Like other self-publishers, I have been bit by the Amazon KDP Monster as it gobbles up CreateSpace which used to be a mostly dignified organization, at least by my experience. I wouldn’t have switched except the KDP site says CS will be gone in a matter of “weeks” at which time, they will automatically switch my titles over. So I figured I’d do it myself, and then make the changes I had planned for my novel’s cover and some minor interior text edits, then re-upload the manuscript and cover.
But I was almost in despair after switching over, as I anticipated the upcoming battle with the artificial intelligence that KDP calls THE PREVIEWER. All of a sudden the text doesn’t fit and there’s a problem w/the font, even while KDP says on its site that it will be “the same printers and the same people” printing the paperbacks as there used to be. Hmm… So what’s changed?
Can’t Get No Satisfaction
And when I do try to accommodate the changes The Previewer wants, it doesn’t accept any of the adjustments I make to the interior or cover specs for a book that was two years ago accepted by the CreateSpace printers and has been for sale on Amazon as long. So I wrote and complained.
I then received a long email from KDP quoting directly from their website’s Help pages to tell me what I already knew and had accomplished two years ago, as mentioned. I could understand if there is a bit of tweaking for the manuscript to now go through a different system, but this is ridiculous.
The Previewer is a Gatekeeper. You can’t approve your book’s layout online and get a physical paperback proof like you could with CreateSpace, and KDP won’t move forward at all with anything, unless and until the all-powerful Previewer approves and un-grays the Approve button for you the author to finally be able to “approve” it.
Derek Murphy Nails It
Derek Murphy hit the nail on its head in his article called “Kindle Direct Publishing paperback option is (nearly) unusable, stick with Createspace for print on demand”.
Well, the title says it all but see what he writes (below) about the specs he was attempting to correct (exactly as I was) to satisfy KDP’s online Previewer for a book that, like mine, had already been selling on Amazon. Murphy says, after giving us a detailed description of his many attempts:
“With the new cover at the right spine width, everything looks good (yeah!) Unfortunately, there are still 28 more errors. [emphasis his]
“I can’t approve the file until the previewer says it’s OK, but I’m also not going to waste any more time trying to make the previewer happy. I understand the reason for being picky, but this also means most non-designers won’t survive this process – even if they have more patience that I have.” (emphasis mine)
Did you get that? The Great Previewer must approve your book or it’s a no-go, dear author. And if it doesn’t, the machine grinds down to a halt.
For a simply formatted 250-page novel like mine to be rejected for more than 20 reasons (like Murphy’s) after it’s been in print for 2 years, and when adjustments are made but not acknowledged by The Previewer as having been made, you come to realize you’re going round and round, until you give up and say (as I did initially), “I’ll just go eBook and forget the paperback altogether. It’s so much easier.”
So I was grateful when I came across Sweek in my search for an alternative to Amazon.com while there’s still an option for others besides the Monster called Amazon.
Now, I admit I haven’t dealt with Sweek yet, but they offer me hope because through them I can still offer my books both in eBook format and paperback without fighting an unfriendly artificial intelligence, bent on killing my paperback, and sell them via my website and other venues.
Sweek’s gotten a high rating in reviews: https://nextisbest.co.in/a-platform-for-book-lovers-aspiring-authors-and-sweekers-app-review/ by Vikas Singh and https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/self-publishing-service-reviews/ by the Alliance for Independent Authors.
So, before I grapple with an unflinching robot, I’m preparing to sign up with Sweek and offer my books, present and future for sale from my website.
Ain’t No Sunshine When Paper’s Gone
Do I sound foolishly dramatic? Maybe, but I fear that the way the paper newspapers are disappearing across the lands is the same way the non-eBook publishers will eventually disappear. Digital is where it’s at, baby. And pretty soon it’s going to be the only place it’s at. And with the press of a button (or the loss of electricity) it can all disappear. Reading Kindle by candlelight will only last as long as the battery.
Digital is great for lots of reasons, but should we lose all paper-bound books and be without a choice, it will become a dark world indeed. And even if Amazon is pushing toward digital-only, it should have some respect for those of us who still value the good old paperback. As it gobbles up CreateSpace, I wish KDP would empathize with us in this big switch and keep the publishing process at least as easy as it’s been with CreateSpace instead of turning it into something impossibly cumbersome.