Well, that’s the headline. Now for the story.
I started with the eBook on Amazon after receiving a few pink slips from standard, old-world publishers. Pink slips of that type do not mean the work is poor, it simply means they are not interested at the time. I did some research and found that conventional publishing could take anywhere from 9 months to 40 years (the longest recorded quest for publishing), with a mean time length of 10 years.
Well, the world has marched forward since the early days of print publishing. Rather than investing a decade and probably thousands of dollars in mailing manuscripts around the world, I elected to try the new realm of self-publishing. Amazon takes the lead in that. To me, it is a grey space. I am certainly glad that they do make it easy to get published. Meanwhile, there are aspects of Amazon’s corporate and concur approach that leave me uneasy. But that is another story altogether.
As for self-publishing, it is difficult work. All the promotion is left up to the author. But that is the price, one I am willing to pay. What I have found interesting is the ease or difficulty of carrying out the publishing process. One would think, with everything being handled digitally, it should be simple and straightforward.
I found the eBook process with Amazon very smooth and quick. The audio book publishing using Amazon’s ACX (Audio Creation Exchange) was reasonably smooth. There was some difficulty in upload the book’s audio files at first, but ACX was aware of these difficulties ahead of time and had texts that defined fixes. The problem was an interface between their site and versions of Internet Explorer. While they had fixes for IE, in the end I found switching to Fire Fox the easiest and best fix. Things took longer; a longer verification period for example. But that can be expected. It is easier for a robot to read a book and search it for inappropriate material than it is for one to listen to an audio show. I expect more human hours are involved in the audio book publishing process. I did run into a hitch with the book’s audio files, but ACX was quick with text for a fix.
Kobo eBook publishing was equally easy to work with. In some regards their process was even quicker than Amazon. But that may be a delusion on my part, as I had already been through the process with Amazon and had all my little ducks in a row.
But now the sad story, poor old Barnes and Noble.
I have a fondness for B & N. In fact, their stores, filled with books and containing a little coffee shop, was the foundation for a setting in my book. On Persie’s Pleasure Planet there is The Library and Tea Club, which is part library, part tea shop / coffee klatch, and part bar / night club. The Library and Tea Club is run by an independent, self-assured woman, Eliza Beth, who is a direct homage to my ex, and who is, or was, fond of the B & N coffee shops. Suffice to say, I have a tender spot for Barnes and Noble and their Nooks.
However, as a publishing author, I find that B & N and their Nook Press are way behind the curve. Of the e-Publishers I have worked with, their system is the most flawed and bug ridden. Their communication time with the author is slow. We exchanged several emails. I always received an automated email reply, “We will contact you in 1 – 2 business days.” They were never quicker than 3 days, and often took as long as 5. Even the automated reply often took more than a day to arrive.
I had to communicate with them on almost every step of the process. There were errors in setting up my Vender account; errors that were never explained and mysteriously resolved. There were errors in uploading my manuscript; again, errors that were mysteriously resolved, I expect at the hands of an IT individual behind the scenes. There were errors in their Preview process which were never resolved. Their solution was to go ahead and publish and then download the file to check it. I wouldn’t call that a “preview.” If you can provide a link to the ePub file to the author after publishing, why can’t your provide a link to the ePub file to the author before they click the “Publish” button?
Lastly, there was an error in their publishing. Having followed their instructions and published in order to gain a preview, I found that the first publishing was riddled with embedded HTML and CSS code. I resaved and republished, and fortunately the coding vanished and I finally have a clean copy for sale. Each stage, each error, required emails and waiting. Even the publishing, a 12 hour period with Amazon and Kobo, was a 2 day period with B & N; only to then find that coding error.
What a shame. I want B & N to do well. Their brick and mortar stores may be relics that will fade away, and that will be sad. But they were in a good position to be on the leading edge of the digital eBook world. I guess they clung to the past a little too long. Let’s hope they get up to speed soon.
That said, check out On a Sphere’s Edge on Barnes and Noble and Nook.