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Old 11-22-2007, 09:02 AM   #1
Steven Lyle Jordan
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Indie Publishing to the Kindle

As an independent, I naturally took notice of a service that allows me to get my e-books into Amazon.com, essentially with no contract, and with no cost to me other than giving Amazon the lion's share of any profits I made.

So, naturally, I'm checking out their Digital Text Platform. I want to see how my books are received, if they get any exposure against paid advertisers and big publishers, and how they'll look on the Kindle. Personally, I have my doubts that I will get any kind of exposure at all through Amazon, but if people who already know me buy Kindle versions of my books, maybe it would generate notice at Amazon. Who knows?

So far, I've discovered that their DTP system is easy to use, allowing you to type in a book's title, description, ISBN (if you have one), volume and series info, author and any contributors, and name your own price (of which Amazon takes 65% of, and they ultimately decide if your price is reasonable. I believe their intention is to keep people from charging too high a price for books, but we'll see how they like lower prices.) You must provide a bank account, so any profits you make will be sent electronically to your account by Amazon. Then you can upload your book, click a "publish" button, and wait for the cash to roll in (cue laughter).

However, the system is a bit buggy, mainly in relation to uploading and converting documents. Although the server will accept multiple file types (including Mobi, HTML, and Word Doc), it treats each one differently in conversion. Occasionally, it makes its own decisions about converting, with the result of an occasional line or paragraph that is in a different font size, or odd paragraph spacings. Just uploading and publishing your work, therefore, is not a good idea... you need to look at every page in their previewer first.

If you need to edit their converted document, Amazon lets you download the file as HTML in a zipped package. Then you can open the HTML file in your HTML or text editor, and edit it manually. Their HTML has particular tags used, and others they ignore, and it comes out as a bit bloated to accommodate their formatting requirements, but it's easily interpreted and fixed.

I've been trying to do this with one of my novels. However, last night their server began giving me "Conversion failed, try again later" messages every time I tried to upload the edited file. It now no longer accepts Word or Mobi files either, so it's clearly their system having a problem, and not my files. I left a message in their forum this morning, but haven't seen a reply yet (and now that it's Thanksgiving, wouldn't be surprised if I don't hear back before Friday, but we'll see).

Amazon states in their forums that a published book could take 12 hours to a few days to actually show up on their system. So far, it's been 2 days for me just trying to get one book into the system! And then, we'll see how easy it is for Kindle owners to actually find them. Stay tuned.
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Old 11-22-2007, 11:55 AM   #2
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Old 11-22-2007, 12:02 PM   #3
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Old 11-22-2007, 02:06 PM   #4
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How does it compare with the Mobi system? That allows you to "self publish" too, I believe.
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Old 11-22-2007, 10:33 PM   #5
Steven Lyle Jordan
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How does it compare with the Mobi system? That allows you to "self publish" too, I believe.
Actually, I never tried Mobipocket's system... just creating Mobi files using Mobipocket Creator (which is fairly easy) for my own website.
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Old 11-23-2007, 03:41 AM   #6
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Might be worth putting your books into the Mobi system too, perhaps? They do, I believe, take a somewhat smaller percentage (45%, from memory?).
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Old 11-24-2007, 07:26 AM   #7
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Might be worth putting your books into the Mobi system too, perhaps? They do, I believe, take a somewhat smaller percentage (45%, from memory?).
I will take a look at it... again. I did look at Mobi a few years ago. Although I can't remember for sure, I believe it was the fee that turned me off, and I had the impression (possibly wrong at the time) that my work would be DRM'd, whether I liked it or not. Afterward, I simply felt that Mobi would not get me good exposure, because I would be lost in their vast library of books, which, being e-books, would not sell to a very large audience in the first place (again, my impression at the time).

With the Kindle, I'm hoping Amazon brings enough exposure to the e-book market to really push some e-books. It's also my hope that signing on will help bring me some exposure, though I'm still not sure about that.

Especially since, as I write this, their download server has been down for the past 2-1/2 days, and no one has answered my queries in their forum... not a great sign for indie publishers, holidays notwithstanding. I'll bet they have plenty of people on staff to make sure their Black Friday purchases are going through...
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Old 11-24-2007, 07:47 AM   #8
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I will take a look at it... again. I did look at Mobi a few years ago. Although I can't remember for sure, I believe it was the fee that turned me off, and I had the impression (possibly wrong at the time) that my work would be DRM'd, whether I liked it or not.
If you want to sell them in the bookstore, I believe you're right in saying that.

Quote:
I'll bet they have plenty of people on staff to make sure their Black Friday purchases are going through...
Black Friday???
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Old 11-24-2007, 08:08 AM   #9
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Black Friday???
Day after thanksgiving, the day where insane people mob stores to get questionable deals because "quantities are limited". (bah humbug)

(yes, I know, some of the prices are very good. I'd still call it a questionable deal considering it involves standing in line to get into the store at 4 am.)
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Old 11-24-2007, 08:10 AM   #10
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Black Friday???
Sorry... "Black Friday" is what U.S. retailers call the day after Thankdgiving, when the huge Christmas sales season officially starts. It is always inaugurated with incredible sales promotions starting on that Friday, and many retailers hope they get "into the black," profits-wise.

Of course, the incredible sales rushes, manic shoppers, overspent credit and incredible traffic around major retailers earn it the name "Black Friday" for a different reason among shoppers...
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Old 11-24-2007, 08:12 AM   #11
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Thanks! Hadn't come across that one before
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Old 11-24-2007, 11:17 AM   #12
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Steve,

Haven't read any of your books, but I'd like to. Please let us know when you get them uploaded to Amazon.
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Old 11-24-2007, 05:09 PM   #13
Steven Lyle Jordan
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Update

This morning, I managed to get 2 of my books into Amazon's system... my newest, As the Mirror Cracks... and one of my e-books from 2 years back, Berserker (the Kestral Files).

I'd been having trouble uploading Berserker... for some reason, Amazon's server kept choking on the file and not converting it. After 2 days of no responses from Amazon, I tried creating a brand new item, altering the name slightly, and uploading the same file. This time, it worked. Go figure.

Anyway, it's in, and Amazon states on my control panel that the book will be "published in 12 hours." (Approximately 8 hours since I published, the message is still there.) But in their support forums, they state that this is an "average time," and that it could take up to 72 hours "to make this content 'live' on the Amazon Kindle Store." Amazon states this is "because it involves integrating your content into the Amazon.com global catalog, i.e. creating a product detail page, addition of content Amazon's search index and the Amazon Kindle categories, etc."

I have discovered that if you search for the books, they appear with "Sign up to be notified when this item becomes available" notices. The covers are there, but no prices (it will be interesting to see if Amazon honors my suggested price, or alters it).

So, the countdown is on, and we'll see how long it takes before they become available!
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Old 11-24-2007, 09:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
As an independent, I naturally took notice of a service that allows me to get <Del>
However, the system is a bit buggy, mainly in relation to uploading and converting documents. <Del>
last night their server began giving me "Conversion failed, try again later" messages every time I tried to upload the edited file. It now no longer accepts Word or Mobi files either, so it's clearly their system having a problem, and not my files. I left a message in their forum this morning, but haven't seen a reply yet (and now that it's Thanksgiving, wouldn't be surprised if I don't hear back before Friday, but we'll see).

Amazon states in their forums that a published book could take 12 hours to a few days to actually show up on their system. So far, it's been 2 days for me just trying to get one book into the system! And then, we'll see how easy it is for Kindle owners to actually find them. Stay tuned.
welcome to the sinking boat! i jumped into this right away and managed to upload a short file. but the problems started when i needed to make some very minor changes ...

... now when i upload i get a message saying 'conversion successful ...' but when i try to preview i get a message saying my book is '... possibly invalid' and i can't preview it. and when i download what is there, it is not what i uploaded, so in my case it might be converting successfully, but it's sure not replacing what was up there to begin with. and now i can no longer see what is up there.

i've posted two threads on the forum and have received some replies, but not very specific ones. i've been trying for 3 days now to get this right and was seduced into the ease of the initial success to think it was going to be a piece of cake. also, out of firefox, ie and safari, safari is the only browser that will work. ie6 on win xp crashes spectaculary on every attempt.

i thought about adding a new item and trying the original again, but i can't find a way to delete items? can you publish the same item and delete the original?

also, when i use mobipocket creator, it creates .prc files for me. how do you get it to create a .mobi file? just rename the .prc perhaps?

good luck,

/guy

Last edited by gteague; 11-24-2007 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 11-24-2007, 09:46 PM   #15
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looks like someone might be monitoring that forum after all. or perhaps the system is just now catching up. just literally seconds after i finished typing the whinge above my file showed up in the preview just as i had sent it the last time. i stripped the html down to the bare metal. anyway, i'll check it very, very closely this time and then hit publish and wait another 12 hours. guess i'll have to buy my own item to make absolutely sure what it looks like on the device itself. i asked in the forum for them to provide an emulator, but i'll bet they don't want one of those loose in the wild, people might use it in lieu of buying the kindle.

off-topic somewhat, but if i return mine it will be because of 3 reasons:

1) can't touch it without hitting a control or button
2) display flashes and takes too long to go page to page
3) general performance slowness and sluggishness in the web browser especially, but also globally. every operation takes too long.

/guy
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