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by Emma Baird

As most authors would agree, a print copy of our book has far more emotional pull on my heart than the electronic version. Even if all you ever do is order one copy for yourself, do it anyway. It cements that feeling that yes, you ARE a proper author—you’ve got the paperback to prove it.

Nowadays, you can even create hardbacks through IngramSparks. At some point, my ego might run rampant and demand such but for the meantime, the paperback suffices.

And, oh it’s a thing of beauty. Enni at Yummybookcovers designed my cover for it. I’ve written a chick lit book and if you hadn’t already guessed from the title, it’s set in Scotland…

Attracting rom-com fans

My tagline adds that the book’s a rom-com and the design, the font, and the positioning convey the genre clearly. As an author, you want the people who typically love your genre to see your book and know at once it’s what they enjoy reading.

Note that you can’t see my heroine’s face? Romance readers like to project onto the main character and it’s easier to do the less you know what they look like. We’ve also used vectors, another common practice in this genre’s book cover design practice.

Because the title of my book isn’t unusual, there are plenty of other Highland Flings—my cover makes mine look like the traditionally published versions (Katie Fforde’s one, for example) rather than screaming “self-published”. While traditional publishing doesn’t guarantee quality, readability and enjoyment there’s enough of a sense that a trad-pubbed book offers some of those things to make a book look like a better bet.

KDP printing

I set up print-on-demand copies of my book through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). How did I find the experience? KDP replaced CreateSpace, the print book service Amazon bought some years ago.

You supply KDP with an interior file and a cover file. This differs from the front cover you supply for an e-book because it has a spine and back, although KDP can create the spine and back from your e-book cover. I’d rather not. My design skills are negligible and if you’re going to go to the effort of creating a print book, why not it properly?

Five days to deliver

I uploaded the files—one for the cover and one for the manuscript—filled in the details bit and ordered a review copy on Thursday night. The book arrived on Tuesday morning, ahead of the date Amazon told me. This is a common Amazon practice—managing the expectation of buyers so you are pleasantly surprised but I wouldn’t recommend relying on them to deliver early.

It did look beautiful. This time, I’d opted for a smaller size. The last book I ordered was 5½ by 8½, and I think the 5×8 version feels more ‘standard’. I said ‘yes’ to the print version and sat back, delighted that my readers would be able to order the paperback for themselves on 4 June, the book’s launch date.

Uploading the cover again and again and again

At this point, I ran into issues. An email came back a day later, saying the file wasn’t correct in that the bleed (the extra bit you allow for trimming) wasn’t the correct size.

Other people have reported KDP rejecting a cover and then accepting the exact same one when you upload it again. I tried that. Nope. I went back to Enni, who knew the bleeds were correct. We resupplied a slightly amended file again. Same. Again. Same.

Eventually, I emailed Customer Services and they phoned me and gave me the file sizes they needed. We worked out the width had been different—perhaps because of the spine width. Was it a thicker paper stock that made it so? Whatever, the original emails had been misleading because they indicated all the bleeds were incorrect rather than just the width, which had left the two of us scratching our heads.

And my paperback book wasn’t ready for June 4. It’s not a biggie. I want the bulk of my sales to be the ebook because I will make more profit that way. But having the print book and ebook ready at the same time makes you look more professional, and as indies, we want to give self-publishers a good name and reputation.

Other print options

For the last book, I used IngramSparks for books bought outwith Amazon—I sold very few of them. In theory, I agree with IngramSparks. You will get much wider distribution of your books if you offer them via IngramSparks, but there is a set-up cost (refundable if you order 50 books) and it also requires the cover to be set up in a different way.

On the other hand, I did one version of that book through KDP too, and without a doubt the colours and design were much sharper. The inside looked better too—I opted for cream paper both times and the IngramSparks version was ‘creamier’, and made the book seem higher quality.
It’s worth noting KDP dominates the US and UK markets and therefore the service works best in these territories. I suspect it takes longer outside of the US, UK and certain European countries.

KDP print is your best option as a print on demand service at the moment, but it isn’t great to use and it took ages for us to work out what the issue was because it hadn’t been explained properly. I will do the books via IngramSparks at one point, but only when I can afford it. This book needs to work harder for its money…

But don’t let my KDP experience detract from the overall print book experience. I’m incredibly pleased with my book cover and what the print book looks like, and cannot recommend Enni’s services highly enough.

You can find Highland Fling: A boy, a girl, a dating guru – what can possibly go wrong?! on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk and visit Emma’s blog HERE.