Amazon and me, redux yet again

I want to like Amazon; I really do. I sincerely loved them when they sold just books, back in the day before they decided to sell all things to all people and/or take over the publishing world. I have an Amazon Prime account, I buy a lot of things from them, and I’ve trained my husband to check out their stuff before he drives all over two counties looking for an $.83 light bulb.

I’ve been re-visiting Kindle Select Publishing. An independent author gets more exposure and certainly a higher percentage of whatever sales she generates: these are good things. But they demand exclusivity, so I’d have to take my title(s) off of Smashwords and all the other sources they distribute to. I don’t like monopolies. I don’t like large corportations snuffing out tiny independents not because they are serious competition but just because they can.

But I have been thinking of KDP for at least a three month trial. And I’d almost decided to go for it, until two days ago. I recently changed the thumbnail cover on The Bone Road. I changed nothing else. It’s annoying and big-corporate that, because I already have a copy of The Bone Road on my Kindle app, I apparently couldn’t download the new version with the new cover. However, I had several people I trust check it out. They assured me the new cover was on new purchases.

Actually, it WAS on my Kindle reader. Under ‘M’. My last name is gone. After several days of hair-tearing and experiments, it appears the metadata no longer includes my last name, and that neither on Amazon’s interface nor using Calibre to correct and upload the file can this be fixed. When I take the DRM-free .mobi file from Smashwords and load it to the Kindle reader, both my last name and first name are there, but it still lists under ‘M’. Amazon’s interface smooshed the first name and last name fields together. So it’s possible to get a correct ebook file of The Bone Road on your Kindle, as long as you don’t get it from Amazon.

I have a query in to Amazon Customer Service. Other people, according to their own forums, have been having this problem. Recently. As far as I can tell, no one from Amazon is addressing it. At least no one on the forums is getting a response.

In the meantime, I’ve been sending .mobi copies hither and yon to various book reviewers and writing contests. You know, I hate appearing as an incompetent idiot. I’ve done it, and many times it has been my fault. I suck it up and try to do better. But when I look like an incompetent idiot through no fault of my own, that’s when I get angry.

Harry Potter at the Urologist

My husband and I have been spending a regrettable amount of time in doctors’ waiting rooms. Particularly at his urologist’s, a dreary beige holding pen full of old men with worried expressions. Women are rare and children even rarer, so I noticed the little boy immediately. He was around ten years old and he wasn’t paying any atttention to any of us boring adults.

He had a thick hardcover book on his lap. He was absorbed, lost in the story. The chairs are not comfortable so he was wriggling and twisting as he read, but he never looked away from the page. Someone had removed the dustjacket and the spine of the book was rubbed and worn so I could not read the title.

But I knew. I was far enough away so I couldn’t read the text over his shoulder. It didn’t matter. It had to be a Harry Potter and I was almost sure I knew which one. Then he turned a page and I saw the chapter illustration: the wriggling gilliweed of The Second Task in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I wanted to say something to him, but all I could think of were the horrible condescending adults from my childhood who would interrupt me constantly with inane questions. “What are you reading? Do you like to read? What’s it about?” I wanted to tell him I’d met J.K. Rowling (briefly) and how wonderful it was to hear her read, I wanted to ask him about his favorite part of the book and his favorite characters. I wanted to share mine with him. But I didn’t. I watched him and I hoped it was his first time reading Harry Potter. I envied him that.

Total absorption must run in his family. His father left the treatment room, walked through the waiting room and out into the hall before coming back and collecting his son. The boy walked out with his finger holding his place in the book; he wasn’t in the Muggle world at all.

I want someone, somewhere, to get lost in one of my books just like that. If I could do that for one person, once, I would be a success as a writer.

Bone Road ebook cover redesign

I loved the cover of The Bone Road; I still love it. But someone (who shall remain nameless until she’s ready to take her show on the road) pointed out it was difficult to see in thumbnail. So I asked Rhea Ewing to revisit it. This is what she came up with:

Great, isn’t it? I’ve loaded it on all the ebook sites, both Smashwords and Amazon. I also, while I was about it, made a few changes to the blurb. Absolutely NO changes were made to the text, so if you buy the book in paperback, with the old cover, or download the ebook with the new cover, you get the exact same book. Down to the (regrettable) typos. Promise.