Distribution Updates – Kindle MatchBook, iTunes & More!

Hey Stitch Fans!  Just wanted to let you know about a few quick updates made to Stitch & Shudder’s distribution.

Lots of details below, but here’s the short version: don’t worry if you don’t see Stitch or Shudder available for sale where they should be for a couple days.  And if you bought Stitch or Shudder from Amazon in print, you can now grab a Kindle copy at a reduced price!

Okay, and here’s the long version:

First, it recently came to my attention that Shudder had not been available in the iTunes store for a few months due to a formatting issue (apparently the Apple devices were not respecting the resizing of the image of Stuck’s cover in the back of the book, and as a result the picture was spilling onto multiple pages which breaks their formatting guidelines).  I’ve corrected the issue and submitted an update to Smashwords (who handles my distribution to iTunes), both in the Shudder manuscript and preemptively in Stitch.  Since any manuscript changes require a review and re-distribution to all of the Smashwords channels (including the iTunes store, B&N, Kobo, etc.), you may notice that Stitch & Shudder are not available at these channels (basically any ebook seller besides Amazon) for up to a couple weeks.  Never fear!  They will be back as soon as all that is complete.

In addition, while I was making these changes, I decided I might as well fix the two small typos I knew about in Shudder (changing a “the” to “they” and “overhead” to “overheard”).  You may or may not remember the debacle that was the Stitch update I issued last spring – not sure if Amazon is going to email all of you Shudder owners now with another cryptic email about “significant editorial changes” but hopefully not.  The ONLY changes to the Kindle manuscript were fixing these two minuscule typos.  (Even the Stuck image size didn’t change, since that wasn’t a problem in the Kindle version, only the epub version on iTunes.)  The typos were also corrected in the print version, but alas, I’m not able to issue updates to those… (On the plus side, hey, now your print version with the two tiny typos is a collector’s edition!  And if you’re bored sometime, you can play “Where’s Waldo?” trying to find them!)  While these updates are reviewed by Amazon, you may notice that the print or Kindle versions are not available on Amazon for a short while – this should be cleared up in a couple days at most (and as of this minute, at least, everything appears to be in working order).

Kindle MatchBookFinally, we get to probably the most exciting announcement in this blog post – Stitch and Shudder are now available for the Kindle MatchBook program!  In case you’re not familiar (I wasn’t until I came across the settings on the Kindle Publishing site…), the Kindle MatchBook program allows you to purchase Kindle copies of books you own in print at a reduced price.  I’m thrilled to announce that if you’ve purchased a print copy of Stitch through Amazon, you can now grab the Kindle version for FREE, and if you bought Shudder in print from Amazon, you can nab the Kindle version for only $0.99!  To get yours, simply go here and click the “Find Your Kindle MatchBook Titles” button, then click the “Get Kindle Edition” button next to Stitch and/or Shudder.  (Note: when I published this, Shudder was working but Stitch wasn’t yet – may take a couple days to appear.)  Happy reading!

Thanks to my family/friends for the Surprise Shudder Launch Party!

So, yesterday was a busy day.  I worked from about 6:30 am to 3 pm straight gearing up for the release and getting all the promotional work in place, updating links all over the internet to Shudder’s Amazon pages, sending out review copies to bloggers with upcoming dates, etc.  By the time the afternoon rolled around I was wiped, but my husband (Deep) had suggested earlier in the week that we go out for dinner to celebrate the release and I’d been craving hibachi for a while (pregnancy), so after taking a break outside for an hour to enjoy the sunshine, I sucked it up and showered and we went out for dinner.

Turned out the restaurant could only accommodate us for a 5:30 reservation, which normally I’m down with since I’m pretty much constantly hungry these days, but yesterday it was a problem.  You see, with all the book stuff going on and my work being especially busy, we haven’t had a single moment to go look at any stuff to put on the baby registry.  I’ve done some research online and read lots of product reviews, but there are just so many options and so many things to pick, the whole thing has really just been stressing me out.  So we’d planned to spend an hour before dinner just walking around the nearby Toys R Us so we could see some stuff in person and maybe knock some items off our list.

But we were running late to begin with since I needed a few minutes to decompress before I got ready to leave the house, and then the reservation got changed to 5:30, and then we roll up to the Toys R Us only to discover that it has moved and my stupid GPS won’t connect to the satellite and it then takes us 10 minutes of driving in circles to find the new Toys R Us location.  And then we pull into this massive 8 story parking garage and go to Level 3 where Toys R Us is supposed to be, yet we circle and circle and all it says everywhere is “Entrance to Shop Rite” and meanwhile the clock is ticking down and we now have like 30 minutes until our dinner reservation, and I know that there are going to be like 150 different stroller models to try to look at in that time and that we probably won’t have another chance to do this for weeks and now we can’t even figure out where to park or how to get into the store or how to pay for parking, and I just lost it.

I started bawling hysterically in the car while my husband looked on in horror, and I refused to get out and go into Toys R Us.  I just couldn’t deal with the prospect of cramming what should be at least an hour-long purchase decision into 15 minutes before we needed to walk to the restaurant, I couldn’t deal with the glaring fluorescent lights accenting my red eyes and puffy nose to every other shopper in the store, and I couldn’t deal with figuring out the F-ing parking pay machine and how to navigate our way out of the monstrosity of a parking structure we were trapped in without even a single sign pointing the way to our destination.  I was done.

This was supposed to have been a good day and an evening of celebration, and instead I was exhausted, and stressed, and miserable.  I just wanted to cram my already swollen belly with fried rice and go home.

But Deep, being ever understanding and patient, just gave me a few minutes to cry it out and then encouraged me to please just come walk through the store on our way to the restaurant, and assured me it was okay if we were late to dinner as they’d just have to accommodate us whenever we decided to show up.  So after destroying a few tissues and brushing my hair into my face to hide my red-rimmed eyes as best I could, we went into Toys R Us.

And it actually ended up being a pretty productive 25-minute jaunt, where we settled almost immediately on the only stroller (out of 150) in the store that wasn’t either a ginormous unwieldy tank or a flimsy little collection of sticks on wheels like I used to push my Water Baby doll around in as a kid.  (In case you’re curious, it’s the Baby Jogger City Mini, which is extremely highly reviewed, and for good reason – that thing folds and unfolds like a pro, and it weighs – and costs – half of what all the other fancy strollers do.)  In addition, we significantly narrowed down our car seat selection and I was able to confirm that the crib that I’d originally settled on and then decided against since it wasn’t awesome enough indeed was not awesome enough.  So overall, a worthwhile trip.

And then we had a nice dinner, which we showed up to maybe 5-10 minutes late and it wasn’t a problem.  I ate all of my rice and half of Deep’s, not mention the rest of the shrimp, scallops, vegetables, bean sprouts, soup, salad, and ice cream they put on my plate.  (Did I mention I love hibachi and that I’m pregnant?)  And all together it was a nice dinner, until I stood up to leave and felt nauseous for about 30 seconds, and then when the nausea went away I just felt wiped.

So we’re on our way home, and despite needing to be home by 7 to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, my husband is driving up the highway like an old biddy who can’t see over the steering wheel.  He mentions something about wanting to be home, and I literally reply, “Well, we’d get there sooner if you would drive faster than 50 miles an hour…”  And then we finally get to our exit, and I’m thinking about what I’m going to do all night so I don’t sit here and incessantly refresh my browser on my Amazon page to see how Shudder is doing (since let’s face it, no one’s buying books on a Saturday night – lesson learned for next launch) while he’s dominating the TV with this hockey game for the next three hours.  I’m too tired to even consider picking up another baby book – just the thought of holding 2-lbs of paper on my lap makes me want to cry again – and then I realize I have an episode of Rookie Blue DVR’d, which of course I’d need control of the TV to watch.

So I very gently ask if this is Game 7 or something, to gauge if maybe I can sneak 40 minutes of gripping Canadian TV drama somewhere in between hockey periods so I at least have something to look forward to all night.  And Deep replies that it’s only Game 2, so sure, he can watch the beginning of the game on the computer.  And then I’m wondering why the hell he even wants to watch this game, since he’s not a fan of either of the teams playing and it’s not like Game 2 is an important game or anything… but I just let it go, b/c I’m too tired to care.

And then we pull onto our street (which is only about wide enough for 1.5 cars to fit onto to begin with), and there are a whole ton of cars parked on the side of the road, and for some reason most of them are directly in front of our house.  And at this point you would think I realize something’s up, but instead my thought is (and I blame this on the pregnancy), “Why the hell would our neighbors let their guests park in front of our house when we have the smallest driveway and property on the block??”

And it’s not until we go to pull into the driveway and I see my dad standing there directing my father-in-law into a spot and notice my aunt’s bright blue SUV and then my ENTIRE family and all my close friends come sneaking around the corner of the house that I finally realize that I’ve been duped.  They’d been planning a surprise Shudder Launch Party all along, and I TOTALLY did not see it coming.

I heart ice cream cake!

I heart ice cream cake!

So after a long, stressful, and mildly depressing day, I got to cap off the night surrounded by all my favorite people in the world (except my brother Mikey, who was stuck milking cows at his farm apprenticeship a few hours away, my grandma, who was apparently livid that she was on vacation for this, and my brother-in-law Sujoy who is also away on a grand adventure), eating Shudder ice cream cake (the only kind of cake I like), and wearing a cute little Shudder button.  :-)

It was amazing.  My husband (who planned the whole thing) is amazing.  My family is amazing.  And I am so lucky to be surrounded by such a loving and supportive group of people, both in terms of my family and friends, and all of the wonderful readers and fans and fellow authors who’ve helped to make the series a success.  Thank you guys so much for everything.  I love you all.

Buttons from the Shudder Surprise Launch Party

Guess what came in the mail today!

AHHHHHH!  They’re here!!!!!

Shudder Print ARCsThe print ARCs have arrived!  And I must say, they are beautiful, aren’t they?

Can’t wait to crack one of these babies open and find me some typos!  (Actually, I hate proofreading, but whatevs – needs to be done.)

And if you’re one of the bloggers on the tour, good news: I’ve got the e-ARCs ready to go as well!  Just need to give those one more read-through to make sure they’re functioning properly, and then I’ll be sending them out.  Get ready!!  :-D


Reminder – Shudder ARC Giveaway Ends Saturday!

Shudder by Samantha Durante

It’s almost here! Squeeee!!  (Okay, I’m really not a squee-er, but you get the point.)

So I know my blogging has been a little slow lately (sorry!), and that’s because I’ve been working diligently on finishing up the revisions to Shudder and getting this publishing/promotion train MOOOVIN’!

I’ve now got an almost-final ARC manuscript ready to send to the printer (and to myself for e-book formatting, ughhhh), 80+ bloggers signed up for the tour (and more on the way!), and a looooong list of fun guest post ideas for once the tour begins on June 15th!  So we’re making progress, people!

Excited yet??  I know I am!

What can you do to make sure you don’t miss the boat?  Here’s a short list of ideas:

Oh, and don’t forget…  Doing any of the above will earn you entries into the GIVEAWAY for a SIGNED ARC of SHUDDER!!!  I’m not gonna lie – there are already over 4,300 entries into the giveaway and only ONE prize up for grabs, so your chances aren’t exactly great… but miracles happen, right??  Someone’s gotta win this baby!  Who says it won’t be you?

Anyway, be sure to enter below if you haven’t already.  The winner will be selected this weekend, so hold your breath until then (or maybe not – I definitely don’t need any lawsuits…)  I wish you all the best of luck!  :-D

Enter the Giveaway HERE!!!

Clarifying the Cryptic Amazon Email

If you own a Kindle version of Stitch, you may have received an email from Amazon in the wee hours of the morning that went something a little like this:

An updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Stitch (Stitch Trilogy, Book 1) by Samantha Durante is now available.

The updated version contains the following changes:

–     Typos have been corrected.

–     Significant editorial changes have been made.

Since that email is entirely cryptic and makes the changes I made sound completely overblown, I just wanted to post some clarification.  To be clear: NO EDITORIAL CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE TO STITCH.

In case you’re curious, these are the actual changes I made:

My reaction while reading Amazon's email

My reaction while reading Amazon’s email

1. Fixed two typos

In Ch 12 when Alessa is reflecting on how mortified she is about running away from Nikhil, one sentence had read, “She couldn’t imagine how she would face him tomorrow, or whenever she happened to see him next, if he even wanted to her see again.”  I fixed it to read “see her” as was intended.  (Shout out to reader Brianna for bringing this one to my attention!)

In the Acknowledgements, I somehow misspelled Stephenie Meyer’s name (used “Stephanie” with an “a” by accident), so I fixed it while I was in there.

2. Added a Note to Readers

Since publishing the book almost eight months ago, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to succeed as an author, and the one thing I’ve relied on almost completely is help from my readers.  Whether bloggers or just plain bibliophiles, you readers are the only reason Stitch has sold any copies, because you’ve all been SO supportive in posting reviews, telling friends on Goodreads and Facebook, blogging/tweeting/shouting from the rooftops about Stitch.  So I wanted to take a moment to say, “Thank you!” and explain to readers just how much this really means to us authors, since as a reader, I never knew!

In case you’re interested and don’t feel like updating your Kindle, this is what the note says:

Dear Reader,

Thank you, thank you, thank you for making time in your busy schedule to read Stitch.  It is an absolute honor to share Alessa and Isaac’s story with you, and I’m thrilled that you chose this book out of the millions of incredible books at your disposal.  Truly, I cannot thank you enough.  You are a dream come true.

If you enjoyed Stitch and are interested in reading the rest of the series, I encourage you to join the Stitch community at www.samanthadurante.com to sign up for notifications of future Stitch Trilogy releases and to keep up with the tons of exciting extra content that’s published on my blog, Facebook pages, Twitter account, and Goodreads page almost every day.

I also wanted to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude to all of the fans who have so graciously spread the word about Stitch on their blogs and social media.  This book could never have succeeded without your help, and I am utterly in your debt.  You guys are amazing – I really can’t say it enough.

I’ve been reading books since I can remember, but until I began writing professionally, I never understood how truly dependent authors are on their fans.  As a reader, I always assumed that a good author would get picked up by an agent and publisher, and that those allies would use their arsenals of marketing and PR tools to ensure that the author’s books would reach their rightful audience.  And perhaps things used to be like this, once upon a time, but the publishing industry is changing, and unfortunately this is no longer the case.

The traditional publishing model just isn’t working anymore, and as a result, up-and-coming authors are often passed over altogether in favor of proven sellers.  And even those authors lucky enough to find a publisher are not afforded the same amount of support in the marketing department that they once could expect.  That means authors now have to know not only how to write but also how to market their work effectively.

As an author, I’ve since learned that my number one ally in the challenging endeavor of finding an audience for my books is not the marketers and PR people I once thought, but the readers themselves.  Every review on Amazon and Goodreads, every recommendation to a friend, every mention on a blog or Facebook post or tweet has been absolutely invaluable towards Stitch’s success.  So thank you a million times over to everyone who has done this for Stitch, or for any book – you have no idea how important (and appreciated!) you truly are.

As a reader, you hold so much power to aid the authors you love.  If you enjoyed this book – or any book – I encourage you to write a review, tell someone about it, post about it online, and reach out to the author to let them know.  Take whatever steps you can to share your love with the world, because your words really do matter.

Thank you so much for all of your support!

Again, to be clear, this was the only “editorial change” made.  I did NOT edit the story in any way, so PLEASE don’t go updating your Kindle and hoping for a “new and improved” version of Stitch, b/c it’s NOT THERE!

I wish Amazon had been more clear about this in their email, but alas, there is little transparency in their policies when it comes to these things, and even littler power allowed to us authors to control what happens with our book once we hit the “publish” button.  I actually knew this was a possibility when I was considering publishing the changes, but after repeated emails to Amazon asking for clarification about what would happen came back with a form response that basically said “it depends,” I decided to just go for it.  If I knew they were going to make it sound like I’d rewritten the ending or something, I might have reconsidered… But what’s done is done, I guess.

In case you’re wondering, there was a motivating factor behind these changes.  With Shudder coming out in June – and therefore upcoming promotions for Stitch (details TBA!) to help get more readers into the series – I wanted to make these changes before a lot more people (hopefully) owned the book, on the off chance that Amazon ended up doing exactly what it did.  So I apologize to those of you who currently own Stitch and who were the unwilling guinea pigs in this experiment, but I promise it was for the greater good.  (Haha, now I’m starting to sound like the Engineers!)

Anyway, sorry for any confusion and I hope this helps clear things up!

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Shudder is coming!!! Cover Reveals start TODAY

So… Easter weekend got a *bit* in the way of my progress with the Shudder drafts the past few days, but never fear – the release train is still on schedule!  In fact, starting today and continuing for the next few weeks, you may notice some Shudder buzz popping up at your favorite book blogs…

And that’s because it’s time to reveal the Shudder cover!  So without further ado, here ya go:

Shudder by Samantha DuranteTa-da!  What do you think??

Here’s a little more about what you can expect to see in Shudder:

It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.

Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.

And then there are the visions.

The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…

The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante’s shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.

Add Shudder to Goodreads

Yay!  Can’t wait to share Shudder with you guys!!!

If you’re excited too, make sure you don’t miss the release – currently slated for June 15th, 2013 (assuming all goes well with the revision/publication process).  Here are a few simple things you could do ensure you’ll get notification when Shudder is available:

Oh, and even better news…  Doing any of the above will earn you entries into the GIVEAWAY for a SIGNED ARC of SHUDDER!!!  Enter below!  :-D

Enter the Giveaway HERE!!!

Planning for the Blog Tour (coming this summer!) is underway, so stay tuned for updates…  And if you or someone you know would like to host a tour stop, sign up here!

Top 5 Things I Love About Being an (Indie) Author

Check out a guest post I wrote up today at A Dash of YA titled, “Top 5 Things I Love About Being an (Indie) Author.”  Here’s a sneak peek:

1. Total empowerment.

There were a lot of reasons I decided to go the indie route when publishing Stitch, but by far the main one is that I’m a bit of a control freak and I really liked the idea of having final say over every little detail of my book.  I worked with an artist to design the cover, devoted painstaking hours to formatting the e-book versions, and made the final decision about every word, every punctuation mark, and every plot twist.

Catch the rest up at A Dash of YA today!  Thank you so much to Komal, Michelle, Erica, and Molli for hosting me!

PS – Be sure to check out Komal’s new book, Impossible (With Me Series, #1), a mature YA contemporary romance!  More about the book and interview with Komal coming soon…

Play By Play: CreateSpace, KDP & Smashwords Publishing Timeline

Stitch has been officially published for 10 days now, and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I am the author of a published book.  So in the meantime, I’ve been keeping track of the timeline by which Stitch went up on Amazon and Smashwords after I hit the “go” button to put it out in the world, since I thought that a) this would help me to better remember this pivotal moment in my life, and b) I thought it might be useful information for other self-published authors who are asking themselves, “How long will it actually take for my book to show up on Amazon and Smashwords?”

When I started looking into publishing Stitch through Amazon’s CreateSpace and KDP and also Smashwords, I was surprised (and disappointed) to find that as an independent author/publisher, I really have very little control over when and how my book becomes available to the public.  My goal was make my self-published book and release look and feel as much like a “real” published book as humanly possible – I didn’t want readers to even notice or care about the publisher, b/c I was offering a quality product that was 100% professional.  I had originally hoped to come out to a big bang with a blog tour leading up to the launch day, where I could take preorders the whole time and it would all be glorious and gay.  BUT, much to my frustration I could not seem to figure out a way to arrange this with the tools that are currently at my disposal through Amazon and Smashwords.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s AMAZING that I can even self-publish at all, and though it took a bit of work, I’m THRILLED with the quality of the final print book and e-books that the CreateSpace, KDP, and Smashwords tools allowed me to create and the relative ease with which they have enabled me to get my book into all the major online sales channels.  So, if anyone from those companies is reading this, please know that overall I think you are wonderful, but if you’re looking for suggestions for what tools you should implement next, this is my request: give me more control over how and when my book appears, and especially allow me to pre-load all my book’s information and take preorders so that I can have a big fancy launch day just like the New York publishers do.

My ideal scenario:

  • 3-4 months before launch day, I upload my manuscript files and book metadata.  I can proof not only what my book will look like, but also the product pages and search results for the various versions of my book, and my author pages.  I can tweak and retweak to my heart’s desire until everything looks just perfect, without any of this ever showing to the public.
  • Once I am happy with how everything looks, I hit a button which makes the pages live on Amazon, but in preorder mode.  Perhaps it takes a few days to a week for everything to propagate through the system and appear online, and that’s just fine, b/c I have plenty of time and can wait until everything is live before I start contacting bloggers about my blog tour.
  • The preorder pages are live and look great, my print and electronic version product pages are linked and show up in search, and the review feature is fully functional, so I start emailing bloggers to book them for a tour leading up to launch day.  If I find typos in my book or decide to make other revisions over the next few weeks/months, I can of course still edit the manuscript and get more proofs of my book (and as many as I would like, since I’m starting to send ARCs to bloggers now and I’m sorry CreateSpace but a maximum of 5 print proofs is just not going to do it!).
  • The blog tour begins six weeks or a month before launch, and it’s going awesome.  Reviewers are loving my book, they’re posting glowing reviews on Amazon, and their followers are placing boatloads of preorders through Amazon and Smashwords (and maybe even through extended channels like Barnes & Noble and iTunes, since I was a good girl and uploaded my metadata months before launch so that there was plenty of time for all their feeds to update).
  • At midnight on launch day, I login to CreateSpace, KDP, and Smashwords and hit the big green “Go Live!” button (or even better, at some earlier point I set a setting to do this automatically so that I can go to sleep at my normal bedtime and be well-rested to maniacally push the refresh button for the first 24 hours of the book’s sale!).  Any existing preorders are processed and readers can start placing orders right away.  I wake up in the morning to a gazillion sales and my book in the Amazon Top 10…  Hey, a girl can dream!  This is my ideal scenario, remember?
Okay, so now let’s talk about reality:
  • T-1 month to launch: It’s my first time publishing a book and I’m not really sure what to expect.  The official help pages on CreateSpace, KDP, and Smashwords are a bit vague and give wide ranges to cover their own butts, so they say things like it will take 48 hours to three weeks for my book to appear, which is just not all that satisfying of an answer, since I’m trying to schedule a blog tour starting two weeks after launch and I need to know at what point I’ll be able to email bloggers and they’ll actually be able to see my book and the reviews that my beta readers have posted.  I try searching the forums and the internet to see what other indie authors have experienced, and the best I find is this thread which says 5-15 days to be fully operational.  I’m not exactly thrilled about this, but I can’t find any way around it.  Also, the only way I can figure out how to take preorders is a huge hack and will only work for print books, and since my big launch day plans now seem like a fantasy, I opt not to do it since I’m not confident that I can even give an accurate launch date.
  • T-1 week: I upload my manuscripts to the various sites and start proofing the output.  Unfortunately there’s no way for me to proof what my product pages, search results, or author pages will look like (in fact, I can’t even create an author page until after I hit the publish button), so I just focus on proofing the various versions of my book and trust that the system will do everything right (and oh does that trust come back to bite me in the behind!).  Also, there’s no way to proof my Smashwords output (which needed a LOT of tweaking to get right) without publishing it first, so I publish it, save the proofs, and quickly un-publish.  But then I realize that it will take 2-3 weeks or more for my book to appear on Smashwords’ partners’ sites (B&N, iTunes, etc.), so I decide to just quietly publish it and hope that it will show up in those partners’ catalogs by launch day (it doesn’t).
  • T-1 day: My book has been live on Smashwords for a week and still no movement on the expanded retailers, but perhaps this is my fault b/c I updated the manuscript with some last minute changes the day before launch and it takes some time for it to be reviewed and submitted again.  Oh well, it’s worth the wait to make sure my book is the best it can be before it lands in readers’ hands.
  • T-7 hours to launch: I know that after I hit the publish button on CreateSpace and KDP it’s going to take some time to for everything to appear in the catalogs, so I decide to do this the evening before launch day hoping that the system is actually quicker than Amazon is letting on and my stuff will all be up by morning.  It’s 5 pm on 7/31/12 – from here on out, I’m considering this T-0 (even though official launch isn’t until the next day, 8/1).
  • T+2 hours: Both the Kindle and print version product pages have appeared on Amazon, but they’re not linked, so both show up separately in the search results.  The Kindle version page has all the metadata and is fully purchasable, yay!  The print version page is showing all the metadata except Look Inside, which is good, but is not yet purchasable – instead, it showed only “email me when this title is available” (and when I signed up, I never actually did get an email when it became available).  In addition, I realize that my cover designer – who I listed as a contributor on the metadata forms on both CreateSpace and KDP – is showing up in the Amazon search results seemingly as a co-author due to some unclear formatting, and even though I really wanted to give him (the amazing Damonza.com) credit on the product page, I’m forced to remove him as a contributor, since I think the search results will be confusing to readers.  I’m not able to update this on the KDP or CreateSpace websites b/c my book status is still publishing and I therefore cannot edit any metadata, however, I am able to call CreateSpace customer service to have the contributor removed.  KDP will have to wait until morning (I prob could have called, but I didn’t).  Now that my book is searchable on Amazon, I’m able to setup my Author Central page and I do so immediately, but I’m informed it will take a few days for it to be publicly visible and for my vanity author link to be functioning.  I also submit a manuscript file to the Look Inside team to get the Look Inside feature working for the print version of the book as soon as possible.
  • T+12 hours: The print version is now purchasable and shows a link to the Kindle version on the hand side left of the product page (“start reading this title on your Kindle in under a minute”) but the usual format selector in the top-middle of the page is not there.  Also, there is no mention of the print version on the Kindle page.  Both versions still show up separately in the search results.  I call Amazon’s Author Central customer service to get an ETA on when the linking will be done, and they report that their system shows that the books are linked, but it may take up to 3 days for the formats selection box to appear.  KDP finally shows the book status as published which means the metadata is editable again and I can (remorsefully) remove Damon as a contributor (sorry again!!).  In addition, it occurs to me that I should check if the book is showing up on Amazon’s international sites (.co.uk, .de, and .fr) and it is, but I’m not sure when exactly this happened b/c I forgot to check earlier.  I also check my Author Central dashboard, and when I login I can see both versions of the book, though the metadata on only the print version is editable.  The public version of the Author Central page is not accessible yet, though.
  • T+17 hours: The Kindle and print product pages still are not linked properly, but my beta readers post reviews and are happy to find that reviews posted on one Amazon page automatically appear on both.  However, for some reason the print version is no longer showing up in search, which I call Amazon about and they assure me will be fixed once the linking is complete.  Luckily, I had saved a hyperlink to the print version product page and it still works (which is a good thing, b/c I’d already sent it out to like 500 people on Facebook!), and I am still getting plenty of print orders.
  • T+20 hours: I get an email notifying me that my Author Central page has gone live, and though the vanity link doesn’t work yet, all the biographical info I entered during setup is there and it’s showing both versions of the book.  On the back end, I can see/edit the print version of the book on my Author Central site but the Kindle version only shows “coming soon” and is uneditable (which, interestingly enough, is the reverse of how things were 8 hours ago).  Amazon search results are still only showing the Kindle version.  15 minutes later, the Author Central vanity link begins working.
  • T+41 hours: The print version is finally showing up in search again, but the print and Kindle product pages still are not linked with the format selector box.  At this point, I feel that things are in good enough condition to start contacting bloggers, so I begin sending out emails.
  • T+74 hours: The print and Kindle product pages are finally linked properly with the format selector box, yay!
  • T+4 days: With the help of an incredibly supportive blogging community, I’ve completely booked my planned 30-day tour which will begin 2 weeks after the book’s launch. Since there’s so much interest, I decide to extend the tour by a month and email even more bloggers.
  • T+1 week: The Author Central dashboard finally shows both books linked correctly with all the metadata editable.
  • T+10 days: The Look Inside feature on the print version is working, but I’m not sure when this happened b/c I forgot to check.  On the Smashwords front, the ebook version is still not listed at the extended partners like B&N and iTunes, though again this might be my fault b/c I published another update to the manuscript on launch day after finding a typo (as explained in my previous post).  On the blog tour front, I’ve managed to book all but a handful of dates for the extended 2-month tour and am confident that I will have all 60 days booked (and some double-booked!) by the start of the tour (remember when I said I love book bloggers?  I really, really do!).  In addition, I receive my very first review from a blogger and it’s even better than I had allowed myself to hope for, so I’m pretty much floating all day long!

So that’s what happened.  As you can see, it wasn’t the worst experience in the world (and the whole blog tour planning aspect was just about the best experience in the world!), but it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, either.

Amazon/Smashwords, if you’re listening, hopefully this will be helpful feedback to you when planning your upcoming releases.  And for all the other first-time self-published authors out there, perhaps this will help you to set your expectations and plan more effectively for your own release.

As for me, I’m just counting down the days until this blog tour begins!  More info coming soon…

Triaging Book Bugs: What the World of Software Taught Me About Publishing

So, the blog tour planning is going PHENOMENALLY, but there’s one hitch that’s got me a little worried: book bugs.

Okay, I might have just made that term up, but this is what happens when a software engineer transitions into an author!  As some of you may know, before I decided to pursue writing full time, I worked at Microsoft for three years.  More specifically, I was a Program Manager, which basically meant that I did a variety of things including designing and documenting feature behavior, managing the project schedule, occasionally prototyping features, running beta programs and interacting with customers to get their feedback, that sort of thing.

As the release cycle progressed towards “ship it” (the day we launched the product out into the world), one aspect of my job that became more and more important was triage.  “What’s triage?” you may ask.  “Isn’t that what happens in war when the field medical staff need to decide which patients to treat and which to let die?”  Why yes, it is.  And in software, this is the term we use to decide which “bugs” (also known as “defects” or “things in the product not working like they’re supposed to”) we’re going to fix and which we’re not.  The idea is that, like in war, we have limited time and resources to address the “wounds,” if you will, in the product and there’s no way we can ever fix everything, so we need to decide which issues are most important to treat now and which we’re going to have to let go.

(As an aside, for anyone not familiar with the software world, for some reason there’s a lot of borrowing of intense/violent terms.  For example, “scrum” is what we call a daily 15-min team meeting where everyone gives a status report, or “war room” is what the meeting where the triage decisions are made is often called.  I have no idea where this came from, but my best guess is that it’s a guy thing – software is still a male-dominated world, and I guess with all that testosterone floating around everyone feels the need to be macho even though they’re hunched over a computer drinking Mountain Dew all day.  As a former rugby player, I can promise you that an actual scrum is FAR more painful than a 15 min status meeting, mmkay?)

So anyway, back to triage.  In order to triage, you have to prioritize, which is something I’m actually quite good at.  Working with my development and test leads, we would establish a scale to rate bugs from Pri-0 to Pri-3 or -4, where P0 bugs were absolutely MUST FIX (for example, if you click a certain prominent button, the program will crash) and as you went down the scale the bugs became less serious (e.g., a P3 might be something like a misspelled word which most people wouldn’t notice, or a P4 is a nice-to-have like this-button-was-supposed-to-be-a-different-color-and-we-forgot-to-change-it, but it really doesn’t make a difference to the functionality of the product).

The problem with this clever prioritization system was that it meant that sometimes things DIDN’T get fixed, if we were getting close to release and they weren’t important enough.  You see, there is inherent risk anytime you touch the code – no matter how careful you are, you just might slip one key on your keyboard and break the entire thing, or worse, introduce an insidiously hidden new bug without even realizing it.  For that reason, the closer we got to release, the more strict we became with what would constitute a valid reason for changing the code, and a lot of bugs ended up getting punted (i.e., put off until the beginning of next release) as a result.

Being a perfectionist, this drove me nuts.  B/c of course I wanted the damn thing to be perfect before we released it to 70 million people! (Or whatever – Microsoft sells a lot of software, don’t ask me how much.)  But you can’t fix every bug.  You just can’t.  And the thought of shipping a product that I know there are issues in just makes me want to scratch my eyes out.

And so these two parts of myself – the good prioritizer and the vehement perfectionist – were constantly at war inside myself during triage.  Throw in a little willingness to take risks (i.e., in being willing to risk the possibility of a bug in order to fix a known one) – which I also have in abundance – and you can see how this was a relentless internal struggle.

The good thing, though, was that I always had talented dev/test leads and managers around me to temper my perfection-seeking, risk-taking tendencies, and so in the end, prudence always won out.  Actually, as far as I can remember, I don’t think we ever did manage to introduce any major bugs close to release.  I worked with very disciplined, smart people.  Good job guys.

B/c now that I am doing this on my own – with the “bugs” in my book – it’s quite apparent what happens when I am left to my own devices… I break EVERY RULE in the book!  In fact, with Stitch I found myself fixing P4 bugs (like changing a “she had” to a “she’d” even though probably no one else who reads the book would EVER notice that it made the sentence flow better) LITERALLY 2 HOURS BEFORE RELEASE.  This is very bad.  Very, very bad.  BAD SAM!  BAD!

But even though I knew as I was doing it that I shouldn’t, I just couldn’t help myself.  And unfortunately, Gio (my cat) while fantastic at many things – like sleeping and begging for food and generally being adorable and sweet – is terrible at watching what I am doing on my computer and making sure I’m not doing anything stupid, considering that he can’t read all that well (yet!).

So now that the blog tour is all set, and my book has been shipped out to 50+ people who hold in their hands the ability to influence the opinions of potentially THOUSANDS of other people, I’m just praying to God that I didn’t F anything up.  So we’ll see how it goes.

The good news, though, is that since I’m self-published and my book is distributed electronically and as print-on-demand, at least if I DO find anything, I can fix it up real quick and re-publish, and within 48 hours anyone new who gets the book will no longer have that bug.  In fact, I did find one issue in my e-book version about 24 hours after publishing (which I was relieved to find had at least been there since WELL before my undisciplined last-minute editing), so I fixed it up and was able to easily re-publish.   But that still means that there are a handful of people out there with an end-quote missing at the close of their dialog, and that knowledge eats at my soul.

So here’s hoping that I don’t find any more typos or missing words or obscure grammatical errors!  Because you know if I do, I’m going to have a hard time leaving them alone…

Kindle/CreateSpace/Smashwords Formatting Woes: I figured out the hard stuff so you don’t have to! (Part 2)

Continuing Part 1 of this post from earlier this week, which covered CreateSpace print formatting tips, I’m just going to dive right in to the Kindle and Smashwords tips…


#1 Advice: Know What You’re Getting Into

I didn’t.  For some reason, I was under the impression that this would be simple.  I have a finished manuscript that’s nicely formatted for print, so I figured one, two, three, upload this baby to the KDP site, and I’m done.  Right?  Wrong.

KDP is very misleading – sure enough, the form is only 6 questions (9 if you count the second page, which you don’t get to until after you have a working .mobi file).  And the most misleading step is #5 Upload Your Book file.  I knew from reading the formatting guidelines that they accept a whole bunch of different file types, but what Amazon doesn’t explain is that these are not all created equally.  The best is a .prc file which already has your .ncx and .opf and images and everything in there.  What is all that?  Read on to find out.

After LOTS of searching online, this is what I found I needed to do:

  1. Save my Word .doc manuscript as a Filtered Web Page .htm (NOT .html) and do some cleanup in Notepad (and by some, I mean like 4 hours).  These are the big things that took me a while to figure out:
    1. Anchor Tags & Weird Loss of Formatting Bug.  Make sure hyperlink anchor tags (<a href=””></a>) – like those you find around your Table of Contents (autogenerated by Word if you used their built-in TOC generator, or you may be adding this yourself manually) – are always on the outside of the paragraph <p></p> tags they’re linking to.  Otherwise, you get this weird bug in Kindle where after you use a hyperlink, the text loses all formatting.
      1. Update 5/30/13: As I ran through this process again with Shudder, I discovered that something had changed in Amazon’s interpretation of the HTML code, and now when I put the <a> tags on the outside of the <p> on my TOC links, the Kindle would no longer recognize them as hyperlinks.  However, if I did this around the destination links (the chapter titles) as well, I ran into the same loss of formatting bug.  So what I ended up doing was leaving the <a> tags on the inside of the <p> tags on the TOC links, but putting them on the outside of the <p> tags on the chapter titles.  That seemed to get the behavior I wanted.
    2. TOC Page Numbers. Delete unnecessary span tags (<span></span>) with page numbers from the TOC code.  Word automatically added this stuff into my TOC, and obviously page numbers are unnecessary on an e-reader.
    3. Centering Images. Add image references as needed (you DON’T need to add your cover, since that will be taken care of later – for me, I just had one image, the cover of the second book in the series which I added as a teaser at the end).  If you’re adding images, I found that this code worked well:
      1. Add this class up at the top somewhere (where the other classes are) to help make sure it’s centered properly:
        text-indent: 0;
        margin: 1em 0 0 0;
        padding: 0;
        text-align: center;
        font-size: 0.8em;
        Then add the image reference in the right spot using something like this:
        <p><img src=”NameOfTheFile.jpg” alt=”Description of Picture” width=”134″ height=”200″ /><br />Caption for Pic, if you want one.</p>(Note that I think I read somewhere that that alt=”” tag is required – I didn’t try it without it, but just be forewarned.)
    4. Un-Indenting Paragraphs. If you have paragraphs that aren’t supposed to be indented (for example, first paragraph of a chapter), you’re going to have to manually mark them as such, because Kindle automatically indents all paragraphs whether you want it to or not.  I tried using Word styles and classes in the HTML, but the only thing that worked for me was to manually add the following to the <p> tags on the paragraphs that don’t have indents:
    5. Monospaced (Courier) Font. This is another one that drove me nuts.  Even the Kindle Publishing Guidelines (sec 3.1.6) say there is a bunch of ways to get Kindle to display the newspaper-like Courier font, but I tried <font face=”courier”>, I tried <pre>, and the only thing that worked for me was adding <tt> tags around paragraphs (<p></p>) where I wanted to use the  monospaced font.
  2. Check your formatting by emailing your .htm file to your Kindle.
    1. Find your Kindle’s email address (it’s under the settings somewhere as “Send-to-Kindle Email”), open a new email (from the same email that your Kindle account is registered to), attach the .htm (doesn’t matter what the subject or body or the email contain), and send it.
    2. Amazon will automatically convert it to display on Kindle, and if your wireless is turned on, it will show up there in 2-3 minutes.
    3. Save yourself some time by tweaking your .htm file NOW, instead of doing all the following steps and having to redo everything when you find a formatting error.  (Note that your images will not work.)
  3. Use MobiPocket Creator to create the .prc file that you will ultimately upload to KDP.
    1. Start a new MobiPocket project with your formatted .htm file from above
    2. Use MobiPocket’s wizard interface to add the cover, metadata, and guide items (helpful walkthrough on guide items).  This will enable the program to automatically generate 90% of your .opf file.
      1. OPF File. “What is a .opf file?” you might ask.  For some reason, Amazon neglects to address this ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL PIECE of your ebook anywhere on their site, so it wasn’t until I did a bunch of digging on the internet that I learned what this was.  It’s called the Open Packaging Format and it’s basically an overall file that tells your Kindle where to find all the stuff it needs to display the book properly, including your .ncx file (more coming on this in a bit), images, all the metadata, the guide items, etc.
    3. Resize any images referenced in the manuscript .htm file to the desired display size and copy the image files into the same folder that your MobiPocket project is in.  (Don’t use MobiPocket’s Add File feature UNLESS you want the image to also display at the very end of your book.)
    4. Manually create a toc.ncx file and copy it into the same folder as the rest of your MobiPocket project
      1. NCX File. Perhaps you’re wondering, “What’s a .ncx file?”  I was wondering the same, and lo and behold, Amazon once again COMPLETELY NEGLECTS TO MENTION THIS CRITICAL PIECE OF YOUR EBOOK anywhere on their site.  Seriously, Amazon, wtf?  I learned from this really helpful guide to making a toc.ncx that it’s called a “Navigation Control file for XML applications” and that it basically tells your Kindle where those little tick marks at the bottom of your screen should go and enables users to jump quickly between chapters.  From a usability standpoint (and if you want your book to look like a “real book”), you need to have this working, so follow the instructions in that post to make yourself a nice toc.ncx file
    5. Use MobiPocket’s Build function, which will create the initial .opf file and .prc file (but you’re not done yet!)
      1. You might hit some errors, so read the build feedback and if there are any warnings, look them up online to try to fix them.  Luckily for me, the only thing I hit was that I had forgotten to copy my image into the same folder, so I don’t really have much experience debugging build issues – sorry!
    6. Now it’s time to tell that .opf file where to find the .ncx file.  Open the folder where your MobiPocket project is stored, right-click the .opf file and choose to open it in Notepad.  (Do NOT edit in MobiPocket or any changes you make will be overwritten).  Then do the following:
      1. Fix the line spacing to make it readable, if need be
      2. Add within the <manifest> tags:
        <item href=”toc.ncx” id=”ncx” media-type=”application/x-dtbncx+xml” />
      3. Edit the <spine> tag to read:
        <spine toc=”ncx”>
      4. Save and close the .opf file
    7. Now go back into MobiPocket Creator and Build again to generate an updated .prc file which now includes your .ncx
    8. Again, save yourself some time by testing the file before you move on.  Follow the same steps from #2 above to email the .prc file to your Kindle and test out your .ncx and images and general formatting to make sure it looks good.  If not, go back and edit (either in your .htm file and make a new MobiPocket project, or in the .html file in your MobiPocket folder) BEFORE you go to the next step.
  4. Okay, now that you’ve got a good .prc file, you’re ready for KDP.  Login to KDP, fill in your metadata in Steps 1-4, and on Step 5, upload the .prc file that you generated with MobiPocket.
    1. Note that if your book is a series, the only way I could figure out to get the series title to display consistently (e.g., “Stitch (Stitch Trilogy, Book 1)” instead of just “Stitch”) is to manually type that in the title.  I did this everywhere – on CreateSpace, KDP, MobiPocket, Smashwords etc. I’m not sure if that’s necessary or not, but it seems to be working thus far.
  5. That’s it!  Just follow the rest of the steps on KDP to preview the .mobi file for your book, and once you’re happy, follow the rest of the KDP setup process to get that baby out there!
    1. Note that if your previewing turns up issues, you’ll need to repeat this all starting from a new project in Step 2 (or editing the existing .html file in your MobiPocket project and rebuilding).  In case you have to start a new project, remember to save a copy of your .ncx file somewhere safe so that you don’t have to remake it from scratch every time.


(Ugh, yes, there’s more…)

Just when I thought I was done, I went on to Smashwords to investigate what format they needed so that I could get my book on iTunes, B&N, etc.  I expected this to be easy – after all, I had a perfectly formatted, fully-functioning .mobi file from all that work above, so I should be good to go, right?  Nope!

For some reason I thought I’d be able to take my .mobi file and upload at Smashwords and we’d be all set.  Not so.  Smashwords only takes .doc files.  I thought, “Well that’s not too bad – my manuscript is a .doc after all, so I’ll just upload that.”  But then I started reading the Smashwords Style Guide (which is VERY helpful, btw) and realized that the chances of that working were almost nil.

So I tried one idea for a shortcut, which was to open my .htm in Word and save it as a .doc.  Unfortunately, this did not work – it looked like garbage, with random line breaks all over, the styles completely messed up, just unreadable.  So I ended up going with the Nuclear Method.

The Nuclear Method

The Nuclear Method was recommended in the Smashwords Style Guide (Section 5) as the easiest way to clean up all that formatting garbage.  I ended up having to invest another 4 hours here, but in the end I have a version of my book which Smashwords was able to successfully convert into 10 different electronic formats, making it available on virtually any reading device.  For some of these formats the formatting is not quite as good as on my Kindle version, but it’s 95% of the way there and I just decided that that’s going to have to be good enough.

Here’s what you do: Open your Word file with your original (or CreateSpace) manuscript, do CTRL+A to select EVERYTHING, then CTRL+C to copy it all, then open a new Notepad file and do CTRL+V to paste it.  You’ve effectively removed all formatting from your book.  Now you need to repeat the process and copy it back from Notepad into a new Word .doc file.  Do CTRL+A once more to highlight everything, and choose the text style “Normal.”  And now you’re starting from scratch.

The main thing to keep in mind about the Nuclear Method is that it removes EVERYTHING.  That means you’re going to have to manually add back page breaks, all your text styles, extra spacing after paragraphs, even any italicized words THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE BOOK.  But it was the only thing that worked, so just grin and bear it (or, if you can, get smart and pay someone else to do it for you!  I will next time…)

Here’s a bunch of stuff you need to remember to fix:

  1. ISBN & Smashwords License. Make sure your copyright page is showing the correct ISBN (NOT the same ISBN as your print or Kindle formats – it must have a separate one, which Smashwords will give you for free.  Or you can just leave the ISBN out).  Also remember to include the required Smashwords License Notes:This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
  2. Page Breaks.  Not all output formats respect them, but at least the PDF and Mobi versions do (and possibly others), so add these back in at the end of your front matter pages and chapters.
  3. Un-Indented Paragraphs. Similar to my Kindle experience, I tried making a “First Paragraph” text style which set the indent to 0 or 0.01, but I found that it wasn’t respected in most (any?) of the output formats.  Instead, manually select each paragraph that you don’t want to be indented and change the Paragraph properties to set the First Line Indent to 0.01 (helpful tutorial from Microsoft).
  4. Space Before/After Paragraphs. Don’t use the Enter key to add space before/after paragraphs, as the Smashwords Auto Vetting tool might flag you for doing so and prevent you from publishing your book.  Instead, add extra space before/after paragraphs using Word’s paragraph spacing feature (tips from Microsoft).
  5. Italics/Bold/Etc.. Unfortunately the Nuclear Method kills all your text decorations, so you’ll need to manually add them all back.  I found that it was helpful to use my original/CreateSpace manuscript file to search for italicized words so that I could remember where to add italics (helpful walkthrough on searching for formatting in Word here).
  6. Other Text Styles. I had mixed results using text styles other than Normal in my Smashwords .doc.  The Chapter Header style I created seemed to work well, and some parts of the Newspaper style worked, but for some reason the Front Matter style and the First Paragraph style were ignored completely by most output formats.  I found that my best bet was to manually add any formatting other than Normal to the paragraphs where it was needed.
  7. Hyperlinks. If you include any hyperlinks to websites in your book, make sure they include the http:// – otherwise, they will get nailed by Smashwords’s automated tools.
  8. Rebuild TOC. Yes, you have to rebuild your Table of Contents ONE MORE TIME.
    1. DON’T use Word’s autogenerated one this time.  Instead, manually add bookmarks at each chapter – instructions here.  Smashwords will use this to autogenerate a .ncx file for you.
      1. I found that it was best to put the bookmark BEFORE the chapter header, in the line above if possible.  At first I highlighted the whole chapter title and added the bookmark, which resulted in the actual “jump point” being at the END of the highlighted text, which meant that when I tried this out on an e-reader, it would jump to the right spot but would cut off the title of the chapter, which was disorienting to the reader.  On my second attempt, I put the bookmark on the paragraph right after the page break from the last chapter (above the header) and this seemed to give me the behavior I wanted.
    2. Once you’ve got your bookmarks, retype your TOC (it should probably be there already from when you pasted in from Notepad) and add hyperlinks to each bookmark from the TOC.  See instructions in the Smashwords Style Guide (Section 20).
  9. Preview It. EXCEPT you’re not previewing it, you’re publishing it. What?  You heard me – if you upload this thing to Smashwords, it’s going live right then and there.  I didn’t realize this, and I thought I would just get a preview version like I did on Amazon, and then I hit the submit button and there was Stitch on the homepage of Smashwords.  Oops!
    1. If you’re not ready to publish the book yet, you can quickly go into your Dashboard and Unpublish it, which will pull it from the store, and you can still continue uploading drafts and testing out the various outputs until you get it right.  But be forewarned that the publishing date will forever show as the original one.
Whew!  We’re done.  I sincerely hope this information is helpful to someone out there – it took me a LONG time to figure this all out and document it, so hopefully it will save someone else some time!  Remember to check out Part 1 of this post if you’re looking for CreateSpace print formatting tips.