I’ve said many times in many other posts, that I was computer illiterate when I started this journey. For that reason, I used Createspace’s “Publishing for Dummies” all-inclusive package. For a small fortune, I received an ISBN, full interior formatting, a line edit, a full content edit, Kindle formatting/upload, formatted print version and forty free copies, worldwide distribution, and last but certainly not least, a full custom cover that I could design, (which I did) and have Createspace “create it” for me. I chose this service without knowing the nightmare that was ahead of me.
In July 2014, my exclusive obligation to KDPS ended. I had been with that program for over eighteen months and I finally decided I wanted to distribute my book to other sites (KOBO, NOOK, iBOOKS, etc., hopefully gaining other readers by making this move). Then, in August, my book miraculously won its fourth prestigious award, so I thought, Hey…it’s time to complete my revision edit, revise my cover, and do this ‘ACX Audiobook thing’ that Amazon is pushing. Kind of go with the momentum my book was experiencing, if you will? Well, you read what happened with the revision edit! Here’s Part 2 of my Ignorance~nightmare!
I plan to blog about my ACX experience when my audiobook is complete, so I don’t want to go into too much here, but suffice it to say, I researched the site, read all the contractual agreements and rights, and jumped right into the process with both feet. My book is in the hands of a wonderful narrator, Emily Eldridge, who is truly the voice of the little girl inside of me, crying out to be heard. I opted for the Pay to Produce instead of the Royalty Share. I’ll go into that, in a later post, but essentially, the whole process has come at a premium cost to me. So, there’s no going back!
So with that in mind, imagine my horror when I found out I couldn’t get a cover…MY COVER...for the thumbnail next to my ‘soon to be released’ audiobook! No one told me it was going to be nearly impossible to get a square cover. Without a square cover-thumbnail, I will have a color board next to my audiobook on Audible.com and iTunes that says, COVER NOT AVAILABLE.
ACX (an Amazon Company) requires a square cover pic for upload; they upload your files to Audible.com and iTunes for you, as part of the service. Thank you, God! Both Audible and iTunes require a square cover pic…because it resembles a CD cover, or so I’m told. Easy-Peasy, right? Just cut, copy, and paste…right? Wrong! There’s a page dedicated solely to the specifications required for the cover art, with pictures of example covers they will not accept. You can’t just make your rectangular cover a square. Geometry 101 says, “You can’t make a rectangle into a square without losing part of the rectangle.” Gah!
So, I contacted Createspace to have them make me a square cover. They should be able to do that, right? They already have the files on hand and readily available. It’s not like they have to start from scratch!
“We don’t offer that service, Ms. Fulks.” What? Are you kidding me! No one told me this would happen! Where does it say that I don’t own my cover? Irritated and ready to toss my laptop into the pool, I spent a full day researching graphic design sites, then contacted some graphic designers on the Web (99 Designs, Fiverr) and was told by each and everyone one of them that I needed my PSD, or layered files from Createspace. What? What’s a PSD file?
A .PSD file is a layered image file used in Adobe PhotoShop. PSD, which stands for Photoshop Document, is the default format that Photoshop uses for saving data. PSD is a proprietary file that allows the user to work with the images’ individual layers even after the file has been saved.
When an image is complete, Photoshop allows the user to flatten the layers and convert the flat image into a .JPG, .GIF, .TIFF or other non-proprietary file format so it can be shared. Once a PSD image has been flattened by conversion, however, it cannot be converted back to PSD and the user can no longer work with the image’s layers. It is important, therefore, so always save the .PSD file and not overwrite it during conversion. (Source… http://whatis.techtarget.com/fileformat/PSD-Adobe-Photoshop-default)
Again, I contacted Createspace to beg for my files…Nothing! They wouldn’t return my emails, phone calls, or put me through to someone who could make, or override a decision. My book goes live on iTunes and Audible in late October or early November, and I still don’t have a square cover! This has gone on for two months!
My original, rectangular book cover (the one on my Amazon book page) is made up of four or five major components…the man’s eyes, the wooden door, the keyhole, the little girl, and the different fonts for the title and the author attribution (and these are only for the front cover. The back is another set of files). These components are separate and unique files that have been blended together, and photo-shopped into a PSD file. Ironically, I’d still have this problem if my cover had been a landscape and a single font. Even though I purchased my custom cover, Createspace owns the PSD cover files. I don’t!
I have been fighting with Createspace since August 6th, literally begging them to release these files to me. Without the files, a graphic designer can’t replicate my exact cover. I either go with…NO COVER AVAILABLE, or completely change my cover. Neither option is acceptable. At one point, I thought I was going to have to purchase another custom cover package for my already existing cover, at a premium price of $399! I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve shed over this!
I finally made headway with my project coordinator this last week. She’s a Createspace administrator, and in-the-know. They finally sent me my PSD files… at no charge! No…really! I still had to find a graphic designer and pay for my square cover-thumbnail, but I finally got my files!
During our conversation, she let me in on a little secret. Even though Amazon owns all these entities…Createspace, Author Central, KDP, Audible.com, ACX, and has an ongoing agreement with iTunes, this octopus’ arms are all detached, separate, and independent from the main body, which is Amazon! Are you surprised?
Confusing? Yes! Inconvenient? You know it! Frustrating? I’ll spare you my gutter vernacular! Anyway, apparently, I’m one of the few out there that has had this issue…I guess I’m a test tube baby! They, (Amazon) have plans in the works for alleviating this disjointed service issue…hopefully, in the near future. Luckily for the rest of you, they want to rein in all the arms of their self-publishing services, and put them all together under one umbrella.
Ha! Could you speed things up a bit? Please!
So why am I sharing this nightmare? I can assure you, it’s not because I enjoy wearing the “Biggest Idiot Award,” tattooed on my forehead!
No one should have to go through all of this! And for what, when Amazon is the one really pushing the audiobook format by asking readers, “Would you like to have this book in Audio? If so, contact the publisher.”
Umm…That’d be me! Haven’t you seen this? Since the advent of the KindleFire and the Whispersync feature, they’ve been putting it on everyone’s Amazon book page. I’m sure it’s on yours! The problem is…they don’t offer a service for the requirements of the sites involved in the process (ACX, AUDIBLE, ITUNES). This puts the author at the mercy of online service providers, and trust me, I know how costly that can be…
Cover Graphics Priority Number 1…
If you have a cover made by a graphic designer, ask for a contractual release of the work. In other words, purchase not only the cover, but also the rights to your cover. Get it in writing!
*Note…You will not have this issue with Createspace or KDP if you upload your own cover. It’s only an issue if you have Createspace make your cover, and/or you don’t own the original files to your cover art.*
You spend all this time pouring your heart out writing your book~then comes the editing, formatting, uploading, and finding cover art. You move forward in the process with your heart in your hands~tweeting, posting, marketing, and branding yourself with your story, your genre, and your cover. Don’t risk all of this by making my mistakes. Do the homework…read, research, question, and know what you’re getting into~small print and all! Heehee…take it from someone who has read the twitter rules, twice (OCD has it’s drawbacks). Trust me! You don’t want the nightmare I’ve just endured!
There is a bright spot in all of this! My new, wonderful Graphics Designer, Jolene, just sent me a phenomenal surprise while I was writing this blog. Are you ready for it?
My new SQUARE COVER PIC!
After a good cleansing cry and some ear-splitting classic rock (if you can’t feel it, it ain’t loud enough) I’m going to have a stiff drink!
Write with passion,