KDP Continues to be a Pain to Work With

Having decided to try once more to fix the Lulu file for my published book, Value and Representation, I am again awaiting arrival of yet another proof (I've given up counting how many I've had to order but this time was definitely the result of another glitch in the Lulu upload system, one I failed to notice so it's partly on me though in my defense I have to say that it was pretty hard to pick up since it involved slippage of the footnotes). Since I took the opportunity to fix a few other things in the manuscript, I decided to re-do the KDP edition as well. The last time I did that it took roughly three weeks to get Amazon to smooth the transition from the old CreateSpace file for my book (CreateSpace has now been phased out) to the new KDP platform. To fix the problem that cropped up with the transition, the KDP staff had to manually correct a problem that the transfer of platforms was creating.

So this time I figured I would skip all that and just re-do the paperback edition on the KDP platform. I have to admit I don't like the KDP cover image templates at all. Their photos and designs are decent but their they tend to produce an overly busy cover which makes reading the text hard to say the least. Their site is also VERY hard to use. (And I thought Lulu's was difficult!) Their fonts and layouts are also very inflexible. Finally, the site, itself, is murder to negotiate! I keep testing out different cover ideas but then can't find a way to undo them when I determine they are unsatisfactory, so I can navigate back to the start page. It's as if, once you pick something (before you even see how it's going to look), you are locked in. So far the only way I have found to handle this is to shut down the site and return to it and start again from scratch.

So I was complaining about Lulu's website before, given its irritating glitches, but Amazon's new KDP site's got them beat for lack of user-friendly interfaces in spades!  

Comments

  • Just to clarify for anyone reading this, text shifting when uploading a DOCX file is not a 'glitch' in the Lulu file converter. Rather, it's a symptom of how converting a DOCX to a print ready PDF is handled.
    DOCX files are great for laying out a book (sort of) but they're not well designed for creating a printed page. This is why we strongly recommend uploading a PDF for print books.
    That's not to say that there aren't plenty of issues with our book creation process we'd like to improve on, but this specifically is a symptom of the file design rather than our system.
  • I discovered that long ago. It's better to make a pdf and upload that. Dopdf is free and easy to use.I find the publishing wizard actually very simple once you get used it. It's very straight forward. I've never used Amazon's KDP so I can't compare the two.
  • Okay, that may be Paul, but the problem has occurred both when I upload pdf (using Foxit) AND when uploading a WORD file (which was the solution I settled on when the pdf approach proved too difficult). It may not be a "glitch" as you say but it wasn't a problem several years back when I was doing this on Lulu and it's not a problem on the Amazon platform (though god knows there are plenty of other problems with THAT site).

    I don't know what, if anything, is the solution but it strikes me that Lulu would be better off if those kinds of problems didn't occur in the upload process or in using the Lulu platform generally. As to Amazon's KDP, I am really at my wit's end with them. If the Lulu book works this time (based on review of the latest proof) I may just take down the KDP version.

    As you know, I have been trying to update anyone interested in real time as to the strengths and weaknesses of the tools available to self-publishing authors via these two options. Right now Lulu is marginally ahead in my book, for what that's worth!
  • I don't have problems with the Wizard.
  • smirsky

    Use doPDF instead of Foxit. You won't have any further problems.

    As for KDP - there is nothing wrong with the site or the process. Once you are used to it you can sail through it with your eyes closed. You really ought to design your own one-piece PDF covers instead of using the Amazon supplied covers. Those covers are instantly recognizable and tell the potential buyer stuff that your probably don't want them to.
  • Well I'm not conversant with cover design myself and I long ago decided that being self-published is okay. I see no reason to hide it anymore, the way I once did. I aim for a professional look in both layout and editing and a good product in the writing and leave it to potential readers to decide whether to give my book a try or not.

    Of course, I haven't sold a lot since my first book (which surprised me by the level of success it achieved, quite unexpectedly though not without a lot of then unorthodox promotional effort by me); but then again I haven't produced any books since with potential to sell much (moreover, my last two have been works of philosophy where the audience is extremely limited).

    I'm now embarked on another novel though so perhaps your advice about cover design will make more sense when that book's ready. I may even try for traditional publishing with it first because I think it has broader potential. But it's not done yet in any event so I'll have to see how it goes . . . and whether or not it meets my own expectations to warrant a larger effort in selling it.

    As to KDP, you may be right about uploading one's own cover. The big problem I am having with KDP reflects the fact that I initially did published the latest book on the CreateSpace platform just before Amazon phased CreateSpace out and merged it with KDP. Thus, updating the manuscript has created a major problem since the two platforms' cover design options aren't compatible.

    Last time I updated the interior file it took me weeks and lots of correspondence with KDP to get them to  "fix" the existing CreateSpace cover to meet their specs. Now, having decided to do it again, given that I had decided to fix the manuscript for Lulu, I wanted to avoid the extensive back and forth with KDP personnel this time so I just decided to use the KDP cover creation tools and produce a new cover. But that's been a disaster in its own right so far. Their options are unappealing, given the subject matter of the book, and their cover creation site is hell to navigate.

    If I could design a cover on my own, as you suggest, that might solve this problem. But I can't as of now and don't have the time to learn, given my involvement with the new book. I wanted an easy way to do this since the second philosophy book has no commercial potential. Lulu, which has had its own problems, has proved easier to work with (though they are less flexible in the matter of ordering proofs and their coverwizard tool has some rather peculiar glitches -- and then there's the file upload problem which I've already mentioned and which you've addressed with your suggestion about switching pdf makers).

    Well, I guess I'll see how the new book goes. I may decide I need something more sophisticated there if I can't find a traditional publisher to pick it up.
  • I doubt Lulu will approve of you keep mentioning KDP.
  • swmirsky said:
    Okay, that may be Paul, but the problem has occurred both when I upload pdf (using Foxit) AND when uploading a WORD file (which was the solution I settled on when the pdf approach proved too difficult). It may not be a "glitch" as you say but it wasn't a problem several years back when I was doing this on Lulu and it's not a problem on the Amazon platform (though god knows there are plenty of other problems with THAT site).
    I'm not sure how text would shift using a PDF, but that may in fact be something in our system that can be examined. Goes beyond my expertise though, that would have to be looked at by our Support team.

    swmirsky said:
    I don't know what, if anything, is the solution but it strikes me that Lulu would be better off if those kinds of problems didn't occur in the upload process or in using the Lulu platform generally. As to Amazon's KDP, I am really at my wit's end with them. If the Lulu book works this time (based on review of the latest proof) I may just take down the KDP version.
    I think I've mentioned this elsewhere, but we're completely overhauling our upload/conversion system. If all moves along as intended, the old system won't exist this time next year.
  • Thanks, Paul. Looking forward to the changes then. Maybe they'll be in place by the time my new one is finally ready!

    On the pdf question, I think I misstated the issue. The problem was not shifting with the pdf but the pdf not uploading for some reason onto your platform, forcing me to upload the Word file directly after adjusting the table of contents to reflect the shift which I knew would come. Because I had only four "chapters" in essence to show it was easy enough. But the shifting of the footnotes took me by surprise.

    Anyway I manually played around with the Word file and re-uploaded and then checked for the footnote positions and in the Lulu pdf they seem to come out alright so I ordered another hard copy proof as per your rules here. When it comes and if it looks okay, I will then see how to go forward.

    Unfortunately I was not able to arrange the Word file text to ensure that the section headers came out in the right place within the text itself so the Lulu pdf shows some of them at the bottom of a page where they don't belong. But I had to make a choice as to what was more important and I decided it was better to get the footnotes on the right pages. Thus, I decided to live with the sectional headers being wrongly placed as the latter does not look like a glaring error while screwed up footnotes do!

    Anyway, thanks again for the feedback.

    Back to work now!    
  • I've never had a problem uploading pdfs. They've all printed as they appeared.
  • Not so in my case! I have had repeated problems with the upload of the Word file and, since Lulu's platform wasn't accepting the pdf I had created on my own pc through FoxIt (unlike KDP which did accept it), I had to use the Word file. The resultant Lulu pdf, after conversion, has continued to show repeated problems, the misplaced footnotes being the most recent and most difficult to finesse. (As noted, the other problems, which I did finesse, included pagination changes that forced me to change the table of contents in a way that would reflect the anticipated changes rather than the actual pagination in the Word File and the repeated failure of internal section headings to show up where they appeared in the Word file, creating situations where the headers appear at the bottom of their pages and the new text appears on the next page, something that looks weird but which I decided I would have to live with).   
  • TheJesusNinjaTheJesusNinja Teacher
    edited December 2018
    I use Dopdf add on for Word. Making  sure to click embed fonts and high quality. Has worked every-time.
  • Thanks. Maybe next one.
  • If no one else is having problems then the problem is not with the Wizards.
  • I'm having problems with revising ebooks now. Unknown errors. Worked fine last night but not now. Going to try again later might be a bug or something.
  • swmirsky, make sure you are using the PDF:X format. It is designed for printing off-site, and embeds your chosen fonts into the document. Other PDF formats don't, and if your far-away printer doesn't have identical versions of your fonts, the fonts will substitute and thus look different. You don't see the shift at home because you do have your fonts.  :smile:
  • Ah, thanks. Perhaps that explains it. 
  • I'm having problems with revising ebooks now. Unknown errors. Worked fine last night but not now. Going to try again later might be a bug or something.

    Yes, the ePub Wizard does seem to have become problematical.

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