Self-Publishing Education & Textbooks on Kindle via Amazon KDP

Pattern Puzzles

KINDLE FOR EDUCATION & TEXTBOOK AUTHORS

Amazon recently added a quote from me to their KDP website for Education & Textbooks. Check it out here:

https://kdp.amazon.com/edu

(Thank you, Amazon.)

I started out self-publishing print books with CreateSpace in 2008. Back then, Kindle wasn’t a very good fit for most textbooks.

Textbooks tend to have many pictures, equations, bullet points, and other kinds of rich formatting, which makes the transition from print to Kindle a challenge.

Amazon’s solution to this problem is the Kindle Textbook Creator.

The main benefit of the Kindle Textbook Creator is convenience. It’s actually PDF friendly, and preserves the layout of your print book.

It’s good for textbooks and other books with many images or rich formatting. (It’s not good for a novel.)

The trade-off for convenience is that since one printed page fits on the Kindle screen, and since many customers have a fairly small screen, the e-book is designed to work with pinch-and-zoom, and it won’t be available on all devices.

There are other factors to consider, too. For example, using the Kindle Textbook Creator allows you to embed audio or video, which is great for educational books (but these features will only be available to customers who read your book on a third-generation or newer Kindle Fire device).

I have a free article on using the Kindle Textbook Creator:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/how-to-use-amazons-new-kindle-textbook-creator-tutorial/

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Warning Messages for Errors in Amazon Kindle e-Books

Quality Control Amazon

KINDLE E-BOOKS WILL HAVE ERROR MESSAGES

This rumor has been going around for a week or so. When I first saw this rumor, my first thoughts were:

  • Where is the PROOF?
  • Why hasn’t Amazon provided any information about this?
  • Let’s get more information, preferably from Amazon itself, before we PANIC and WORRY.

This morning I learned that Amazon HAS provided much updated information about quality issues, right on their KDP help pages:

Click here to view the KDP help page describing error messages.

ACCORDING TO AMAZON KDP

A few quotes from this KDP help page are quite illuminating.

This new quote appearing on the KDP help page provides evidence that, in some cases, Amazon will, in fact, post error messages on the product page:

“A moderate amount of Distracting or Destructive Issues can result in the book remaining available for sale, but with a temporary quality warning displayed on the detail page of the book on Amazon.com until corrections are made.”

The KDP help page includes this quote in the opening paragraph:

  • “If readers tell us about a problem they’ve found in your book, we will make sure you know about it.”
  • So we see that Amazon will be contacting authors/publishers to notify them about problems that readers have reported.

Note that the same sentence also ends by saying that Amazon will “point you in the right direction to get the problem fixed.” This suggests that there won’t be instant action, but that Amazon KDP will contact the author/publisher, giving the author/publisher a chance to resolve the problem.

But if the author/publisher doesn’t resolve the problem, here is the worst-case scenario, also quoted from the KDP help page:

  • “Because Critical Issues significantly impact the reading experience, any Critical Issue will result in the book being removed from sale until the correction is made.”
  • This quote specifically refers to Critical Issues, as determined by Amazon.
  • Authors/publishers will want to communicate with Amazon and work to resolve any issues to Amazon’s satisfaction to avoid CFQI (customers facing quality issues) notices and to avoid having the book removed from sale.
  • Authors/publishers will also want to ensure that formatting, spelling, and grammar are correct before publishing.

I know there is much concern among authors regarding SPELLING mistakes. Take some comfort in this quote from the KDP help page:

  • “Sometimes improper or dialectic spellings are intentionally used by the author. These are not considered errors. Common examples would include character dialogue. Spelling differences which occur between US and British English are not considered errors.”
  • So we shouldn’t be worried about spelling differences between the US and the UK.
  • And we shouldn’t be worried about made-up names.
  • Note that it doesn’t say that a few typos will be considered a Critical Issue. Maybe there are, and maybe there aren’t, cases where typos may be considered a Critical Issue. But the help page doesn’t clarify this. It is clear that Amazon wants you to correct any known typos. But the help page doesn’t spell out exactly what the consequences will be for not fixing them. (Maybe a customers-facing-quality-issues notice. But that’s just speculation right now.)

Here is a sample of the kinds of errors that Amazon is looking at:

  • typos
  • unsupported characters
  • image quality (like unreadable text)
  • table issues (like content that goes off the page on some devices)
  • links (like those that don’t function properly)
  • even “disappointing content” is on the list
  • see the complete list here: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A1MMQ0JHRBEINX

BUT WHAT AMAZON HASN’T SAID (YET)

This KDP help page doesn’t say:

  • that any notices will be posted on the product page (that could happen; it just isn’t mentioned on the help page at this point)
  • except for Critical Issues, what will happen (e.g. if there are a few typos, it doesn’t outline exactly what will or won’t happen)
  • whether or not things like typos can be construed as Critical Issues (maybe they can, maybe not; the help page does mention a few specific Critical Issues, but doesn’t clarify this with regard to spelling)

Will they post error messages on the product page? Under what circumstances will they do this? Under what conditions will they remove a book from sale?

This remains to be seen to some extent. It does state that Critical Issues will result in taking down the book until the issues are resolved. But otherwise, we are left to speculate.

It seems reasonable that Amazon would first contact the author/publisher, allow a reasonable period for the issues to be resolved, and allow for a possible response with a detailed explanation.

A few authors have reported receiving emails from Amazon regarding spelling mistakes. We know that Amazon has sent emails about spelling mistakes for the past few years, but a few authors who have received them recently seem to make it look like the nature of the email has changed recently. But I guess we won’t know for sure until (A) Amazon announces such a change publicly or (B) we happen to receive one of those emails.

ABOUT TYPOS AND SPELLING MISTAKES

Don’t panic yet over all the worst-case scenarios that might pop into your head.

Let’s see how it goes first.

If you’re a UK writer and you’re worried about American readers complaining about differences in spelling (and vocabulary), you shouldn’t be. It says very clearly on the KDP help page that these aren’t considered spelling errors.

If you’re a fantasy author and you’re worried about made-up names for monsters you’ve created, at this point I see no reason for you to panic.

This probably isn’t the same thing as the list of possible spelling mistakes that you receive when you upload your content file. Maybe Amazon will use an automated spellchecker to aid in their assessment, but it won’t be purely automated: The KDP help page specifically refers to mistakes that “readers tell us about,” so readers will be involved to an extent.

It also appears that a human being will be involved from Amazon’s end, to verify the issues and to send an email notification to the author/publisher.

Sure, a human being can misinterpret something. But it won’t do any good to panic now. Let’s not think of all the ways that a human being might misinterpret an author’s intentions.

How many typos is too many? Does it really matter if it’s 5, 15, or 25 typos in 50,000 words?

If Amazon discovers and verifies that there are mistakes in your book, why wouldn’t you fix them? Every typo that gets fixed benefits readers…

IS THIS GOOD OR BAD?

The benefits are clear:

  • Improve customer satisfaction.
  • Improve the perception of Kindle e-books.
  • Improve the self-publishing brand.

In comparison, I think the “bad” may seem relatively minor:

  • In most cases, it just causes a minor inconvenience to the author to make the changes and resubmit.
  • In rare cases, it might be more involved. For example, a richly formatted book created from a PDF using the Kindle Textbook Creator might require more work to fix a few typos.
  • If an author shelled out big $$ for professional e-book conversion and just has a .mobi or epub file to work with, it might not be so easy to fix a few typos. It depends: Some professional formatters are quite reasonable and oriented around author satisfaction.
  • There is possible abuse, but I think overall Amazon will be reasonable. Amazon’s goal is clearly to improve customer satisfaction, but without significantly disrupting the authors who supply valuable content.

Realize that we don’t know all the details yet.

Right now, what we know from Amazon is posted on this KDP help page, and it doesn’t answer every question that we might have.

And some of the rumors out there include details that aren’t addressed on that KDP help page.

It seems reasonable that (except for Critical Issues) Amazon KDP would first notify the author/publisher of the issue, and give the author/publisher a reasonable chance to correct the problem before taking any drastic action.

The customer is paying money for Kindle e-books, and we all want the customers to have positive reading experiences that encourage them to read more Kindle e-books.

And as readers ourselves, we want to have positive reading experiences when we read Kindle e-books.

That seems like a reasonable goal, and I expect Amazon to be reasonable in helping authors reach that goal.

SUGGESTIONS

Find out which email address you have associated with your KDP publishing account. Monitor this email address. Periodically check that you’re not missing important emails in your SPAM filter. If any of your books have quality issues, you should expect to hear something from Amazon KDP.

Periodically check the KDP community forum, Kindle Boards, or another place where authors often share their experiences. This way, you might learn from the experience of any other authors who deal with quality notices from Amazon KDP.

Don’t worry about the what-if’s. Focus on writing and marketing. Try to write, format, and publish the best book you can.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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NEW: Share a Kindle Instant Preview

Instant Preview Link

KINDLE INSTANT PREVIEW

Better than a link.

Better than a cover.

Visitors can now start reading your book immediately, without having to leave your website.

It’s the new Kindle Instant Preview.

FEWER CLICKS

Every click loses traffic. It’s a fact of marketing.

Plus it’s hard to send people offsite. They’re busy doing one thing. “Hey! Stop what you’re doing. Go somewhere else instead.” Well, you might throw in a “PRETTY PLEASE.”

Now you can overcome both obstacles.

With Kindle Instant Preview, customers can read the sample of your Kindle book without having to leave your website.

If they like the sample, a direct link will take them to the purchase.

If they need a Kindle app, a link is included for that, too.

THERE’S MORE

Font sizes are adjustable, too.

Even better: Amazon will pay you to use Kindle Instant Preview.

You can use Amazon Associates when you use Kindle Instant Preview.

You then earn commissions on sales you drive from your website.

HOW TO USE KINDLE INSTANT PREVIEW

It’s easy.

Find your Kindle e-book on Amazon.

Look for the Embed link near Share and social media (FB, Twitter) icons near the pricing info.

Click Embed.

If your site gives you HTML freedom, choose the Embed option (instead of Link).

For example, with GoDaddy’s Website Builder, the last tool on the list is HTML.

Click the See More Options link. If the default size doesn’t work for you, here is where you can change it (but ensure that the aspect ratio remains the same).

Click the Add Amazon Associates ID link to earn money for sales that you drive to Amazon (even if the customer buys something else instead, like a Kindle Fire).

The Buy Button lets visitors go straight to purchase.

Even using Amazon Associates with it is easy. Once you sign up for it. Find your Tracking ID.

Instant Preview Open

SEE A SAMPLE OF KINDLE INSTANT PREVIEW IN ACTION

I put a Kindle Instant Preview of my book on the fourth dimension on my other website.

You can check it out by clicking either the image or the link below:

 

When you get there, find what looks like the front cover of my book on the fourth dimension.

Note the Read Preview button at the bottom (and the Buy button).

Click the image itself if you want to see what happens.

ANY DRAWBACKS?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be working with fixed format books.

So if you used the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator or the Kindle Textbook Creator, for example, it may not work for you.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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How many books were borrowed through Kindle Unlimited?

Image from Shutterstock.

Image from Shutterstock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED BORROWS

Amazon KDP now shows the number of pages read (KENP read, or Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read).

The KDP reports no longer show the number of books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

Although it’s nice to see the number of pages read, this data would be more meaningful if we knew how many books were borrowed.

That way, if you saw 200 KENP read in your report, you would know if 1 person read 200 pages or if 4 people each read 50 pages.

There is a way to get more information, though not quite as much as you might like:

  • Visit your Sales Dashboard at KDP by clicking Reports.
  • (Note the blue circle with the question mark at the top right. It doesn’t work presently, but it may be a sign of more information to come.)
  • Scroll down to the very bottom and click the Generate Report button.
  • Open the spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (for example).
  • Scroll down to the very bottom of the spreadsheet.
  • Note that there are three tabs: (1) Royalty Report (2) Orders Report (3) KU-KOLL Unit Report.
  • Click on the middle tab, Orders Report.
  • This shows the breakdown of KENP read per book per country per day. (It also breaks down your sales.)

Unfortunately, the third tab (KU-KOLL Unit Report) stops after June 30. It sounds like what you want, but it’s not for July.

The middle tab (Orders Report) provides a helpful breakdown. But it’s inconvenient to get there, and it still doesn’t show you quite what you want.

Maybe this will improve. I’ve heard from hundreds of authors who would like to see the number of borrows in the reports.

But it doesn’t help to tell me. Visit Amazon KDP and click on the Contact Us button in the corner. It took a long time and a large number of requests, but reporting has changed in the past and we have pre-orders—authors have requested these features for years and they finally came. If you want something, ask for it. Otherwise, how will they know what you want?

Why doesn’t the report show the number of borrows?

There are a few theories for why the reports don’t show the number of Kindle Unlimited (or Amazon Prime) borrows.

Perhaps they just forgot or didn’t realize its importance. That seems doubtful. But perhaps.

Maybe most customers don’t start reading the book after they download it, and Amazon doesn’t want authors to freak out when they see several borrows, but zero pages read.

But that has an easy fix: Don’t show all borrows; just show borrows where the book has actually been opened.

However, what if many customers only read a few pages and discard the book. It could happen, since there really is no incentive for Kindle Unlimited customers to check out the Look Inside. Since they can read for free, they might just download it and skip the middle man.

It might not be a sign that the book is bad. It might just be a matter of taste. Oh, I didn’t realize this was a mystery. Oops! A mere 3 pages read.

Knowledge is power, though. If we see that most customers are only getting partway through our books, wouldn’t we feel inclined to try to make our books more engaging?

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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