Beware When You Order Proof And Author Copies On KDP

Shipping Costs For Proof And Author Copies On KDP

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.

No calculator for author copies on KDP

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.

KDP price per copy

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

No calculator for author copies on KDP

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.


Delivery times

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.


No royalty earnings on author copies

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.


Are KDP author copies cost-effective?

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

14 thoughts on “Beware When You Order Proof And Author Copies On KDP”

  1. Has anyone actually got a full or partial refund on defective (printing errors) Amazon KDP author copies? Beware! Any other Amazon product can be returned but the bar for refunds on Author copies is ultra high. Our novel was printed in the UK with wildly defective margins ranging from 3 – 13 mm on the left and right outside margins and top and bottom margins. Only 2 copies of 11 had stable margins. The cover colour was also defective – lacking in red. We submitted 25 photographs to show this. It took many many hours to compile and pursue the complaint. The emails were answered in Indian call centre gobble-de-gook – the kind of childishly silly pseudo technical spiel scammers use to keep you on the phone. They had no knowledge of printing or customer service and shaky English, They did not understand the concept of a margin. They pretended to be offering technical support instead of dealing with a complaint about the sale of defective goods by Amazon KDP contrary to consumer protection legislation.

    “you will be able to see that your font is written very close to the margins, hence why it has printed the way it has.”

    “We reccommend you adjust your margins and ensure your text is far enough away from the margin line.”

    Fonts are always close to margins, in all books. I quote from Wikipedia
    “in typography, a margin is the area between the main content of a page and the page edges. The margin helps to define where a line of text begins and ends. When a page is justified the text is spread out to be flush with the left and right margins.”

    “the doc file can sometime tend to shift.”

    “We recommend using CMYK color values”
    (The cover did use CMYK color values)

    They refused any refund and offered no redress whatsoever.

    This approach will kill POD paperbacks completely. Authors will not even have the satisfaction of getting usable printed editions of their own work, or copies good enough to send to reviewers. Novel Writing can be very unlucrative and joyless as it is. But if authors knew they could not be sure of getting author copies printed to professional standards in the UK now, and messed up copies were not returnable – why would they bother at all?

  2. Your Calculations are WAY OFF. I order KDP books – printing is 4.70, and shipping is 90 cents per book when you order 30 or 40. . That’s 5.60 a copy. I sell them the same price as online – 14.95. So I am making almost 10.00 a copy. That’s much more than the 4.10 royalty. I’ve never had any books arrive damaged.

  3. Could the author instead just purchase the book as a regular customer (perhaps not on the same account) through Amazon and then resell it for the same amount paid? Or is this against Amazon’s TOS/contractual agreements?
    I was thinking of this idea before I knew about author copies (and this insightful post!) as a means of not having to send everyone I meet in person over to Amazon to make the purchase, but wasn’t sure of the legality, etc. of such a plan.

      1. Thanks for responding.

        What I meant was, instead of putting up with the hassle/issues of Amazon’s Author Copies, could the author just buy the books they’ve written directly from Amazon as a regular customer (with the benefits of Prime, etc,) and resell them at the same price they (the author) paid to Amazon to the individuals that they meet in person (shows, book signings, trunk of their car, etc.)?
        Or would this be flagged by Amazon as ‘manipulating’ (for lack of a better word) the author’s book rankings?

        1. So, first, you’re thinking, buy your $15 (plus tax) book as a customer, earn a normal royalty, then hand deliver a copy to your interested friends (those willing to reimburse you the $15 plus tax), and you’re wondering if it is a) possible, b) “legal,” and c) profitable.

          I believe the answers are:

          – definitely (especially if you use another account);
          – questionable (I’m sure they have some rule against inflating your own sales, and unlike ordering author copies and selling those, this “customer” purchase would count toward your sales … and if you’re thinking, “yeah, but it really is a sale!” just consider that Amazon has no way of knowing that—you could do this once a week [without any real customer] and claim there is a customer—they can’t just believe you);
          – probably not (I think it would be exactly the same as if they bought it online).

          I hope this helps.

  4. Hello, I am an autopublished author from Colombia. the books for Colombia are printed in USA, and the shipping costs are really high. I made the experiment to order 6 author-proof copies assuming that the shipping costs will reduce because it should be a single bundle with six items, but to my surprise, they are charged in the checkout as if they were sending individually! is that the same for USA deliveries?

    1. KDP shipping costs vary greatly from country to country, Cesar.

      Anywhere outside of the US and UK will normally be more expensive.

      All you can do is check and see if it is viable for you.

  5. Great article Derek and you pretty much confirm my experience with Amazon. As does Jemima with Blurb. In the UK Amazon are usually prompt at dispatching both proof and author orders. They generally arrive in good condition though I did have one occasion where I am sure printers were running out of ink as the clarity faded with each page.
    The biggest problem here (in the UK) is the Post Office, rather than Amazon. I have found Amazon useful even if you must jump through hoops with KDP that were avoided with Create Space, an easier user interface would be appreciated. But, on the whole, I am satisfied.
    Thanks for a great article.

  6. This is a thorough article about KDP. I wish I’d had the benefit of your thoughts before I published my first book with KDP in November. It is taking me three to four weeks to receive my author copies in NC, even though sometimes they’re printed in SC. Worse than the lag time in receiving author copies is the sloppy way the books are packed. When you order 50 copies and 17 of them are damaged in transit (that’s a whopping 34%!), it’s disheartening. I’ve received a refund for those 17 damaged books in my January shipment, but I’ve pretty much given up on getting a refund for the 14 damaged copies I received in December — even after working my way up to a supervisor at KDP. The supervisor can’t tell the difference between the two order numbers, number of damaged books, etc., and refuses any settlement for the 14 damaged books. It’s a 500-page paperback, so I’m out more than $100 on the December order alone. I’m left wondering just how many author copies I should order if I want 50 sellable copies. The whole thing is a guessing game and dealing with KDP has been extremely time consuming. I plan to publish with them again this spring, but I dread the whole process after my recent experience. I went to the trouble of sending KDP photos of the boxes, which contained no packing material and four inches of dead air space for the books to bounce around in — only to be told they don’t want that information. It sort of takes the fun out of writing books! Forgive my rant, but maybe my experience will prepare others for what they might be in for with KDP.

  7. If you have joined Amazon Prime to take advantage of free shipping . . . author copies are not included in this benefit. Thanks, Amazon.

  8. I use Blurb for my paperbacks, which is good, but has the drawback of not doing proofs. If you want to amend it you have to upload a new version and get a new (free) ISBN. Remember to delete the old one!
    I’ve found delivery in the UK (from Blurb UK) excellent. They always say allow two weeks (standard delivery), but I don’t think I’ve ever had an order, of any size, in more than one week. Even with multiple copies of multiple titles. And usually I get the delivery within an hour (before or after!) of getting the email advice! Shipping costs are quite high, but the standard discounts or the monthly discounts soften the blow, and I usually manage free shipping on a net basis. That’s on production cost, not price, so it works well.
    It’s going to be interesting to see how the Draft2Digital merger with Smashwords affects the options available, too.

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