not ready for prime time


I’ve spent the last few weeks pushing Gilman out through different sales channels. I had intended to make a big announcement once they were all in place. I haven’t announced anything yet because the plan went something like this:

  1. Make manuscript corrrections that my readers have found (thank you!)

  2. Convert manuscript to Mobi (Kindle)

  3. Convert manuscript from Mobi to ePub (Nook, Kobo, Goodreads, etc.)

  4. Modify cover art to work on sites other than Amazon

  5. Establish author accounts at Barnes & Noble and Kobo

  6. Push ePub onto Goodreads

  7. Push ePub onto Barnes & Nobel

  8. Push ePub onto Kobo

  9. Wait for everything to publish

  10. Spam everybody again to tell them about all the new places and formats they can read the book in!

Everything went swimmingly as far as step 8.

The conversion work went very well indeed, and took hours rather the days that I expected. I set up the accounts, which took even less time. Then off to the publishing part. That’s the step where I upload the ebook onto each of the publishing websites. After that, they require (according to the messages they send) somewhere on the order of one to three days to crunch the file up for sale and distribution, and presumably create all the behind-the-scenes database, tracking, search engine, and accounting crap.

Goodreads required about three hours for the ePub to show up completely, including the cover art and reading preview. It was available on B & N after about 36 hours, which is similar to the original Kindle publication at Amazon.

And then there’s Kobo. You may or may not know about Kobo yet, it’s the new kid on the block. Apparently, it started as a piece of Borders Books & Music that got sold off to a Japanese electronics firm before the whole thing went down the tubes. Their site has a nice clean look, and from what I’ve seen they have a couple of really nice bookreaders. I haven’t used one yet, but they’ve been available for a month or so now.

On the fifth day, it was still publishing, so I sent them an email. Somebody checked on something and said it would be available the next day, because they’d had a whole bunch of new books to load. Or in a few hours, because my account didn’t have a default currency. Or whatever, because the book kept bouncing back from their system.

In the end, it took TWELVE DAYS. As close as I can tell, they have no way of knowing if a book hasn’t published unless someone personally checks the status; as if the software doesn’t know it’s in trouble, so it can’t alert a human to the problem. And I was never told if I had done something wrong in the conversion that caused the problem, so the same thing could happen next time. Mind you, I don’t think that’s the issue because it’s the same file I sent to B & N.

I tell you this story as a cautionary tale for all of you budding Indie publishers out there. I’m not saying you should not publish on Kobo. I think you should – I think that more choices for us translates to more choices for our readers and, therefore, more opportunities for readers to find and read our books.

What I am saying is that Kobo is brand new from top to bottom: Software, systems, and reader hardware. They’re bound to be having some teething problems. So do use them, just don’t make it your primary publishing platform until they have the kinks worked out.

I think that next time I may try pushing it out to Kobo via SmashWords. That might solve the whole problem. It also adds the Sony and iTunes platforms to the mix.

Oh, by the way: Gilman is now available for Nook and Kobo as well as Amazon Kindle platforms. And you can read the first few chapters for free at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.


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