Amazon’s indie book standards
It looks like book readers are now going to have the chance to whistle-blow bad layouts, editing and writing. “Beginning February 03, 2016, Amazon will start posting a little message on all Kindle books not up to snuff. Doesn’t matter if the book is by an indie author, small press, online publisher or boutique publisher. But this will most assuredly affect indie authors the most.” [See full article here.]
I agree with this policy, actually, even though Amazon will hold your book back so you can’t sell any more of them, until any issues raised are resolved.
Since publication of ‘Village View’ and ‘The Judas Inheritance’ my stories have gone through a process of ‘beta’ readers who check for spelling, punctuation, typos, style conflicts and general readability and sense-making of the stories before being handed to my editor who not only re-reads and checks, but also sees to consistency of format and style, and deals with the layout. RC Publications, the small indie publisher I work with, has its own in-house style and approach so the design of my recent books is now consistent.
However, my older books, including my bestseller ‘Symi 85600’ and the follow up ‘Carry on up the Kali Strata’, were laid out by me, as were the early novels which also suffer from a lack of detailed editing (a bit like my blog posts). So, if I should start to suffer one- or two-star reviews on Amazon, I have agreed with RC Publications that we will reformat them and bring them up to the layout standards of my newer books. So far though, all my reviews on Amazon have been five- or four-star (as far as I remember), so I am not anticipating that this new Amazon policy will affect me. I hope.
This move towards perfection, which can’t be a bad thing, reminds me of what Neil has been saying for a couple of years now re: wedding photography. Everyone can now take photos on their digital cams and tablets etc. without having to understand the post production process, but really you need to have a professional to do it right, on decent equipment. Neil (and other photographers he knows) feel there will be a backlash in a year or so as more and more people will realise that ‘Uncle Fred’ may have a posh camera but he can’t use it and the wedding snaps were dreadful. ‘Should have got a professional in.’
Which brings me on to the question of covers. RC Publications are looking for a cover designer who doesn’t charge an arm and a leg. I’ve always ‘had a go’ at my own covers, or had a friend design them, but I am no designer and I’ve always felt that the books suffer from amateurish looking covers. Maybe I am being hard on myself, but I don’t think so. If anyone fancies working with me on designs and doesn’t want to charge me the rate they deserve (‘cos I can’t afford it and neither can RC at the moment) then I’d love to hear from you. I am, at the moment, working on several writing projects (winter is a fertile time for my imagination) so I could probably do with a cover or two in the next few months. I’ve always been keen on giving young people and ‘newbies’ a chance to get a good CV entry (our theatre company used to work with both amateurs and professionals in order to give the amateurs who wanted a chance to work with the pros just that chance) so students, anyone new to the book cover scene, or simply anyone who knows what they are doing would be more than welcome to come aboard. As long as we like the work, of course. The contact email is at the bottom of this site.
I’ll leave you thinking about that while you head off and enjoy your weekend – we have very little planned here on Symi this weekend though I am aware that I currently have four books on the go: one in editing mode, one with 25% of the first draft done, another with about the same (the Saddling), one that is simply notes and research with a rough outline and one that I started yesterday which is an exercise more than anything else. So, perhaps a weekend of writing is in order so I can work on something that is up to Amazon’s new indie book standard standards.