Friday, July 22, 2011

E-Pubbing Nightmare

We all know the cliché that says you don’t appreciate what you’ve got until you lose it. I’ve discovered a similar one—you don’t know how easy Amazon’s e-publishing is until to try to e-publish on Barnes & Noble’s PubIt or Smashwords.

I have to take a deep, cleansing breath even before I begin telling you about it. Imagine that I have uploaded my novel to Amazon without a single glitch. I scroll through the entire book in the preview mode, perfect. I follow the formatting guidelines, and everything including the cover art went up smoothly. I sigh in giddy relief.

The next night I decided to upload my novel to PubIt, so it can be bought for Nook at B&N’s site. I begin filling out the online paperwork. At some point there’s a glitch, most likely with the auto-fill and my email address is inserted incorrectly. So when I try to access the account, it presents me with the paperwork for filling out the financial information again. I assume (incorrectly) that it didn’t save properly and fill out the paperwork. PubIt sends me a note saying that my social security number is associated with another account and they can’t process my information.

So I send an email to PubIt customer service. They tell me that my SSN isassociated with another account. Uh, yeah, I got that. I send them another email including a screen shot. I wait several days. Nothing happens. I call. I talk to a nice man who makes me type in more stuff (which doesn’t work) and promises that whatever the issue is, they’ll fix it in 24 hours. I believe him. I am an idiot.

72 hours goes by. Nothing happens. I call B&N again. A very crabby man answers the phone. I explain my situation. He grumbles at me. He accesses my account and grumbles some more. Thanks to the first customer service rep, I now have three accounts associated with my SSN. I ask if the extra accounts can be deleted. He spews venom and tells me that it will take a week to do it and I won’t be able to use an account until then. I politely say that a week seems pretty long given that the first customer service rep said 24 hours. Crabby man spews more venom and says that it can be resolved in 24 to 48 hours. I ask crabby man if the situation could be resolved if I accessed the working account and changed the email address. Crabby man says, “NO.” I am beginning to see why B&N has financial trouble and why writers pay people to upload their books.

After another 48 hours, nothing happens. I call B&N and talk to a sleepy sounding woman. I explain my problem. She pulls up my account and says, “Whoa, I’ve never seen anything like this. I have no idea what to do.” I explain what crabby man said he would do to fix it. She tells me that he and the first guy did nothing to my account. Not even a notation. Imagine fire in my eyes. But this is not sleepy woman’s fault. I politely ask sleepy woman if I could just change the email address. Sleepy woman says, “Yes.” I change the email. It takes lots of finagling because the account doesn’t want to process the change. Eventually, I fix it and sleepy woman thanks me and I thank her.
To make a long story short, I try multiple times to up load my novel into PubIt. Every time, there are formatting errors. The bizarre thing is that when Arieland I fix one thing, another random thing pops up somewhere else. Right now we’re down to three random errors, which appear to be unfixable—Ariel’s checked the coding and there’s nothing wrong. We tried new documents, retyping, typing in the coding by hand, etc. Nothing worked. So now I have to decide whether I want to publish with three blank pages stuck randomly throughout the book.

In the intervening time, I decide to do Smashwords. After hours spent formatting according to their odd guidelines, I decide to upload... You know, it’s always a bad sign when someone names their conversion process the “meatgrinder.” It’s a worse sign when they tell you that e-pubbing isn’t about perfection in formatting (they mention random blank pages that appear for no reason), but getting your words “out there.” I might agree, but they are so far from perfection that I remove my novel from their site.

Anyway, if you’re considering e-pubbing, start with Amazon and follow the formatting guidelines. If you are meticulous, it’ll upload. When you get around to PubIt and Smashwords and need someone to commiserate, I’m the person to talk to.


  1. What a headache! I had a feeling those types of issues would pop up. I hope you get all those other accounts deleted.

    Oh, and I'd love to showcase you and your book on my blog! As soon as I've figured out my quirky question list, I'll email you. :)

  2. Wow. Good to know. Sorry you've had so much trouble with B&N and Smashwords, but good to know your experience with Amazon was better. (Can the rest of us borrow your daughter if we decided to go that route?) Crud. I haven't even gotten up the chutzpah to order a Kindle yet, because I'm afraid I won't know how to do what I need to do to make it work. But I will, I will. (Gotta read your book!)

  3. Susan,
    Once you get an e-reader and figure out how to use it (it's easy), you'll wonder how you ever lived without it--take it from me, I was a die-hard Luddite.

    I can't wait! Thanks!

  4. Ohhh, that sounds miserable! I'm getting ready to publish mine for the Nook and I haven't even started looking at their guidelines. Sorry you've had so many issues with it!

  5. Uuugh.. Customer service is the absolute worse.

  6. OMG, I felt sympathy frustration from reading this. That's so annoying!

    Hopefully it's all sorted now with B&N, and I totally understand your frustration with smashwords. No, it's not about perfect formatting, but formatting helps. Things look more professional when there aren't random blank pages and other formatting errors around. So I'm sorry that was a bust for you.

  7. I guess the imps aren't only in the computers. . .

  8. Amazon is always prompt and responds to emails but B&N does not respond to emails. They sent me an email saying that my payment would show up in my sales tab in 24 hours and bank account in 1-5 days. Nothing showed up in either and after several emails I got no response from them. I am sticking with Amazon.

  9. I hear that on B&N Pubit! Amazon was sooo easy to publish in printed and Kindle formats. I have had them there for 6 months; timely payment, new books appear within 24 hours, and I am a happy customer. I was in a B&N store last week and noticed that I never formatted my book for Nook. I figured the process would be as easy as with Amazon. Could not be father from the truth. I was getting unknown conversion errors with PDF and WORD versions of my book. Found a free converter app on the web and it worked fine. Uploaded that to Pubit! and it worked. However, I submitted my book well over a week ago and the status still reads Pending Account Approval. 3 emails with no response. I didn't know there is a number to call, but I suspect the person on the other end of the phone will simply tell me what I already know. My next attempt at getting somewhere is likely to be to cancel my account. I'm sure that will turn out to be a travesty as well.