I deliberately picked clashy colors for the image, where I normally at least try to make something catchy and attractive, because I messed up (yes, I bear full responsibility regardless of whose fault it was), and it may serve as a cautionary tale to other writers.
And as a request for forbearance for readers – don’t always assume the mess you find online is because the writer is an unprofessional idiot.
And, if you’re kind, drop the author a note, saying, “You might want to check your Look Inside feature on Amazon, because it doesn’t look right.”
Trust me, they will (should) be more than grateful.
No, you can’t do everything. No, you shouldn’t be paranoid. But I realize now I’ve seen what happened to me on other authors’ book pages on Amazon – and made that exact assumption: if an author can’t be bothered to make sure their book looks perfect on the Look Inside feature, they must not be very good at anything else, either.
The marvelous Look Inside! feature
After all is said and done – cover, advertising, book description – the most important action call is the Buy button that occurs at the end of your sample on Amazon, at which point the buyer makes a decision on whether you can
- write professionally
- start a story well
- keep interest going
All the advertising in the world doesn’t fix something badly written.
And that sample is the clincher for readers who are now skittish about books which disappoint, from having bought other books and not reading the sample.
So the sample should be pristine, with no errors of any kind. No typographical errors. No formatting errors. No spelling errors. No punctuation, capitalization, or grammar errors.
And preferably both something intriguing, and evidence at the same time that the author will satisfy the reader’s curiosity as the story goes along (as evidence by raising at least a minor question somewhere, and answering it). So, quality.
Because all readers are looking for at that point is a reason not to buy.
Don’t give them one.
A perfect upload doesn’t ensure things will STAY perfect
When I created and uploaded the files for Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, back in October of 2015, I worked my little tail off to make sure that the Look Inside feature was perfect.
Once it was, and all the previewers had satisfied me by showing exactly what I expected to see, I went live.
I then purchased the first copy, downloaded to my Kindle, and examined everything as if I were a customer.
I had done my due diligence – it looked just as I wanted it to.
And since then, I have been afraid to mess with it, because the 5 or 6 tiny typographical errors I eventually found (no book is perfect) were literally tiny – a misplaced comma, a dash which ended dialogue had its quotation mark sitting all by itself on the next line (thanks, MS Word) – and I didn’t want to take the chance of making anything worse.
Here is what happened:
Rather than attempt to tidy it all up, I will let you experience the panic, by putting in the text of the posts I made on my Goodread UK Kindle group author thread.
15 hours, 58 minutes ago:
WARNING: the look inside feature for the ebook, both US and UK (I have not yet checked the rest) is thoroughly broken – and I apologize profoundly to anyone who has looked at it, especially with a thought to possibly buying it, and found the horrible mess that I just found.
It never occurred to me (newbie gets bitten again by the obvious) that anything could change from the way it was when I uploaded it, bought the first copy, and checked it out – about a year ago.
I don’t know when this happened, but I will be spending whatever time and energy it takes to fix the disastrous formatting destruction on the Look Inside feature – the best place an author has to sell a book, because a reader can SEE whether there are problems.
I don’t know, not having bought another copy, and not recently, whether the problem is confined to the Look Inside feature, or somehow infects the copy a reader would download. My downloaded copy is exactly the way I set it up – so again, my apologies if you looked.
I didn’t do this – but it IS my fault not to have caught it sooner.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. It’s MY name on the cover.
I go to fix. Pray for me.
15 hours, 54 minutes ago:
Please note: electronic Advance Reader/Review copies should not be affected – those have never left my hands until I email them to someone.
15 hours, 52 minutes ago:
Phew! The preview here on GR is unaffected.
14 hours, 32 minutes ago:
Amazon Kindle Senior Representative confirmed it’s not my problem, and they will fix it within 24-48 hours.
I have been told by other authors, over and over, to recheck these things – and did not. Let this kerfuffle be a lesson to me to not take anything for granted.
And if it saves someone else time and panic, that would be nice.
‘Check your files periodically, as if you were a customer.’
A few minutes ago:
Amazon’s swift author support came to my aid last night – when I got up this morning, the problem with the ebook Look Inside feature (the print was never affected) for Pride’s Children: PURGATORY was fixed.
They told me last night it would take 24-48 hours, and I braced myself to worry. At 1:30 am, the formatting was still messed up when I went to bed.
The biggest relief last night was finding out that it wasn’t my fault – the file they had from me was uncorrupted.
I will probably never find out what happened, exactly, nor do I really need to know, since it wasn’t my fault, but thank you to the person who reported that the UK Look Inside was not looking good (wish I could remember where I put that notification); I checked later than I should have (I should check these things immediately), and maybe that explains why a 0.99 sale is not doing as well as I had hoped.
But all is well now, and I have learned my lesson: trust, but verify.
And it was an example of the amazing responsiveness I have received over this past year+ from the people who provide service for authors at Amazon. I’ve read of problems at B&N, and others – I’ve only had good service from A.
Admittedly, they somehow caused the problem – but I was asking them to fix it in the middle of the night.
It is fixed – for now.
I ran a sale without checking first (the last time I looked it was fine – really, I didn’t just not look at it for a year!).
I found out by accident that, yes, bad things can happen even if you don’t make any changes to your input files (so I should probably go fix that comma).
Someone may help you by catching a problem – and telling you about it – in which case, thank your lucky stars.
But I should have checked. I SHOULD HAVE CHECKED.
My apologies if you were affected – and hopes you will give me a second chance.
***** Pride’s Children: PURGATORY is on sale wherever ebooks are available at 0.99 (equivalent in your local currency) until the end of New Year’s Day 2017.*****
Books make great last minute presents – an email from Amazon will announce the gift.
- From the Kindle Store, select the book you want to purchase as a gift. …
- On the product detail page, click the Give as a Gift button.
- Enter the personal email address of your gift recipient. …
- Enter a delivery date and an optional gift message.
The best ‘thank you’ and encouragement you can offer a blogger is to buy their book(s), especially when they do not have a Donate button.
And nobody says you have to READ them (though I hope you would).
Please comment and share your horror stories – I feel like an idiot right now, and it would be nice to have company!