• Jody E. Skinner

How do I sell my paperback book on Amazon/KDP? (Part 2 of 3)

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

To offer a book for sale on the Amazon.com marketplace, you must go through the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. Until early 2018 the platform to do this was called CreateSpace, but Amazon merged CS into its own entity, KDP. In this article, experiences are based on U.S. timing and delivery and will differ in other markets. Information current as of March 2019 and is subject to change because Amazon likes to keep us all on our toes!


Before you get started

  • Are you buying your own ISBN from the Bowker organization, or are you using a free one assigned by KDP? There are many pros/cons, so consider this article with one of the most straightforward checklists I've seen as to why/why not purchase your own. If you DO purchase your own from Bowker, you must go to their MyIdentifiers site and assign it to this paperback title before you can complete this stage of the process.

  • What's your book "trim size"? Amazon standard sizes start at 5" x 8" and are available in 16 sizes at time of writing.

  • What paper type will you want, white or cream? Cream paper is partially recycled and slightly thicker than white paper, so you must specify this paper type when creating your cover, as book spine size will be different for cream than for white.

  • Cover notes: if you do not know your final page count, then whether you are creating your own cover or having it done by a designer you likely do NOT have a finished cover. I mean the WHOLE wraparound cover, not just the front of the book--it's the back, the spine (based on final number of pages), the front, and .125" image "bleed" (overhang) on all edges. The books I've worked with have been rejected most often for incorrect cover size and format.

  • Needed files: - PDF for interior with fonts embedded - PDF (not .jpg or other image file!) for cover.

  • Optional but encouraged: you'll be entering a book description. Since you have your cover done (right?), you may use the blurb from the back cover here. You can also enter some placeholder text, but make a note to come back and include a description with lots of keywords to help Amazon shoppers find you.

  • Please don't rush this stage. Allow 3-4 weeks at minimum before your launch date to be sure your book is approved and that you're happy with the product you've built. Book files with errors are rejected by KDP, and errors are more common than you think.

Now. Here we go.

Part 2: How do I upload a paperback to KDP?


Visit kdp.amazon.com and navigate to your Bookshelf page.

Under Create a New Title click "+ Paperback."


Paperback Details tab - must fill in all sections

  1. Language

  2. Book Title

  3. Series and Edition Number (both optional, depending on your setup)

  4. Author and Contributors (if more than one)

  5. Description (see note in "before you get started")

  6. Publishing Rights

  7. Keywords and Categories (you can choose some and back to these at any time)

  8. Adult Content - y/n.

  9. Click "Save and Continue"

Paperback Content tab - now your book takes shape!

  1. Choose KDP's free ISBN or enter your own number (see notes above)

  2. Publication Date: not applicable if publishing this book for the first time

  3. Print Options: here is where you need your paper type, trim size, and bleed information. (Most text books will be "no bleed.") NOTE: after you have hit "publish" on this book, you MAY NOT CHANGE your paper type or trim size. You will need to start a completely new book file to change any of these print details.

  4. Manuscript: upload your interior PDF with fonts embedded (Note: a PDF is not your only option, but it's the best one to make sure you control the appearance of your pages, where your pages break, etc. You do have the option to upload a .doc/docx file, an .html file, or an .rtf file if you prefer one of those, but let me warn you: results are frequently less than desirable.)

  5. Book Cover: upload your print-ready custom cover or use KDP's cover creator. To upload your own cover, note the check box where you can let KDP know if your designer or program included a barcode or if you need KDP to add one on based on the information you have entered. (If you've had a custom cover created and you didn't have a final page count because you uploaded a non-PDF file in the last step, you'll need to have that cover adjusted now for the spine thickness--or use KDP's rather generic cover creator which will factor in your book thickness.)

  6. Book Preview: click "Launch Previewer." You'll see varying progress screens for 5-15 minutes while the software works its magic. When the preview appears, click through the book to make sure everything looks good. Check the left side of the screen for any errors detected in the basic setup, like cover size or text/font errors. Make a note of any error messages and click "Approve."

  7. Now Amazon will show you the first glimpse of what your print cost will be, which you can roughly figure is how much they will take from your book sale as well. You can find the exact equation on the KDP website.

  8. Click "Save and Continue"

Paperback Rights and Pricing tab - last step!

  1. Choose territories in which you want your book available (default is All Territories)

  2. Set a price for your paperback. This is where you will see the exact breakdown of your royalties based on the files you have uploaded. Leave "Expanded Distribution" unchecked. (Expanded distribution is not recommended through Amazon/KDP, as you will have better royalties uploading to other distributors directly.)

  3. DON'T click "Publish Your Paperback Book" yet--unless you're on a super-tight deadline. Instead, you'll see a check mark at the bottom where it says "Proof Copies"; please take the time to order up to five proof copies of your book so you and any teammates can look it over. Turnaround is about a week here in the U.S., and you'll only pay your print cost + shipping. These will come with NOT FOR RESALE stamped across the whole cover, so don't confuse these with your discounted "author copies" (more in a minute), but do take this step to ensure that this product is truly what you're happy putting YOUR name on as your book's publisher. (NOTE: you ARE allowed to order proof copies even with some types of error messages in the previewer from the previous section. This does not mean it will be approved in the next step, so correct these errors before proceeding.)

  4. Publish Your Paperback Book. (Yes! Finally!!) Once you're confident in your product, now you can submit it to human inspectors who will look for any details the computer previewer software may have missed. Errors that keep your book from being approved may involve image bleed/overhang issues, cut-off text from a misplaced image or text box, or text that is either too small to be legible or too close to the edge of a page. No errors in the previewer does not guarantee no errors at this stage--you'll be notified via your connected email of any errors that need to be addressed. Approval can take up to 72 hours but may happen the same day if their queue is short (so check that email address!).

Part 2: paperback book complete!


- Yes, your book WILL be available for purchase IMMEDIATELY after the KDP human team approves it.

- No, there's no way to predict what day/hour that will be, especially if you have to fix any file errors.


Please, please . . . As I said earlier, PLEASE don't wait until your scheduled launch day to click "Publish." (Please.) You will be far better off to have it approved and available but not being actively marketed than to be actively marketing it and not have it available to purchase. Trust me.


"Proof Copies" vs. "Author Copies"

After your file has completed the final approval process, you can request to order "author copies." These are different from proof copies because they do not have the NOT FOR RESALE stamped across the cover, but they are the same price of printing + shipping as proof copies. (No Prime shipping discount is applicable.)


How do you find where to order author copies? From your Bookshelf page, you will find your book cover displayed, with the Paperback section showing a green "LIVE" message. On the right side, next to the "Promote and Advertise" button, there is a small button with three dots (see photo). Hover your mouse over that, and from the popup menu select "Request Author Copies."



Click through, then request the number you want, up to 999. These are added to your regular Amazon cart, so you'll finalize the checkout process there.


Author copies generally arrive in 7-10 calendar days (contiguous U.S.), and you will pay both shipping and tax in addition to your discounted book cost.


Second hurdle: cleared!

From here, you can now click back to your main Bookshelf page, where we'll see next how to upload your ebook (coming October 2019).


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