Self-publishing your book is an empowering experience. Thanks to self-publishing retailers like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes and Noble Press, and Kobo, self-publishing has never been easier.
For years, self-publishing has been limited, first to ebooks and then to paperback books. While it’s also been possible to self-publish books in hardcover, the steps were complicated and, quite frankly, expensive. This is why most self-publishing authors decided against publishing hardcover copies of their books.
In late 2021, Amazon made it possible to self-publish hardcover books through its popular self-publishing platform, Kindle Direct Publish (KDP). With KDP, you can publish ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers, and you can do so for free. KDP truly changed the game by making book publishing more accessible to authors.
Self-publishing may be the right choice for you, too, if you’re weary of the querying process, if you’d like more control over your book’s results, and if you’d like to keep more of the profits that you’ve earned.
We’ve already covered how to self-publish your book as a complete beginner. Now, let’s take it to the next step. Here’s your beginner-friendly guide to publishing your hardcover book. Let’s go.
A Look at the Different Book Formats
When it comes to print, there are three main types of book formats: Trade (standard), mass market, and hardcover.
Trades are typically 5x8 or 6x9 in trim size. Trade covers are made from paperboard or thick stock. The pages are glued to the binding. Trade paperbacks are the most commonly printed book type, made popular after World War II due to their portability and lower price. It's now the standard for all types of books, including fiction and non-fiction.
Then there are mass market books. Mass markets are also paperbacks but produced with lower-quality materials. The covers and pages are thinner and the trim size is smaller. This is the preferred type of paperback for romance novels, but can also be used for bestsellers when a publisher wants to make a lot of books available while keeping their printing costs as low as possible. If you've ever seen a book labeled as “the pocket edition,” you've no doubt encountered a mass market paperback.
We’ll tackle hardcovers last for dramatic effect, but they no doubt have been around longer than trade and mass market books.
Hardcovers were first introduced as an alternative to scrolls. That’s how long hardcovers have been around. By comparison to scrolls, hardcovers were portable and easier to handle. However, hardcover books were not easy to produce. Before Gutenberg's printing press, the original hardcovers were printed by hand which made them limited and expensive.
Thankfully today, hardcover books are easier to produce and therefore obtainable for the average reader.
Even though paperbacks became popular in the 1930s as an affordable form of leisure, hardcovers have stuck around.
As its name implies, a hardcover has a cover that's made from thick cardboard. The cover is also wrapped in cloth, which makes it more durable. The pages of a hardcover are either sewn or glued onto the spine. The cover may also be wrapped with a protective, removable dust jacket that includes artwork.
Why Print in Hardcover?
Self-publishing in paperback has become the universal standard for most books, but that’s mostly because of the reasons we mentioned above: For years, it has simply been easier to publish soft-cover books. Paperback is cheaper to produce, so it can be priced for less and, as a result, is also cheaper to buy.
However, printing in hardcover offers a lot of benefits, too. Here’s a look at why you should print in hardcover:
Hardcover Bestows Legitimacy
Because paperback is the most commonly used printed book format, it's also the most accessible. As a result, it doesn't take much effort to print on paperback (and that's a good thing). But in terms of reader perception, hardcovers stand out for that very reason. A hardcover says to a potential reader that this title is worth the extra effort of printing it in a hardcover format.
Hardcover is More Durable
In terms of durability, the hardcover will win over the paperback every time. This is why you mostly see hardcovers in libraries. It's easier to maintain a book with a hardcover that's reinforced with cloth. Paperbacks easily rip and warp.
Hardcover Looks Great on Shelves
Once you open a paperback and bend or crack its spine, there's no going back. And while a bent spine shows that you've actually read the book, it doesn't look great on a bookshelf.
Hardcover books, however, always look perfectly new when organized spine-out on a bookshelf. Plus, they’re larger in size and sturdier, making them the perfect companion for a bookshelf. By comparison, trades or mass markets can look tiny and untidy on bookshelves, especially after being handled.
Hardcover is More Profitable
Sure, it costs more to produce a hardcover, but you can also charge more as a result. Depending on your printing costs, you can make twice as much from your hardcover than you would from your paperback. This means that you can make more money without selling as many books.
Publishing a hardcover book means that you have two options for promoting your title. Some buyers will prefer the hardcover while others will want the paperback. Either way, you have two avenues for success.
Hardcover Appeals to Certain Buyers
Some readers are simply drawn to hardcover books. The hardcover's unique smell, weight, texture, hand feel, and durability all come together to create the ultimate reading experience (for those of us who don't like to fold back our book covers while reading). And, as mentioned above, hardcovers are the preferred format for libraries. So, if you’d like to one day see your book in a local library, printing in the hardcover format is a good idea.
Most paperback books look great as hardcovers, so this option works well for a huge selection of titles.
How to Publish a Hardcover Book on Amazon KDP
So we’ve discussed the what and why of hardcover books. Now, let’s discuss the how. How exactly do you create a hardcover book for free?
There are a lot of choices, but the most straightforward way is through Amazon KDP. Here’s how to do it:
Create a KDP Account
If you're new to Kindle Direct Publishing, you'll need to sign up for an account. It's free and you can even use your existing Amazon.com login information to create your new KDP account.
Create a New Title
After signing in, you can create a new title by going to your Account in the upper right-hand corner and clicking on Bookshelf. This page is your Amazon KDP dashboard. If you haven't already uploaded a title to KDP, click on the + Create button to start the publishing process from scratch. On the next screen, choose Create hardcover.
Follow the prompts to add title and author details, upload or confirm your book's content, and select your rights and your book's price.
Choose From an Existing Title
If you've already uploaded ebooks on your KDP dashboard, scroll down the page to locate the title you'd like to turn into a hardcover. Click on the + Create hardcover option.
Follow the prompts.
Select Your Trim Size
Trim size refers to the physical height and width of your book. When selecting the trim size of your hardcover book, you have options. KDP offers five different trim sizes:
5.5" x 8.5" (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
6.14" x 9.21" (15.6 x 23.39 cm)
7" x 10" (17.78 x 25.4 cm)
8.25" x 11" (20.96 x 27.94 cm)
Your hardcover book may be a different size than your paperback. If so, you'll likely need to change the file to reflect the different format. Check out this guide for how to format your interior manuscript file for KDP.
Also note that your hardcover book must be a minimum of 75 pages and a maximum of 550 pages.
Here are a few guides to help you complete the upload process to KDP:
After you’ve completed the above steps, you can publish your hardcover book.
As you can see, self-publishing a hardcover edition of your book has never been easier. With the help of Amazon KDP, you can have a hardcover book for sale in a matter of hours. Use the above tips to get started today.