Known as the world’s largest retailer, Amazon took the world by storm and offers various services that make consumers’ lives easier. For authors, Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) is a great option, especially if you are unsure how many copies your book will sell.
Amazon print on demand allows authors the power of selling their books without the issue of keeping inventory or purchasing boxes of copies and wondering if they will sell. However, it’s essential to talk about the details surrounding POD so you can decide for yourself if it’s a viable option.
Every author’s needs and goals are different, and your needs directly impact what type of writing journey you take. In this article, we talk about Amazon’s print on demand service and what it can offer self-published authors.
Maybe you have already written your book and need copies as soon as possible. Perhaps you are a planner and haven’t written your first sentence. Either way, this article can help equip you to make the right choices for your specific situation.
When deciding whether to use Amazon Print on Demand, you’ll want to consider:
Guide For Authors
Print-on-demand is a helpful choice for authors, so let’s talk about one of the most popular POD options out there today—Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) with Amazon.
KDP was founded in 2007, so it’s safe to say it’s been around for a while. That said, there are a few disadvantages when going with the option of print-on-demand. Let’s look at the Pros and Cons:
- User-friendly for self-published authors
- Amazon offers a free ISBN with your paperback sale
- Your book can be ready, at max, forty-eight hours
- Can print paperback and hard cover
- Digitally printed books cost more per unit than books printed offset
- Digital printing is not efficient for books that will sell in volume
- Digital printing’s quality and flexibility of formats are not as good as offset printing
Sometimes though, the pros outweigh the cons. Let’s discuss what Amazon Print on Demand offers and how this impacts you, the writer.
What Does Amazon Print on Demand Offer
Amazon print on demand (part of Amazon KDP) is an extremely popular service for new, self-publishing authors. Creatives who choose to self-publish for the first-time effort are likely looking for something quick and easy-to-follow. KDP is your answer.
Additionally, compared to other print on demand platforms, Amazon print on demand has the lowest printing costs around. Actual production can take between three to five business days. This fast turnaround time makes for a headache-free experience for its users.
How Much Does It Cost?
How much cost is involved with Amazon print on demand depends on your book quality. You can check out Amazon’s pricing resources page for eBook, paperback, and hardcover printing. You can also find royalty listings here. Note that for paperback printing costs, Amazon print on demand uses the following formula:
Fixed cost + (page count * per page cost) = printing cost
Black ink prints versus color ink prints will affect cost.
Once you decide how much your book will cost, you can either order proof copies or author copies. If you order at your KDP bookshelf, you can purchase copies of your book at print cost for no upcharge.
Print-on-demand allows you the leniency to only print books when needed. This can save on initial costs as well as eliminate the possibility of wasting money on books that may not be purchased.
Author Imprints lists a few additional costs for print books:
- Free Amazon ISBN: The name of your publisher will be “Independently published.” Amazon is the only company that can print your book.
- Purchase an ISBN: Amazon is an authorized seller, and you can use any printer and choose a publisher name. (We provide this service and many other Done-for-You services as part of our Publishing Package.)
- Purchase one (or more) ISBNs from Bowker via their MyIdentifiers.com website.
- Order a proof copy to make sure everything is exactly how you want it.
What About Royalties?
Amazon print on demand offers authors a royalty of 60% of the sales price for Amazon sales, minus the cost of production. In other words, if you’ve priced your book at $12, 60% would equal $7.20. But then you have to subtract the cost of production.
A 200-page, black and white paperback, for example, would cost $3.40 according to Amazon’s paperback printing costs chart. That leaves your actual payout for each book sold at $3.80. Still a lot more than most traditional publishers would pay in royalties!
With those additional costs laid out, let’s chat about alternatives.
Alternatives to Amazon Print on Demand
There are alternatives, and these options come in a variety of formats. Whether you’re looking for something on a more financially feasible end, or need special book sizing, or have an incredible custom design, take a peek at the following options.
IngramSpark: IngramSpark is one of the top POD platforms for authors looking to sell their book in more stores than just Amazon. It is one of the most trusted providers in the industry, they give you a wide range of paper, trim sizes, bindings, hardcover, paperback, and color options, and they’ve literally printed and distributed millions of books.
Book Baby: Book Baby boasts an actual phone line for support if you need it—something pretty much unheard of today. Its process is user-friendly, straightforward, and only includes one page of guidelines for your manuscript.
Blurb: Blurb is known for its reasonable price point, quality products, and good distribution. If you expect to sell many books, Blurb’s cut of your royalties is probably worth it.
Lulu: Lulu has continued to grow its options and selection over the years. You can visit that link and see just how many different types of books they can print on demand.
Verdict: To Use Or Not to Use Amazon Print on Demand
The verdict of whether you should use Amazon’s print-on-demand is entirely up to you and your writing career needs. Of course, there are a few pointers to consider when making your final decision.
KDP Print is known as a quality choice for authors who choose to print with Amazon and Amazon alone. There is a low print cost, and royalties are not something to worry about. Production can be completed in 48 hours, which is extremely quick.
Perhaps the biggest concern with using Amazon print on demand is this: Beware of pigeon-holing yourself. If you want to keep your options open or sell with retailers not affiliated with Amazon, you may want to try one of the aforementioned alternatives.
You Wrote Your Book—Now What?
Once you have:
- Successfully edited your manuscript
- Created your interior design
- Chosen a cover that will entice readers (here are some book cover ideas to get the juices flowing)
- Set your price-point
…then, it’s time to put your book in readers’ hands. You can upload your book to KDP, press that “Publish” button, and then comes the fun part. This is the part where you get to watch those sales come in and hear your audience’s response to all your effort!
Ultimately, the method you choose to distribute your book will impact your reach and your readers.
So which method is best for you? Unfortunately, we can’t directly answer that for you. We can list options, alternatives, price points, and pros and cons. When it comes down to the big choice, it’s up to you, the creative, to choose.
Only you know your author goals and every detail of how you see yourself reaching those goals. We can conduct research for you, but you get to make the final call.
This is part of the fun of publishing your book on your own—you get to choose the option that’s best for your manuscript. Regarding creative choices, subjective is the word of the day.
There is no right or wrong choice, only the best choice, and only you can answer that. You authored your book, now you get to author the journey to your readers!