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The Pros & Cons of Publishing on KDP – And Why You Should Work with a Quick Printing Company Instead

June 22, 2022 (Last Updated June 22, 2022)

Marcy G.

There have been many successful authors who have used Amazon’s huge internet presence to make a nice profit selling their books. But for every success story, there are many, many stories of dashed hopes and lost profits. Amazon can be a great benefit to you as an author, but you need to do your homework before jumping in with both feet. Know your costs, track your sales, and keep on top of all the numbers, and you can make Amazon a useful partner.

 

It’s also important to explore all of your options and figure out what suits your needs as an author. Maybe KDP is the right publisher for your goals, but maybe it isn’t. We’ll be discussing the pros and cons of using Amazon to print and publish your book.

 

Pros:

Distribution: When you choose to self-publish with KDP, they will print your book and distribute it through their eCommerce platform. Many authors choose to go this route because of the convenience. That’s why many of us use Amazon, right?

Embedded audience & marketplace: As previously mentioned, Amazon is utilized globally, so there’s already an existing marketplace ready to discover your book.

Can be cost-effective: KDP has competitive per book pricing, so you can keep printing costs down and make your retail price affordable for potential readers. However, since Amazon would be listed as your publisher, they also collect royalties on your book – meaning, a percentage of each book sale will go to KDP, which bring us to….

 

Cons:

Royalties: Since Amazon collects a percentage of every book sale, make sure you do your research and price your book accordingly. Suppose your book has a list price of $30. Amazon Advantage charges a $29.95 annual fee (which seems very reasonable), plus 60% of the list price (which means you’re helping Amazon make a lot of money, but you may not be making any for yourself). You would need to consider all of your costs (printing, shipping, etc.) using any service, so just make sure you do the math to make sure you will turn a good profit.

 

Lack of control over price points: Did you know that Amazon can change your pricing without notice? This is one complaint we’ve heard from self-publishing authors who have used KDP. Depending on how your book is performing, they can alter the retail price. Sometimes this is a good sign and means your book may be doing well but can still feel like you’re being a little blindsided, affecting your take-home sale value. Make sure you keep an eye on your KDP account because it may change without warning.  

Paid-only reviews: When you’re just starting out as a self-published author, it’s important to encourage readers to leave a review of your book. More reviews mean more visibility – especially on Amazon. However, a lot of first-time authors gather reviews from friends and family to help generate some buzz. This is a great idea, and yet, can end up working against you if you plan to use KDP. Amazon monitors reviews very closely – close enough to tell if you personally know the people leaving the reviews. Amazon will deny reviews if they know they are coming from people you know. The best way to avoid this is to reach out to any embedded audience you may have, with the exception of close friends and family, and encourage them to purchase your book and leave a “verified” Amazon review. Otherwise, your reviews might get taken down, burying your book in popular book searches.

Exclusivity clauses: When you print and publish with KDP, Amazon is listed as your publisher, meaning you can only sell digitally on their platform and nowhere else. This can be limiting, especially if you are approached with opportunities. Keep this in mind when you are thinking about your self-publishing plan.

Amazon owns your ISBN: If you ever choose to sell your book through a different platform or decide to sell them on your own at events, on your website, etc., you will need to buy a different ISBN. When you print with 48 Hour Books, you own your ISBN and can sell your book however, wherever you please.

Lack of customer support: Another common complaint we hear from customers who’ve worked with KDP is the lack of customer support. Printing and self-publishing a book can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time navigating everything. Receiving a message that your files have problems, but you don’t know how to fix them, you would obviously want to be able to email or call someone directly to get the issues sorted out. Amazon is a large company and may not get back to you right away, which can be stressful and frustrating.

At 48 Hour Books, we answer our emails and calls immediately. Customer support is very important to us because we know that this process can be hard to navigate. This is just one of the advantages you receive by printing with a small business – extra care and attention.

Less options for special binding and cover treatments: In recent years, KDP has been adding a little bit more printing options, including hardcover printing. But in general, there is a lack of options for special editions, cover treatments, and binding options. This is mainly due to the overwhelming number of people printing with them. Also, because of this high volume, printing errors often occur. We’ve had many customers who come to us after other companies have failed to help them fix printing errors or offer guidance on how to tweak their files to ensure the final product will print to their liking. At 48 Hour Books, you’re in direct contact with the people handling your order and working on your files.

 

Conclusion

Now all this does not mean that Amazon is a bad option for selling your book. You just need to be very careful. Set up the Amazon account yourself, keep careful track of what your ACTUAL costs will be for each book. Consider ordering in larger quantities to get a better price per book. We at 48 Hour Books can ship directly to Amazon, so you’re not paying twice for shipping. Determine what profit you want to be able to keep from each copy sold and work the math backwards to arrive at a list price. This way, when you do get a sale through Amazon, you’ll know that you’re making a profit.

 

Book industry market trends show that many authors are making more of an effort toward working with smaller, “indie” distribution companies and printers in an effort to support small businesses and independent bookstores, instead of a corporation. These avenues are more accessible than you think and often work with authors closely.

 

How 48 Hour Books Can Help

At 48 Hour Books, we offer an extensive list of print options, special cover treatments, ISBNs and more. We pay careful attention to every order – helping you every step of the way if that’s what you need. With our high-quality digital printing, you can feel confident that your book is bookstore ready. We print paperback books in just 2 business days, so if you’re in a rush, we’re here to help. To view our print quality up close and learn more about us, order our free Ultimate Guide sample book. It contains all of our paper and cover options, along with information on how you can successfully print with 48 Hour Books and self-publish. 

 

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