Updated: Oct 2
Amazon KDP is a platform that allows authors to self-publish their children's books to reach a global audience. KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing and is owned by Amazon. KDP used to be an ebook only platform for self-publishing books but in 2018, KDP merged with CreateSpace and today, KDP allows you to publish your ebook, paperback, or hardcover book. (We'll talk more about that later in this post!)
How print-on-demand companies like KDP work
A print-on-demand company like KDP makes your book available worldwide on Amazon. When a customer orders the book, KDP will print it, ship it, and send you money.
Other companies like IngramSpark work the same but can also make your book available in other online retail stores. (Read more about that here) While KDP does have an option for Expanded Distribution, it will cost you a lot more per book and you don't get all the same benefits as if you went through a company like IngramSpark directly.
NOTE: KDP and Amazon are not synonyms. KDP is a printer and distributor while Amazon is a retail store. KDP can make your book available on Amazon but there are other platforms that will also allow you to do the same.
When someone orders your book, it will appear in your KDP dashboard when the book ships. This is important to remember because if someone purchases your book on January 31st, it may not ship until February 1st and therefore, would count towards compensation in February rather than January.
KDP's payment schedule is on a 60 day delay. This means that you'll receive the money from January book sales at the end of March. You can view the full schedule here.
Uploading and Approval
When you upload your book to KDP and hit "publish" your book will be reviewed by the company to ensure the files meet all requirements. This process can take up to 72 hours but usually takes far less than that. Once KDP approves the files, your book will become live and will appear on Amazon as published.
You can set up a preorder for your KDP ebook but at this time, KDP does not support paperback or hardcover preorders. If you want to have an Amazon preorder available for your paperback or hardcover, you'll need to use another platform like IngramSpark.
Pros and Cons of Amazon KDP
Print-on-demand is a simple and cost-effective way to make your book available worldwide and Amazon KDP is one of the best POD companies for authors.
Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of KDP specifically:
Pros of Amazon KDP
👍 There's no upfront cost
If you choose offset printing for your book, it will cost you thousands to buy that inventory but uploading your book to KDP is free to you.
👍 The platform is user-friendly
Other platforms have a steeper learning curve but KDP is simple and straightforward. If you follow the steps, you'll have your book uploaded in no time!
👍 You don't have to keep inventory
You don't have to keep inventory on hand and deal with shipping or logistics because once an order is placed for one of your books, it will be printed at the nearest fulfillment center and then shipped out directly to the customer's address. You also don't have to deal with packaging or returns.
👍 Great customer support
No matter what problem you're facing, their support team is easy to get ahold of. Other platforms can take days to get back to you via email but with KDP, there are options for chat, email, and phone support.
Cons of Amazon KDP
👎 They don't format your book files
Your files need to be professionally formatted before uploading to KDP - this is true of any printer but new authors don't realize that the company doesn't help with book design or formatting.
👎 Limited distribution
When you use KDP, your book will only appear on Amazon so if you hoped to see your book in Barnes & Noble or other online retailers, you'll need to look into other options.
Note, KDP does have an expanded distribution but I don't recommend it because they take a huge royalty cut and you don't have as many benefits as if you were to use another platform directly.
👎 Customization is limited
When you use any print-on-demand company, you're at the mercy of their available trim sizes, binding, paper weight choices, and cover options. You can find KDP's options here. If you were hoping for thicker paper, different binding options, or special cover finishes (like foil or UV coating) then you'll need to look into offset printing.
👎 You can't do hardcover picture books
As of right now, KDP's hardcover option is still fairly new which means that they have even fewer trim sizes available compared to paperback and the minimum page count required for their hardcovers is 75 pages. Since picture books are usually 24-32 pages long, this means that to have a hardcover version of your picture book, you'll need to use a different print-on-demand company or consider offset printing.
👎 You can't offer preorders for paperback/hardcover
KDP allows you to create a preorder for your ebook but currently doesn't support physical book preorders.
Before you use the platform
When you use KDP, your book needs to be written, professionally edited, illustrated, and formatted according to the company's specs prior to uploading. Some new authors don't realize this and think that the company will assist them with these steps but remember, Amazon KDP is just a printer and distributor. They do not have a hand in the production of the book.
Before you use the platform, your book should be written, professionally edited, illustrated, and formatted according to KDP's specs.
Let's break each of these phases of the book production process down:
There are multiple types of editing that your book needs prior to hiring an illustrator. Lots of new authors think that editing is just correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation but it's SO much more than that!
Developmental editing is where a professional will look at your story arc, character development, vocabulary, plot, pacing, and overall concept. Copyediting (also called a line-by-line) is where an editor corrects mechanics, grammar, etc and a proofread is a final check.
Check out the video below for more detailed information about the editing process:
⭐️ Check out our FREE downloadable list of professional editors, illustrators, and formatters by clicking here ⭐️
After the editing phase, you'll hire a freelance illustrator. The cost for this will vary depending on their style, experience, and schedule but expect to spend anywhere from $1,500-6,000 or more.
⚠️ WARNING ⚠️
Be careful with a site like Fiverr - while there are some incredible artists on that site, there are also a lot of scammers that use clip art. The easiest way to tell if the art is custom is to order a sample sketch. If you never see an uncolored sketch, it's highly unlikely that the "illustrator" actually created it themselves.
Here's how the process usually works:
Research illustrators and illustration styles you like. Once you find 1-2, order a sample illustration to see how well you and the illustrator work together.
Once you're confident in your illustrator choice, book them and sign the contract. Read the contract carefully and if you have questions or concerns, seek feedback.
The illustrator will start your project. You'll receive a storyboard or sketches, or both for approval before coloration begins. If you have revision requests, this is when you'll want to communicate those as it's more difficult to make changes after the images are colored.
You'll receive final, colored illustrations.
This is just an overview, of course, and all illustrators will have their own timeline and methods so that's why we strongly recommend ordering a sample illustration from them before booking the full project so that you get a test run for what it would be like to work with them.
This is the process of actually preparing your files for print. Your formatter will place the text on your illustrations, handle bleed, and make sure that the files meet all the spec requirements of your chosen printer (i.e. proper font height, distance from the gutter, etc). Here are KDP's specs.
NOT ALL ILLUSTRATORS ARE ALSO FORMATTERS. Formatting is a graphic design skill so it's also not something you can easily do on your own in a pinch.
Uploading your book to KDP
Once all your files are prepared, it's time to upload your book! The first section will have you enter in your book title, author name, illustrator name, keywords, book description, and categories. I highly recommend that you spend some time researching your keywords/categories and getting feedback on your book description before you get to this stage.
In the second section, it will ask for your ISBN number (ALWAYS own your own ISBNs when you self-publish!), your trim size & print options, and then you'll be able to upload your formatted files. In the final section, you'll set your pricing and...that's it! That's all there is to it. Once you hit "publish" your book will be available on Amazon sometime within the next 72 hours, unless there's an issue with your files.
That said, the first 7 days that any version of your book is published is the most important window for your book's success. So don't just hit publish without a strategy - you should be marketing for months prior to your publication date.
Overall, if you're looking to self publish your children's book, Amazon KDP is a great option. The platform is intuitive and user-friendly, with many advantages. If you need more help navigating the self publishing process don't hesitate to reach out!