Proofs of Life. Or Something.

So a few weeks ago, I mentioned that, due to the totally botched rollout of their “upgraded” web site, Lulu.com had managed to hose the three books I’ve had on sale through them since, oh, 2008 or so, that I had contacted their support department, and that if I didn’t hear from them, I was likely to retire the books from Lulu.com and move them to KDP and IngramSpark. Well, the astute reader will probably not be shocked to learn that I never heard from Lulu.com, that I retired the books, and that I moved them to KDP. (IngramSpark will be next.) This week, I got the first set of proofs from KDP of the new and improved—as in, likely to actually be available soon—versions of Dragon Stones, Long Before Dawn, and A Flock of Crow is Called a Murder.

These are actually the second set of proofs I ordered from KDP. After reviewing the first set, in addition to a number of interior layout changes, which are kind of technical and which I won’t really get into (they involve things like recto pages, verso pages, small caps, removing the leading tab of first pages, etc.), I also changed the style of the text on the back covers, getting rid of the upper/lower-case kind of computer-looking font and replacing it with a Copperplate-style small caps font. Here’s an example of a previous back cover:

The new ones are, I think, much nicer. I also edited the Crows cover a little, making the title font smaller and brushing out the foliage in the top left corner. I mean, there’s no crow in the foliage, so really, what was it even doing there?

So those are all improvements, I think. At this point I’ve approved all three books for publication and distribution through the KDP. (IngramSpark will be next, once the KDP process is finished.) So does that mean the three books are, or will be, available by the time you read this? Welllll ….. When I hit the “publish” button on Dragon Stones and Crows, I am getting—you guessed it!—a rather unhelpful error message.

Well, okay, KDP, I would be more than happy to fix the highlighted error(s), if there were any. Unfortunately across all the tabs of the KDP book processing screen, everything appears to be fine. Needless to say I’ve sent off a ticket to KDP support to see if they can tell me what’s going on and how to fix it. Presumably they’ll do a little better than Lulu did.

One can hope, right?

Later …

So I figured out the “Please fix the highlighted error(s)” problem without needing help from KDP after all. The issue, as I discovered when reviewing the pricing very closely, was that the automatically-assigned price for Japan—based on the Amazon.com price—was too low, making my revenue $0 or negative for sales in that market. The reason I started looking at the pricing is that Long Before Dawn is considerably shorter than the other two books (but still packed with action! And suspense! And vampires doing … vampire things!) and so I got to thinking that maybe the lower cost of printing might have something to do with why it had gone through, but the other two had not. That led me to expand the list of pricing for other Amazon markets, and lo! There it was. No revenue from Japan. Not that anyone in Japan is going to buy one of my books, but one never knows …

Anyway, while it still would have been helpful if KDP had actually flagged where the error occurred, I was able to get it straightened out. And it least they didn’t just go ahead and publish the book priced below-cost, or change the prices without telling me. Unlike some other publishing services I can (and did) mention …

Next stop: IngramSpark, and expanded distribution!

10 thoughts on “Proofs of Life. Or Something.

    1. I’ve actually used IngramSpark three times before—for “Shards”, “Ravels”, and “Television Man”—and … yeah, they are a bit of a pain, to be honest. The UI isn’t great and they charge fees that the others don’t. That’s why I was considering returning to Lulu for “Father’s Books”. Lulu’s bungled upgrade definitely put the kibosh on that idea though. (The reason I shifted to IngramSpark in the first place was that, at the time, Lulu wasn’t offering matte covers, and I really wanted matte covers. It’s the little things!)

      BTW, with respect to Ingram’s fees, if you’re a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, they have promo codes that will get a lot of the fees waived. I’ll be reporting back on how expensive it turns out to be!

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      1. That pretty much obliterates any remaining inclination I might have had to give Lulu another chance! Too bad I wasn’t an ALLi member back when I was putting the previous three books together, it would have saved me a few bucks …

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  1. I thought for a minute that I was going to have to update my library, but the changes are slight. Besides, now I have the “vintage” first editions. They’ll be valuable when you become famous and win your first Pulitzer…

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  2. I tend to do KDP and IS on the same day just because I like to get the pain over with as quickly as possible. Yesterday’s upload is live on the big Zon (well, the paperback is live, the ebook is preorder until July 21), but IS is still reporting “processing.” Hopefully that will move forward soon.

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  3. Okay, full disclosure, I totally read ‘recto pages’ as ‘rectal pages’ and I couldn’t concentrate after that.

    What a headache with the pricing. I hadn’t realised the pricing on other markets like Japan could have that effect. Yes, it would have been very helpful for KDP to actually be proactive and at least suggest where to look for the error, but well done on figuring it out, detective.

    As for the new covers, I love them – very sleek, understated, with a little mystery. Bloody spot on! xx

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