I recently read a blog post about an author who screwed up 17, 500 free downloads of her debut novel by publishing to KDP using a .pdf version of her manuscript.
In short, the conversion to a Kindle-friendly version didn’t quite take and she had to scramble big time to salvage the situation, soothing the angry readers who had already downloaded the book and working overtime to make amends by posting an error-free version.
I admire her courage in coming clean about this calamity and admitting that, in restrospect, she should’ve been willing to spend the money to hire an e-book formatter. She was quite clear that she’d paid a price by going cheap, i.e., doing it herself. The post was followed by a (admittedly, small) chorus of support, with one commenter vehemently blaming Amazon for the mixup, while others cited their own troubles uploading their manuscript .pdfs.
When it came to my own Comment, however, I suggested that a quick glance around the self-pub community would’ve shown that .pdf is one of the least used, least flexible formats for e-publishing, as it doesn’t support continuous flow text. The true message of the article should’ve been, “I wish I’d done my homework, discovered that I didn’t quite know what I was doing, THEN hired a professional.”
KDP’s own guide suggests using .doc, which surely all of us have, and specifically says,
“While we accept Portable Document Format (PDF) files for eBook conversion, PDF files contain special formatting (and sometimes images) which may not export well in the conversion process.”
Another clue might be that in Amazon’s battery of “Types of Formats” that you can use to upload to KDP, .pdf is last on a list of options that is NOT in alphabetical order. I wonder why they’d list them this way? Could it be that this is the preferred order of formats?
- Word (DOC or DOCX)
- HTML (ZIP, HTM, or HTML)
- Mobipocket (MOBI)
- ePub (EPUB)
- Plain Text (TXT)
- Rich Text Format (RTF)
- Adobe PDF (PDF)
I don’t really want to cause a firestorm in the Comments section of this nice lady’s post, but I have to wonder about writers who won’t even take the time to read a few pages before putting their books out for the planet to see.
And, as for the guy blaming Amazon for this woman’s disaster? Listen, they’ve got enough to fix without worrying about would-be indies who can’t be bothered to click three times through “File > Save As > web page, filtered.” Guides and help pages aren’t provided to aid you with your insomnia, they’re there so you won’t look like a clown when it comes time to put your writing on the block.
If you’re new to self-publishing, take the time to learn and prepare your manuscript before going live with your book. Or it won’t be long before the first step in the KDP guide is, “Please use your brain.”
*** Free digital copy of A Reason to Live or Blueblood (your choice) to the first person to correctly decipher the initialisms in this post’s image (please forgive the crudeness of language…but it gets the message across). Post your answer in the Comments, below.