Files Uploaded, Now We Wait

I found Kindle Create a breeze to use and successfully created a textbook replica file of 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. Then I created a JPG cover file. I uploaded both files to KDP, reviewed the interior in the online previewer and clicked on “Publish.” Now it will be reviewed and hopefully should be live on Amazon within the next 72 hours.

From Paperback to eBook: 5 Acres & A Dream The Book

Five years ago when I published 5 Acres & A Dream The Book I didn’t give electronic publishing a thought. I wasn’t especially big on eBooks, because I like nothing better than the look and feel of a real live book in my hands. I like seeing books on my bookshelves. And I like knowing that the books I want to read and keep will be available, even if my electronic device is not.

Finally, out of curiosity I bought a Kindle. I found that I liked the convenience of being able to keep numerous books on a small, handheld device, especially fiction. Then I began to dabble with creating eBooks for my Little Series of Homestead How-Tos. I learned the differences in formatting and how to make a flowable book for eReaders. I didn’t find them very convenient for images and graphs, however. I couldn’t fathom the many homestead maps in 5 Acres & A Dream The Book being legible on a small electronic device; it was hard enough to see them on the pages of a 6×9 inch paperback.

The real show stopper, however, was the file size of both 5 Acres & A Dream The Book and Critter Tales. Both are photograph heavy (something my husband thought was important), so the interior book files are quite large. Too large for the maximum limits of most eBook producers. So the idea was moot even if I had wanted to take such a plunge.

Recently the idea has come to mind once again. While Smashwords still maintains a 10 MB maximum file size limit, Kindle Direct Publishing and Lulu and greatly increased theirs. So much so that my most optimized PDF version of both books is within the new limits.

Even with this new possibility there is a problem. Most eBook publishers prefer to convert .doc files. These are easy enough to make and upload, but for my paperback books I never created a ready-to-print .doc file. I created PDF/X files, which is the standard preferred by print publishers. To create a .doc (or .docx) file would mean starting from scratch! Honestly, I have too much on my plate to do that; I’d rather continue working on 5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel.

The other day something at KDP caught my eye – Kindle Create. Kindle Create is a program which can convert PDF files into “Print Replica eBooks” for Kindle. It maintains the print book’s layout and formatting while converting it into a mobi file. That sounded like the perfect solution for me.

The “glitch” is that Kindle Create must be downloaded to use and is for Windows or Mac only. Since I use Xubuntu Linux, that is indeed a problem. But not an unsolvable one. More on that next time!

Transferring Titles to Ingram Spark

With all of the problems indie authors have been having with Amazon’s replacing CreateSpace with Kindle Direct Publishing, I thought it might be a good time to transfer my paperback titles to a more stable platform. This is possible because I own my books’ ISBNs. As long as I use the same files with the same ISBN, I can have my books printed from as many sources as I wish. In fact, many authors publish through both Ingram Spark and CreateSpace, because IS gives greater royalty flexibility for non-Amazon distributors. For books sold through Amazon, royalties are higher for books published through their printers, hence the strategy to go through both.

The process of transfer was certainly easier than directly uploading the files to IS. I created an account and then contacted IS staff, explaining what I wanted to do. They advised me to reach out to CS to give them a heads up, and then remove all my titles from Amazon’s Expanded Distribution. Expanded Distribution covers all non-Amazon sales. Royalties are smaller through Ex. Dist., which is the reason for choosing IS for these sales.

It took a while because my request was initiated right before the big push to close CS and get everything moved to KDP. But both sides were cooperative and very helpful, and eventually, I received word from IS that the transfers were complete. Now I have to learn their ropes! Best of all, transferred files don’t require the IS processing fee, so moving all four titles was free.

My new titles will be be published through both KDP and IS.

Time to Make a Decision

With CreateSpace closing, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my options. Transferring to Kindle Direct Publishing might seem easiest, except for a number of authors relaying problems they’ve had with the transfer process. The other option is to find a different print-on-demand printer.

My first idea was to test the waters. I thought I might try transferring one of my titles to KDP to see what kinds of problems I ran into. And what it would take to fix them. Unfortunately, the transfer must be for all books, so I decided to continue waiting. Several fellow authors chose to transfer their books to Ingram Spark, so I’ve been watching those conversations as well. A common concern is that Amazon will “punish” such authors by making their books either unavailable on Amazon, or take weeks to fulfill the order. Some people claim this has happened to them, but I hold these claims with a grain of salt. We humans tend to personalize everything, even when other explanations are more obvious and logical. Best to reserve judgement and not make assumptions.

There are several other POD publishers out there. Lulu is popular, but when I was getting ready to publish 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, they offered the lowerst royalties. A self-publishing acquantaince used Lightning Source, but about the time I was ready LS had switched small indies to Ingram Spark. At that time the author had no control over the wholesale discount (something which has since changed) so I didn’t sign up with them. I tried a smaller company, but the pdf proof was unsatisfactory. Apparently they couldn’t handle my interior design format. Eventuallly I went with CreateSpace.

Last night I read an announcement from CS staff on their community forum. Books remaining at CS will be transferred to KDP by staff by the end of December. Time to make a decision. More on that next time.

Good-Bye CreateSpace, Hello Problems

Those who keep up with the Indie publishing scene will likely know that Amazon is closing CreateSpace and shifting its paperback publishing arm to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I’ve gone through CreateSpace for my self-published print-on-demand paperbacks and used both KDP and Smashwords for my eBooks. Recently, KDP started offering paperback printing services to it’s eBook authors. Now Amazon is closing CreateSpace. In the announcement email, we were told that we could either transfer our books from CS ourselves, or they would do it automatically in the near future.

I’ve been extremely happy with CS, so like most of the other authors who have published through them, am sorry to see this turn of events. Because of that I expected to see grumblings on the CS community forum, but it’s worse than that. People are having significant problems with KDP to the point of looking for different printing venues. Common complaints include dropping book sales, limited font availability, awkward author dashboard, decreased royalties, books suddenly becoming unavailable on Amazon, and little to no technical support. Both cover and interior book files which passed CS’s reviewing process are being rejected by KDP.

Everyone is scratching their heads over the whole thing. and authors’ speculations are not flattering. The most common sense explanation is that Amazon rushed into a business decision without taking the time to analyze potential problems and properly prepare for the move. Considering that so many authors are having problems but can’t get help, it looks to me as though Amazon has simply lost interest in POD book publishing.

None of this instills confidence in the direction Amazon is taking its print-on-demand publishing service. I used to be an enthusiastic promoter of CreateSpace, but suddenly find myself considering other options. That will take some work, but apparently, so will transferring my print books to KDP. At this point I’m thinking I may as well save myself the headaches of the latter.