Today we’re talking about proof copies. If you want to have paperback versions of your books out and about in the world then this is going to be valuable information for you so listen up. We’re going to talk about what proof copies are, why you need them, what to look for when you get them, and Amazon vs Ingram and Draft2Digital. 

What is a proof copy?

A proof copy is an advanced pre-publication print book that you order to make sure it’s in perfect condition to be mass printed when you publish. This is not something you order just for marketing purposes. You need to review it and correct any issues before the book becomes available for purchase.

Where do you get a proof copy from?

From whichever printer you’re intending to use. For most people you’re going to order through Amazon, but since paperbacks and hardcovers are not trapped in exclusivity contracts if you use KU, you can also do the paperbacks through other companies such as Ingram Spark or Draft2Digital.

How much do proof copies cost?

This entirely depends on which company you’re using. With Amazon you’re looking at the print cost of your book plus shipping. I haven’t looked into Draft2Digital so I don’t have numbers for you there, but I have ordered from Ingram Spark in the past and it was about four times the price of my Amazon proof overall.

What am I looking for when I get my proof copy?

Everything. Is the cover the correct colors? Does everything line up? Are there alignment issues with the text? Are there missing pages? Is anything cut off? Did you properly account for bleed so sections aren’t too close to the edge or disappearing into the center?

You also want to review it at this time for any lingering typos or text formatting errors.

What do I do if there’s issues with my proof?

This will depend on whose fault those issues are. There are four main types of issues and different courses of action for each. I’ll be talking about these as if separate people are managing each step for you but if you’re an indie author it might be you handling types one to three. 

1) Author errors

These are things like typos. Those you’ll correct in your original manuscript and you’ll have to alert whoever formatted your book to update before ordering a new proof. 

2) Formatter errors. 

These will be things like issues with bleed, paragraph indentation, etc. You’ll have to contact your formatter to get those adjusted. 

3) Designer errors

These will be issues with the cover, such as the template not being followed so important bits are too close to the edges, or color issues that were preventable. There are in depth guides explaining the entire process with the various companies to help keep you on track and deliver the product you’re after. Your designer (or just you if you’re doing your own cover) need to be aware that different companies use different printers and have different settings so your cover will not necessarily look the same with all of them. Alternate versions of the cover maybe required for each company to account for those differences so they look the same when printed. The most common issue I’ve seen is brightness with one company printing much darker than the other, or color balance with one company printing with more magenta than the other. Color issues tend to not be considered an error with the company and they will probably not compensate you if your proof doesn’t look like how you want it to. 

4) Printer errors

These are things like slanted text, pages missing, weird cuts, etc. You can report these to the company that you ordered from. They may offer you a free replacement, but that is not a guarantee.

When should I order my proof copy?

As soon as you have a publication ready manuscript. There are drastically different delivery times between companies and if you’re working with Ingram Spark you will want to give yourself as much time as possible to order, review, and correct any issues before your release date. 

Do I NEED to order a proof copy?

Technically no. It’s not mandatory, but you’re leaving a lot of things to chance if you don’t. Your book could look absolutely nothing like you want it to and there could be easily correctable errors you let go to print and into your readers hands. If you want to give your readers a quality experience then yes you need to order a proof copy before approving the book for purchase. 

What’s the difference between Amazon, Ingram Spark, and Draft2Digital?

I’ve worked with Amazon and IngramSpark myself, but not Draft2Digital so I had to ask some friends who had. The main difference is cost and profit. 

From a quality perspective, Amazon has stepped it up and while in the past there were clear quality difference between Amazon and IngramSpark, there doesn’t seem to be a divide anymore. Friends who have worked with Draft2Digital have also said there’s no noticeable quality difference. 

From my research it looks like the royalty rate for paperbacks with Amazon is 60%, 45% with Draft2Digital, and IngramSpark will allow you to choose up to 70% but recommends a wholesaler discount of 55% which would bring your royalty rate down. 

Ingram proof copies are the most expensive both in printing cost and shipping, and from personal experience they also take considerably longer to get to you than proofs from Amazon. 

Whatever platform you’re working with you’ll want to get a proof from. That means if you’re going wide you’ll likely need multiple proofs. A reminder that the companies have different printers and settings, so your covers can, and probably will, look slightly different and may need to be adjusted for each company.

That’s all for now. You can find all of my books and platforms in the description below. If you have questions or suggestions for future episodes, please do let me know. And if you’d like early access to these you can join my Patreon where I share them with people as soon as they’re ready to roll. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you soon for another episode!



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First Heat: Second Chances: 

First Heat: Tying The Knot: 


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2021 Omegaverse Collection – contains First Heat, First Heat: Second Chances, Heat Play Love, Conference Confidential, and 2 bonus shorts 

Nicky and the Night Owls: Part One – polyamorous (m/f/nb/f/nb/m), multi 1st person POV 

Nicky and the Night Owls: Part Two – polyamorous (m/f/nb/f/nb/m), multi 1st person POV – currently on preorder 

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Salacious Salvation – m/f, 3rd person POV 

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