Merged over from CreateSpace, KDP has some similarities to the beloved CreateSpace and a handful of differences as well. My experience with KDP has been a bumpy one.
The paper quality is decent. I’ve seen better, but I’ve seen worse as well. At least it’s a crisp white. The cream paper is a perfect shade. You can’t tell the books are self-published.
The vibrancy of coloring on the covers is amazing. Sometimes I sit and stare at my books mesmerized by the beautiful covers. It truly is a high quality color.
A lot of things are free with CreateSpace and KDP. This is a great option for authors on a budget.
It’s free to sign up. There are no membership fees or annual fees of any kind.
It’s totally free to publish a book with them.
If you can’t afford your own ISBN as recommended, they provide one. However, that does list them as the publisher.
They are connected to distributors at no additional cost to the author.
It’s also free to make changes to your book. If you find a typo or want to make a small revision, it’s extremely easy to do so. You can upload a new cover as well.
If you do desire to make a few changes, your current version will stay live and available to buy until the revisions are approved. There’s no need to pull it off the market.
You can choose to unpublish your book right from your dashboard. You don’t have to contact support to have that done.
As soon as it is published, it is available on Amazon. There is no wait period. Eager readers can buy it within minutes of publication.
You can also run ads on Amazon easily with KDP.
If you have your book in paperback and Kindle, all of that is managed from one dashboard.
There is no threshold to reach before you can be paid. Payments are deposited at the end of the month 60 days after the sale has taken place. Example, your sales from January will be deposited at the end of March.
You can order copies from as little as only one copy of your book to as many as 999 copies.
The cost of ordering copies for the author is decently priced. Other print-on-demand companies are very expensive.
They are made in America! That is very important to me.
One nice feature on their dashboard is the ability to filter your books. You can filter it to only show books that are currently live. If you have books that you’ve retired or are in the draft stage, this is a nice feature.
Proof copies come with a gray “Not for resale” banner across them. It kind of puts a damper on pre-launch promotional pictures and videos. It looks less professional.
Your announced launch date may or may not work out. When you submit your book for approval to publish, it can take hours or several days. They automatically publish it then. You have no control over the date and time it is published. Some users report being stuck in a limbo with over a one week wait time before being published.
Their computers may flag your book as unapproved for things that aren’t actually an issue. For example, one of my books was flagged as unacceptable due to small font. It’s written in Georgia font, size 14. I called them and they said their formatting specialists would review it. I resubmitted the book as it was. It was approved. Days later when their formatting team emailed me they couldn’t figure out what was an issue in the first place.
All books published through KDP are required to be available for distribution on Amazon. While CreateSpace and other print-on-demand companies allow the author to be in control of distribution and able to have privately printed books, KDP does not. Some authors wish to sell exclusively through their website or at events. Others have published private books for their own family that they do not want available to the public. This privacy is not an option with KDP.
Your cart redirects you to Amazon when you want to order copies. You have to request copies instead of being able to order them immediately. You will then be redirected to Amazon’s regular website. It feels less professional this way.
Shipping to the author takes a lot longer than shipping available to customers. 2 days versus 2 or 3 weeks is an unreasonable gap.
Another thing is the loss of BISAC categories. Your genre can now only be chosen by a drop down menu that matches Amazon’s categories. You can’t enter your own BISAC code.
Their quality control standards for their covers are subpar. The feel of the cover and the coloring is truly excellent, but don’t expect it to line up the same way with each book. The spine moves several millimeters. I’ve had covers with them that the image is straight up crooked. It’s incredibly frustrating to receive a perfectly aligned cover with one order and then the next order looks like some DIY job put together with a touch of alcohol on the breath. I feel like no matter how meticulously I design my covers I never know if it will be lined up where it should be. That reflects on me as the author, not the printing company that readers don’t know.
Their cover creator is a pathetic joke. Just pretend it doesn’t exist. You’ll need to upload a professionally made cover. You also have to have your interior’s final page count before being able to do the cover.
Customer service is awful enough to throw a monk into a rage. They pass off every issue to another department or some so-called expert. Nothing gets dealt with. When they “look into” an issue they rarely stay in communication with the author. They also close cases as solved that were never even addressed. The company is so big that is seems to be apathetic to providing quality customer service.
I’ve had a few bumps – big bumps – with KDP.
When I was merged over from CreateSpace, I was never paid my royalties. That was in August. I’ve contacted them repeatedly and been given the run-around repeatedly. They refused to give me a date. In January, they finally told me they would pay me by the end of March (after I accused Amazon of stealing from me). I won’t hold my breath. It’s March now. No sign of payment in sight.
I tried to retire several books to publish new editions. I write nonfiction. I update with new editions every few years. It should have taken a matter of days to unpublish and have that go through. It took over 2 months along with many, many emails. For some unbeknownst reason, they continue to retire some of my books repeatedly including two that were retired with CreateSpace long before KDP was even a company. None of this has been communicated with me.
They sold two copies of a book that was supposed to be out of print because it had been replaced with a newer book. When I contacted them about it they insisted that those were old sales that for some unknown reason had not been reported until now. No, they sold books I did not give them permission to sell.
I published 3 books on October 29th. It took until February for 2 of them to show up on expanded distribution. In comparison, CreateSpace used to take maybe 2 weeks. For added fun sprinkles, one of my books has never shown as available on other websites (ex. B&N) and another one has disappeared.
The first two orders I received after publishing were damaged. I had heard concerns over the quality of their published books compared to their proof copies. The proof copies had been fine. So, I started out ordering one copy of each of my 3 new books. 2 of them had glue on the pages causing the pages to rip apart. The pages also seemed quite thin. They were see-through. It looked no better than standard home office printer paper. It took a lot to get them to refund what I paid for the 2 damaged copies. They went on to tell me to order more if I still want those books. Again, I ordered one copy of each. This time they arrived with the same glue issue. They were in even worse condition. I could not let people see these. Keep in mind that these orders were a month apart. All of the damaged books were printed in South Carolina. The books I’ve received that were printed in Kentucky have been perfect.
Given the repeated issues over damaged copies and quality control issues on the covers, I am hesitant to order copies of my own books. I don’t trust this company. These 3 books with KDP have been published for nearly 6 months now. While I haven’t received any complaints from readers, I still have not been able to bring myself to order batches of my books. I fear spending hundreds of dollars only to get damaged books that they don’t want to replace.
I had hoped with some time of grace that KDP would rise to the excellence of CreateSpace and work out some of these kinks. I don’t see that day coming. I’m currently in the process of looking for a new printing company of comparable pricing that makes books in America. At this point, that company’s connection to distributors matters little at all. I’d rather pull my books from Amazon altogether than to continue with this company that puts out damaged books so often. There are a lot of great things about KDP and I love the quality of the books that are undamaged and have properly aligned covers, but if I’m afraid to order copies of books that tells me that this isn’t a company I want to partner with. I do not recommend KDP.