I’d like to thank everyone who has left a review of Fortune’s Favors at the venue of their choice. Please do feel free to share the news of the new book to, well, everybody!
Those following along at home will recall that some Kindle users, after downloading Fortune’s Favors, found that the Kindle had helpfully opened the book to “Interludes,” which those readers quite reasonably understood to be the first chapter of the book, and so started reading.
In fact, “Interludes” is. . .a series of interludes that take place between Chapter One and Two*. I could not replicate this error, either on my own Kindle app or on Amazon’s publishing tool on-site. I therefore wrote to Amazon, asking them to fix the error which they had clearly generated.
I have this morning received Amazon’s reply, which I reproduce below in its entirety.
Hello Sharon, I hope this email finds you well! I checked the uploaded and converted content files of your eBook and can confirm that there is no issue with it. The content is opening on the cover of the book. If any of the customers are facing any issue with their devices, then I would request you to inform them to contact our Kindle Customer Service team directly for assistance. They can contact our Kindle Customer Service team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using the below links: www.amazon.com/clicktocall www.amazon.com/clicktochat ***** Further, if you can provide us with some screenshots of the page where the error is appearing, then we can reach out to our Technical team for investigation. Thanks for your understanding and support. Regards, Nathan Kindle Direct Publishing
The lesson we receive from this is! Do not — DO NOT EVER — assume that your Kindle device has opened a book or a story to the correct first page. ALWAYS page back to the front of the book, or the cover, then page forward, just like you would if you were reading a paper book. You cannot trust your device to be working in your best interests in this.
*We are skipping lightly over the authors’ feelings regarding the fact that Amazon essentially served a broken story to those readers — an aspect of the case that we have no hope of making plain to Amazon, though, in my opinion, the worst wrong done in the whole muddle.
Readers of Fortune’s Favors in KINDLE: There’s a formatting error I can’t replicate in my Kindle app, or with Amazon’s own preview tool (so I can’t, yanno, FIX it). If your book opens at “Interludes,” that is effectively the second chapter. Chapter one — titled FORTUNE’S FAVORS/ONE — has been placed in the Table of Contents under “Front Matter” (none of my tools display an over-section called “Front Matter”).
I’ve written to Amazon support, since clearly this is their problem, and hopefully they will fix it soon.
In the meantime, if your book opens at “Interludes,” page back until you get to “FORTUNE’S FAVORS/ONE,” and you’ll get the whole story.
I’m sorry for the error, obviously, but I really don’t see how I could have prevented it.
Or even guessed it was there.
A miracle has occurred.
Amazon has published the ebook editions of Cultivar: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 25 AND Heirs to Trouble: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 26.
The paper editions are still in review, but we have faith that their publication will not be long delayed.
Many thanks to the Amazon customer service goddess who was able to untangle this for us!
Cultivar: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 25 and Heirs to Trouble, Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 26 — more information here — have been published to Apple, BN, Baen ebooks, Kobo.
They have not been published to Amazon, and, as this is the last day of Amazon’s demand period, Steve and I are not at all confident that they will ever be published to Amazon. We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation, and will make an announcement if Amazon should at some later point discover in its heart that, indeed, it can publish these two titles.
We are not, however, optimistic.
The short form is that Amazon, having realized that the four stories contained in the two chapbooks listed above already exist in a collection published by Baen Books (A Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3) — which we do not dispute; in fact, we state so in the sell copy — demanded that Steve and I “prove” we have the right to republish those stories.
They initially demanded a reversion letter, which does not exist, as the rights to the stories have not reverted; in fact, they were never sold. We attempted to explain that we, the authors and copyright holders, had sold what is called “anthology rights” to Baen — they can only publish those stories in the form of A Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3; they cannot repackage and republish particular stories out of the collection. This is all handled in the contract between us and Baen.
This means that we, the authors and copyright holders, retained the rights to place individual stories with other publishers, for other collections, or to publish the stories ourselves.
We chose to publish the stories ourselves. Which is our right, breaks no laws, and damages no one’s copyright, least of all ours, and certainly does no damage to Amazon.
The last received demand — understand that we have been corresponding with someone who may only answer via scripted emails; this lends a certain surreal air to a situation already dripping in black comedy — however, the last email could be read — and we so read it — as a demand that we send a copy of our contract with Baen to Amazon.
Now, in the Normal World of Publishing (yes, yes, I know; but let it pass), if we were placing those four stories with another publisher for another anthology or collection, we would receive a contract from the new publisher, and one of the things that we would certify, by signing this new contract, is that we have the legal right to so place the stories. If, after we sign the contract, it is found that we lied, or in some other way do not have the right to place the stories, the lawyers are loosed and everyone makes popcorn.
In no case does Publisher 2 demand that the authors provide them with a copy of their contract with Publisher 1.
Now, Amazon is in a strange situation; it cannot itself decide if it’s a publisher or a distributor, but in either case the demand for a copy of our contract with our publisher is out of line, and Steve and I will not comply.
What does this mean for you?
Well, if you have all of your Adventures in the Liaden Universe® echapbooks in Kindle format, and you don’t wish to break the shelf, so to speak, you can go to Baen Ebooks and download Numbers 25 and 26 from them in Kindle format (there are instructions on how to do this on the site).
Baen also offers these titles in other formats, for those who diversify.
Or, you can, of course, purchase the titles from one of the distributors who do carry them — BN, Kobo, Apple. . .
For the paper-book folks. . . Given the on-going circumstances here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, we can no longer do the production and mailing of paper chapbooks from the house. It seems as if the best (or only) way to produce paper chapbooks is through Amazon’s paperback program. There will simply not be paper copies of 25 and 26, unless we can locate another source for taking care of all the administrative work involved in producing paper chapbooks. Steve and I are very sorry about this, but — see above.
Right now, the paper chapbooks available from Amazon are:
Liaden Universe®: Due Diligence #24, Change Management #23, Sleeping with the Enemy #22, Technical Details #21, Moon’s Honor #20
Lee and Miller: The Tomorrow Log
Sharon Lee: Barnburner, Gunshy, The Gift of Magic, Spell Bound
We will, eventually, convert all of the electronic backlist to paper, but as this is being done between Life and Pay Copy, it will take some time.
So, I’ve gotten those two chapbooks, plus the paper editions all lined up to go live on Monday at all The Usual Suspects, and comes the, by now, Usual Letter from Amazon, demanding that I prove that I have the right to publish said stories. They cannot accept my word for it, because Copyright! but need a reversion letter from my previous publisher (not applicable in the case) a copyright registration, a signed contract between myself and the author (author being Sharon Lee and Steve Miller), an email from the address of the agent representing these stories certifying that I have the right to publish, and a couple other pieces of Utter Nonsense that only shows a Profound Non-Clue about How Publishing Works.
It might be a little easier to bear if Sharon Lee and Steve Miller; Sharon Lee; and Steve Miller haven’t been publishing echapbooks on Amazon since the early days of 2011.
All That Said. . .
Please pay close attention, as this is complicated.
Cultivar: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 25 contains a short story, “Out of True,” and a novelette, “The Rifle’s First Wife.” Both of these stories were published in A Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3 by Baen Books in August 2015.
Heirs to Trouble: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 26 contains two novelettes, “Roving Gambler,” and “Code of Honor.” Both of these stories were published in A Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3 Baen Books in August 2015.
Now, you might say, with some justice, Why are the authors bothering to publish chapbooks containing stories that have already been collected?
And the authors would say unto you — In fact, this is a matter of Basic Housekeeping. We have been trying to be certain that all Liaden stories are collected into chapbooks. Some people don’t like to have big collections on their ereaders; some people just prefer the chapbooks; some folks only want to try a story or two, to see how they like ’em. Whatever.
Now, three of the stories above were first published on Splinter Universe; “Out of True” was published to Baen.com. In the usual way of things, we would have aged the stories off of Splinter Universe and into chapbooks back in 2013/2014. Somewhere in there, “Out of True” would have passed its six-month exclusivity period, and been chapbooked, too.
But! Baen made an offer for the third Constellation, and those stories, instead of going into chapbooks, were all swept into the collection.
So, now they are all properly in chapbooks; and Pinbeam Books, at least, is in Balance once more.
Now, for the details.
In Beautiful Theory, the echapbooks will all Automagically Appear at Baen Ebooks, BN, Amazon (unless they lock us out for crimes against copyright), Apple, Kobo, and a couple other outlets on Monday, December 4.
Also in Beautiful Theory (unless they lock us out for crimes against copyright), Amazon will be taking pre-orders for the ebook editions of Cultivar and Heirs to Trouble. If you pre-order the books, they will appear on your Kindle on Monday, December 4.
Also Also! Paper editions of both titles will be available for purchase from Amazon (unless they lock us out for crimes against copyright), on Monday, December 4.
Paper editions are only available through Amazon; pre-orders are only available through Amazon.
Everybody confused now?
For those who have been following the Case of the Disappearing Books, it seems that, what with One Thing and That Other One Over There, books — even books which are properly our books — have been re-accounted to my Amazon bibliography.
And it is now that I would ask those who have a few minutes to help me out.
It would be a Very Good Thing Indeed to have as many eyes as possible scrutinizing the catalog pages for our various titles to (1) be sure that the link to the Sharon Lee Author Page is, in fact, on that page, (2) that the link actually goes to the proper Sharon Lee Author Page, and! (3) that the Author Page displays Proper Lee-and-Miller, and Lee, titles.
If you find a catalog page that does not have the Author Page link, would you leave a link to that page in comments, please.
Thank you very much for all you do.
Hello Sharon, Thanks for contacting Author Central. I've reviewed your request and I can now confirm that the customer reviews are showing up in your Author Central account. I've made some changes as well internally because as you stated they were German books under your account, those books are removed and they will not be added again. Regarding the books with Steve Miller, I apologize to see that they are not showing up on your account, I would recommend you to add them once again or you can provide us with the ISBN or ASIN number of those books and we will add them for you. I hope this helps! We look forward to seeing you again soon. Best regards, Sofia H.
In my inbox this morning from Amazon was this:
Hello Sharon, I'm sorry to hear that Sales data, your books and customer reviews are missing. I checked and I see that the below listed books are appearing on your Author Page. Carousel Tides (Carousel Tides Series Book 1) Carousel Sun (Carousel Tides Series Book 2) Carousel Seas (Carousel Tides Series Book 3) BIZARR (German Edition) Fleisch Und Blut (German Edition) DRANGSALIERT (German Edition) If you find any book which is missing from your Author Page or if a wrong book is appearing on your Author Page, please let us know so that we can take appropriate action. About the Sales data and Customer Reviews: I was able to see the Sales data in your Author Central account and Customer Reviews on your books. If you still not able to see the Sales data and customer reviews of your books, please write to us with the Title of the book and screenshot of the page so that we can assist you. You can upload the screenshot image at (http://prntscr.com/) and write back to us with the page URL. Please write to us by visiting the following Contact us link: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us We look forward to seeing you again soon. Best regards, Swapna K. ........................................................................................................................ Did I solve your problem? If yes, please click here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A1AGYR6VMWKDVT&k=hy&ref_=cscem_hmdyes_pt_1 If no, please click here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A1AGYR6VMWKDVT&k=hn&ref_=cscem_hmdno_pt_1 ........................................................................................................................ Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company. Thank you. Amazon.com To which my reply is:
Dear Swapna K.
I’m afraid this is all a little more difficult than either of us would like it to be.
First of all, I have no idea what kind of screen shot you want me to send you.
As to what we have before us now:
Last night, after throwing things at the wall for quite some time, I went back into my Amazon Author Central Account and added in three titles: Carousel Tides, Carousel Sun, Carousel Seas, just to see if I could, basically. I’m very pleased that they are now listed in my account, and that the link to my author page now appears on the catalog page for those three titles.
I can see the sales data for those three legitimate titles, I still cannot see the customer reviews. Carousel Tides has 56 reviews, dating back to November 2010. Carousel Sun has 49 reviews, starting in February 2014; Carousel Seas has 49 reviews, starting in February 2015.
I am the author, with Steve Miller, of twenty-seven additional titles, going back decades, which have all been wiped out of my Author Central Account — I see no reviews and no sales data for ANY of those titles — and none of the catalog pages for those titles are linked to my Amazon Sharon Lee Page.
In addition to that — the three German books that haunt my published book page do not belong to me, I don’t know why they’re there, and I would very much like them to be gone. Forever, if at all possible.
This is not the first time this has happened to my Author Central Account, and to the best of my knowledge, it is not because I Did Something.
Please fix this problem
Eventually, I think, this will show up on my vastly changed and wholly false Amazon Author Page, and is the best way I can think of to inform people who may actually depend upon that page for information.
Sometime in the last few days, Amazon appears to have deleted the Sharon Lee Amazon Author Page. The link to that page which used to be appear at the bottom of the catalog pages for all of our books has vanished. The author page itself now only shows three titles — none of them written by me and/or Steve and I, all of them in German.
Also, in what appears to be a continuation of the same problem, the information that should be available to me as an author on Amazon’s Author Central — such as sales figures, reviews, rankings, titles of books — have also vanished.
I do not know what happened, and I don’t expect it to be fixed, really, but at least now the three people beside myself who might care about this know what happened, if not why.