy and remarkably professional way you can self-publish your work with no upfront costs. That's right. This is print on demand, my friends, you don't pay unless you need a copy. You sign up through the KDP portal, and from there it's a straight shooting path to publishing your book on Amazon worldwide. Everything happens through this website. Google search KDP if you're curious! You click the create button, populate a form with your book's meta data, set pricing, upload PDF docs of your manuscript and cover... and voila! The whole process is a doddle. They even offer a super easy program to create your eBook version. And that's a breeze too. Upload your manuscript, follow KDP's simple instructions to define your chapters and such, and boom, you have an eBook file. There's a help list filled with answers to pretty much everything you could ask for... except a few.
SO, here's 4 speed bumps I'd advise you be wary of...
I only ever printed my book in matte style, so I can't really say if it applies to glossy finished books, but the printing process will work some dark & mysterious magic on your cover, my friends. I tried to make that sound cool. Did it work? Sure, it may seem obvious to you if you're a designer. But we're not all designers. I ended up ordering more proof copies than I'd have liked to, mostly just trying to nail this. And I kept wondering why I couldn't find simple examples anywhere. So here are my simple examples in the form of some pictures. Eat it up.
Without going OTT on details, I messed around with the brightness to a level where it hurt me to look at. My once dark design filled with so much lightness... I'll be honest, it freaked me the fuck out. Strangely, while the darker areas of the cover got darker on print, the lighter ones sort of washed out, too. That meant a load of me isolating elements of the design, like the title and swords, to darken, while I was lightening the rest. Anyway, for reference, here's a comparison of how things ended up.
Oh, and use KDP's templates to check your cover is the right fit for your chosen book size. They've got resources alongside help material all waiting for you once you sign in.
Requesting proof copies
After uploading your files, you can request proof copies to confirm you're happy with the result before you publish. While this process is simpler than Simple Rick, I had an issue with not receiving the email Amazon sends you which contains the link to actually buy your proof copy. Nooo-one seemed to know why. Turns out it was thanks to the web browser's cache. Or maybe the cookies. Either way, these emails to order proof copies should come through pretty damn fast. If you don't receive the email and it's not in spam, don't place another request, clear your cache & cookies. It's super easy to do. You can find the options in the browser's settings. Thank me later. Moral of the story: Cookies bad.
Release Day & Pre-orders
WELL. Anyone following me knows I had a bit of a moment when the print version of my book went on sale early. Turns out, it worked brilliantly in the end. I think I can be excused a brief freak-out given the circumstances I heard my book was up for sale. I was out of the house, mind on what food I was gonna eat & my release day plans, then WHAM! Engage hyperdrive cause this shit's going down! Anyway. Long story short, you can only set the eBook version of your book to be available for pre-orders, even though print & digital versions are linked on the KDP website. Crazy, right? Timing the print version for same-day-release is pretty much guesswork unless you're sticking it to Lady Luck on the weekends. Amazon advises it can take up to 72 hours after hitting publish for your print book to become visible & available in stores. Their help team say it's more like 48. They'll suggest you allow at least 48. 19 hours after I hit publish on the print version of my book, it was available to purchase in UK, USA & DE marketplaces. 19 bloody hours! I mean, that's awesome. But daaamn. It worked out though, because those to act fast got theirs delivered on the same day my eBook became available. Still, it took some serious knee-jerk reactions to adjust best-laid-plans and spin the story well. Hell, I'm a storyteller, I should be good at that! My advice; if you're letting the eBook version of your work be available for pre-order & want the print copy released on the same day...
Hit publish on the print version around 48 hours before the intended release date
And plan your 'release day' as more of a '2-day release... day'.
Trust me, it's worth it to get those fan photos showing up on day 1!
You can view your reports from the same website you've been using. They're pretty useful, though not as clear as they could be and not (to the best I've noticed) real-time reflections. They may take some time to populate, and there could be improvements, but overall who cares? We're not in it for the money or we wouldn't be authors. Sorry to anyone who's dreams I just spoiled, but it's best you hear this now. And apologies to the data lovers who were hoping for more of a report dive. There isn't more, not from me, not on this. They're pretty good, they'll tell you what you need to know. The End. Anyway, join me next week if you wanna hear the journey of how The Nightmare's Truth came to be, conceptually and literally. Who knows, maybe you'll read exactly what you needed to finally get those words on the page & tell your story. Until next time Ciao x