When uploading your paperback to Kindle Direct Publishing, the first screen – Paperback Details – provided Amazon with information it can use to build a page for selling your book as well as telling them how you’d like them to promote your book. Now you need to upload an actual product to sell. That’s done on the Paperback Content screen.
The first section is for the ISBN or International Standard Book Number. Every book that is printed for sale needs an ISBN. This is a 13-digit number given to each book; no two books have the same ISBN. You usually can find it near the barcode on the book’s back cover and also on the title page.
If you’ve already purchased an ISBN, enter the actual number and the imprint name for who owns the ISBN. You also have the option of receiving a free ISBN from KindleDP, but doing so sticks the label “independently published” on your book’s Amazon page. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but among some readers there still is a stigma about self-published works, though it continues to decrease with each passing year.
You should get your own ISBN rather than one from KindleDP. To do so, you’ll need to buy one online from Bowker, the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories. Bowker sells them for $125 each, but you can buy 10 for $250, at least as of this blog’s publication. You’ll need to spend some time completing an online form at Bowker.
Beware of buying the ISBN elsewhere. While the cost may be less expensive than Bowker, most self-publishing companies won’t accept these ISBNs, and so you end up buying from Bowker anyway. In fact, most of those low-cost ISBN sales are scams or are run by less than honest people who then become the “publisher” of your book.
As for the second box to fill out, an imprint is another word for “publisher.” Every book has a publisher, which is someone (or a company) who prepares the text for sale. Typically, the imprint or publisher owns the book’s ISBN.
So who is the imprint – or publisher – of your book?
To answer that question, first ask who owns the ISBN that is going on the book’s title page. If you personally purchased the ISBN, you are the publisher. If your company purchased it, the company is.
When filling out these boxes on KindleDP, make sure the ISBN and the Imprint name exactly match what is listed at Bowker. If it doesn’t, KindleDP won’t let you move on with the uploading process.
Also, if you just purchased the ISBN, there may be a lag time until KindleDP recognizes the ISBN. That’s because KindleDP’s computers need to check with Bowker’s computers to ensure there’s a match. A number of my clients have reported that buying an ISBN on a Saturday often means waiting until Monday before KindleDP recognizes the number as legit.
Another potential side issue is that the information at Bowker was entered incorrectly. The title, subtitle and author’s name at Bowker must match what you’ve entered on Kindle’s Paperback Details screen, what’s on your book cover, and what’s on your title pages. If they don’t, you may have no choice but to purchase a new ISBN and correctly enter the information at Bowker.
This is the date your book was first published. Unless you’re republishing a book – say you published with a small company in the early 2000s, they went belly up, and now you’re republishing the book after winning back the rights to the book – you’re probably publishing it for the first time. In that case, leave it blank. Amazon automatically will list the date that it goes up for sale on its website as the publication date.
The Print Options section can cause a lot of confusion among authors. It’s where you tell KindleDP what kind and size of paper you want it to print your book on. You want to take your time in this section, because messing it up can cause KindleDP to reject your book. Even if they don’t reject it, should you select a kind of paper that you don’t like, you’re stuck with it once you publish your book. There’s no going back and changing it online when the book is ready to be rolled off the press.
The first question to answer is what paper you’d like. You have a couple of options depending if your book is entirely black and white or if there is color. If black and white, click “Black & white interior with white paper.” The cream paper might be used in chap books or other kinda-like-a-book projects but has no place in a professional looking book. If your book has color text or artwork, click “Standard color interior with white paper.” The premium color option does look a little better than the standard but the ability to earn a profit is greatly reduced by the printing cost. You can safely skimp a bit on the color and not hurt your sales or royalties.
Next is the Trim Size. You determined that back when you formatted your book. Be sure to select the right one – if you don’t, KindleDP may not approve your manuscript or your book may end up on a trim size that is much larger than you intended, leaving a lot of white space in the margins.
After that is the Bleed Settings. If you’ve followed the instruction from earlier in this book or in Format your Paperback, your manuscript should be a pdf, so click “No Bleed.”
The last question in this section is an oddity, as it is your cover. You can choose what kind of paper your cover will appear on – matte or glossy. A glossy cover will shine more than a matte cover as it reflects light better so the colors on it pop, even on detailed artwork. Most authors go for glossy (I do). There is an argument for matte, however – it gives a more natural look to the cover art. Matte covers also can absorb more small scratches and scuffs without looking beat up. And with all of those glossy covers competing for attention, ironically a matte cover will stand out well against them on a bookstore shelf.
The next step is to upload your manuscript. We’ll explore that in an upcoming entry.
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.