As regular visitors to TPV know, Mrs. PG launched a new book yesterday.
We did not have liftoff.
Depending upon your point of view, the rocket either emitted a lot of smoke without moving or exploded on the pad.
The contents of the new book were not the correct contents.
Authors reading this will understand Mrs. PG’s feelings about this situation.
User error was PG’s first thought. KDP error was his second thought.
After his hurried attempts to remedy the situation were uploaded (Note to Amazon – Why can’t changes to an already-published book be placed in an accelerated review queue? In a situation like Mrs. PG experienced, the minutes seem like hours, etc.), PG checked the two earlier books in the same series via Look Inside on Amazon.
He discovered strange content problems in those two books previously published via KDP and whatever Amazon is calling Createspace these days. An ebook might have problems while the POD book was fine even though they were based on the same manuscript.
None of the reader reviews for the earlier books mentioned any of the issues PG found in those books, issues that would have been obvious to anyone who spent more than five minutes reading the books.
Paranoia entered the mélange of PG’s emotions.
He immediately changed the password for Mrs. PG’s KDP account to one that is twice as long as the old password. (If you need a quick random password, you can obtain one up to 50 characters long at no charge from LastPass – https://www.lastpass.com/password-generator .)
PG then fixed the content problems with the earlier books, previewed the fixes and uploaded the corrected manuscripts to Amazon.
Since nothing is going to appear on Amazon for “up to 72 hours” and PG was more than a little stirred-up, he examined the formatted book files that had been submitted to KDP. They looked fine and showed none of the problems that appeared in the as-published versions.
PG peformed a quick check of the KDP discussion boards and found a lot of authors who had difficulties with formatting, but nothing that sounded like the issues with Mrs. PG’s books. He’ll go back today for a deeper dive.
At this point, PG believes (crossed fingers) that all the errors in the book released yesterday are in the process of being resolved.
PG is a bit tired this morning and needs to write a macro to automatically check the publication status of Mrs. PG’s book every ten minutes, but has a couple of additional thoughts.
First, PG and Mrs. PG would like to thank everyone who read PG’s announcement of Mrs. PG’s new book on TPV yesterday, went to Amazon to check it out and promptly posted comments on TPV reporting problems with the Look Inside content. This was the first indication we received that anything was wrong with the book and it enabled the PG’s to get a quick start on a fix.
Second, from experiences during a prior life, PG understands a bit about the process of rolling out a program update through a large computer system with machines spread across various geographic locations. From what he has read about Amazon’s publishing systems, he suspects books and book listings (and likely other product listings) are rolled out around the world on a batch basis. However, PG believes it should be possible for Amazon to respond to a request by the publisher of a book in much less than 72 hours.
- An author/publisher should have access to an emergency unpublish function that would quickly take an individual book offsale without removing the book’s listing, changing its content or doing anything that should require a review by Amazon. Just remove the buy button and replace it with a message that says “This book is temporarily unavailable” or something to that effect. As authors know, once a book is submitted to Amazon for review, KDP locks the author’s ability to do anything with that listing prior to publication. This emergency unpublish command should be available to stop a book that is in the review process from going on sale once the Amazon content review is completed or to quickly interrupt sales of a previously published book while changes or corrections are made and reviewed.
- If an emergency unpublish is requested by the author, the Look Inside function in the book’s listing should also be deactivated. If the author is making a content change, the old content should not be available for viewing.
- PG would be willing to pay a small fee for each access to an emergency unpublish function. From Amazon’s standpoint, assessing a fee would help avoid abuse of the function and provide some compensation to the company for interrupting a review process that is already underway.
At this point, PG is not certain whether any third party somehow tampered with one or more of Mrs. PG’s books or not. Neither does he know whether some exotic glitch in the KDP system was involved in mixing up content from multiple books by the same author or not.
This entire fiasco could be a series of user errors.
As mentioned at the top of the post, however, the discovery of content issues with multiple books at the same time and the lack of red flags about those content issues in the form of negative reviews, emails from friends who bought the book, etc., for previously published books that have been on sale for several months suggest that something strange may have happened to multiple books at about the same time.
PG does not, however, view the events of the last 24 hours as early indication of an alien invasion of earth or of Amazon.
If any visitors to TPV have insights, experiences, suggestions, publishing process recommendations, etc., PG would appreciate hearing about them in the comments or via the Contact Page.