— Mark Paxson
As I wrap up a couple of months of publishing two books through Draft2Digital, I’ve learned a few more things about this whole process. Not all are related to Amazon sucking, but … wait for it.
First, patience is a virtue, particularly when it comes to publishing books. Unfortunately, it is a virtue that I lack at times. When it comes to publishing books, by the time I get to the publication part, I’m ready for the thing to be over. I want my book out there. And I don’t want to go through some things I know I desperately need to do.
So, with my collection of short stories, I put the stories together, formatted the whole thing correctly. Did everything I was supposed to and uploaded the content and the cover. Pushed publish on the e-book. Waited for a proof copy of the paperback and barely skimmed it to make sure it looked right and then approved the paperback.
And so … days later, I was flipping through it to read a portion for my podcast and I discovered a typo in the table of contents. Damn! I went a little deeper and found a few more typos and then I discovered … formatting issues. A couple of the stories were in 12 pt font instead of 11 pt. font and there were a couple of paragraphs in one story that were lighter and a different font altogether. That last one in particular is something that I know that I did not do. But there it was.
I went back to the source document on my computer and all of those problems were in it. Ugh!!!
Here’s the thing about D2D. They only allow one free content correction every three months and apparently my original upload counted as my first one. I had to wait three months before I could correct the content. Or pay $25 for the privilege of doing so. I thought about it for a day and paid the $25.
The corrected content, however, does not update immediately. Oh, it did for the ebook within a day or two, but the paperback? 10-14 days.
The other problem was that, once I approved the proof (foolishly), I ordered 50 author copies (even more foolish). So, I had 50 copies coming with those typos and formatting issues and I didn’t want anything to do with them. But it was too late.
Until D2D screwed up on the shipping. the order was split into two separate shipments. One with 42 books and one with 8 books. The shipment with 42 books has never showed up. But I did get two shipments of 8 books. (Yes, you can’t make this up.) I’ve now asked for the remaining copies to be cancelled and for a refund because they failed to deliver them in a timely fashion and I don’t want them. And now, I’m waiting patiently for confirmation that the corrected content has made its way through their system.
But, back to the title of this post … why does Amazon suck? Until now, I’ve published everything through KDP. It’s quick. It’s easy. Books are available on Amazon’s website almost immediately, but they don’t tell you a thing about availability on other platforms even if you choose the expanded distribution network.
I recently discovered a couple of my KDP-published books were available on the websites for Powell’s and Books-A-Million. I have absolutely no idea if I ever sold any of those books on those platforms because Amazon simply does not tell the author anything like that.
And there’s more. They won’t publish the ebook for the short story collection because some of the content appears for free on my blog. But! They will publish the paperback.
And there is still more. Publishing a paperback on D2D as easy as with KDP, but Amazon does not make the book available as quickly as it does for KDP books. Other platforms like Barnes & Noble had my paperbacks for these two books available within a couple of days of my D2D publication date. Amazon? 10-14 days.
You know there’s more, right? Here’s what they did with my novella after they published it. For at least two weeks, the price went all over the price, but always above my list price, which was $9.99. For a few days, Amazon’s price for the novella was $13.40. For a couple of days, it was around $12.50. this from the company that won’t retail an ebook if it’s available cheaper elsewhere on the internet. They were intentionally pricing the paper above the price other platforms were selling it for.
And then there is this. Amazon delivers a KDP book within two days of order. On my short story collection, they alert purchasers that it may take one to two months for the book to ship. On some level, I get this since it’s coming from a POD entity that isn’t theirs, that they have no control over. But come on.
It is very clear that Amazon does everything it can to put up road blocks for independently published authors who choose to use a different publishing platform. Which is disgusting and why monopolies are bad, bad, bad, bad.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in learning about publishing wide (which is what this is called) and you’re on Facebook, there is a group there called Wide for the Win. It has lots and lots of writers on it and there are daily posts with information about how all of this works.
How frustrating, Mark! But thanks for sharing all this. I’ve not yet used D2D (except inasmuch as they and Smashwords are now one entity, sort of), so all my paperbacks are still KDP.
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There are great things about it. How both my ebook and paperback are generally available everywhere (with that one Amazon exception). And it’s way easier than Smashwords was the one time I tried Smashwords. The only drawbacks are some customer service issues and the Amazon effect.
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I publish my paperback books through Amazon. Amazon’s printing costs are significantly less than D2D’s and I have a lot more control over the book than what I found on D2D. I don’t do extended distribution because no retailer is going to buy from Amazon anyway. If you want to sell physical copies of your book outside of Amazon, you’re going to have to do that yourself, no matter what route you take.
I go page by page through the online proof before I approve the book, and then I do not bother with a proof copy, as it will be exactly like the online proof. I just published a book a week ago. I ordered a paper copy for my British beta reader on Saturday, and it was delivered on Monday — Amazon UK even gave me a free month of Prime, so I didn’t have to pay shipping. The author copies take a while longer, they haven’t even shipped yet, but the usual wait is like 3 weeks.
I don’t know of an easier way to publish print books short of becoming a publisher yourself and take on all the expenses and risks involved in publishing, including paying for returned books — and book stores usually don’t buy books unless they can return unsold copies.
I sell my ebooks wide, but for paper, I think Amazon is the best option.
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Regarding your last line, it’s interesting, I was actually thinking of the exact opposite. Use Amazon directly for ebooks since the Kindle dominates the market, but use D2D for everything else, including paperbacks and wider ebook distribution.
I need to do the page by page review, but I’m just so impatient.
It does pay to go page by page. In my last book I found that the last chapter did not start on a new odd numbered page like every other one when proofing on Amazon. And the ebook version on Amazon flagged two typos, that I also had to go back and fix that before I could publish it as well.
I have to put a price on my books and Amazon, so I stay wide, and though I guess Amazon doesn’t like that, they used to price match the free price. I haven’t bothered with my recent books, as I don’t usually sell all that many free books on Amazon anymore.
One problem I did find is that when I recently changed the size of my paper books, I had to publish them as all new books, and I put down “second edition” in the metadata on Amazon. You used to be able to link paper and ebooks manually, but now Amazon won’t link them to the ebooks, because, I assume, they consider the ebooks different books because they are either first edition or have no edition. This is annoying, but not worth bothering about.
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