The Vandal quality ebooksAfter all the comments and reactions to my article last week ‘Finding Quality Ebooks’, I thought a follow up post was in order as so much has happened since it was posted. Is this how fast things work in book publishing nowadays?

Well anyway, at the same time as I professed my acute knowledge in my post, I was brought back to earth with a very sudden thud when a book reviewer very kindly told the world that my story was wonderful, but my ebook formatting was absolute crud. Here’s the book review by Sharon T. Stone at Liliyfields Entertainment. You will see when you read it why I was shocked.

Of course I immediately went to the offending file that Sharon had bought. Phew, I was relieved to find that the version currently available was fine, but very annoyed that when she bought the copy some months back from Smashwords, it was badly flawed. Luckily, Sharon can download the new version for free as a replacement.

I then checked ALL my ebook versions. This is a painful task as I have Kindle versions, plus six or seven different file versions on Smashwords on top of my own Advance Reader versions that I create myself in three formats.

What did I discover? It is with relief that I found all my recent books to be ok. But three of my older books had serious problems on certain Smashwords files. The problems involved were random changes to font and font size and irregular line breaks. Very unpleasant to read I can assure you.

However, these three books had ALL passed Smashwords’ premium distribution check. So where is the quality control? Of course I don’t expect spelling, grammar or erroneous typos to be the responsibility of Smashwords, but something as simple as font and font size must surely be. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

So I have to reverse my opinion about their quality control now as it seems that their ‘human’ checking prior to premium distribution is not up to standard at all.

However I do still stand by my original point that these ebook distributors cannot continue to make money from poorly presented products. They must accept some responsibility for the quality control of the products they are selling.

On the other side of the book (coin), I have been advised by Createspace that it may be possible in future to approve paperback books for publication WITHOUT a proof copy.

I’ll let you all chew on that one!

Finding Quality Ebooks (A follow up post)
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14 thoughts on “Finding Quality Ebooks (A follow up post)

  • 22/05/2011 at 1:21 pm
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    I wouldn't be too hard on Smashwords, as they never say in their guidelines that a human will read the book submitted for their premium catalogue. All the checks they require of the author are matters of form and the inclusion of certain elements (like you have to have cover art to be included in the catalogue). In fact. they state unequivocally that their publication process is entirely automated. It would be nice if ebook publishers like Smashwords edited every book for format problems or even editorial ones, but be careful what you wish for. I, for one, am sick of the horde of publication services that want to suck my savings dry while taking on my work.

  • 22/05/2011 at 1:27 pm
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    Oh. The idea of publishing something on Createspace without benefit of a proof copy terrifies me. Createspace, for all its usefulness, is rather a knuckle-scraping horror of publication. So many things can go wrong, especially where graphics are concerned. A proof is necessary. What would be awesome is if they gave the author the proof for free, or the option of getting it free while having the cost of the free proof reclaimed in required higher book prices.

  • 22/05/2011 at 2:27 pm
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    Not just Smashwords Derek. A few months ago I purchased an Ebook version of Michael Wood's "The Story of England" after watching the television series from Amazon. When I opened it up, the titles for the photographs, maps etc were there, but the pics and maps weren't.

    I complained bitterly to Amazon and eventually they fixed 'their' error and replaced my Kindle copy.

    With Ebooks taking off like a rocket, the onus is on the publishers to thoroughly check the end product before making it available.

  • 23/05/2011 at 10:16 am
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    I agree Stephan. Can you imagine the consequences?

  • 23/05/2011 at 10:16 am
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    The ebook world is going to take some time to perfect I think Jack.

  • 23/05/2011 at 2:24 pm
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    I don't use Smashwords — my eBook converter company advises against it. It's too hard to control the quality, like you can with ePub and Mobi files (this is also why I outsource this task).

  • 23/05/2011 at 2:45 pm
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    Reason you should use Smashwords: Amazon.com overcharges international customer, making us pay almost 4 euros (that's over 4 dollars peeps), for an eBook that costs 99 cents. And the author does not get the extra profit, but Amazon. Pisses me off.

    This is the reason why I do not buy indie books from Amazon. Also Smashwords gives the indie writers grater deal from the profits.

  • 23/05/2011 at 4:34 pm
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    True Katja, but just recently i've noticed Amazon have reduced their 'international charge' considerably. But then again, even 1c is too much really for what is wireless delivery.

    It is the automation and convenience of Kindle that is the market now. Unfortunately with Smashwords, it requires that a reader manually load their books.

  • 26/05/2011 at 7:48 pm
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    Glad I was able to help! I, too, look forward to the day when eBooks are of consistent quality and cost for all readers. The first version of my book was formatted fine, but I missed a lot of typos. Egg on my face!

    While I do enjoy some community theater acting in my spare time, my last name is Rose, not Stone. :P I'm not that famous! ^_^

  • 26/05/2011 at 7:50 pm
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    Quick Sharon! Change your name and whack it on books! Marketing tip! lol :)

  • 26/05/2011 at 7:55 pm
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    LOL! But the lawsuits …. I'm too poor to fight off her legal kung fu! ~_^

  • 26/05/2011 at 7:57 pm
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    What about Sharon Rock ? !! I like the sound of that!! Fit's on a cover beautifully :)

  • 21/07/2011 at 9:03 am
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    Derek,

    Smashwords simply checks for software glitches on code level.

    YOU are supposed to check the preview yourself and when satisfied, then submit that version for final distribution. It always takes me half a dozen tries before the formatting is right int he online preview.

    Here is the Norilana Books Publisher Store:

    http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Norilana

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