Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador: What should an author know?

25th January, 2023

7 min read

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador: What should an author know?

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador: What should an author know?

Written by:

Andrea Johnson

Indie authors have many options when it comes to how and where to self-publish their book. In this blog, we look at the key differences between the services offered by Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Troubador and here we discuss the 6 key things you should consider when deciding how and where to self-publish.

1 Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador: Where will readers buy your book?

When deciding whether to publish through Kindle Direct Publishing or self-publish through Troubador it's worth thinking about where you want your book to sell. Are you happy with your book being sold via just one platform (Amazon) or do you want your book to be available across multiple retailers, including Amazon, while also being available to buy from bookshops too? Kindle Direct Publishing titles are primarily available only from Amazon's websites. They produce books 'on demand' (books are only printed when ordered, so there is no upfront stock of the book). While this sounds great in principle, in reality this means that bookshops are less likely to consider ordering and stocking the title. Amazon are also a competitor to indie bookshops meaning that bookstores can be reluctant to stock books produced via the platform. Troubador however make their authors' books available across the entire book trade, from online stores (including Amazon) to brick-and-mortar bookshops. And from book wholesalers to specialist retailers. We distribute to the book trade from our purpose-built warehouse in Leicester and maintain the highest standards of metadata – ensuring all our titles are set up for trade sale from the very beginning. In addition, while Troubador can offer on-demand printing, most of our authors have a print run of books that give them the best chance of making trade sales beyond just Amazon.

2 Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador: What about ebooks?

Kindle Direct Publishing makes it very easy to create and sell an ebook. Once uploaded and approved for sale, the book will be available to buy by anyone who uses a Kindle or the Kindle app to access ebooks. However, while Amazon has the market share of ebook devices, there is still a large proportion of ebook readers who do not use the Kindle. While Amazon is estimated to have a 67% market share1, only publishing your book via Kindle Direct Publishing means you potentially exclude 33% of the e-reading population from finding and buying your book. Compare this to Troubador's digital team, who create an ebook file which is compatible with all e-retailers and e-reading devices. These include Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Kobo and Barnes & Noble to name but a few. Selling your book via a wider range of retailers equals a larger pool you can market and sell to. Recent research2 is also pointing to a decline in propriety e-reading devices being purchased year on year, as more people have smartphones and tablets, and it seems that ebook consumption is moving away from dedicated e-reading devices. This will also change the % market share of ebook platforms. In addition, reading an ebook on a smartphone means formatting and accessibility design of an ebook become ever more important - and this leads to the next important point when deciding between Kindle Direct Publishing and Troubador.

3 Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador: Why Quality Matters

Kindle Direct Publishing is a cost-effective and popular solution for indie authors who are operating on a limited budget, are testing the water and have the technical skills to produce a quality ebook or physical book file and design a stunning book cover. Kindle Direct Publishing is author-upload-led, and what is uploaded is what will be printed. The most common mistakes we see with indie books on Amazon are the title and preliminary pages being incorrectly formatted/numbered.

In the main body of the book itself, fonts are too large or too small, margins are squeezed, hard-to-read paragraphs with no indenting, wrong indenting, or speech poorly formatted. All these things inhibit the reading pleasure and can turn readers off. Amazon also has tools where readers can report poor quality and request refunds, meaning your book can also be removed from sale if it's not a high-quality production. Remember that readers judge the look and feel of a book. And bookshop owners looking to give new books valuable shelf space will recoil from books that do not have a good level of production. At Troubador, however, we have 30 years experience of in publishing, know-how books need to look and feel and your named production controller will produce a book indistinguishable from what you will find on a bookshop shelf with top-notch covers and layouts. The production team also have strict quality checks before a book goes to print to make sure the book will be flawless. If you are not confident with formatting books or covers, then Troubador can take the pressure off you and handle this on your behalf. In terms of ebooks, Troubador's digital team follow the latest standards of accessibility and formatting, so will be creating an ebook file that will work well on any reading device – including mobile and tablets.

4. KDP versus Troubador: Discoverability, or how will readers find your book?

Simply publishing a book is no longer enough. If you wish for readers to find your book, buy your book and read your book, you must market the book as well. Troubador has a dedicated in-house marketing team, offering a range of trade and media services, creating (if you opt for it) a bespoke marketing campaign, giving your book the best chance from the get-go. The range of marketing can include press release writing and distribution, curating and contacting journalists and advance pitching, where necessary. Kindle Direct Publishing does not have any trade or media marketing services – so you need to carry out all the marketing on your own. Whilst you can run adverts on Amazon through KDP, this is not media-focused and is targeted at the Amazon platform. The marketing is all on you. Remember also that if you want your book to be available in libraries, KDP will not be your best choice, as they don't have ISBNS (only Amazon-generated ASIN) and are not licensed for the UK library system (read more here). Troubador books are available via the UK library system as we supply the main wholesalers and library suppliers. 

5. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador: Bespoke sizes and beautiful covers

Kindle Direct Publishing works with set sizes and templates for their printed books – which makes publishing quick and easy for indie authors with the skills to use these templates. However, the KDP system is angled towards the most popular formats – and the most economical sizes for print and despatch - so if you have a more bespoke project or a very specific genre-based book for which the readership will expect a particular format, then this cannot be easily created on KDP. At Troubador, all our quotations are bespoke to your specific book, so if you are looking for something larger or longer to suit your project, then we can easily manage this for you. Similarly, sometimes the colour reproduction on a picture book is crucial, and this cannot always be well replicated with the digital printing that suppliers like KDP use, whereas we carefully match projects with printers to ensure the result is exactly as the author's wishes. We are also able to offer a huge range of cover enhancements, so effects on the front cover to make the book look even more beautiful, whether this be foil effects, embossing, sprayed page edges – these enhancements are something that KDP cannot offer but which can really make a book stand out from the crowd.

6. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador: Customer service: how important is this to me?

Troubador are an author-centric publisher focussed on providing excellent customer service. All our authors have direct contact with the skilled members of staff who guide them through the editorial, production, marketing, distribution and ebook processes, and who are all at the end of the phone. Many of our authors like to meet the team they are working with, be that face-to-face at our offices or via a video call. But don't just take our word about customer service – check out our TrustPilot reviews. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offer online help and assistance within a comprehensive help centre with a lot of articles, advice and guidance, but with a less customer-centric approach and no named contacts to work with you. Again, this works well if you are fairly indie-minded and like to self-service your publishing, but not useful if you prefer more one-to-one support.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) versus Troubador. The Findings

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a good entry-level way to publish, especially for those authors with budget limitations who are looking to publish as a hobby, for those who are very entrepreneurial and want all the control, and with a keen marketing plan ready to enact – but is not the answer for all authors. We always suggest doing research, talking to other authors and shopping around to ensure the way in which you self-publish matches your needs and expectations. The six things we've highlighted show there are different ways to self-publish, each with pros and cons – it all comes down to how much you want to do yourself and where you want your book to be sold. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing offers a platform and set of online tools for you to self-publish, but you need to do all the work yourself beforehand. Troubador offers a complete publishing solution, and you can do as much or as little as you want. Flexibility is the key with Troubador. If you want to see how we can help with your project, our Customer Services team will be happy to help.