How to upload your paperback cover at KindleDP

One you’ve created the paperback cover for your self-published book, the next step is to upload it. Before doing so, save the cover as a .pdf. The cover should be no more than 40 MB in size. Kindle Direct Publishing actually will take covers up to 650 MB in size, but the loading takes forever, and you’ll suffer frequent crashes. In any case, there’s no reason for your cover to be more than 40 MB, as it will look great at even smaller sizes than that. 

Next, go to your Kindle Direct Publishing account. We’ll presume you’ve already started uploading your manuscript to KindleDP. 

The cover uploading occurs on the “Paperback Content” page. About midway down the page, you have the option to create a cover or to upload your own. Since we’ve already created the cover, we’ll check the second option.

Once you’re done, a yellow oval that says “Upload Your Cover” pops up on the screen. Before clicking it, look at the question below it that asks “Does your cover include a barcode?” You probably will leave leave this unchecked; if you do, Amazon will place a barcode on the back cover for you. If you’ve already bought a barcode and placed it on your back cover, check the box.

Next, click the yellow oval that says “Upload Your Cover” and find your cover.

The uploading can require take several minutes. The more color pictures that are in the book, the longer it’ll take.

After KindleDP uploads the cover to its site, “processing” occurs. This also can take a few minutes.

Bots at KindleDP quickly check your cover for the basics. If it’s too large in size or the dimensions don’t fit KindleDP’s requirements, it’ll probably be rejected. Unfortunately, KindleDP isn’t very good at telling you why it didn’t like the cover. If you’ve followed all of the guidelines in this book, though, it shouldn’t be rejected. If it is, you’ll need to figure out why and then fix it. 

Some common reasons KindleDP turns down paperback covers include:

  • Wrong dimensions – You’ll need to build a new cover unless you’re off by fractions of a fraction of an inch. Then you might be able to fudge it by stretching the cover to fit the space, though doing so is iffy as you’re risking distortion of the artwork and lettering.
  • A bleed area wasn’t included – The actual size of the book cover won’t work. You have to include a bleed area. If you’ve used a lone color as the background of your photo, in your photo editing program you can make a new document that is in that color and is the correct size of the cover with the bleed area. Then use guides to mark off the bleed area and place your original cover in that new created box. If photos go to the edge of the cover, however, you’ll need to start all over.
  • A bleed area was a frame around the actual cover – Sometimes authors “fix” their rejected covers by placing a frame for the bleed area around the actual cover. That probably won’t work. The photos used on the actual cover also have to fill the bleed area.
  • Text is too close to the cover’s edge – The title, byline and tag line all need to be at least 0.375 inches from the margin. KindleDP can be very picky, so if you’re 0.374 inches away, you might get rejected. I always recommend keeping your text a half-inch away from the bleed area.
  • Title and byline doesn’t match what you’ve already entered when uploading – Check the title and byline entered on the Paperback Details page. It should match what’s on your cover. If you bought an ISBN from Bowker, check it to make sure that your title and byline are the same as on your cover. If any of these don’t match, whichever one was in error needs to be corrected.
  • Pixilated artwork – The artwork is too small. Any artwork placed on the cover should be at least the same size as the space it will fill and be 300 dpi.
  • Printers marks placed on cover (includes color bars) – Some cover designers place lines, what look like targets, and small colored squares on the edges of their covers. They’re used to ensure your image lines up with the paper it is printed on. KindleDP doesn’t need these printers marks to line up your cover, though.
  • Copyright issues with artwork – Sometimes artwork contains metadata that establishes it’s copyrighted. If KindleDP notices this, it won’t allow you to print photos or illustrations that you don’t own.

There are other arcane reasons why the cover might be rejected. Usually KindleDP will send you an email explaining why it did not accept the cover, though the reason given often sounds like gobbledygook. You may need to do some online research to figure out exactly what KindleDP means.

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My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.