Author Central Description Reverting to KDP when Republishing

Blurb Formatting

Blurb Formatting

The image with this post shows that your Amazon description can include blank lines, boldface, and bullets. It can also include italics and numbered lists.

One way to do this is by formatting your book’s blurb through Author Central:

Not only does Author Central allow you to edit and format your Amazon product description, but it also provides a preview of what to expect—a feature that Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) doesn’t offer.

Republishing Issues

It used to be that once you edited your book’s description at Author Central, it would become the only means of revising it in the future.

However, this has changed recently, and it’s causing some problems with Kindle e-books.

Presently, if you republish a Kindle e-book at KDP, the product description automatically reverts to whatever is entered at KDP.

So what’s the problem?

Suppose you just want to do something simple, like change your Kindle list price. You have to go into step 2 of the publishing process and “publish” your e-book again. When the price change takes effect (usually in about 12 hours for the US site), the formatting changes with it. That is, your Author Central formatting is stripped and replaced with your original plain KDP formatting.

If you’re just changing your price, it may not even occur to you that your description could change, too.

(At this time, CreateSpace paperbacks do not seem to be affected. However, it may be worth checking this, just in case things change.)


Before you republish a Kindle e-book, do the following:

  1. Visit Author Central.
  2. Find your book. Be sure to select the Kindle edition.
  3. Click the button to edit the product description.
  4. Click the HTML option.
  5. Copy and paste all of the code into Notepad.
  6. Save this file.

After you republish your Kindle e-book:

  1. Wait for the book to go live. (KDP usually sends an email.)
  2. Return to Author Central.
  3. Open the HTML version of your Kindle book blurb.
  4. If you see the old version there, replace it with the HTML that you saved in Notepad.
  5. Check several hours later to see if it took effect.
  6. Remember to check Amazon UK, too.

Rarely, you can get locked out of your Author Central description. This has happened once to me, and a simple email to Author Central resolved the issue.

Side Note

The best place to format the book description for CreateSpace paperbacks is at CreateSpace.

Why? Because if you use basic HTML at CreateSpace, the formatting will carry over to your eStore,, and some of the other online retailers that may pick up your book through the Expanded Distribution channel.

If you want to see an example of a CreateSpace paperback with HTML formatting in the Barnes & Noble product description, click here (then scroll down).

You don’t need to know HTML: Simply copy/paste the HTML from your Author Central description into your CreateSpace description. Be sure to remove the space from the <br /> tag, as CreateSpace and Author Central are inconsistent with this.

Important: After inserting HTML into your CreateSpace description, immediately run over to your eStore to view the description. If there are any problems (like a boldface tag that isn’t closed), you’ll be able to catch it and resolve the problem swiftly.

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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Creating a Highly Marketable Fiction Book

M. Louisa Locke, author of the Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series

Today we will examine the books of a highly successful fiction author to learn some valuable marketability tips.

Historical fiction author M. Louisa Locke has a popular series called the Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series. The first book in the series, Maids of Misfortune, has over 500 customer reviews on Amazon.

Click on the image to view this book’s detail page at Amazon.

You can learn some things about marketability just by visiting the detail page for Maids of Misfortune:

  • The cover fits the genre very distinctly. This is incredibly important for a book to be highly marketable. You want your target audience to see the book and instantly recognize that it’s a perfect fit for them. One glance at the cover and you know it’s historical fiction. Your book will be seen in your marketing, search results, customer also bought lists, and more. If you want a significant percentage of the people who see your book to buy your book, you need the cover to grab your target audience.
  • Not only that, but the cover is appealing, looks elegant, and the title and author name are easy to read in the thumbnail. The challenge is to make the font interesting, yet still very clear, and fit the genre. This book pulls it off very well. Don’t underestimate the effect that font issues have on sales.
  • Check out the other covers in the series. They all fit together, which helps greatly with branding, yet each is distinct.
  • The blurb is divided up into short paragraphs. Shoppers have a short attention span, and this blurb addresses that. If the blurb doesn’t interest the buyer immediately and continue to engage the shopper, the shopper will hit the back button of the browser.
  • The first sentence of the blurb describes trouble. Now the reader is concerned. The second paragraph starts with a secret, the third introduces a problem, and the last speaks of murder. Each paragraph begins with some way of engaging the reader. Everything reads well and clearly, and no paragraph is too long.
  • Look at the categories. Normally, having too many categories poses a problem, but upon closer inspection, each subcategory is very specific and actually is appropriate to the book. You want your book to get into specific categories that are highly relevant for your book, but not to get into categories that aren’t highly relevant (buyers see this, become confused, and back out). Check out this page to learn some Kindle keyword tricks (thanks to S.K. Nicholls and others for pointing this out to me). Check your detail page periodically and contact Author Central if your book gets into a category that isn’t highly relevant.
  • M. Louisa Locke’s author photo is a perfect fit for her profile—a Victorian author and retired professor of U.S. and women’s history. Her qualifications certainly help; although she is a fiction author, her expertise relates to the subject her novels.
  • The 500 reviews really stand out on the product page. Excellent marketability and effective marketing help to earn sales, and a fraction of those sales may result in customer reviews. One way to help improve this percentage is to encourage customers to contact you and to mention that you would appreciate a review on Amazon. Check out the second paragraph of M. Louisa Locke’s biography.
  • If you write fiction, Shelfari offers many book extras that you can add to your product page. Check out the book extras on this product page.
  • This book is available on Kindle, paperback, and as an audio book.
  • The cover grabs the attention of the target audience, the blurb draws interest, and the reviews lend credibility, but it isn’t a done deal yet. We still have the Look Inside. This Look Inside seals the deal. The cover looks great not only as a thumbnail, but also in the much larger Look Inside. The book comes right out and draws interest right off the bat. You want to develop your story slowly, but readers don’t have such patience for a new author. Come out swinging with your best stuff. Grab the reader’s attention and don’t let go. This book draws interest immediately, and each paragraph starts, like the blurb, with some word or phrase that will draw the reader’s curiosity. The Look Inside fits the genre well, which is highly important, reads well, and appears to be well-edited. These three points can make or break a sale, even when everything else is perfect.

There is more to success than just creating a highly marketable book and product page and throwing it out there. But it’s not a secret. Many popular authors reveal tips that made them successful.

If you visit M. Louisa Locke’s blog, you’ll see that you can learn a great deal there about marketability and marketing. Especially, read these two posts and study the details:

M. Louisa Locke’s paperback books will be participating in Read Tuesday, a Black Friday type of event just for books on December 10. All authors are welcome to participate (it’s free).

Learn more about M. Louisa Locke: website, author page.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

Changing Your Book Up

Change Up

If you publish a book, chances are you will encounter a variety of reasons to consider making changes:

  • The blurb is quite challenging to write, so we often wonder if we should try to improve it.
  • It’s nearly impossible to edit a hundred thousand words and catch every single typo. Even if you edit extremely well, you usually encounter a couple of stragglers somewhere down the line.
  • As we’re human, occasionally we make a big oopsie. If so, you want to fix that as quickly as possible.
  • Nonfiction material can quickly become outdated. Revisions can help keep it up-to-date.
  • Reviews sometimes provide suggestions that have merit. You’re thinking about applying this helpful feedback.
  • An idea may occur to you, which you hadn’t thought of before. You’re wondering if it would make your book better.

Depending on the occasion, it might be best to make the change right away or it might be best to wait:

  • If you have an embarrassing or significant mistake, you need to take care of that promptly.
  • At Kindle, your present edition will remain available while you’re revised edition is in the process of publishing, so you don’t have to worry about losing sales in the meantime. So once your revision is ready, there is no reason to wait.
  • At CreateSpace, your book will be unavailable for about 12-24 hours while your file is being reviewed. So if the changes can wait, it would be a good idea to pick a day and time where sales may be relatively slow. Study your sales rank history at AuthorCentral for help planning this, and also consider what marketing you have going on and coming soon. Sometimes your book can be back online in less than 12 hours. However, even if you make a minor change to your interior file, your cover file can get changed for the worse (even if you don’t change your cover), and it can take several days to fully resolve this. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst-case scenario.
  • Most things, including your blurb, author photo, biography, and book files probably shouldn’t be changed when sales are going well. If sales start to drop off, that may be a better time to change things up and see if they help or hurt.

I’ve revised several of my books and blurbs in 2013 (and I’m still not finished with it). For me, it has been a year of revisions. I have a few projects that I wanted to complete in 2013, but which I have yet to begin, because I have spent so much time making revisions.

It started with one of my math workbooks. I had a request from a parent that would help one of my math workbooks better meet the needs of parents, so I devoted some time toward this. At about the same time, I also updated a couple of the covers of my math workbooks. Those I was able to improve without making the cover look significantly different. (I have a couple of other math workbooks that I’d like to give a makeover, but I haven’t because I don’t want anyone to accidentally buy the same book twice.)

Next, I made numerous revisions to my conceptual chemistry book. I completely revised thousands of symbols that were originally typeset as equations, realizing that they would format better as text with superscripts and subscripts. This was extremely time-consuming and took several edits. I have about 40 different versions of the eBook file, and dozens more of the paperback editions. I’ve never edited anything this much before, and hope to avoid such extensive editing in the future.

I’ve updated my self-publishing books a few times because every time I make a revision, something new seems to come out. My original (i.e. 2009) self-publishing book needs a major overhaul. I’ve been wanting to do this for a couple of years, but it needs so much work, I generally put it on the backburner and work on something else. I plan to finally do this by the year’s end.

Presently, I’m adding indexes to my new (i.e. 2012/2013) self-publishing books (i.e. Volumes 1 and 2 of the “Detailed Guide”). It’s amazing how much work is involved in making a thorough index. And it’s thorough; it may add another 20 pages (with two columns) to the book. I hope to have the index for Volume 1 finished today or tomorrow. Then I have a list of revisions to make, like mentioning the new Countdown Deal, but this should be quick and painless.

I’ll be combining Volumes 1 and 2 into an omnibus edition. I hope to have it out by Read Tuesday. Then I can get back to the major overhaul of my original self-publishing book.

I have some other minor revisions that I’ve made (correcting a few typos that I’ve discovered here and there), and a couple of covers that have some printing variations that could use a fix.

I’ve changed many of my blurbs extensively this year. In most cases, this had a very significant improvement on sales, often immediately. It’s amazing what boldface, italics, bulleted lists, and splitting a long paragraph up into shorter paragraphs can do.

How about you? Have you had any fun with revisions this year?

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

Check out Read Tuesday (a Black Friday event just for books): website, Facebook page, Twitter