Tuesday, August 6, 2013

KDP Quality Notices

 Authors and KDP speak out!



         Last week’s blog on KDP Quality Notices to authors generated a lot of interest. Here are some things I gathered from your responses.
1.     Everyone is in favor of the Quality Notices. The end result will improve the reader’s experience.
2.     A universal concern is that KDP will send them to all authors as needed, not just independently published ones. In particular, everyone feels that big name authors need to receive them equally.
3.     There is a fear that by locating and complaining about a few errors, readers will be able to use that to demand their money back for the books they buy.
4.     Also, there is a concern that complaining about a few errors (which every book has, believe me, and I read about two a week!) will become a way to persecute the author for a grudge held against them.

I contacted KDP and asked if they would please share any information on how they distributed the notices. Here is their response:
Hello Marla,

I can understand you wanting to know how we get to the point of sending Quality notices to our publishers.

When you publish a book, it will be set to "In Review" status for a short period of time so we can ensure that we are providing the best possible eBook experience to our customers. Should we miss something (however small) in this process, our readers can submit feedback, report poor quality or formatting from the book's product detail page on the website.

If we get more of the same feedback from a number of customers about the same book, then we send a quality notice to that book's author.

I hope you will find this information helpful. If you have any further question about this or any other topic please feel free to contact us, we'll gladly assist you with your request.

Thanks for being part of the Amazon KDP family.


Then, in a response to a question about my own books, I got this answer:


Hello Marla,

We appreciate your attention to our recent notification.

Content published through KDP is held to the high standards customers have come to expect from Amazon. To ensure this, we react to reports from readers who experience problems when reading KDP books and perform random quality audits on books in the Kindle Store.

If we confirm the problem within a book negatively impacts the reading experience, we will always notify you of any problems we find and will make sure to point you in the right direction to get the problem fixed.

Thanks for using Amazon KDP.

Not sure why, but when responding to my direct question they only mentioned reacting to readers complaints, and in the other message, they did tell me that random audits were being performed. I think most of us would feel the notices were being handled in a more fair and consistent manner with the random checks. I must say, that KDP has been responsive to my questions and been professional and helpful with their answers.

Dear readers,
I think we all understand KDP notices a little better. Personally, at the risk of sounding whiny and whingy, it seems somewhat strange to spend time reprimanding an author for one or two typos, when all books, even the NYT best sellers, have a few.
What I’m hearing all of you say, though, is that there is an appreciation by authors for having errors pointed out in order to perfect the manuscript. I’ve fixed mine. And am once more resolved to learn how to do my own formatting so I can go in and clean up problems by myself! Probably won’t happen, though. I have little patience for formatting! I’ll have to perfect the proofing process.
Have a great week everyone!
Marla


16 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this Marla, I believe you're right, there are quite a few books out there that need fixed. Not that the story is bad, but the mistakes cause distraction. I don't feel one or two are the problem, but ones that have info dump, head hopping, and the like. It makes me feel better if I do decide to point these out to an author so that maybe it will help them instead of feeling defensive. I know myself, we have fixed errors in our book, (my sister and I) and since then we have found a few more and are fixing them too. Nobody is perfect, but the cleaner and tighter a book is the better for the reader. I am going to check out your book. It looks good!

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    1. HI LIsa,
      I think some of the things you mentioned come under "editing" and I don't thinkKDP does any of that. As far as I know, it is only errors, like typos, misplaced or missing words, things like that. But I can't say for sure, the small stuff is what I got reprimanded for, it's possible they critique other things, too.
      How wonderful that you and your sister can write together! Not sure I could do that with anyone. Unless, of course, they did all the editing, grammar checking and proofing! :)
      Thanks for the interest in my book. Suspense is my favorite genre, I read and write it.Keep writing, and thanks for your comment.
      Marla

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  2. Notices for one or two typos in a book is absurd. Readers should not have that kind of power. If a book has a lot of editing issues and formatting issues, of course, the reader should have recourse. But one or two mistakes? No way. If I sent a letter to a NY publisher every time I found a few typos in a published book, would they pull the book and reprint it? I don't think so. That is not worth the time or trouble, and small publishers and indie authors should not be harasses this way by readers.

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  3. Hi Maryann,
    Nice to hear from you! It's interesting that many authors who have responded are glad to have these notices, however small, in order to clean up their books. I probably wouldn't have a problem with it if I knew they were also sending notices to people with dozens in every chapter! Or even every paragraph. Unless something has changed, people have been allowed to post anything, no matter the quality. I'm hoping this means that AZ is doing more critiquing at the first step of the process.

    Have a nice day,
    Marla

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  4. Writer Dave Here,
    I agree with Maryann Miller whole heartedly!

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    1. Hey, guess what, Dave? Wholeheartedly is one word, not tow. Hee hee. Had to get that in.

      Maryann is right, one or two shouldn't be enough for notices. But the more I think about it, one or two is probably enough for the chronic book-returners to get their money back! I suspect there is some of that going on.

      Marla

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  5. Hi Marla
    I'm not sure typos and missing words are a major problem as long as they don't overwhelm the reader. What tends to bother me is the tediously poor writing I often encounter when reading Indie authors, especially when I see they have 80 five star reviews. It is as if the author has asked every single person they know to review their book and these people are afraid of being truthful.
    Some of these books are so bad I want my money back but I got them for free; still, the time I have spent reading this insufferable crap is gone forever. Now I understand everyone wants to be an author and these days Amazon makes that possible. However, not everyone is qualified to be an author. How is Amazon going to fix that?
    Do they have readers who actually go through these books in an attempt to ferret out the really terrible ones? I think just about all of us know what constitutes good writing vs trash. And we all want to support other Indie authors... but are we honest enough to tell them their book stinks? To me, that's where Amazon should step in.

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    1. As far as I know, KDP doesn't judge storyline quality, or readability, just what they consider blatant errors. It's possible that when readers return a book they gripe about those things, but whether AZ follows up on them I have no idea. Also, what constitutes a good read is so subjective, that if an author manages to market his book to a large enough audience, he is bound to attract some people who will like his work. The odd thing about that, is everyone, including the NYT bestsellers, get bad reviews. I've checked! So to have none, is weird in itself.

      I think it is difficult to support other authors and be honest. Everyone lives in fear of retaliation! We shouldn't be so timid, but we often are. I buy and also download many eBooks. If the storyline doesn't interest me in the first two chapters, I just don't read it.And also, don't review it. (I did once and won't again--long story!)

      I often feel bad when another author reads and reviews my book, and all I can do for them in return is purchase their book. I don't take time to read books I don't enjoy and I don't read out of my favorite genre. It would be unfair to do so, how could I really judge them? So many reviewers seem to love everything they read.

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    2. Hi Dan,
      Forgot to add that it was nice of you to stop by my blog! See you on Twitter a lot, but not here.
      Thanks and have a great week!
      Marla

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  6. Marla, Since I have two self-published books, the quality notices (one each) came to me, and I quickly fixed the missing words and republished. I appreciate knowing about them, but I think it's more likely they were found in the random checks. It's hard to believe a reader would complain about a missing "of" and "the," the problems mentioned.
    Other notices may have gone to the publisher of my other book, but I know they wouldn't be corrected (or passed on to me).

    Self-publishing still carries a certain stigma, and in many cases I see why. I've read, or tried to read, some where the typos and errors were so distracting I couldn't follow the story. There can be story problems too. I'm in favor of Amazon's pointing out the typos and missing words, but in really bad books, it may be an overwhelming task with pages of problems. I don't know what they'd do in that case.

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    1. I don't know the answer to that either, Ellis. Personally, I've decided I need to do my own formatting so that when the inevitable error comes to my attention, I can fix it myself quickly and not be obligated to wait for my formatter to do it for me. Trouble is, I don't have the time or patience for formatting! Will have to change that and open my mind to the idea. Sure will make corrections easier.
      I'm assuming you do your own. If so, what method do you use? I'm always looking for a way to do it that isn't too terrible complicated.
      Thanks for your comment. I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one who has received the notices!
      Have a super weekend,
      Marla

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    2. Yes, I do my own formatting. For Kindle, it's even simpler now. I do it in Word and haven't had any problems. I can send you a sheet of steps I did for a group I gave a talk to on how to prepare your manuscript for uploading to Kindle.

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    3. HI,
      That would be wonderful, Ellis! I have to get over my resistance to doing it because it would make life much easier when I needed to make changes.
      My email address is mam887@gmail.com
      Thanks much,
      Marla

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  7. As an avid reader of author-published books, I can say that typos and missing words drive me nuts. They are a severe distraction from what is otherwise a good plot and engaging characters, authors should make no mistake about that. I simply cannot give more than three stars to a book with lots of mistakes (but one or two mistakes happens to everyone). I have a problem giving reviews, in general. If I can't say something nice, I'll talk about the weather.

    As for the just plain poor writing, it's not Amazon's job to determine what is well written. I find myself in somewhat of a freefall on this issue when looking for books to read. I don't trust five star reviews. But when I do find a writer I like, I read everything s/he writes.

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  8. Hi Kathryn,
    I totally agree. My personal issue was getting a notice for a book with only two errors. I'm really hoping that the notices will get to the books that have errors on every page, or even every paragraph.
    I do give five star reviews, but try to limit them to reads I find exceptionally engaging. I rarely give less than a four star review, because usually, if a book isn't at least a four to me, I won't waste my time reading it. I download many books by new authors, many free, some not, and I have to admit that I only read about one in ten. I give a book about 7-10%, then give up on it if it doesn't make me want to keep reading.
    And, like you, I tend to read everything by an author I like.
    Have a great day. Nice hearing from you,
    Marla

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