KDP Amazon & Kindle Readers, My New Typo Editors

kdp amazonThe benefits of self-publishing a Kindle book with KDP Amazon have long been touted on this blog, but here’s a fairly new item for the list. KDP Amazon, prompted no doubt by a caring reader, just reported a typo in one of my books. And this book has been pretty well vetted of typos after thousands of sales and a dozen rewrites to stay current as well as to eliminate every last typo. Since I’ve had Kindle books for sale since 2009, it was actually a pleasant surprise to finally get the notice, to be included in the “special” group of authors.

A little research showed this has been going on for several months, authors receiving notices of typos or bad formatting from KDP. Since Amazon employees can’t possibly be reading  millions of new books, the red flags have obviously been raised by readers and brought to Amazon’s attention. Turns out there is often dispute whether or not an actual typo has occurred. In many cases people are even discussing lack or over-abundance of commas, or even worse–the ongoing Oxford/Harvard/serial comma debate. That is a doozy. Often the authors receiving critique protest vehemently (as in this thread) that the reader’s complaint is flawed–what was pointed out to be a mistake was in fact not a mistake at all. Worst cases have readers getting their money refunded and even a $5 credit from Amazon to make amends. Many authors are understandably miffed, to put it mildly. I sympathize with that situation but my example proved otherwise.

What was the typo mentioned from my book? “…here, or if you live it Asia…” should have read “…here, or if you live in Asia…” This must have been found by a reader as it’s doubtful any current software would catch that. Amazon even teased me to be on the lookout for more. Great, thanks, I’ll just read it again for the umpteenth time. Here’s my example of the email that’s been showing up in author’s inboxes for several months:

Dear Publisher,
During a quality assurance review of your title, we have found the following issue(s):
 Typos have been found in your book. An example is mentioned below:
*Location 544; “here, or if you live it Asia—focus” should be “here, or if you live in Asia—focus”
 Please look for the same kind of errors throughout and make the necessary corrections to the title before republishing it.
If you have further questions, you may write to us by visiting this page:
Please be sure to reference your ticket number when contacting us.
Best regards,
Amazon KDP
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

Most authors who responded in the above thread are angry about this attempt at quality control. Their concerns are justified, especially if unwarranted reader complaints lead to returns for money back, bad reviews or even the scare of a book being pulled from the shelf, which seems doubtful in any but the worst cases. My example was for a real typo, therefore I was delighted to know about it and can now move on to make the fix, another brilliant aspect of e-publishing. For authors who feel their own examples were not typos–it’s natural to be upset but is it really worth getting seriously agitated over? During the lightning quick era of e-publishing evolution, this is an effort at quality control and sometimes mistakes will be made. It’s not like Amazon invaded the books and went ahead with the suggested changes.

Sounds like a case of Amazon attempting to keep readers happy with much needed quality control and unfortunately not getting it right the first time as in the earlier mentioned case in point–reader complains about typos or formatting, gets a refund and gets a $5 credit. This retailer response encourages more of that from customers, which could spell a huge problem for both authors and Amazon down the road. In fact, it could also be bad for big 6 publishers because their books often have at least a few issues as well. That refund-plus-$5-back program won’t last long, pretty certain of it. Sounds like a temporary band-aid while a better system takes shape. Does it suck? In some cases but not all.

Okay, here’s a question Indie authors may want to ask themselves; what can I do to limit returns or unhappy readers? Proper editing is clearly one answer, but why did it take so long for me to receive this KDP email while other authors have been getting them for months? The answer might be because many readers have contacted me directly to point out typos or talk about the books in general. My social media links, websites with contact forms, even my email in some books are readily available. Some authors may not want this for a variety of reason, but my experience has shown readers like communicating directly with the author. It goes a long way with customer satisfaction, network building, reputation and referrals, which sell more books than anything else.

Is Amazon’s system currently flawed? Yes, for sure, but it also catches real typos and helps with quality control as in my case. Is KDP Amazon still the best partner an Indie author ever had? In my opinion, absolutely.

Would you like to comment?

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4 Responses to “KDP Amazon & Kindle Readers, My New Typo Editors”

  1. Andrew Chapman Says:

    Funny that I recently read (and didn’t agree with) an opinion piece ranting that Amazon doesn’t care about the quality of its KDP books. I’m mostly happy about this, because anything to keep the standards of self-publishing up is good by me. And buyers *should* have a certain expectation of quality in the products they buy — and those products reflect on the retailer selling them. This is no different than my telling Target, for example, about a product they carry that’s defective or not worth the money. Thanks for the word on this — I hadn’t heard!

  2. Martyn Tott - English Author Says:

    $5 credit? That sounds like an incentive for sure. It’s so refreshing when you’ve put so much into writing a novel that the only thing some people can mention is that you missed a comma somewhere… and then nothing about the actual story itself.

    I always have this comment by Stephen King to hand to console myself. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

    Besides it will never get worse (I hope) than the time I was so focussed on getting the geography right for another country (google mapping to the exact mile) that I placed a famous landmark in my own a hundred miles away in a different town.

    Mind you only 2 people commented out of 350 sold so they must have been really into the story or not reached that far and used it as a doorstop.

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