This provocative question is considered by Chuck Litka at Writers Supporting Writers. Read his post HERE and contribute your thoughts in the comments. I’ve closed comments here.
D2D vs. IS: a Publishing Adventure
Mark Paxson at Writers Supporting Writers shares his experiences with publishing on two platforms.
Read all about it HERE.
If you have advice or want to share experiences of your own, please comment at WSW.
Exploring Other Publishing Options
Big News for Indie Authors: Smashwords and Draft2Digital to Merge
In March, these two ebook publishing and distribution services will merge under the Draft2Digital name. The idea is to combine the best parts of each company so as to offer a superior service for authors.
I watched a livestreamed Q&A session on YouTube today. I understand it was recorded so may be viewed after the fact on the D2D YouTube channel.
Just for information: I have published ebooks with Smashwords since 2010. I have never used D2D, but I’m excited by this development. Here are some points I gleaned from the hour-long session. Note that I may have misunderstood some details.
- Royalty payments to authors will be via the D2D system, so include way more options besides PayPal.
- One of the things that persuaded Mark Coker of Smashwords to be in favour of the merger is the fact that book sales on D2D are bigger than on Smashwords, even though D2D has fewer books available.
- D2D authors will be able to take advantage of selling their books in an improved version of the Smashwords Store.
- Smashwords authors will be able to use D2D’s superior formatting tools. They have a template-based system that’s largely automated. It includes automatic inclusion of back-matter as specified by the author. Those who love Smashwords’ Meatgrinder will still be able to use it, though (I think).
- A really exciting option at D2D: Ebook conversion to POD print book, including creation of print covers from ebook cover images. Anyone who has ever struggled with print book formatting (that would be me!) should be delighted! I think this one is still in beta. More info at: Draft2Digital.com/PrintBeta/
- One of the D2D presenters (Kris Austin or Kevin Tumlinson) said their POD process is the easiest of all and superior to Amazon KDP. In addition, their distribution network is broader than KDP’s Expanded Distribution.
- It sounds like a lot of details still need to be worked out, but on the whole this looks like a positive development for indie publishers. As Mark Coker said, it’s based on the premise that authors should be at the centre of the publishing universe. Also, consider that these companies’ sole focus is publishing and selling books and only books, not a zillion other products.
More info HERE
Get It Right the First Time!
Since I am preparing to publish the sequel to my novel, She Who Comes Forth, I decided to correct three tiny typos in that book, which I published in 2018.
As usual, everything was fine until I tackled the print version. I made the corrections in the original Word document and used Save As to create a new PDF. Note that the Word doc was the very same one from which I made the original PDF when I first published the book. The only differences between the original PDF and the new one were my three corrections, which involved adding two commas, deleting two letters, and adding two other letters.
But something else changed, either in Word or in the copying/saving process. Or more likely in Amazon’s quality checker.
I uploaded the new PDF with the corrections to Amazon. After being notified that the upload was successful, I was invited to use the Print Previewer, which informed me of two ERRORS. First, although I had selected a trim size of 5.5″ x 8.5″ (when I first published the book in 2018), the document I uploaded was 5.50″ x 8.50″. I don’t know where those zeroes came from, but they were unacceptable. And second, the gutter size was insufficient; it must be at least 0.625 inches.
On checking my original Word doc, I found that those critical dimensions were in centimeters, not inches, but when converted, they were exactly as the Previewer specified. 13.97 cm = 5.5 inches. 21.59 cm = 8.5 inches. As for the gutter, my inside margin was set to 1.59 cm, otherwise known as 0.6259843 inches, which rounds up to 0.626 inches.
Infuriating! I sent a (polite) note to the Help people outlining all this. I received a prompt response, which said that the trim size wasn’t a problem (hurray!), but the gutter insufficiency had to be addressed.
So I did that. I created a new copy of the Word doc. As advised, I activated Word’s Gridlines to show me whether the text fit inside the acceptable areas. Then I increased the inside margin to 1.61 cm (0.634 in.). This fixed some of the gutter problems, but not all. The five that remained all involved the italicized letter “f” (wouldn’t you know it!) right next to the gutter (i.e., the inside margin). A minute portion of the curly tail of the “f” projected over the gridline, which is unacceptable. (One more reason to avoid using italics!)
At that point, I thought about giving up. I emailed the nice person at the Help desk saying that if the latest PDF I uploaded was unacceptable because of those “f’s,” I preferred to cancel the corrections and live with the errors. Except you can’t cancel changes in KDP, only suspend them. The book’s status had changed to “Live with unpublished changes,” meaning it was available in its original state (still with the three tiny errors, of course). It could remain that way indefinitely.
Before really giving up, I decided to experiment. For that purpose, I made a copy of the original Word doc. At first, I gradually increased the inside margin to 1.65 cm. Even at that size, the “f’s” still exceeded the gridline by a tiny amount, and what’s worse, the overall size of the book increased from 381 pages to 383. If I kept increasing the inside margin, eventually the book’s spine width would grow to the point the cover would be incompatible with the text document. Which wasn’t going to happen.
Then I had an idea–what about reducing the outer margin while increasing the inner one? That would create more wiggle room for the inside margin without increasing the number of pages. The original size of the outer margin was 1.59 cm, or 0.626 inches. I decided half an inch (1.27 cm) was my absolute minimum. Any less of an outer page margin looks too skimpy. So in my experimental document, I set that as the outer margin and proceeded to increase the inner margin (gutter), hoping to correct the italic “f” problem. At 2.0 cm, the book’s size jumped to 383 pages again, so 1.9 cm was the max. And did that fix the “f” problem? I didn’t think so; the tails of those pesky italic “f” descenders were still edging over the gridline.
So I tried another approach. Since italic text was the problem, what about “de-italicizing” the bits noted as problematic by the Print Previewer? A couple of unspoken thoughts became spoken, and one paragraph that represented a vision is no longer distinguished by italics. After I made sure the changes didn’t affect the book’s overall size or cause other problems, I created yet another PDF and uploaded it to Amazon.
Success! The book is now “Live.” And the three tiny errors are no more. But what a process!
One thing I don’t like about my solution is that the print and ebook versions are now slightly different, which doesn’t seem right. (Someday I will probably make those changes in the ebook text, but right now I’m fed up with the post-pub updating business.)
In retrospect, this whole thing doesn’t seem right. Why would margin settings that passed Amazon KDP’s quality control checks in 2018 fail in 2021? The helpful help person offered no explanation. Why is an awkward workaround my only option to correct errors in my book? I would think people who buy the book would notice the errors more than the gutter issue. But then, what do I know?
On the plus side, I have learned a few things that will be helpful for future formatting:
- It’s worthwhile to reduce instances of italics to a minimum, watching especially for “f’s” that end up in the gutter. (Haha!)
- I’m now comfortable with changing margin settings and have a better idea of optimal sizes.
- I won’t finalize the cover of the paperback version until I know the interior file has passed the quality checking process. That way, I won’t be limited by spine width.
All this tells me that when I prepare the text of She Who Returns for publishing, I will have to make sure there are NO errors. Because post-pub fixes are too much trouble. I will never do post-pub corrections again, at least not for print books. Yes, there will very likely still be a few little bugs, but I declare now that I will live with them. Maybe those errors will make the books valuable collectors’ copies some day, long after I’ve gone to the big remainder pile in the sky.
Has anyone else experienced a problem of this sort? Have you changed the text of a book to get it past Amazon’s quality checks? Do you correct errors after a book has been published? How important is it to make your book perfect and error-free?
Publishing Dreams and Realities
Mark Paxson at Writers Supporting Writers has some interesting thoughts about different types of publishing, and a question for writers at the end of the post. Read it HERE.
Chuck Litka has written a post at Writers Supporting Writers about the rewards of writing as an amateur. Read it HERE.
A Pressing Question
Mark Paxson on Writers Supporting Writers has a question for indie authors: how do you choose from the myriad of book promotion services available? Read his post HERE.
Does Self-Publishing=Vanity Publishing?
Two posts on the Writers Supporting Writers site address this question.
First, a guest post from Chuck Litka with the provocative title Vanity Publishing 2.0?
And then A Response to Chuck by Mark Paxson.
Read the posts and offer your opinions!
Image by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels
A Question and a Chat
Two new posts at the Writers Supporting Writers blog.
First, Mark Paxson asks Is Blind Support a Good Thing?
And then, another video chat, this time introducing author Richard Pastore.