I wrote a post back in March answering some of the questions I most often see asked in writing groups and discussion forums. It seemed to be helpful, so after coming across more questions with iffy answers, I thought I should go for round two.
The first question is one I actually addressed in a post about book formatting back in May of 2016, but I’ve seen it asked so much lately, I thought it couldn’t hurt to repeat it.
Q. No matter how many times I accept track changes in Word (or remove my header/footer), everything is still there when I upload to KDP. Do I have to retype the whole thing?
A. No, although I’ve seen that advice given more than once, along with, “Just copy/paste your entire book into another document.” Hint: That often won’t work, because unless you know how to remove the formatting in the original document, it will also show up in the copy/pasted one. (MS Word creates some code in the background, so you’re basically just copying that same code into the new document.)
What you have to do instead is click on “File,” and then “Info.” You’ll see the screen below. See where it says “Check for Issues?” Click that dropdown, and then click “Inspect Document” (red arrow below). You’ll be prompted to save your document, and then you’ll be presented with a list of things to check, including headers, footers, and editing comments. I check them all. After a quick scan, you’ll be presented with all issues found, and asked if you want to have them removed. I remove them all. Presto: markups, headers, and footers all gone.
I was a little surprised at this next question. Well, not the question so much, but the answer.
Q. My goal is to submit to Kindle Scout. They say to use the Chicago Manual of Style for my formatting, but the only version I can find online requires me to pay. Do I really have to use it?
A. The first answer I saw online said, “The CMS is about writing technique, not about formatting. Use the Smashwords Style Guide for your formatting.”
Ah … no. The Chicago Manual of Style very much covers formatting. In fact, the first three sections discuss parts of a book/journal, considerations for web-based publications, process outlines, manuscript preparation, and guidelines for authors, illustrations and tables, and more. Think of it this way: Kindle Scout receives thousands of submissions. One easy way to whittle those down is to toss the ones that didn’t follow submission guidelines. You can read the full Kindle Scout guidelines here.
The screenshot below discusses formatting:Used-but-current copies of the CMoS are available from Amazon for a reasonable price.
The next question has been seen many times by those of us who’ve been around a while, but new authors still need to know:
Q. Why have all my reviews disappeared? My mom/neighbor/coworker posted a review, and it’s gone!
A. Amazon doesn’t allow reviews from people we know. Sometimes they think we know someone when we don’t, but if you know someone well enough for them to have emailed and told you they left a review, you know them well enough for Amazon to remove the review.
Tangentially related, I’ve seen authors wonder why many of their ARC reviews weren’t posted. Many authors have ARC teams that receive early copies of the book in order to post a review upon publication. Something I learned while writing this article: if Amazon receives a large number of unverified reviews shortly after publication, they may block some of those reviews from showing on the product page (see red arrow below). The full policy is here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730I’ve seen this next question asked several times recently:
Q. Can I advertise someone else’s book on my cover art? (Variations include: on my website, in my marketing materials, and in my newsletter. But this author was literally asking if they could advertise – as in put the book title/name of author – on their back cover.)
A. I’ve seen a surprising number of people say, “Yes, of course! Authors love free publicity!” I’d tread carefully here. True, authors love free publicity, but most authors are fairly picky about where/when/how that publicity happens. I’d check with the author first to get permission. Listing another author’s work implies you have the endorsement of that author, but you might not. It’s safer to check first to be sure.
There you have it, round two of everything you ever wanted to know about self-publishing. The next installment will come along as soon as I’ve seen the same bad answers often enough to shake my head and decide I need to do something about it.