Publishing Bleed Graphic Novel on KDP but Failing in Review Process

After hours of frantically googling things like, “bleed rejected KDP graphic novel panels outside of margins”, I finally figured out the problem (with a little help from customer service). It took me a while to figure out what the problem was, what exactly to ask customer service, and so I continued to be rejected by the final KDP review process for days. In case anyone out there is having similar issues, I’m making this post for you.

It all started when I went to “edit paper content”, got everything set up and then hit “launch reviewer”. There were a number of errors telling me my content was outside the margin. This was annoying because I selected “bleed (PDF only)”, formatted my manuscript in Affinity with full bleed, and (I thought) should have passed the reviewer. I thought, well maybe if I flatten the whole document and rasterize all the text, the bots will accept it. It appeared to work, at first. With everything rasterized into a PDF, it passed the initial review stage. I was happy and excited for the moment. I ordered PROOF copies and waited just a few days for them to arrive. They arrived sooner than expected and looked absolutely beautiful (minus the cover watermark, but that’s a whole ‘nother blogpost). Then I selected the price and hit the “publish” button!

The next day, I got this message:

We checked your files and found issues you need to fix before your book can be published on KDP:

  • Add 0.125″ (3.2 mm) to your book’s page width and 0.25″ (6.4 mm) to the page height to ensure that the images in your manuscript extend beyond the edge of the page. Once you have added the size, extend any images or backgrounds that you want to reach all the way to the edge of the page 0.125” (3.2 mm) beyond the trim line. This prevents manufacturing issues when the file is trimmed to size. See examples PDF page(s) 62 – 64, 124. Watch our video, which explains trim size, margins, and bleed.
  • Increase your outside margins so that content isn’t trimmed when your book is printed. The outside, top, and bottom margin requirements are 0.25″ (6.35mm) for books without bleed and 0.375″ (9.52mm) for books with bleed. See examples on PDF page(s) 1 – 3, 61 – 63, 123 – 125. Watch our video, which explains trim size, margins, and bleedLearn how to calculate margins

This was a very confusing message and could have been worded more clearly for dyslexic people like me. Did they want me to add .125″ to the page size or the image size?

I decided to try it again by not rasterizing the text, but shifting it slightly so it stays within the margins like below. Note that this also included placing those ugly page numbers within my panels, so I made them really tiny and mostly inconspicuous:

You can see the word “mommeeeeee!” had to be pulled in a little so it would fit within the margins and this included any other word balloon that I placed just outside of the panels for a stylized effect. Not a huge deal, but I was a little sad I couldn’t just let my word balloons hang out like that and put my page numbers where I wanted them on the pages. It did pass the “launch reviewer” bots, so I went ahead and hit the “publish” button.

The next day I got another rejection letter. This time, however, I had fixed the “increase your margins” bullet point and was left with this one:

We checked your files and found issues you need to fix before your book can be published on KDP:
Interior

  • Add 0.125″ (3.2 mm) to your book’s page width and 0.25″ (6.4 mm) to the page height to ensure that the images in your manuscript extend beyond the edge of the page. Once you have added the size, extend any images or backgrounds that you want to reach all the way to the edge of the page 0.125” (3.2 mm) beyond the trim line. This prevents manufacturing issues when the file is trimmed to size. See examples PDF page(s) 62 – 64, 123 – 124. Watch our video, which explains trim size, margins, and bleed.

This was the point where I started banging my head on my keyboard. I can only assume a bot looks at your work and it either passes or fails. The proof copy looked great, but the bots don’t care.

I bit the bullet and added .125″ to the page size and increased the entire book size from 9×6″ to 6.14″ x 9.21″. I thought this would surely increase the margins, but I felt defeated since this would raise the price of author copies by 3 dollars per book, and also significantly increase the customer price. I hit “publish” but continued to feel worse and worse about having to increase the size of my entire book.

Luckily, the larger scale book didn’t pass the review bots either, and I was determined to figure it out.

Unfortunately, I struggled to find resources for this specific problem in the KDP community forum. I began to suspect, however, that maybe it was just a bleed issue. I reached out to KDP customer service and was finally told by the marvelous ‘Sebastian’ from customer service: “The image must be either within the margins or extended to the edge”. Part of the issue was I was using rasterized jpegs with full panels. I wasn’t sure if it was the white space maybe triggering some kind of “bleed-bot” so I cropped all that whitespace out in Affinity, carefully double checked to be sure all of my panels were within my set margins, and pulled all the word-balloons into the margins as well. Tedious process, but doable. See below entire word balloons were pulled within the bounds of the margins.

Also, for some reason, my standard margins in my publishing software was slightly more narrow than the publishing margins in KDP – probably something I did wrong, but, oh well, it looks fine in review and gave me some opportunity to hang the balloons outside of the panels near the spine area. I think my next book, I’ll have them hanging on the outsides of the panels.

I hit publish and it worked! Yay! See below to purchase:

This is just the hardback – I’m actually waiting on a paperback PROOF to test out the difference between the “standard color interior” and “premium color interior”. Maybe I’ll check back soon with results – or probably just publish it and move on to my next book!

Thanks for reading.