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What happens to my book if I unpublish it?

One of you asked me a question under one of my videos : Could I get a proof copy and later decide not to publish on KDP? What happens to my book then, does it stay on the KDP bookshelf forever?

And you know what? That’s an awesome question. I do think a lot of self-publishers wonder that same question but, to be honest with you, it never crossed my mind.

I did my research and it was mind-blowing.

What happens to my book if I unpublish it?

To understand what I’m about to tell you, make sure you understand the difference between a proof copy and an author copy.

A proof copy is a copy of your paperback or hardback that you get from your retailer that allows you to check on the quality of the product. It is not for sale, and your book is not published when you order a proof copy.

So you can easily get a proof copy and later decide not to publish the book. The book won’t show on Amazon because it hasn’t been published. Let me stress that out: the book hasn’t been published. It will sit on your KDP dashboard though because you’ll need to assign an ISBN to it before ordering that proof. And once an ISBN has been assigned, the book will stay there forever. So no worries about it being published, it’s not. And, brand new feature from Amazon as of December 2022: you are now able to archive books so you won't see them on your KDP dashboard unless you want to.

If you’ve hit that publish button, however, this is a whole other answer.

If you’ve released an ebook, you can unpublish it and it will simply be removed from the retailer’s shop. There’s no physical copy left to be sold after all. Same with an audiobook.

However, when it comes to your self-publisher dashboard, the ebook and/or audiobook will stay in there forever but you will be able to archive it. It’s completely removed from the shop and can’t be sold, and you won't see it on your KDP dashboard anymore.

But I’m afraid there’s another answer when it comes to paperbacks and hardbacks. If they’ve been published, they’ll still be available for sales even if you the author unpublish it. Not from KDP, because they do the selling for you as a print on-demand retailer, but from third-party vendors that might have purchased a few copies and are selling them through Amazon.

How do you know third-party vendors are selling your book?

By clicking on the link right below the price tag on your Amazon sales page. You’ll then be able to see all different prices under which your book is sold. And if you wonder if you’ve received royalties for those books… well yeah, third-parties have purchased your book before reselling it, so you should have received a share. But you won’t receive anything if they sell your book at their own price. Hope that makes sense.

And of course, the paperback and hardback will still be sitting on your KDP dashboard, unless you archive them.

You can book a consultation with me if you’d like personalised support in your self-publishing journey, the link’s in the description.

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