I was so blown away by the service I got from Amazon’s Kindle store this week that I had to write about it because it spoke to me at a number of different levels, not just about the service itself. Let me give you the back story first.
In the past, I have used Amazon’s Createspace company to create and publish my paperbacks and they provided a service where, for a reasonable fee, they would layout the interior of your book. I was very happy to pay it after asking a few graphic artists here what it would cost to layout a 300 (or so) page book.
Unfortunately, they ended that service recently; perhaps because it was unprofitable and you know that if any part of a business is not profitable, it doesn’t make sense to keep it. I couldn’t quarrel with them so I had to find an alternative. Thankfully, they had already thought of it and started moving authors towards the Kindle store which now not only publishes e-books but also paperbacks. Obviously learning from Createspace’s experience, they do not offer layout services either, but they do provide templates you can use.
I downloaded the 5’ x 8” template – the size I wanted for Vaucluse – and spent hours transferring the manuscript into the template. It was not simply a matter of cutting and pasting the entire book in one go. Now I see why Createspace stopped their layout service. After literally hours working on it, I discovered that my book had parts that were not in the template, for example, a Timeline, and I ran into a bit of a problem.
You probably don’t even notice but when you’re reading a “real” book (as a friend of mine says), at the top of each page is the book title and the author’s name and they only appear from Chapter 1; they are not on the ‘front matter’ as it’s called in book publishing jargon. The front matter includes the title page, the copyright page, acknowledgements, etc. My problem was that after adding in parts that weren’t in the template, the title and author were on some of the pages in my front matter and I couldn’t find a way to delete them without deleting them from the entire book.
Believe me, after hours of working on the template I was so tired and frustrated, I was willing to live with them. That made me realize that very often we’re so tired of trying to change things that we sometimes give up and think we have to live with them. Thankfully, we have come to realize that we don’t have to live with a Government that does not communicate, we don’t have to live with sewage spilling into our streets and, hopefully, we now realize that we do not have to live with corruption and think that people will always get away with it. I have said before in my articles: “Day does run until night catch it” and “Blackbird does fly high, but it can’t live in the sky”. However, I digress.
After being unable to figure it out myself, I finally sent an email to Kindle after 10 p.m. and explained the problem. Their policy is to get back to you in 24 hours. This morning, about twelve hours later, someone called me – yes, called me not e-mailed – and walked me through the process to remove the header from the front matter. I cannot tell you how happy I was, not only that they got back to me so soon and via the phone, but that they helped me solve my problem and invited me to call again if I have any more. Now, that is service!
And here I am telling everyone about it in this article. Any potential authors thinking about self-publishing having read this may be more likely to use the Kindle store to publish their book. Take note business people because I’m forever saying that word of mouth is the best and cheapest advertising method. We know it, but we don’t seem to give it as much weight as it deserves. Astound your customers with your service and they will work on your behalf.
Finally, in addition to guarding against settling for the status quo, we need to be careful that we do not get complacent. I say this because only today I saw an announcement from the Barbados Chamber of Commerce about our latest downgrade to default status and it was a good reminder that we’re not out of the woods by any means. The Government still has a long way to go, so we cannot be operating as if it’s business as usual.
That goes for our businesses as well; we can never afford to become complacent because the business environment is continually changing. I have to admit I became quite complacent with my arrangement with Createspace so when things changed, I found myself scrambling. As I said, this experience has given me many lessons. I hope you learned some as well.
Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She was the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014-2016) and is the Barbados Facilitator for the WINC Acceleration Program.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org