English is a funny language. No matter how well you think you can spell simple English words, there’s always some rule that you weren’t quite thinking about when you were writing or reading something you wrote. That’s why spell check and editors and proofreaders and beta readers are all helpful partners for any successful author on the path to producing well-developed, well-edited, and well-written manuscripts.
Now, Amazon will start alerting its customers about spelling and formatting errors in Kindle files. According to Goodereader.com, beginning next week, February 3, 2016, Amazon will start alerting customers about spelling and formatting errors in Kindle files. Blogger Michael Kozlowski (Jan. 20, 2016) explains the process:
“Amazon has two stages of the warning system that will go live within a few short weeks. If an ebook only contains a few spelling mistakes, but is still readable, a simple warning message will appear on the details page of that specific title.” The details page to which Kozlowski is referring is the so-called “landing page” for your title on Amazon.
This means readers will be able to see if your titles have multiple errors. In other cases, readers may not be able to purchase it at all: “If the book has bad formatting issues and basically renders it unreadable, Amazon will suppress it and the book listing will be removed.”
Authors who have experience uploading titles to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) know that the system will alert you when there are multiple spelling errors, although it does not currently list them after uploading a file. Publishers have the option of uploading that particular file or submitting a new file that is error-free. In other words, Amazon will begin telling customers if the publisher ignores those errors and decides to publish anyway.
Issues of quality control are nothing new to publishers. Several months ago, customers complained about errors and omissions in the much-anticipated release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, which reportedly went to print with missing pages. As independent authors and publishers, the quality control issues land squarely on your shoulders. And they should be just as important to you as the content you write. Here are a few things you can do to assure that your titles are in compliance with KDP standards.
Editing, Proofreading, and Beta Reading
- Prior to release of a formatted manuscript, assure that a professional editor edits your title once (at least); conduct a spell check of the entire document before conducting your own read through.
- Assure that a professional proofreader has reviewed your formatted manuscript (print, ebook) in addition to the editor.
- Allow at least four people to beta read your book before release; ask them to look out for any spelling or formatting issues.
- Make sure to read your manuscript one last time before you release it; ask your editor about any new or unresolved issues.
- Refrain from using online conversion systems (PDF to MOBI [Kindle file format], Word to MOBI, etc.) that promise a full, error-free version of a root file.
- Make sure your title includes a contents page, with embedded chapter or section hyperlinks.
- Make sure all sections of the book use assigned paragraph and section break formatting (for more about assigned paragraph formatting, click here).
- (Advanced) KDP allows publishers to download a version of the Kindle ebook for reviewing purposes. Contact someone with significant web coding experience, who can extract the individual components of your Kindle file (especially CSS style sheets) to determine where issues may arise in the ebook layout.
Now that potential buyers of your book will be aware of spelling and formatting issues in a Kindle title, it's extremely important to focus on quality control. It's the only way to build a successful brand. And, as a self-publishing author or independent publisher, that's exactly what you're trying to do. If you want readers to keep coming back every time you release a new title, it's important to realize that they are expecting the same quality every time.