So, you’re ready to learn how to publish a paperback?
Congrats, that’s a huge step. For many self-published authors, print books actually sell better than eBooks, so this is a great step to take.
There are some prerequisites. Print publishing is more detailed and difficult than publishing an eBook. It comes with its own set of specialized knowledge, and it’s a different ballgame. With print, you want your book to at least look like it was traditionally published, even though it’s not. Level the playing field, if you will.
Also, I want to note here that these are also the steps you would follow to publish a hardcover book. The interior is the same. It’s the cover that would be different.
What You Need
- Your manuscript, edited and formatted for print – I recommend that you outsource the formatting to a trusted expert. It’s a bear!
- An Amazon KDP account
- Your book cover in PDF format with spine and back cover – This is specialized, get more information here.
- Your metadata – If you’ve already published an eBook version, some of this will be filled in for you. If not, you’ll need your title, subtitle, series (if applicable), author name, description, categories, and keywords
- An Internet connection and some time
Just Say No to “ABC Publishing”
I know some of these one-stop shops sound good. They promise to edit, format, publish, and market your books. Avoid them like the plague. They will line their pockets with a few thousand (or more!) of your hard-earned dollars and do the first 3. That’s when the problems start. Most of the time, these outfits own the imprint to your book and they publish it on their own KDP account. They may also demand a portion of your royalties.
In my experience, I’ve never seen one of these places that had an effective marketing campaign. This is almost always the fast lane to languishing in obscurity.
It’s better to hire out other aspects and keep your publishing in-house on your own accounts where you maintain control. I’ve referred more than one author over to my assistant for help in regaining control from one of these “companies”. You CAN do this yourself.
Get Plugged Into the Self-Publishing with Dale Community
I create a lot of content and it’s all geared toward helping you learn to publish the right way. I have all kinds of resources from this blog to my YouTube channel, podcast, Substack, email list, course, app, and so much more. It’s pretty insane. I create exclusive content for each platform!
Aside from the content I create, I’ve also built a couple of really great communities full of authors just like you who are waiting to chat with you and offer you feedback on your projects. It’s all free, my friends. Get linked up:
A Helpful Resource
In 2020, I launched a series on my YouTube channel called Book Rescue. Each season, I select a candidate who has applied via my website to participate in rescuing their books from low sales.
After a pilot and two seasons, this process has generated a massive blog post covering every aspect of self-publishing and marketing. I took that post and turned it into a PDF that you can download, print, and use as a blueprint for your own publishing journey. I’m sharing it here because I feel it is a nice companion resource to knowing how to publish a paperback. There’s a download link in the post linked above. Bookmark that because I update it after every season!
How To Publish a Paperback
Step 1. Gather your files and metadata. Log into Amazon KDP.
Step 2. Click the appropriate button to create your paperback. You can either click the big yellow + Create button at the top of your KDP bookshelf or you can click + Create paperback under the title you want to work with further down if you’ve already published an eBook.
NOTE: Click images to view them larger.
The process begins on the Book Details tab. Follow along with the entire process via the screenshot to the left or as you’re publishing to your own account.
Language – Select the language in which your book was written from the drop-down menu.
Book Title – Type your book title exactly as it appears on your book cover. Make sure this is your final title iteration because you cannot change it once your book is published.
Subtitle – Type your subtitle if applicable. This is optional.
Series – Click the Add series details button to add information if you book is a part of a series.
Edition Number – Type the edition number. If this is the first time you are publishing this title, leave it blank.
Author – Type your author name or pen name.
Contributors – If you wish to add contributors like additional authors, editors, etc. Click the Add Another button and add their information in the same manner. If not, you can leave this blank.
Description – Copy/paste your description. Why not type? Because you will want to craft a description beforehand.
Publishing Rights – Click the button to select the appropriate option.
Keywords – Here are the infamous 7 keyword slots. Copy/paste in your keywords. Again, you’ll want to have these ready to go beforehand.
Categories – This is one of the most confusing parts of the process. If you’ve published an eBook, then you already know what this is going to be like. If you’re new, here’s some information that will help you.
Adult Content – Click the button next to the appropriate option.
Click Save and Continue.
The hard part is over I’d venture to say. Nailing down your description, keywords, and categories is the main part of this process. You should already have a book and cover file that are ready to rock and aren’t going to cause you any problems, right? I hope so!
After you click Save and Continue, KDP spits you onto the next tab.
Print ISBN – Click the button next to the appropriate option. If you’re getting a free ISBN from Amazon, click the yellow Assign me a free KDP ISBN button. If you’re using your own, copy/paste it in. Here’s more information on ISBNs from a recent post here on SPwD.
Publication Date – If this is your first time publishing this book, leave this
blank. This date is the date of the first publication of your book and is determined by when Amazon approves your manuscript after the publishing process.
Ink and Paper Type – Click one of the four options to select it.
NOTE: You may have noticed that KDP provides helpful links to additional information during each step of the publishing process. If anything is unclear, click through and get more information so you can make an informed decision.
As a general rule, non-fiction books use white paper and fiction is printed on cream. If your book has no pictures, there is no reason to print it in color. You’ll also need to find out if it’s cost-effective to print in color. Premium ink options cost more to print. Here’s a nifty calculator to give you an idea of how much it will cost to print your book.
Trim Size – This is the dimensions of your printed book. 6×9 inches is the most popular; however, you’ll want to choose a size that fits with your genre. This will take a little due diligence on your behalf. Find out what the standard trim sizes are for your niche via your favorite search engine.
Amazon KDP has 16 sizes to choose from using the their pop-up menu. If you need a different size than the default 6×9, click the Select a different size button. You can click your desired size or define a custom trim size.
Bleed Settings – Click to select the appropriate option:
- No bleed – for text only books or books where images don’t go to the edge of the page
- Bleed – This will apply to picture books, photo books, and any book that has images that go all the way to the edge of the page past the margins
Paperback cover finish – Click to select the appropriate option. This is a matter of personal preference.
NOTE: Your print options will determine your eligibility for expanded distribution, so if you’re aiming to land in bookstores, explore this article for more information.
Manuscript – Click the yellow Upload paperback manuscript button and navigate to your file on your computer to upload it.
Book Cover – Click the button next to the appropriate option. I recommend uploading your own cover that you’ve had created by a professional.
If you’re uploading your own cover, don’t forget to check the box if your cover design includes a barcode. Otherwise, Amazon will add one automatically. Reach out in the comments below if you have questions about the barcode. Some places try to charge for this when you can get it free. I have a couple of free places listed for this service on my Resources page.
Book Preview – Click the yellow Launch Previewer button to view how your print book will look. This takes a few minutes which is normal.
This is the point where you want to make any final changes if something looks off. If you have any issues at all, contact your formatter with the specific problem and have them fix it. Then upload the new corrected file and repeat the Book Preview process.
If you’re happy with how your book looks, you can click the yellow Approve button inside the previewer. Otherwise, you can make needed changes.
Once you click Approve, a summary of your print costs for each copy of your book will appear.
This price will be included in your book pricing. It will not cost you anything extra or up front. Click Save and Continue.
KDP now takes to you to the third and final tab.
Paperback Rights and Pricing
You’re in the home stretch now!
Territories – In most cases, you’re going to select the first options here. If you’ve written your own book from scratch, you have the rights everywhere to publish it.
Primary marketplace – Select your primary marketplace from the drop-down menu. In North America, this is Amazon.com.
Pricing, royalty, and distribution – Type your price for Amazon.com in USD. This will auto-populate the prices in all other territories.
You can also click the checkbox to select Expanded Distribution here in the U.S. and U.K. Expanded Distribution gets your book in up to 40,000 additional bookstores, online retailers, libraries, and academic institutions.
Adjust your pricing down the line as desired. I like to put a .99 after everything.
Terms & Conditions – Understand exactly what you’re agreeing to when you click Publish.
Request a book proof – Click the button to purchase a proof copy of your book, so you can see what it will look like hands on. This is different from author copies which you can order after publishing.
The proof copy is marked Proof and not for sale. It’s only available prior to publishing.
When you’re ready, take the last step.
Click the yellow Publish your Paperback Book button. It can take up to 72 hours for your book to become live on the Amazon website.
How’s it feel? Amazing, right? Wait until you hold that hard copy in your hands!!!
Now That You Know How to Publish a Paperback…
You have the knowledge to create even more assets for your author business! You can rinse and repeat this as much as you want.
The hard work never ends. Now it’s time to market your new darling! I think I’ve loaded you down in this post with resources to help you get going. Make sure to explore all the links. None of it is affiliate stuff. It’s all here to help you!
Did I missing anything? Let me know in the comments.
Did you find this helpful? I’d sure love to hear about your experience.