“I get by with a little help from my friends,” The Beatles sang.
It is so very true.
Yesterday, I was locked in a war with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. No matter how I tried, no matter what I did, I could not get the files to upload for my new novella, Beauty & the Beast: A Modern Fairy Tale.
I’m not a novice at this. I’ve published five other books with Amazon’s KDP. I’ve uploaded updates at least once to every single one of them. I’ve redesigned and uploaded the cover to each of them. I know from publishing with KDP.
But damned if I could figure out what was wrong. When I tried to upload the book files, it would get stuck in an endless loop. One time it churned for over three hours trying to convert the files from Word to Kindle format. When it would finally give up, it would say simply, “We couldn’t process your file. Please try again.”
Now I understand there are computer glitches and such. But the infuriating thing about this failure was that Amazon wouldn’t say what was wrong. Just, “We can’t process your file. Please try again.” And their tech support is only available by email, and they take 24 hours to respond.
I checked my links. They all worked. I checked the file size. It was under the limit. I tried loading it as Word and as HTML. Nothing.
As Monday turned into Tuesday, I went to my friends. I posted a thread on the Facebook page for the Book Goodies Authors Group. (If you’re an indie author, and you’re not a member, you need to be. There is no more helpful group of indie authors on the planet.)
Questions and suggestions started pouring in. I tried everything people suggested. Nothing worked.
And then one of them, Katie Darden, offered to convert the Word files to a Kindle one on her computer. All I had to do was email it to her, and she’d see if she could get it to work.
She had no idea what she was volunteering for.
Katie ended up spending hours tinkering with the original files. She found two broken links, and we thought that was the problem. She found some images that were pasted in instead of being inserted, and we thought that was the problem. Never mind that these links and pasted images had worked on every other book I’ve ever published and republished.
So we fixed it all, she converted it to .mobi, and got it to upload. Huzzah!
But I still couldn’t get it to work. So we went back to the drawing board. We determined something was wrong with the cover. We tinkered with that. Multiple times. Sometimes it wouldn’t take it, making us think the file was too big (since Amazon just said, “We couldn’t process your file. Please try again.). Sometimes it told us it was too small. Katie and I both monkeyed around with it until she could get both the book files and the cover to load.
At 10.30pm CDT, I finally hit “Save & Publish.” Katie lives in the Pacific Time Zone, so it wasn’t as late for her as it was for me. Of course, she only stopped working on my book long enough to fix and eat dinner with her family. She had no stake in getting my book out. She doesn’t make any money on it. She just wanted to help someone else out. We’ve corresponded a few times through Book Goodies, but we’ve never actually met.
But she was willing to help me get Beauty & the Beast: A Modern Fairy Tale launched.
I still don’t know what went wrong, really. I’m not certain things will work when I inevitably update the files with new ads or a new bio (or a thank you to Katie). But I know that, without Katie Darden’s help the book wouldn’t have gone live today.
And maybe buy a copy of Beauty & the Beast: A Modern Fairy Tale too. She worked awfully hard on it.
I got by with a little (actually a lot of) help from a friend. I hope one day I’ll be in a position to pay it back or, failing that, pay it forward.
Being an independent author isn’t as “independent” as it sounds. We need help. We often need help from each other. Thankfully, I was able to get it when I really needed it.