In the advent of the Kindle, a lot of authors decided to forgo printing physical books, concentrating instead on the sale of digital e-books. Many thought that print books were no longer relevant, and that this would be able to sustain their sales. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be.

While there has been a surge in digital sales, print books are still wildly popular, and authors who have forgone printing their books are missing out on a lot of possible sales. There are thousands of readers out there who still adore print books and would prefer them to reading a book on a Kindle.

So if you’re a self-publishing author who has steered clear of the printing route, now may be the time to take the road less traveled by, by turning to Amazon KDP (see also ‘Amazon KDP Royalties: 35% Vs 70% Royalty Rates‘). But what is KDP printing? We have all the answers below in our ultimate guide!

What Is KDP Printing?

It used to be that self-publishing a print book was risky and costly. Many authors and publishers had to deal with towers of books they couldn’t manage to shift and that they had poured a lot of their money into.

But with modern Print-On-Demand (POD) technology, books are printed when they are ordered and paid for. So the only cost incurred by the author or publisher is for the formatting and the cover design.

POD technology does wonders for authors because it gives you access to the huge market for printed books, maximizing your profit and reducing costs. You now have a wide variety of options for self-publishing print books, including Amazon’s KDP Print on Demand service.

The simplest option for independent authors is KDP Print. It was once called CreateSpace, but Amazon discontinued this service in 2018 and moved all of their printing services to KDP.

KDP lets you upload a formatted manuscript to create a printed book. Plus, it even checks your files to ensure they have been properly printed. It advertises print books next to their Kindle versions on Amazon, and is a very smooth process.

All you have to do is use your Amazon account to sign up with KDP (see also ‘Should You Use Your Own Personal Account For Amazon KDP?‘), then upload your formatted manuscript and the design for your book cover.

How To Format A Print Book For KDP?

It’s simple and quick to learn how to format a book for KDP, and everything you can do in Microsoft Word, or InDesign to make your manuscript look as professional as possible. Still, there are a couple of hurdles to jump, and these hurdles are mainly why many independent authors don’t offer print versions of their work.

Still, these requirements aren’t too hard, and it’s easy to learn how to design your own print files by yourself. There are many benefits to publishing your book with KDP:

  • It’s an extra source of income. For every print book sold, KDP will pay you royalties every month.
  • It gives you a physical print of your book that you can send to book bloggers, influencers, and reviews who can help with promotion of your book.
  • It allows you to create a book giveaway of Goodreads, which opens your work up to a new reader base. 
  • It improves your credibility. Having a printed book gives you and your brand as a self-publishing author more credibility.

Formatting A KDP Print Book File

Formatting A KDP Print Book File

Countless authors have attempted to format their book in a way that meets the requirements of KDP but have ended up frustrated. To those authors we say, hang in there!

Although KDP does have a couple of formatting quirks, once you get a hang of them you’ll be formatting your books in less than an hour! KDP also provides free Word templates for you to use that are very helpful, and are a great jumping off point. These templates can be downloaded here.

You don’t have to use these templates, but they are worth taking a look at, so you can apply the principles to your manuscript. In fact, it’s usually easier, faster, and less confusing to do just that.

After all, no one knows your manuscript better than you do, and you can edit it easily, because applying your writing to a template made by someone else can get confusing if you’re not an expert on Word. 

If you take a look at a few of the templates, you’ll notice a couple of things they have in common. This is because a print book has different requirements to a digital book. Yes, there is some jargon involved in the process, but rest assured, you’ll get used to the vocabulary soon enough.

Book Margins

While margins aren’t a concern when we’re formatting our manuscripts for Kindle, they’re essential for printed books. Margins are the space around the perimeter of the page where no words are printed.

Most documents on Microsoft Word have margins on the left and right of the page, as well as the top and the bottom. However, a print manuscript is different to other Word documents, because its margins are non-symmetrical. 

Leaf through the book nearest to you and you’ll notice that it is formatted in what is called a ‘mirror image’ format. The pages are different on the right and left. Usually, the pages on the left side are even-numbered, while the pages on the right side are odd-numbered.

Left-hand pages often have a thin left-hand margin and a wider right-hand margin. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for right-hand pages. These non-symmetrical mirror margins are the secret to print formatting, because they leave the space needed for the binding of the book.

Trim Size

This refers to the physical size of the book. It’s very uncommon to see a print book that is 8.5 x 11 inches, because printed books tend to be a lot smaller than printer paper. The Word document of a printed book template looks smaller than it normally would when creating a new Word document.

This isn’t an issue with Kindle, so it can come as a surprise to authors when they have to consider the size they want their paperback book to be. KDP has a limited variety of trim sizes, and these are called ‘industry standard sizes’ as they’re the sizes that are the most widely used in the world of publishing.

The most common size is 6” x 9”. This means the book is 6-inches wide, and 9-inches tall. At this stage, the depth isn’t measured. This is a pretty hefty size, and isn’t the most portable book size!

Other common sizes are 5” 8” and 5.5” x 8.5”. These sizes are often known as ‘trade paperback’ sizes. They are more portable sized books, and this is why novelists prefer them to any other size. Another common size is 8” x 10,” and this is often used for non-fiction books like manuals.

Another thing to keep in mind when considering what you want your book’s trim size to be is how much the book will cost will be mainly determined by how many pages it has. It is worth going for a 6” x 9” over a 5” x 8” because this will translate into fewer pages, and therefore a lower price.

Final Thoughts

We hope our article has shown you just how quick and simple it is to publish a book with Amazon KDP (see also ‘Full Guide To Updating A Book On Your Amazon KDP Account‘)! There are different considerations to self-publishing a printed book rather than an e-book, but the rewards are so worth it!

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