There’s a lot to overcome when an author makes the decision to self-publish. Criticism is at the top of the list and some of that criticism is justified. There’s a lot of poorly written, poorly edited, poorly formatted, self-published crap out there. When I decided to self-publish, I knew that to gain credibility as an author I would need to make The Bewitching Hour and The Devil’s Own Luck as professional as possible. Granted, they’re Regency Romances, not Pulitzer Prize winning literary fiction, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to give readers a below standard product. So I obsessed over my revisions, the graphics, the fonts, the titles, developing a brand, the blurbs, the editing; pretty much everything I could obsess over, I did. Sometimes, obsession leads you astray and as I combed through both books, I decided that it would look nice if I left a teeny-tiny bit of extra space between paragraphs.
After both manuscripts were formatted, I used calibre-Ebook management to preview them. There seemed to be a little more space between the paragraphs than in the original, but it wasn’t bad and after all my obsessing, I was so ready to get those novels out there that I hit the Amazon Kindle publish button. It normally takes 12 to 24 hours before they’re available for purchase so I didn’t bother checking the KDP Reports page until the next day. When I did, I was elated. I’d already sold a few! Pretty cool when you consider I hadn’t even told anyone yet. I bought both, opened them up on my Kindle and was slightly horrified. That teeny-tiny bit of extra spacing between the paragraphs had turned into triple spaces. It wasn’t unreadable, but it also wasn’t the professional look I had envisioned.
Amazon is very good about allowing you to make changes on published content and once the spacing issue was fixed, the new versions were available in the Kindle Bookstore within 24 hours. But I was concerned about the dozen or so novels that had been purchased before the changes were made. How would I get the updated versions to those initial customers? Amazon’s policy is as follows:
1. If the changes made to your content are considered major, we’ll send an email to all customers who own the book to notify them that an update exists. These customers can choose to receive the update through their Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com.
2. If the changes made to your content are considered minor, we won’t be able to notify all customers by email, but we will enable them to update the book’s contents through their Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com.
My changes fell into category #2. I have no problem with that or their policy, but I still haven’t been able to update the contents of either book on my Kindle. I’ve been assured that the updates are available. So what’s the problem? I don’t know but my plan is to besiege them with emails until it’s resolved.
What Did I Learn From My First Experience in Self-Publishing?
Lesson #1: I will never again experiment with ‘the look’ of my novels.
Lesson #2: When publishing on Kindle, I will always use the free downloadable Kindle eReader app to preview my manuscript.
Lesson #3: I won’t hit the publish button until I’m absolutely sure everything is exactly like I want it to be. It’s much easier on the nerves.
Lesson #4: I’ll keep my manuscripts between 70,000 and 90,000 words. The length of The Bewitching Hour (114,000 words) and The Devil’s Own Luck (140,000 words) got pretty overwhelming when I was wrapping things up.
Overall, my first experience with the Kindle Direct Publishing program has been good. The system isn’t perfect, but as long as it works I’ll keep doing it.
Next week–my experience with the KDP promotional free downloads.