Monday, January 31, 2011

The trials and tribulations of Kindle publishing, and the other joys of publishing apps, mobile sites, and the like

As part of my efforts to educate myself on many of the new publishing platforms available to publishers, I have been busy creating mobile apps, a mobile website and other little projects. It has been very educational, but mostly frustrating as hell.

My efforts to create an Apple developer account was a trip through hell -- but it was totally my fault. I already have an Apple ID thanks to years of purchasing Macs, iTunes downloads, and the like. But when creating my Apple developer account I decided I wanted to keep things separate. Big mistake.

My problems started shortly after registering with Apple. Everything was OK right up to the time I went to pay the $99. For some reason I paid with the wrong. Then I tried to validate my contact information with the wrong e-mail address. In short, I made a royal mess of things.

Thankfully, Apple has the best support people in the world. Yes, the people behind approving apps may be invisible technocrats, but the actual folks on the other end of the phone are almost always the best in the business. I called the support line and about two minutes everything was straightened out.

The process Amazon has set-up is easy enough: create a publishing account, fill out the blanks, upload some artwork, and presto, you've got a publication in the Kindle Store. Well, sort of.
I completed the forms OK, uploaded masthead and screenshots required, pressed "Preview" and everything looked OK. Then I hit "Publish" and waited for my new creation to be approved. I stopped there for the day. The next day I got the flu.

Two days later I returned to my desk to see if Amazon had approved my work, I had received no confirmation e-mail. Sure enough I noticed that they had. Great, my very own Kindle Publishing product: Talking New Media [Kindle Edition].

But I wanted to check out the preview again to see how it would look. Suddenly the preview was not working. I noticed my masthead was missing, and the RSS feed was not the full length but the shortened version. I uploaded a revised version of the masthead to make sure I was complying with their specs, but it still didn't show up and the feed still looked wrong.

I pulled the product from the Kindle Store and contacted Amazon. They responded back that I needed to "publish" it again so they could see it themselves -- I found that strange, but whatever. So I did. Another day went by, then they responded that it looked good to them.

The reason I can't check it out themselves is that I don't own a Kindle. And it makes matters worse, I found out that Amazon has created a Kindle publishing product where the end results can not be viewed in Kindle apps, only on actual Kindle devices. Who designed that? All those Kindle apps on iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets, and they have created a publishing product that can't be used with a Kindle app? I almost fainted.

So, as of now, the preview still shows no masthead, and the RSS feed is wrong . . . but Amazon says it looks fine to them. But hey, if any of you would like to purchase Talking New Media [Kindle Edition] go ahead -- you get two weeks free before they ding you for $1.99 (boy, am I going to get rich). If it looks good to you let me know.

Of course, the other option would be to buy a Kindle and check it out myself.

Then there was the saga of the TNM mobile site. That will be a tale for later this week. But if you want to know how that one is progressing all you have to do is type in this URL into your mobile browser.

More on this subject, including iPhone apps, iPads and mobile sites, in the days and weeks ahead.