When you self-publish a new book on Amazon, you can order proof and author copies on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).
Proof copies are essential to check your new print-on-demand paperback or hardcover book before publishing. But author copies are optional.
However, if you want copies of your book to sign, use at book fairs, or sell locally, you will need to order author copies.
But beware because while the printing cost per copy is usually reasonable, shipping and delivery fees and taxes can be very high.
When Createspace was the service to self-publish paperbacks on Amazon, it had a calculator to estimate the total price, including shipping options.
But since Amazon closed down Createspace and incorporated it into KDP, there is no longer a calculator.
Now you need to go to your book on your KDP dashboard, select Order Author Copies, enter the quantity, and then select a marketplace.
You can see the cost per copy at this stage if you enter the order quantity as one copy.
The amount will change according to how many copies you want to order.
But to find out how much shipping and taxes will cost you, you need to submit your order and proceed to checkout!
It is inconvenient and risky because you are only one click away from placing an order that you may not want.
But there is no other way, unfortunately.
So beware, and be very careful that you don’t inadvertently place an order when you are only trying to check the additional costs of your author copies.
Shipping and taxes can be expensive
These costs can vary considerably depending on where you live and which Amazon marketplace is closest to you.
The most economical example would be for an author in the United States to order from Amazon.com.
Amazon KDP gives this example in its short video tutorial.
As you can see, the shipping address is in the United States.
While the cost per copy is $4.62, the total price, including shipping and taxes, is $9.05.
But if you used priority shipping, the price would jump to $16.64.
Yes, it’s a considerable difference.
The cost of shipping and taxes varies widely depending on the Amazon marketplace you live in or live closest to and the number of copies you plan to order.
It can sometimes be very expensive if your country doesn’t have an Amazon Store.
For example, there is no store for the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Portugal, or Japan.
But you can place your order with the nearest Amazon store.
One bizarre anomaly is Switzerland. Amazon does not ship author copies to Swiss Customs Union locations.
The only option is to purchase full-price retail copies from Amazon France, Germany, or the UK.
KDP Order limits
You can order up to a maximum of five proof copies from KDP.
These copies are clearly marked as proof copies, not for resale, and do not have an ISBN.
This is enough to check the quality of your new book with a few people before you publish it and make it available for sale.
If you decide to make changes after receiving your proof copies, you can order new proofs after approving the new changes or edits.
For author copies, the maximum order is 999.
Your book must be live or live with unpublished changes to place an order.
I doubt any author would order this many, but if you want to order more than 999 copies, you have to place an additional order.
You will get an estimated delivery date when you place your order.
But what if you are not ready to place an order?
As a rough guide, proof copies are usually despatched quite quickly.
Depending on where you live, it could be a few days or up to a week or ten days.
However, author copies tend to be a little slower. Usually one to two weeks, but it can take longer.
There have been complaints that Amazon is sometimes very slow to deliver – up to six weeks in some cases.
If you’re planning to buy author copies for a book signing or book fair, allow plenty of time for your order to arrive.
Do author copies count as sales on Amazon?
No, you will not earn royalty payments or receive any gain in your book’s sales rank.
Author copies are sold to you by Amazon KDP at printing cost only.
Even though they can become expensive with other charges, you don’t earn a cent.
It’s a trap to believe that ordering lots of author copies of your book will help improve its sales rank on Amazon.
Can you get a refund?
Amazon only offers the possibility of a refund for damaged copies or printing errors of proof or author copy books.
It is limited to thirty days, so you need to contact Amazon as soon as possible if you have a problem.
The answer will be different depending on an author’s location and needs.
For copies to send to friends, family, reviewers, influencers, or use for giveaways, perhaps the price will be okay.
But if you want to sell your author copies, the final cost might be too high to be profitable.
Whatever the per-copy printed cost is, you can immediately double it with the extra charges.
A 250-page paperback is usually around $4.00, plus shipping and taxes.
The cost can vary depending on the quantity you order and where you live, but it will still be around $8.00 to $9.00 per book at best.
If your selling price on Amazon is $12.00, it’s pretty line ball whether you will make much money.
Unfortunately, KDP is not as easy to deal with for author copies as Createspace was when it was operational.
The cost per copy depends very much on where you live, so it’s a lucky dip for many self-publishing authors.
If you live in the US or UK, it’s probably a viable option. Perhaps also for Germany, France, and Italy.
But for many other countries, it may not be an attractive deal at all, and that’s if you can even place an order.
Amazon states that it won’t deliver author copies to Switzerland. But how many other countries are in the same boat?
Yes, Amazon can supply author copies to authors, but sadly, not all Amazon KDP authors are equal.
Related Reading: My Paperback Version Is Not Available To Buy On Amazon