Thursday, 25 October 2018

KDP Blues Susan Price

Recently Amazon informed me, and you, and everyone who self-publishes, that they were closing their paperback arm, CreateSpace and shifting everything to Kindle Desktop Publishing (KDP) their original self-publishing operation, which, when it began, published only e-books.

We were given the option of waiting for Amazon to move all our paperback books over to KDP for us or moving them ourselves. I opted to move my books myself. Since they were going to be moved anyway, why wait?

The move was easy enough, unlike most moves, and it's quite convenient to have the paperback and e-book files for each book side by side on the same site but I can't say that I'm entirely happy about this development. I know a lot of others aren't either. Of course, everyone always grumbles about change but is there more to it than that?

I feel that, okay, the whole site is Amazon's toy and they allow us to play with it at very little cost and are -- I've found -- enormously helpful if you have any problems, but still...

Why couldn't they have moved things the other way and shunted all the e-books over to CreateSpace?

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One reason, I suppose, is that KDP pays out every 60 days, instead of every 30, so more time for Amazon to sit on the money.

Apart from that, almost everything about the KDP site is harder to use and clunkier than Createspace.

I found C/S so easy to use, I used to make the paperback first and then move it to KDP. This, despite the fact that I began making e-books and was slow to self-publish paperbacks.


For example, when you started setting up a book in C/S, you could fill in what you had -- title, your name and any illustrators -- and then save and continue. You could move forward and upload the interior files, then save that and go forward to fill in the book's description. Later, you could come back and add the cover. Or, indeed, the other way round.


With KDP, you have to fill in every page as you go, or it won't allow you to move forward. 
'Fix these errors,' it says bossily.
Clumsy and inconvenient.

It was fine by CreateSpace if you didn't quite have your cover ready but wanted to get the book's 'description' written instead. Just save what you'd done and go ahead. Come back and do the cover later. You could skip backwards and forwards as you liked.

But not with KDP.

Has anyone tried using the KDP cover designer and can say how good that is?

I found the off-the-peg covers from CreateSpace poor stuff, but they did supply a cover that allowed you to upload your own design. Once you'd calculated your spine width, it was pretty easy to upload a jpeg.

The KDP site insists on your own cover being uploaded as a 'cover-ready' PDF. Okay -- my latest cover, for Master Thomas Katt, was made in Photoshop and it was possible to save it as a PDF and upload it. Whereupon KDP said it was the wrong size.

Master Thomas Katt by Susan Price  Artwork: Andrew Price

How come? It was a 5 x 8 book and I'd made the cover that size in Photoshop, as I'd always done for CreateSpace. I allowed a half-inch all round for 'live matter.' I used CreateSpace's formula for calculating the spine width. But KDP claimed it was a tiny fraction of an inch out and rejected it.

They did tell me the size they wanted and it was but the work of a moment to resize it in Photoshop and upload it again -- when it was accepted. But it did take that extra moment and it was annoying. Why scrap the C/S cover designer which worked perfectly well, with less trouble?

And then the 'Reports' page.

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When I wanted to know how much Ammie was going to pay me, I went to CreateSpace. Their Reports page was simple, easy to navigate and understand. Most of the time I didn't bother with KDP because, well, it wasn't any of those things. And I always earned more from C/S anyway.

Now all my reports are to be found on the KDP Reports page, which continues its tradition of being clunky and difficult to use. It's crammed with so much information about all Amazon's different ways of selling and lending that, I find, it makes my head hurt.

Do others, more numerate than me, find it a joy to use? 


And writing the 'description.'

CreateSpace used to allow us to use 'limited HTML' in our descriptions. We could add a blank line at the top, so our description wasn't crushed up to the usual Amazon stuff on the webpage. We could space out our paragraphs, so they looked better and were easier to read. We could add italics.

Not so with KDP.  Look at this screenshot of 'Master Thomas Katt.'


Everything all crushed up in one dense, square block with no separation from Amazon's stuff about delivery.

And then there's producing the e-book.

For ages, as you reached the end of making a paperback with CreateSpace, it offered to turn your book into an e-book for you. It wasn't, to begin with, very good at it. I usually did the e-book files myself.

Lately, though, the CreateSpace efforts had been much better. At least, I thought, now everything's on KDP, it'll be a doddle to turn the paperback into an ebook. I'll just click the button labelled 'make an e-book' and it'll all be done for me.

Er, no. It seems I have to do everything myself, just as in the olden days. And the kindle cover has to be a jpeg, not the PDF insisted on for the paperback.

Proof Copy

When I saw the offer of a proof copy for £1-70 I thought -- naively as it turns out -- "Oh, well here's an improvement." It looked as if Amazon had sorted out its proof copies. Order it here, it said, and pay for it through your account. Instead of having to send for a proof copy from America, with expensive post and packaging, here was one for £1-70. And I have Prime on my account, so next day delivery with no extra postage charge. Happy days, I thought.
Nowhere -- I looked, I searched every corner of the screen -- did it mention any charge above that £1-70.

Two weeks later, Amazon notified me that the book had been dispatched, so it's certainly not next day delivery. And they're charging me over £7! I should have known better.

I shall go back to my former practice (unless Amazon have blocked it) of refusing the proof, publishing at cost, and then buying a copy. It works out much cheaper and is quicker.

All in all, I think Amazon are paying us less frequently for a worse service.
Am I being unfair?
What do others think?



Susan Price's website, with articles and reviews, can be found here:
https://www.susanpriceauthor.com/https://www.susanpriceauthor.com/

4 comments:

Katherine Roberts said...

I am one of the people who is clinging on at CS for as long as possible, mostly because they pay quicker, but also because I suspected things might not be quite as easy as that "one click" invitation suggests... I'm rather hoping that, by the time my paperbacks get automatically moved, any glitches might be sorted out!

It should definitely be easier to keep track of things if ebook and paperback sales are listed on one site, so I can forgive the extra month we'll need to wait to get paid. But one of the biggest advantages of a shift to the KDP seems to be the cost (and time) involved in ordering proof copies from the UK... how exactly did that £1.70 turn into £7.00? Was it a glitch or a genuine mark up, do you think?

Katherine Roberts said...

PS - I love that Thomas Katt cover :-)

Susan Price said...

I don't think it was a glitch. It was Amazon ommitting to mention the postage from America. They just say, 'Order it here and pay for it through your account!' They don't mention the long wait and the £5 odd for p&p.

Thanks about the cover!

Debbie Bennett said...

You *can* use basic html in your production description - but you need to do it via Author Central instead of directly in KDP.