KDP – The Cover Pt II

Last post I uploaded the front cover to the KDP creator. I had blundered in that the DPI or dots per inch setting was at a default of 72, rather than the required 300. Changing the DPI to 300, re-exporting to PDF and then uploading resulted in the following:

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Check through the list on the right. The markup within the table of contents was removed, without affecting the table, so that’s fine. Also, it asks you double check the Author, ISBN and Title. Good idea. Do that. Character for character.

Hey, there’s even a 3D view:

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Woohoo! Looks pretty good. The automatic whatsit that Amazon has going stopped complaining about the size of the PDF since it now closely matched the dimensions of the book itself.

You can look through the pages, and I would strongly encourage you to. Why? Because the PDF you uploaded will not be what gets used. Observe:

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If you look closely, the border closer to the spine is greater than the border against the edge. I used a 1cm border in the PDF, Amazon has automatically added in an extra padding on the spine. This is a good thing, since it will mean the words aren’t squished into the paper-fold.

I can’t guarantee it, but after playing with it for a bit (doing a few uploads to get it ‘just right’), I think that the engine is smart enough to recognise page changes and update the table of contents accordingly. Even so, check that each chapter in the TOC matches the actual page for the Chapter. It’s a small task that will save you having to apologise to your readers for a dodgy TOC.

Once I was happy with it, I hit the ‘Approve’ button. Click

Ahh.

So life is grand, right? I’ve uploaded the manuscript, I’ve uploaded the front cover as a PDF, it’s looking pretty much how I want it, all I need to do now is order a proof.

What’s a Proof?

Electronic eBooks are cool because, hey, what you see is what you get. You can pop your ePub or PDF or mobi file onto your favourite reader and have a look-see to make sure it’s all fine and dandy like cotton candy. Of course, different readers with different dimensions will display things differently, but you can rest easily knowing that the software does a best effort to make stuff look and read properly.

Not so with printed books. Paper ain’t that advanced.

And while PDFs are fantastic for viewing something as a bunch of pages, the conversion to a hardcopy means extra padding on the inside of each page, a few extra pages added for the actual printing house and physical constraints applied because of the thickness of paper, the stock used, etc.

In other words, once you’ve done all the work uploading your masterpiece, you need to order a proof to make sure that it – it being the actual book what gets pumped out by the presses and will land into the laps of your audience – looks and feels and even smells like you want it.

Yes, smells. There actually is a difference in smells between books. I’m not sure if it’s the cover or the paper or a combination or just something in the manufacturing process, but there certainly is a smell associated with a new book.

Lulu strongly encourages ordering a proof. They will not allow you to use Global Reach without you having ordered and actually looked at a copy of your book. For this, they will let you order it at cost price.

I personally make a habit of buying at least two so I can keep one and give one away as a present.

What about Amazon? No. You cannot purchase a proof, even though you own the book.

Say what?

Let me clarify: There is no facility for ordering a proof at cost price. You will pay the full price of your book.

But… but I made the damn thing!

I know, I know. Believe me, I know. It’s yours. You did it. You made it. Why do you have to sell it to yourself?

It turns out Create Space, by itself, does allow author copies. And while Amazon uses Create Space to manage your hardcopies, it does not allow you to purchase author copies.

So what happens if you wanted to print off, say, 1,000 copies and distribute them yourself in a vanity-publishing style venture? You’re up for either ordering the 1,000 copies at full price or temporarily discounting the book to cost, ordering, then raising the price back up. Either way, it’s ugly.

This is a two-sided story. Personally I believe that author copies should be allowed, and encouraged, and even enforced like Lulu does. I can see, though, that purchasing your own book at full price does affect the ranking of the book, and rightly so. A purchase is a purchase, regardless of who made the original purchase.

And before you ask, no, I’m not an expert on how Amazon does the rankings. I’m sure it’s time based and it’s also categorically based – that is, you have different rankings for different categories – but as for how the numbers get calcumalated, I can only say that more sales -> better rank.

Also, depending on the royalty rate, you’ll get some of the money you spent back. Icky, I know, but maybe it’s Amazon’s way of avoiding rank-diddling by someone with a hefty cashroll. Eh. Dunno.

So, after all of that, I picked up my credit card, and ordered my own book. You won’t believe what happened next!

Nah, you prolly will.

Mini Jeztyr Logo

What’s got 2 eyes, 7 legs…?

And is set to splash its way all across your e-reader? Tedrick!

That’s right, everyone’s favourite octopus detective is due for release tomorrow, 1st of June!

TedrickGritswellMicro

OMG! I’ll be holding my own little celebration, but I can’t celebrate for too long, no sir. There are too many things to do. I’m still getting AMS to play ball, and then there’s the hardcopy to finalise, and distributions. Man, it almost makes me wish I had multiple limbs! Sorry, Ted, I know you’re still smarting about your missing arm.

You can find Tedrick Gritswell of Borobo Reef at the Amazon store here, for the price of a cup of coffee. And once I’ve passed the required number of days, I’ll publish to Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Google Play. Or you can download the mobi or pdf and import that into your reader – I’ve heard that works.

Thanks for sticking with me on this ride. I’ll continue with the hardcopy KDP journey in a day or two, once I’ve shaken off the darkwater hangover.Mini Jeztyr Logo

We want you to make it free

You there! Did you know that you already own several of my books?

Open up your favourite e-reader or e-book application and go right ahead. Put in Jeremy Tyrrell into the search bar and go for it. Download and share to your heart’s content.

Wait, are you with Amazon? Well, that might pose a problem.

The Problem

The problem is this: Amazon refuses to allow me to make my books free. I physically cannot, in the little price editor thing that they’ve got, set it to zero or blank or null. In fact, I cannot set it for anything less that 99 cents.

That’s their business model, and, if I wish to distribute with them, I need to follow suit. Fair enough. It’s their platform. Their ones and zeroes. Thing is, my book is my ones and zeroes, and they should be yours, too.

Sure, you can download the .mobi format from the Smashwords site for free, I don’t know how that plays with adding it to your account, or whether you can share it, or if it goes from device to device or what.

And, really, why should you, the reader, pay for something that everyone else gets for free, simply because of the carrier?

The Solution

The solution, I found the other day, is that Amazon will honour competitor’s prices. So, for example, if I were to post one book on iTunes for $5, and on Amazon for $6, Amazon will, wisely, match the $5 price tag (same currency).

The only thing you, as a reader, need to do is inform Amazon of the cheaper price. Above the ‘Author Info’ and below the ‘Product Details’ is a little option to ‘tell us about a lower price’.

To do this, you need to be on the .com website, not the .com.au. It’s not there for some reason. Don’t know, don’t care.

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When you click on this, it expands to ask ‘where’ and how much. Bung in a competitor’s page, like the one from Barnes and Noble:

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Here, copy and paste this for Grosvenor Lane Ghost:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/grosvenor-lane-ghost-jeremy-tyrrell/1120385725?ean=2940046187342

And put in 0 for the price and shipping, click Submit Feedback and Bob’s your uncle.It says Thank you for your feedback, and the dialog goes away. I think that it is a manual process to validate, but, I assume, once they’ve approved that it is indeed cheaper at Barnes and Noble, they’ll let you have it for free.

Go nuts with Jolimont Street Ghost, and Atlas, Broken. And Adaptation. You can find the links to them in the side bar of this website.

Boom. Thank you. The books are yours.

Please enjoy them with my compliments and gratitude.Mini Jeztyr Logo

 

Format, Distribution, Promotion…

Publishing Jolimont Street Ghost should have been a ‘crack a beer and take a week or two off moment’. After all, the hard stuff is done. Writing and editing and proofing and all of that stuff. Done. Front cover and page dimensions and blank space checks. Done. Converting and publishing and getting it approved. Done.

Then what?

Then comes the next part, the bit you really, really wish you could forget about. Jolimont Street Ghost was pushed up in digital format (a little early, but let’s not dwell) and, thanks to Smashwords’ awesome Channel system, it gets distributed to a lot of major players like iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, along with newer ones like Scribd and Overdrive and Txtr.

Is there a glaring omission to this list? Amazon? One needs to do that oneself. That’s not a failing of Smashwords, rather that’s an annoying fact of Amazon. I won’t go into my usual rant, suffice to say it takes a bit more work to take what you’ve already done and distribute it elsewhere. Google Play? Same deal.

So to distribute it via the ‘other guys’, it’s a matter of copy-pasting a lot of the meta-data, title, series, author, ISBN, etc. and going through the motions on their sites, uploading in the correct formats – epub, png and pdf for Google, mobi and jpg for Amazon – and then submitting for their scrutinisation.

Other issues

The genre issue is a funny one. Seems everyone has their own way of doing it and, while there appear to be standards, not everyone uses them.

For example, with Paranormology, I believe it sits somewhere in a “Ghost” genre, rather than “Horror”, but that isn’t always available at all distributors. OK, so “Science Fiction” is too broad, “Paranormal” exists in one standard but not another. Sheesh! At this point it’s a best-effort approach, near enough is good enough, move on.

Tags. This is another point that has me confuddled and bewused. Some distributors like single words, others like phrases, some have unlimited tags, others a maximum. Don’t put the title in the tag, but try to keep tags similar to books of the same type… Yeah, again, I hit the Sheesh! button and give it a best effort once more.

Anything else?

Of course. This is just what needs to be done to get it up and out. After that, you need to download it all again in the various formats, to make sure the formatting ain’t up the wall. You see, converting your manuscript to ePub and Mobi and PDF and RTF can leave weird spacings or blank pages or dropped fonts, all of which looks unprofessional and is distracting to the reader.

My advice is to follow the Smashwords’ submission guidelines. Their converter is very decent and works like a charm so long as you stick to the guidelines. Sure, you can always re-submit if you need to but, trust me, you don’t want to.

After all, there’s a headless beer slowly getting warmer over there…Mini Jeztyr Logo