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Proof Copies for Authors

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Hi Readers! This week’s blog post is about proof copies and why they’re especially important for indie authors. If you’re not an author, you might be wondering what a proof copy is. According to the Britannica website, a proof copy is used for “proofreading, reading and marking corrections…before publication.” A proof copy is a paperback copy of your novel that you order before publishing to make sure everything is formatted correctly and to proofread your book one last time. The article on the Britannica website traces proofreading back to the early days of printing. The article goes on to say, “In modern practice, proofs are made first from a galley, a long tray holding a column of type, and hence are called galley proofs.” There are many places you can order a proof copy, but it also depends what you’re looking for and which Print on Demand (POD) company you chose.

The first option for ordering a proof is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Since I self-published with KDP, I have firsthand experience with ordering proofs from the company. Their process is simple; once your book file, cover, book details, and metadata have all been uploaded and accepted, you can order a proof copy directly from your KDP account. Depending on the printing cost of your book, the proof may only cost a few dollars, but you will have to pay for shipping as well.

I ordered 2 proof copies from Amazon KDP. They both arrived in a few days, despite the pandemic. I was happy with the quality of both. My only complaint about KDP’s proof copies is the ugly NOT FOR RESALE watermark across the front and back of the book, as well as not printing the barcode or ISBN on the back of the book. I realize they do this so it is easily identified as a proof copy and no one can mistake it for a published, finalized book; however, it doesn’t look great in pictures when you’re trying to market your book before publication. Other than the watermark, the print quality is great, so it’s worth ordering a proof through KDP.

Another option for ordering a proof is IngramSpark. Since I also self-published with IngramSpark, I have experience with their process as well. To order a proof copy via IngramSpark, you will need to upload the book file, paperback wrap for the cover, book details, and metadata. Similar to KDP, after the files are approved, you can order a proof. The proof was a few dollars more through IngramSpark and they charge a “handling” fee, as well as a shipping fee.

I ordered one proof copy from IngramSpark. Although I chose the slowest, cheapest shipping speed, their estimated shipping time in June was 22 business days for this option. I ordered my proof copy over 2 months before my publication date of August 10th but didn’t receive it until the afternoon of my book’s publication date. This was 7.5 weeks after I had placed the order. At this point, it was too late for me to make any changes since the book was already published, but thankfully no changes were necessary.

The print quality, color, page thickness, etc., were all comparable to KDP, but the extremely delayed shipping times will make me rethink ordering proofs from IngramSpark in the future. The best part of ordering a proof from IngramSpark is that they don’t place any type of watermark on the cover of the book, so it looks just like a published, final copy of your book would look.

Since you may still be wondering why you would want to order a proof copy, let alone multiple copies, I’ll explain why in my next blog post here.

If you're looking for an editor or proofreader to help you with your book, I offer editing services. More information can be found here.

Comment below if you have ordered a proof from any other POD companies or if you had any differences in your experiences ordering proofs!


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