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Publishing Your KDP Print on Demand

3rd October 2018
(Knowledge Article)

Before you read on, this is not a comprehensive guide for publishing on KDP Print on Demand (KDP POD), but rather a few interesting points of information I gained from the fine people at Amazon whist playing around with it myself. The Kindle Direct Publishing platform is actually pretty straightforward to use. This skill comes in preparing the material to upload, specifically the content and the cover. Getting the cover right can be quite a challenge. This is compounded by the templated feedback you get from Amazon following their review process. Understandably, they’re aiming for consistency, however in that there consistency lies ambiguity. 

Here’s an example of what I got when publishing my novella Holmes: The Darlington Substitution:

Cover

  • There’s text in your cover file that’s too small, cut off, obscured, or faint. Learn how to fix this.

And here’s what the cover looked like at the time:

Holmes: The Darlington Substitution cover spread


Can you spot what the issue is? Answers on a postcard or a sealed down envelope. No that would be cruel. I’ll tell you at the end.

My attention was drawn to the white HOLMES lettering over the sky. For reasons described later, I’d lightened the image. My problem was I was also distracted by the “too small” part of the statement, which pointed me at the 13pt text on the spine. With the book being a novella it is only 92 pages long, Which is not to say it’s not a cracking read. By one reviewers account… “This is a punchy tale which is neatly executed. There's enough time to form a relationship with Watson and Holmes and the plot delivers all the twists, turns, mysteries and clever revelations which we have come to expect from any Sherlock story.”

I digress. Amazon’s minimum size before you can put text on the spine is only 100 pages. They do however allow you to include two consecutive blank pages at the beginning or middle of a manuscript file and/or 10 consecutive blank pages at the end. This is because excessive blank pages can look like printing mistakes, which may cause production delays. Consequently, I supersized my novella with some blank pages at the end.

The problem is that the minimum of 100 pages is still too small. Consequently, the approval process becomes a bit variable.. A previous version of the cover with spine text at 14pt got rejected for the following reason. Note this is in spite of a version previous to that being approved and printed as proof copies with 15pt text on the spine.

Cover

  • The spine text is too large, which can cause the text to wrap onto the front or back cover. It must be at least 0.0625 from the cover sides. Learn how to fix this.

NOU… remember that from school? Never omit units! After some research it transpired that it’s 0.0625 inches. That doesn’t reeeeally help me, as the graphics tools I have available don’t really do measuring. I did think about working out what that translated to in pixels, but given the variable nature of Amazon’s feedback it didn’t seem worth the effort. Better to just suck it and see, as they say. Better still, given I’m right on the minimum, leave the spine text off altogether. The copies that were printed with spine text will no doubt be massive collector’s items in years to come. Ha! I can’t tell you what a more practical minimum page count for spine test is, but I don’t think I’ll try again under 140 to 150 pages.

Some other things I learned on this mini adventure follow:

  • The weight of the paper used by KDP Print on Demand is quite low. My print on demand proofs were noticeably thinner than the comparable versions from the original offset print runs. Obviously, this exacerbates the spine text issue mentioned earlier. However, it does now mean that Royal Mail will allow me to send Holmes Volume 2: The Return of Boro’s Greatest Detective to people as a large letter… yay!
  • When you request KDP POD proofs they come with a temporary tracing barcode. If your cover image contains a barcode (as some of mind did) this prints over the top. This is because Amazon use a temporary ASIN number to track proof copies through their distribution centres. Given I’d check the bos to say my covers had a barcode, this confused me.
    Your cover pdf needs to be CMYK not RGB for print books. This is because we’re working with ink and not light... obvs! Amazon to run a conversion, but some images can come out looking dark.
  • You need a lot of bleed (I believe this is what it’s called) at the top of you book which doesn’t make it onto the printed copy. The gap between “SHERLOCK HOLMES: BORO’S GREATEST DETECTIVE” on the image above translates to the printed cover as a gap about the height of these uppercase characters. This is demonstrated very effectively in the KDP previewer.
  • The way the html is handled in blurb for kindle and print differs. See a future blog for more details on this. (You can get an email alert of this by clicking the @ symbol below)

Okay, who guessed it? After a really helpful chat with Emmanuel, a lovely fella from Amazon Seattle, we decided that the issue may well be the orange “take on” text on the back cover that is written over the sky. It does seem a bit more obvious now Emmanuel has pointed that out.  I’ve neither sucked it nor seen it yet so the jury is still out.. I’m waiting for my previous upload to be rejected before I can re-submit, but will update this article if this isn’t the case.

Update: The jury is hung. The cover ended up being approved without the orange “take on” text on being fixed. The version that got accepted didn't however have the spine text. I'm therefore leaning towards that being the issue.

Remember, for more great insight into the world of publishing… click the @ symbol below.


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Previous Postings

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Publishing Your KDP Print on Demand

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Mel Small
Mel Small
(United Kingdom)

The founder of Indipenned and the writer of some books. These include Holmes Volume 1 and the imaginatively titled follow up Holmes Volume 2. Dislikes turnip and beetroot (the Devil's fruit).


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