Update: This article has been updated to reflect Amazon replacing CreateSpace with KDP Print.
The short answer is zero, $0! KDP Print is Amazon's print-on-demand feature of their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform and they offer one of the most competitively priced “POD” services in the industry.
But of course it isn't as simple as dollars and cents. There are often optional costs that vendors entice us to buy and the time investment to learn how to do something. Then there's the so-called opportunity cost—maybe you could have been doing something more productive with your time.
Putting aside the opportunity cost, I'm going to run down a list of optional costs and share a few pointers in case you feel like trying this yourself. A solid knowledge of Microsoft Word (or similar) and a dash of patience and perseverance is all you need to make it happen.
The minimum you need to publish a print book using KDP Print is:
- A manuscript formatted to Amazon specifications. Download Amazon paperback manuscript templates here.
- A book cover. You can use Amazon's free cover creator or create your own cover. If you create your own cover, make sure to use their free paperback cover template to get the spine thickness just right.
We've produced files in both Word and PDF format for uploading and find it easier to upload a PDF file. If you are using Word, there may be times when you use a special font or other element and their system will report a problem with your file. You can get around this by submitting a PDF because the fonts are embedded when you create the file.
Covers are another area where many people feel at a disadvantage. The cost is going to range from $0 to several hundred dollars so it becomes a budget consideration. Read our post on cover design resources.
1. The first decision you need to make is what size the book will be. You or your cover designer needs to know this in order to design the book cover. Once you select the size you'll want to stick with it otherwise it’s a lot of work to reformat the text and resize the cover.
2. You must have an ISBN and there are three options: Free (not recommended), purchase one for $99, or buy one (or more) from Bowker via the MyIdentifiers.com website.
This can be a little confusing so read our post about the pros and cons for each choice.
Other possible costs
One optional but highly recommended investment is to order printed proof copies. You can proof your book from your monitor but nothing beats a physical copy. It will cost just a few dollars plus shipping.
What about your time investment?
This depends greatly on your word processing and book designing skills. One of the trickier things to do is adding page numbers, footers and headers. After that it comes down to the type of book. Novels will be easiest because they usually don't have footnotes, endnotes, chapter design requirements, section breaks, etc. Find a book similar to your subject and ideally from a major publisher. Study its design and ask yourself if you can use it as inspiration.
Your only required cost is if you buy books for resale or personal use
So if you did everything yourself, including designing a cover, using the free ISBN, and proofing your book online, the final cost is…..$0. All that's left is to put your book on sale on Amazon which is an automatic process. If you'd like to learn how much it will cost you to buy books for your personal use, read our guide to Amazon fees and royalties.
Did you know that print books are still nearly 80% of the market? Give it a try by visiting KDP and sign up for a free account. And if it gets overwhelming, contact AuthorImprints.
- The 2021 Guide to Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print
- How Much to Charge When Pricing a Self-Published Book to Sell on Amazon
- Kindle eBook Royalties: 70% vs. 35% and 6 Essential Things You Need to Know
- Should You Use Amazon KDP Select or Distribute Your Book Wide?
- Amazon Book Review Policy Demystified for Authors