Monday, August 27, 2018

I made the jump to KDP print! (well, halfway, anyway)

UPDATE, Sept. 9, 2018: Amazon has changed things. They have cut off being able to input the ISBN and move the files from CreateSpace, so at present, if you have your own paperback ISBN, you cannot move your books from CS to KDP.  There was a link at the top of the KDP bookshelf to move all your books from CS to KDP, but it did not seem to work (at least not for me) and now it's gone. Hopefully, Amazon will restore it once it works properly.
So, I keep hearing that Amazon will shutter CreateSpace, their separate self-publishing arm for physical "printing" (they do CDs and DVDs as well as paperback books) and make everyone use KDP, which now has an option to "Create Paperback."

In the past I stuck with CreateSpace because it had some functions not offered in KDP Print but it looks like those are pretty well accounted for now.  In additon, if the book already exists in CreateSpace, Amazon has made it very easy to move the book over to KDP. When you click the link in the KDP database (illustrated here with a title I have not yet published in print) to create a paperback, you get a form to fill out that's partly filled in from the Kindle version.

If you answer yes to the question "Have you published this book on CreateSpace?" it gives you a place to enter the ISBN (whether it's an ISBN CreateSpace assigned or one you own). Once you do that, KDP retrieves the PDFs of the interior and the cover so you don't even have to load them again. One quirk I found was that if you had loaded your book to CreateSpace but didn't actually publish it, this process won't work; you need to complete publication on CS, and then move the book over to KDP Print. You still have an option to get a draft copy from KDP if you want to be sure. I notice that instead of merely marking "proof" on an inside page, KDP puts a Not for Resale banner on the draft copy's cover,

Once the paperback version exists in KDP, the entry for that book includes a separate set of options for that version. The menu there is where you can order author copies and make changes, if needed. 

So far I have moved over three out of my six print titles. One thing I thought was better is, KDP let me price the books a couple of bucks cheaper than CreateSpace did. Now, this could have been because CS lowered their prices, too, but didn't notify authors they could change prices on existing  books, but I thought it was positive. It's much harder to compete with traditional publishing in print because you can't undercut them on cost like you can with ebooks.

Anther advantage is, your print sales (once they are shipped) show up in the same Sales Dashboard bar graph as your Kindle sales. Free ebooks "sales" are blue, regular ebook sales are gold, and print sales are gray. The Month to Date spreadsheet-style chart has a button to select paperback or ebook format.

The final advantage is, the paperback version of Alien Vows was linked to the Kindle version within 24 hours, without my doing anything to request it.

At present, I have three titles in KDP Print and three still in CreateSpace. When I get ready to publish my other five ebooks in print, I will start with KDP.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

eBooks can be corrected and Kindle books often are!

Any book can have errors, but one book that's almost bound to have errors is an old, out-of-print (or even out-of-copyright) title that is published as an ebook by scanning the printed pages and then converting the resulting file into epub or Kindle format without carefully proofing every word. It might be because the pages weren't in great shape or it might be because the scanner wasn't the latest and greatest, but those kinds of books almost always have some errors. Sometimes they have many errors.

A lot of readers probably pay no attention, but in fact Kindle books are often updated after publication. This could be for reasons other than errors; the publisher might have added content, or enabled a new feature like X-Ray. But since the  Kindle interface provides a way for the user to report content errors, I'm guessing the most common reason is fixing a typo or several typos.  [Note: This only works on an actual Kindle. The Kindle app on my Android phone, my PC, and my tablet do not have this function. I don't know about the iPhone and/or iPad versions. If you know, please leave me a comment.]

If you feel like it, you can send Amazon info about errors using the menu that pops up when you highlight text.  The example below is highly typical of the kind of errors you'll see in scanned books. "For two pins" was a common expression, but the scanner made it into "Pot two pins."

Once you tap the three dots to get the menu, you see an option to report a content error. 

Amazon now asks you to identify the error.

In this case, I tapped Typo.

This gave me a screen where I could input the correction. In a way, Amazon is making readers into proofreaders. 

Once you click submit, you get a screen telling you the error will be submitted. But assuming that the publisher acts on these notices, how do you get a corrected file? Well, corrections and changes happen all the time, but Amazon doesn't automatically reload the book because doing so with no warning could wipe out a reader's notes and highlights and lose his place in the book. If a publisher has uploaded a corrected ebook that you bought from Amazon, that shows in your list of  Kindle books, accessible in your browser when you're on The list appears under the heading  "Content and Devices"  and updates are obvious. 

If you click the update button, Amazon first sends a warning. 

And there you have it. Good luck trying that with a printed book on your shelves! 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Taking Inventory

I'm doing final corrections on Alien Vows, getting it ready for launch, but I stopped to take stock of my "stack" of manuscripts.  I put the word in quotes because the stack is digital; the books exist only as files on my hard drive.

I have been writing seriously since 1992, but I didn't start self-publishing until 2011. Since then I have published nine (soon to be ten) novels and one novella.

The unpublished novels list looks like this:

Bag of Tricks
The Return of Magic

Science Fiction
This Nameless World
Child of the Sand (very rough draft)

Science Fiction Romance
Alien Skies (Book 3 of the Wakanreo series)
Worlds Apart
Ice and Fire

YA Science Fiction
Nomads (or possibly Nomads of Menkar 7)
Playing with Fire -- partial m.s.  

The next one in line to publish will undoubtedly be Alien Skies because I want to finish the Wakanreo series. After that I need to decide which direction I want to go. I might alternate, and do a fantasy next and then a science fiction romance, and then repeat. This Nameless World will probably go to the bottom of the list because it's currently at 240,000 words, the longest book I ever wrote.  That's about twice as long as most of my novels, but I don't think I can split it into two books because there's no resolution point in the middle of the book.

In contrast, I have also written six short stories. It's not that I was trying to write mostly novels;it's that the stories that started in my head were mostly novels. Go figure!