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How Inexperience and Amazon Ruined My Book’s Release: Part Two

Rules from a noob who tried to publish a book with a “well-laid out” plan

You can read Part One here.

December 23, 2021

12:54 a.m. EST

(Almost 49 hours since Last Chance California was set to release)

Another email from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hi!

We checked your files and found issues you need to fix before your book can be published on KDP:

Interior

  • Increase your inside margins so that content isn’t obscured when the book is bound. See examples on PDF page(s) 4. Learn how to calculate margins.
  • Increase your outside margins so that content isn’t trimmed when your book is printed. The outside, top, and bottom margin requirements are 0.25″ (6.35mm) for books without bleed and 0.375″ (9.52mm) for books with bleed. See examples on PDF page(s) 4. Learn how to calculate margins.

I reached out to John, the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Supervisor who emailed me the night before, with the news. I asked him if I should update the manuscript or wait for the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing team to provide an updated manuscript. The key for me is time. I need this out. Shit. I needed it out two days ago. 

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing took ten to twelve hours per each manuscript review. I debate fixing the one issue on page four. But then I panic. What if it’s more than page 4? Why mention all the margins? 

Oh no.

Fuck.

I’m tired and don’t want to cause more issues, especially considering John told me not to resubmit my manuscript. John seems trustworthy. I’ll wait. 

What’s a few more hours to ensure I don’t mess things up more?

I legally drugged myself to sleep.

December 23, 2021

8 a.m. EST

No response from John.

I email Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing to ask if I should resubmit my manuscript or wait for John. I was unable to chat with an Amazon employee. Live chats don’t start until 11 a.m. EST.

Suddenly, I realized releasing my first book the week of Christmas might not have been my best idea.

December 23, 2021

9:57 a.m. EST

A quick response this time.

An email from an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing customer service rep. 

Upon checking, I do see that one of my colleagues has been following up on this issue with our technical team to check if the file can be fixed from our end. It looks like this is taking longer than expected, but they’re still working hard to resolve this for you.

John, who I spoke to via chat earlier, sent me an email letting me know the Amazon Direct Publishing team was going to fix the single error in my manuscript and email me it to review. It’s mighty kind of them to offer this. I feel grateful, but still uneasy. I have a problem trusting people. And had a feeling “quick fix” and “quick turnaround time” were just words with no real meaning.

December 23, 2021

11:00 a.m. EST

I enter a live chat with an Amazon Customer Service Rep. He informs me that my manuscript will be rejected one more time. A letter on page four fell out of the guidelines. This meant it would be cut off in printings. 

For the record, this wasn’t an issue until the team at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing made me change my page and image sizes. 

Bastards.

I asked the Amazon Customer Service Rep what I should do. Should I update the one issue on the one page with the one letter and resubmit the book? Or should I wait for John and the team at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing?

“Resubmit it, as long as you fix that issue. It’s the only problem with the file,” the rep said.

December 23, 2021

11:20 a.m. EST

I fix the issue with my novel  by moving the image on page 4 slightly. Not even a centimeter. I uploaded the new manuscript to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I go through every page of the manuscript on the publishing platform’s print previewer tool. Everything looks good. Nothing will be cut off, according to Amazon’s preview tool. 

I resubmit Last Chance California, for what I know is the last thing.

Because if Amazon rejects it this time, I’m using another fucking service.

December 24, 2021

1:10 a.m. EST

(73 hours since Last Chance California was set to release)

T’was early morning before Christmas.

I spent my day updating websites, proofreading, and planning my next marketing moves. With the delay, I had to try something new. I avoided my email all day. I was afraid of another rejection from Amazon.

Right before bed, I looked up Last Chance California on Amazon’s website.

My book was finally listed.

People could buy it.

A Christmas miracle.

The stress from three days of no book hit me at the same time as the booze.

Off to bed.

December 24, 2021

2 p.m. EST

Friends and family took breaks from holiday plans to share my social media posts or to send me a congratulatory message. 

They also bought my book. 

Despite tight budgets around holidays, friends, families, colleagues and strangers spent their hard-earned cash to support a guy with a crazy dream. There’s so many people to thank, but I won’t do that publicly. They know who they are. Thank you for being there and dealing with the madness.

But mostly or buying my book.

December 25, 2021

1 p.m. EST

Only trailing behind The Great Gatsby in the Historical Fiction Literary Criticism Amazon category, Last Chance California hits multiple Bestseller and #1 New Release lists on Amazon.  Hyper specific category, but it works for me. Now, I can be one of those people who says “I’m an Amazon Best Seller.”  I’ll obviously leave out the caveat that my best-selling status was only a blip. 

A few hours.

Still counts. 

I teared up when I saw Last Chance California listed below The Great Gatsby on a Best-Seller list. My book had a lot of influence from The Great Gatsby, one of my all-time favorites. The character Leah is inspired by Daisy Buchanan. And before I scrapped the epigraph of the novel, I used a few lines from F. Scott Fitzgerald to introduce Last Chance California:

 “I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused.”

The reason I removed the lines from my book was because I’m a self published, indie, or whatever the kids brand it these days, author.  It’s pompous to quote The Great Gatsby in a debut self-published novel. At least in my opinion. I haven’t earned that.

But I did write a book.

My own fucking book.

December 25, 2021

11 p.m. EST

The best Christmas of my life. 

Even if my book doesn’t sell another copy, my first book was a success.

A burden lifted. 

A dream achieved. 

For me, that’s what this has all been about.

Before I pass out, I want to call out  my fellow classmates and future authors from the Novel Writing Masterclass I took last February. Neil Strauss, one of my writing heroes, put together an intensive writing course to help inspire aspiring authors. Besides learning from Neil, who’s hit New York Times Best-Selling status quite often in his career, I gained a lot of friends during that long weekend in February. They encouraged me and pushed me when I needed it. 

I’ll be sure to share their books with the twelve people who read this blog. There’s some creative and thoughtful minds at work that are going to share some powerful stories with y’all.

Shit. 

I should drink less eggnog.

Especially before writing.

The holidays make me sappy.

But y’all reading this, you make me grateful.

Thank you for this gift.

December 26, 2021

11:30 a.m. EST

An email from KDP Customer Support.

Hello Brian,

I’m John! As we discussed, I’ve corrected your Manuscript. You can download it from the below link: Click the link, under “Action” menu, you’ll be able to “Download” the file;

(A Private Link Was Placed Here)

Nonetheless, I can also see your Paperback Book has been published — 9781737719700, and it’s LIVE.

Hence, no action is required from your end. Should you’ve further questions, please don’t hesitate to write back to us.

Thanks for using Amazon KDP.

Your feedback helps us improve our service.

Click here to rate our service

For a problem that took a non-professional twenty minutes to fix, it took the team at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing four days. It was the holidays. Maybe they were busy.

I guess it’s better late than never. 

Also, is everyone named John at Amazon KDP? Was it an automated email from a computer? Or was John being friendly and reintroducing himself? I’ll never know. And sadly, despite Last Chance California‘s launch success (let’s see if it sustains), I’m still too angry to rate Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing’s service. 

I also won’t ever release a book the week of Christmas again.

That’s for sure.


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