RAWR Moments: KDP

Indie Authors inevitably do a hell of a lot of bumbling. Choosing a platform to self-publish with is one of the many first steps. There are a slew of reasons to choose Amazon, including the fact that many online promotion sites exclusively use their affiliate links and their reach is massive. I’m already an avid Primer; I order everything off Amazon from jeans to birthday gifts to kitty litter. It’s my go-to site whenever I’m looking to purchase something online; I’ll even find it somewhere on the Internet first, then search the exact product title on Amazon to see if I can get it there. I have their credit card, so I try to rack up loyalty points. Why isn’t everything on their streaming service free to Primers damn it?? Anyway, it’s a great way to go for self-publishing, but with no one to hold your hand through the process, there can be some hair-tearing moments.

First, with the advent of ebooks, KDP is largely focused on just that. Paperbacks take a backseat in this day and age even though some of us diehards who prefer to feel those pages still exist. Amazon has two options for printing paperbacks: CreateSpace and KDP. The problem is that even though they’re both under the Amazon umbrella, they’re still separate. KDP is the newer “beta” printing version that lists your stats alongside your ebook stats all on one page together. Nifty concept, but KDP has glitches that give CreateSpace the bigger fanbase. Only thing is, when you’re setting up the whole KDP thing initially, there isn’t a big “CLICK HERE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN KDP OR CREATESPACE FOR YOUR PRINT VERSION” button. You go with what’s there because it’s a print option available on the same platform as your ebook. I didn’t immediately find it clear that there was another option I could have chosen during setup, or that there was a clear reason to look into the other option, for that matter. That may be the trap for those who chose to self-publish after KDP printing was rolled out last year. You assume they’re all melded together somehow, but once you choose KDP, apparently you cannot switch over to CreateSpace. You’re now locked in.

Some people hate that you can’t order free/discounted author copies with KDP, but I don’t mind paying for my own book. But a lot of formatters don’t know how to work with KDP, only CreateSpace, and apparently formatting between the two varies to a high degree for whatever reason. Then there’s the glitchy uploading process. Loading the Print Previewer takes fooooooorrrrrreeeeeeverrrrrrr and often times out. If it’s still attempting to load after 10 minutes, I cancel and try to restart because I know it’s stalled. Then, once it does load, it can be veeeeerrryyyyy finicky. It may throw up an error that your image isn’t 300 DPI when it is. It may show you an older version of your manuscript even though if you open the file on your desktop, it’s already revised. It might tell you that your cover image doesn’t meet the trim requirements, then NOT throw that error if you re-upload the exact same file. Sometimes it just drops your cover altogether even if you didn’t touch it, and you have to re-upload it all over again, and then the cover upload stalls because it just wants to misbehave right now and you should try back in a few hours, even though IT WAS JUST WORKING.

Their rather antiquated beta templates for your trim sizes seem to be the best headache-free way to go, unless you hand over your manuscript to an editor for revisions and they screw over your margins and gutter formatting. I’m currently uploading a Word Document, because I like the freedom of being able to jump in and make a quick correction if pointed out to me, and then re-upload. I also prefer Eccentric Simplicity.

But the fact is, the print uploader for KDP can make the whole process a head-banging challenge (and no, not the party hard rock music kind). Even just little changes or quick revisions can become a nightmare. For days I’ve been trying to get my manuscript updated because I thought it would be cute to have chapter headers at the top of each page. I enlisted the aid of Fiverr and was met by hustlers. “Oh you want the headers CENTERED? That’ll be an extra gig because you didn’t say that originally and it will take more time.” Even with unlinked chapters, I centered them in 10 minutes. :/ “Oh, I moved the blank page before the Table of Contents and didn’t charge extra for that.” Well, I wouldn’t have expected you to anyway for moving a page over, but thanks for informing me of your overflowing generosity. I moved the project to another Fiverr who did a much better job, for a much higher price, but resulted in the template formatting being lost (he specializes in CreateSpace formatting). :/ He did give me options for revising the Kindle version though so it wasn’t a complete loss.

After stress-eating chocolate cake all morning and driving my nails into my temples, my boss offered to help and completed the header formatting the Fiverr’s could not complete to my liking in the past 2 days in 20 minutes. She is Dumbledore. And now I solemnly swear that I will not make any more changes so I don’t have to go through this again. No more trying to be cute. I’ll stick with Eccentric Simplicity. Lord knows I’m super-picky when it comes to EVERYTHING. I don’t need my self-publishing platform to be like me. -.-‘

~Tael

The Fiverr Book Cover Chase

Like other indie authors self-publishing on a budget, Fiverr was an amazing discovery. The tools for your publishing process all exist here, from book promotion, design materials, e-book formatting, and the ever-popular, book cover. From my Internet research, the Fiverr book cover supporters/opponents are like Gryffindor vs. Slytherin; they either love it or vehemently look down on it. I dove in with gusto and, let me tell you, it’s quite easy to get addicted. It’s a whole new world of gigs at your fingertips for varying increments of five dollars, so it seems low-risk, provided you don’t go berserk in pursuit of perfection.

I started off with a couple basic gigs, giving them my initial CreateSpace cover I’d done myself (you know, what you’re not supposed to do with self-publishing) and asking them to revamp. The first version looked like they’d made absolutely no changes. The other simply changed the font style. Here is when I learned ratings don’t always mean too much here. A highly-rated Fiverr gig can still result in a garbage product.

I went for a $15 gig next, thinking that a higher cost would equal a higher incentive to actually try on the artist’s part. This artist actually put some thought into it, switched up the design, and added some color-contrasting elements. She did a very good job, so I replaced my homemade one with hers, but found that when displayed next to other indie covers, it still wasn’t on the same level of quality. Like a dude in khakis and Converses in a room full of suits. I like Converses and casual dress, I just prefer not to stick out that way in this case. This is one of those rare instances that I realized I SHOULDN’T try to go against the grain. So the hunt continued.

I searched forums on Google for Fiverr recommendations. Many of the suggestions were no longer active. I did try the highly rated Jimmy Gibbs who won an award for best book cover design on Fiverr, but I wasn’t really impressed. It seemed his design was specifically geared toward the gritty action man’s explosions and car crash sort of genre and he couldn’t give a softer fantasy touch. Chyna_Creatives, also highly rated, produced something I probably could have done myself in Photoshop, and seemed more interested in her Fiverr rating above all else; even asking me not to request additional revisions through the request tool because of how it might affect her stars.

My winner was Okomota.

cc3d-copy

He nailed it on the first try, sending me 3 concepts that were all so stunning, there was no chance of making a bad soup/salad choice then regretting it later. Barely any revisions necessary. You could immediately see the quality and effort that blew all the other covers I’d gotten off Fiverr out of the Jolly Roger Bay waters. He’s an example of a skilled designer who knows what special touches to add without your guidance. The details he added on his own were incredible. You won’t be paying $5 for his services; he’s on the higher end of Fiverr, but his work is definitely worth it and still a bargain. He knows what he’s doing. Must stop gushing. But really, go to him first if you don’t want to spend time weeding through the rest on Fiverr hoping to get lucky.

Runner-up goes to mnsartstudionew. For a lower price tag, he definitely still adds some unique touches and comes up with an original idea.

So as far as Fiverr book covers goes…Gryffindor for the win!

~Tael

Ready, Set, GO!

Greetings! Welcome to Tael’s Beat.

In a burst of motivation and determination, I recently self-published a YA Science Fantasy novel titled Chaos (un)Controlled, and that motivation has extended its reach here. When I first read the suggestions that a self-published author should have some sort of website, my first thought was “Oh god. Yuck. I don’t have the time or expendable funds to hire a guy to take care of this for me.” Then I realized it didn’t have to be some fancy, show-off-y, media-ridden bells-and-whistles kind of thing (although I think that’s what sells nowadays). I’m quite happy with eccentric simplicity.

Since Chaos (un)Controlled is my current project, this blog will mostly address my self-publishing journey. I am in no way an expert with skilled advice and successful statistics to provide. I’m simply your average lover of reading and writing who wrote something I’m proud of and am trying to put it out there to the world while sharing my personal experience. I hope other first-time indie authors going into this as well can relate. I haven’t tried to operate a consistent blog since Xanga. We’ll see where it takes me.

Yesterday, my cousin, who recently finished my book, looked me in the eye and very confidently confirmed exactly what inspired my title. Who else can guess what it was?

~Tael