Home » Amazon, Ebooks, Self-Publishing » What authors need to know about the new Kindle warning system

What authors need to know about the new Kindle warning system

23 January 2016

From GoodEreader:

Amazon has announced that they will be publicly warning users if an e-book has spelling mistakes or formatting errors. This is meant to protect the average reader so they don’t make an impulse purchase and regret it. Thousands of authors are asking a ton of questions about this new warning system and today we will answer the most common issues.

One of the most common questions we have been fielding from authors  are those who have written fantasy or science-fiction e-books. Many of them have developed their own vocabulary or intentionally misspell words.  If this is applicable to your book, I recommend updating your title via Kindle Direct Publishing and implement a lexicon. This is a a page or two at the beginning of the novel that provides a rundown of the words and their meaning. This will insure the book is not reported for spelling mistakes and if they are, you have a point of reference to show the Amazon rep when they contact you.

. . . .

Beware Editing Services – Since we broke the story that Amazon is implementing the warning system, I have seen hundreds of editors try and get authors to pay them to fix up any spelling or grammar mistakes.  I think its important to insure that you find a good editor and not someone who is just hyping their services with a newly created website or via social media.

What’s the deal with this warning system anyways?  Amazon is simply making warnings public. In the past, it was always between a KDP representative and the author.  Some authors simply opted to ignore the warnings and nothing really happened to their title, unless it had gross formatting errors, in which case Amazon would remove it from the Kindle bookstore.

Link to the rest at GoodEreader

Amazon, Ebooks, Self-Publishing

30 Comments to “What authors need to know about the new Kindle warning system”

  1. A lexicon is not a bad idea (and I always have one to hand to my long-suffering editor) but putting it at the beginning is a bad idea. I can only imagine the wails about it taking up most of the “look inside” 10% of content… A link in the TOC should work just as well.

    • That’s exactly what raised a mental flag. Lexicon in front? Where we are not supposed to put anything lest it mess up the “free sample” length?

      Come February I’ll be putting up a novel with a good deal of neologisms (alien species). ‘Twill be interesting to see if it gets flagged. The first one has not been reported (yet).

    • After reading that, it doesn’t sound like a have much to worry about. Hopefully any stray typos won’t loose me readers.

    • Thanks for finding that. I am going to have to start paying better attention to the names of sites and people. I keep mixing up Digital Reader (I think that’s Chris and Nate) with Good E-Reader, which is the person known as Special K. I will resolve to ignore the Not-Good E-Reader. I’ll just treat the name like those countries that have “Democratic People” in theirs 🙂

    • No, sorry. They can make this claim all they want, but authors have already received the “Starting February 3rd, you’re going to get a public warning and possibly have your book pulled from sale for this kind of thing” email due to exactly the kind of errors this article claims Amazon will NOT penalize.

      Other articles have claimed the “shot across the bow” email specifies that only ebooks that have had “several” errors reported will be penalized.

      However, I received the warning for Gotta Read It, which had never had an error report before, due to a single, simple typo. Other authors have shared the error reports they got with me, including such simple errors as a missing page break between the end of the back matter and the copyright page; the spelling of “gaol” instead of “jail” (in a British-set historical novel); correct use of “their” when apparently the reader who reported it thought it should be “there” or “they’re”; and a warning about a single misspelled word… which didn’t even appear in that author’s book, spelled correctly or incorrectly. One can only assume the reader reported the error in the wrong title.

      Contrary to claims that actual humans will check for these errors, I have my doubts. If they are checking on these errors, they aren’t checking very thoroughly.

  2. And it should bounce out all those poorly scanned backlist books trad-pud has been spewing out as they most likely won’t bother spending the time/money/manpower correcting them …

    So, a minor issue for indie/self-pub types (and might improve their work), and a major PITA for trad-pud … I can live with that. 😉

    • I like your attitude, Allen.

      There have been a LOT of complaints from readers – maybe the authors being treated like that by Big Pub will get their rights back because it is too much trouble for their publisher to claim the books are ‘still in print’ when that horrible ebooks is removed by Amazon.

      • What’s good for the goose is good for the gander as they say.

        And who’s to say this wasn’t Amazon’s way of sticking it to the pig5 for all the games they’ve been playing? Selling ‘messy junk’ on Amazon’s pages hurts those actually trying to sell stories to readers.

        • I wish I could join you guys in hoping this will help restore rights of backlist titles to authors, but I’ll believe any tradpubbed book actually gets the public warning/suppression from sale when I see it happen.

    • Oh please let it be so. Those poorly-scanned backlist titles are why I was glad when this was first announced. Those demonstrate such contempt for the reader that I wanted that “scarlet letter” front and center. I just didn’t want undeserving people to get caught up in that. “My dictionary doesn’t have “Nazgûl” in it! Make him unpublish the book.”

      So all is well then.

  3. I have characters who speak in a way that doesn’t phonetically match the way the word is actually spelled. It makes more sense to spell the dialogue phonetically than it does to write “He speaks like a pirate” every time that character says something. Are we going to have to explain this in the description now?

    Amazon usually does things to boost sales rather than curtail them. This seems to go against what their goals are. It makes me wonder what the crap they are doing now.

  4. A lexicon? A lexicon? For years I’ve been told that unless your characters are speaking an entirely new language for the entire story that readers hate lexicons! This is science fiction! Surely Amazon can find a way to deal with science fiction without insisting we add a lexicon. I’ve never had a reader tell me they couldn’t understand the meanings of words in my works of SFR. Context is everything.

    And like Meryl, I occasionally use Hebrew or Yiddish words. Am I going to be dinged for that? What about writers who write in a vernacular or use colloquialisms? What about The Black Dagger Brotherhood? Hmmm? Anyone remember that series? She’ll have to add lexicons to every single book. What about the words ‘gotta’ or ‘gonna’ or ain’t? What about Scottish romance? Talk about nonstandard English!

    This is so annoying. If Amazon applies these new standards to poorly formatted books or books riddled with misspellings or containing copious errors, fine, good. But to apply this to every book? Geez! I hope not! Better pull Dune right now. Maybe Game of Thrones as well. Oh, and everything by Tad Williams. Not to mention Mark Twain…

    Good grief.

  5. Hey, if my book is so full of errors that Amazon flags me, I consider that a favor. It never hurts to have fresh eyes on a book.

  6. I’m not too worried, but I think that’s because I’ve got 30″ of global warming outside my window.

    Running out of beer, now that’s a worry. (And sorry about the GW joke, a decade ago, the British newspaper Independent ran a story in which scientists assured us that blizzards will be a thing of the past because of GW.)

    Anyway, so long as we can appeal to a human being, this will be fine. My books are anthologies of Victorian-era texts (edited and annotated), which means they’re going to have what appear to be tons of misspellings, but are archaic spellings of words, and deliberate misspellings.

    I can’t wait for the Kindlebot to check out this story in my recent book of Sherlock parodies:

    “I see be th’ pa-apers,” Mr. Dooley remarked, “that th’ interscholastic meet at Yale was a gran’ succiss.”

    “An’ what is an interscholastic meet?” inquired Mr. Hennessy, vaguely.

    “’T is called a meet be raison iv th’ stakes, I dinnaw,” replied Mr. Dooley lightly, “an’ ’T is invinted to take th’ place iv th’ ol’fashioned enthrance exams. Whin you an’ me enthered Yale, Hinnissy, which thank Gawd we did not, we was ordhred to write all th’ Greek an’ Latin we knew in a book, ’T is diff’rent now. All th’ la-ads who wud like to enther Yale is lined up on a mark, an’ th’ Sicrety iv th’ Enthrance Board fires a pistil. They r-run wan mile, an’ th’ first hundhred la-ads to cross th’ line is admitted to colledge.

  7. Is there any substantiation on this story? I can’t find any link back to an actual announcement… just links to a couple of general Amazon pages on the topic.

  8. Seems weird there’s no easily found announcement from AMZ, and no coverage thus far by major sites; Wired, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the usual line up, LAT, NYT, Chi-Trib, WaPo, Huff, etc.

    So, I looked around. I think we need a SNOPES just for the clickbait c that passes for factual news…

    But… This, from John Doppler

    “whoa whoa whoa! Amazon spelling penalties?
    Here we go again…
    There’s a change coming at Amazon. You know what that means.

    Panic! Share the first poorly-researched blog post you can find! Scream! Rage at Amazon’s cruelty until your fury is spent and you’re left crying into your ice-cold coffee.

    And now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, let’s breathe calmly into our paper bags while we examine the facts.

    This week, the Good E-Reader blog announced that “Kindle e-Books will have a warning message if they have spelling mistakes.”

    Some authors have taken that headline at face value and assumed the worst: that Amazon will brand any books deemed to have typographic errors — no matter how minor — with a sinister warning label.

    The reality is far less dramatic.

    The Facts
    Michael Kozlowski
    Good E-Reader’s founder, Michael Kozlowski, has a history of posting inflammatory clickbait.
    First, only ebooks that have received specific complaints from readers will be examined. I once filed a complaint like this when an ebook I purchased turned out to be an unreadable mess. Literally unreadable. Gibberish and random characters in place of the headings, line breaks in the middle of sentences, hyphens interrupting every third word.

    This is the kind of situation KDP’s new proofing initiative is designed to combat, not the isolated typo that inevitably slips through the most diligent of editing.

    Second, complaints are reviewed by actual humanoids at Amazon. The process is not automated, and there will be an opportunity to contest or correct a problem if your book is determined to have issues.

    What will Amazon look for?
    The errors Amazon will flag include:

    missing content
    duplicated content
    numbers inadvertently substituted for letters, or vice versa (“typ0gr4phic”, “the year 2o12”)
    punctuation used in place of letters (e.g., “I read bo%ks”)
    visible or malformed HTML code
    discretional hyphens (“bad hy-phenation”)
    missing letters (“m ghty pecul ar”)
    unsupported characters (e.g., emoticons)
    incorrect content (as when the publisher uploads the interior file for a different book)
    blurry or excessively compressed images
    body text rendered entirely as underlined, bold, or hyperlinked
    page numbers embedded in the text
    nonfunctional table of contents or internal links
    As you can see from the list, these issues are largely due to formatting problems or OCR errors. Amazon will also remove works that violate Amazon rules or don’t meet basic standards, such as a book designed solely to advertise, or a poor translation obtained through Google Translate.

    What will Amazon ignore?
    Amazon will not flag:

    minor typographical errors (“What have you got to loose?”)
    regional spelling differences (e.g., “favourite” vs. “favorite”)
    dialogue, accents, or dialects (“I doan’ budge a step out’n dis place ‘dout a doctor”)
    foreign languages, archaic speech (“leet his sheep encombred in the myre”)
    proper names (“The Dothraki called that land Rhaesh Andahli”)
    Update 1/23/2016: Some authors are reporting flags for a small number of typos. This is inconsistent with what Amazon has previously said, and the enforcement appears to be erratic. It is possible that Amazon’s employees are confused about strict they should be in cracking down on issues. Stay tuned for further updates.

    What are the consequences?
    If Amazon’s screeners confirm that a book has issues, there are two possible actions.

    For errors prominent or numerous enough to detract from the reader’s enjoyment, Amazon will place a warning banner on the product’s page alerting customers that the item is under review. Authors and publishers will then have an opportunity to correct the issue and promptly remove the warning banner. (Amazon has already been doing this for years; they’re just expanding the conditions that can trigger an alert.)

    Errors that render the book unusable or incomplete or books that violate Amazon’s Terms of Service will be removed from sale.

    That’s it, friends. Nothing malign, nothing alarming. Just an improvement to quality control that won’t affect any professionally edited and formatted book.”

  9. Amazon needs to pay a lot more attention to text flow in Kindle books. Getting tired of having to manually navigate to the REALLY TRULY next page — instead of the random point in the text the software throws me to.


  10. I’m not getting what all the furor is about. Some sketchy blog breaks this news while Amazon is mum? Not even a “hey guys, fix your dang books or we’ll put a bad note on your sales age”. We got two weeks’ notice before they dropped the new KU on us, after all.

    The page that Dopp guy linked to isn’t anything new. It may have been updated, but that happens. There’s been no announcement that I’m aware of that Amazon has begun any new policy regarding errors, just that some writers have gotten the email about putting a notice on the sales page about quality issues. But Amazon has been doing that for years. It’s been rare, but I’ve seen it myself (not my books, just happened upon other books with this issue).

    Perhaps they’ve finally decided to really kick in and enforce the quality thing. Like everything else they do, they’ll use a sledge hammer instead of a screw driver. It will hit indies, mostly those who have such minor issues as to be laughable to even point them out, and miss the vast majority of books it should target.

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