Amazon’s New Rules for Kindle Authors in February!

Written By: Jackie Weger - Jan• 22•16

Mastering Amazon

Yep! New rules!  For all authors…Beginning February 03, 2016, Amazon will start posting a little message on all Kindle books not up to snuff. Doesn’t matter if the book  is by an indie author, small press, online publisher or boutique publisher. But this will most assuredly affect indie authors the most.  Here is the notice that will show up on your book if errors are discovered or Amazon has received complaints, courtesy of Michael Kozlowski, Good E Reader on January 21, 2016.

Snipit amazon warning


Perhaps you overlooked this in Amazon’s Content Guidelines:

Poor Customer Experience:  We don’t accept books that provide a poor customer experience. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience. See the Guide to Kindle Content Quality for examples of content that’s typically disappointing to customers.

Since the innovation of the Kindle, Amazon has been very kind to indie authors, among others. Some of us have published books with grammar snafus, misspelled words, misused punctuation and formatting mishaps. Legacy publishers often scan print editions and publish the digital edition sans a proof. I recently downloaded one such title from Bookbub. Formatted double spacing between all paragraphs. Absolute horrid experience to read. I gave up. Won’t mention the author because it wasn’t his fault.

Proofing a book is a witch hunt for those errors. I pay a very good editor  and a professional formatter. I also pay for a beta reader. We all miss something. Because our indie author landscape is changing and Amazon sold bucket loads of Kindles and Kindle Unlimited subscriptions over the 2015 holidays, I predicted the market will tighten. I also said new Kindle readers and new KU subscribers have been reading print editions. They did not ‘grow up’ on digital readers with our early ebook efforts. Indie authors and publishers were all learning the new game in town. That’s over. The market has matured on every front.

The 2016 audience and beyond will expect our books to be pristine. And this audience will be far more vocal than the early Kindle audience. I have spent the past couple of months encouraging eNovel Authors at Work members to proof their already published books in the online proofer Amazon provides. And if an error is discovered, repair it ASAP. I do know this: Before Amazon tags a book with that warning, it will alert and inquire of the author. Amazon once queried me on errors it found. They were foreign words or the French names of paintings. Fine, Good to go. A annoyed reader complained to Amazon of three misspelled words in one of my books. Amazon emailed me. I emailed right back and said the repairs would be made within 24 hours. Thank you for alerting me. Repairs made. Good to go. Thus, it will be critical for indie authors to respond to those emails. Ignore them at your peril. Because Amazon will take the book off line.

How else will these flags impact the author? Imagine:  You snag a Bookbub slot, pay a mint, schedule the promo and the day before the promo goes live, Amazon pulls it. If  Amazon takes your book off line, you can’t promote it. The premium book promoters such as Bookbub, FreeBooksy, Choosy Bookworm and Fussy Librarian and an entire host of lesser promoters, will refuse your submissions–because Hey! It ain’t on Amazon.  And if it is already scheduled, you are in a world of hurt to get the promo pulled and refunds. It takes at least 24 hours to sort and respond to emails, repair and upload the new file.

This happens. Some  sly indie authors claim as an editor their maiden names or the names of family members or a beta reader–and publish a less than stellar book. Some set themselves up as publishers, so the book does not appear as indie authored.  If the book is not well-edited,  and Amazon gets a complaint, and it only takes one, you are gonna hear about it.

The next item is before we hire an editor, we look at the books of that editor’s clients. We look inside. We look at those one and two starred reviews. Ignore one starred reviews such as:  “Eww, terrible. Not for me.”  Or: “Stop. Bickering. I. Can’t. Bear. Any More.” Those are legitimate reader opinions. You want to look for this: “…huge plot holes, poorly edited, and just terribly written.” Or this: “Lots of errors in grammar, tense and punctuation.”  Do NOT hire the editor of those books. There  are rafts of pseudo editors crawling on the Web and hoping for your $$$. Here’s the skinny. Now we must hold our editors and formatters to Amazon’s standards. Which means making good use of that online proofer.

The good news is Amazon will point you to the specific mishaps which makes the repair an easy fix. If you get right on it, the turnaround is about eight hours or less. Correcting formatting errors may take a bit longer. Standard for digital and print editions is 3 character paragraph indents. Not five, as in a business letter. Don’t believe me? Pick up the nearest print book handy and look. No double spacing between paragraphs…that includes a single line of dialogue.  Always use some sort of divider for change of scenes or change of POV.  You skip right over when reading, but your brain registers and prepares you for the break.

JackieWeger-BioHeadShot (1)

Would love it if you follow me on Amazon…Amazon will alert you of new releases. Put ’em on your wish list or read FREE with Kindle Unlimited. I do.

Next time. Updates on Amazon giveaways and other tips to help you master Amazon. I’m Jackie Weger, Founder of eNovel Authors at Work. I am not a best selling author, but when I promote, I sell books. That’s the goal.  Reviews are always nice. I never like to sign off without sharing with you the gentle plea most of us in eNovel put at THE END in our books:

Thank you for taking the time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated. Thank you. [author name].

Yes, it works. In the past two years or so readers have kindly posted above 14,000 reviews on eNovel Author at Work member’s titles.

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  1. Mike Markel says:

    Thanks for the heads-up and the advice, Jackie. I see Amazon’s new policy as good news for all of us: We have to publish our highest quality work. Only then can we expect to be regarded as the equal of the big-name authors writing for legacy publishers. Your suggestions can help us all get there.

  2. EM Kaplan says:

    Thanks for the insight. I think writers are going to find that the system will reward people who put the effort into creating good, professional books.

  3. Polly Iyer says:

    I agree with Mike and Emily. Should have happened a long time ago. Thanks for the alert.

  4. Mimi Barbour says:

    Thanks for the info on Amazon’s new direction, Jackie. Thank goodness I use Pressook for formatting where I can do it myself and it’s easy to make any changes. I’ll be even more watchful from now on 🙂

  5. When I started reading I was horrified (always paranoid – me!) but then I read the Guide to Kindle Content Quality you kindly linked up to and it put my mind at rest. I am ok – phew. I can see now it’s a good thing. So many indie authors settle for second best out of laziness or ignorance (the latter points back to laziness, I hope you’ll agree!) so this will either get them to clean up their act or leave the game. The customer will reap the benefits either way and it’ll make everyone happier. A better reputation of indie publishing will benefit us all in the long run. Excellent news!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Frossie! I really want to agree that laziness is an issue. IMO, it is a lack of caring. I recently emailed an indie about some snafus in a book. The reply was: “I’m busy. I don’t have time to fix it. I’ll just have to live with it.” Whoa. Well, many indies have day jobs. Writing is a sideline–not a career. A book is just a bit of chat for a cocktail party–gives the person a measure of eclat.

  6. Susan Tarr says:

    More great advice and tips for Indies. Thank you, Jackie.

  7. Maria says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, Jackie! Yes, it looks like the market is employing cleansing tactics. Headache to a lot of indie authors, but sooner or later, they (we)’d have to conform.

  8. This is great news. It gives the author profession more class. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Angelika! Thank you for sharing and I agree. Many of us need a wee shove to better our work product. Many indie authors who have not been legacy published don’t get it about how many eyes are needed on a ms. In my legacy published days, the acquisition editor read the ms, next the first reader, next the line editor/copy editor who composed the revision letter. Revision completed. Copy editor review, legal review (if necessary) and finally printer setup and galley proof. Two or more of us proofed the galley before the book went to press. And we all found errors–even in the galley. It ain’t easy for the indie author to wear all of those editorial hats.

  9. Amy Vansant says:

    I learned the hard way – thought my book was perfect and it was riddled. Now I have my team – much better! I’m ready!

  10. KJD says:

    I agree with the consensus. This is a good thing, both for readers and indie writers who put in the effort to produce professional quality novels.
    Great post, Jackie.

  11. Ellis Vidler says:

    Good for Amazon and thanks for posting. I saw it on Polly Iyer’s FB page. This policy will help us all to be more professional.

  12. Neil Ostroff says:

    Great article. In all my books I’ve only had one review stating bad grammar. fixed it and moved on.

  13. Thanks so much for this info, Jackie. Where is Amazon’s online proofer? Do you mean that spell checker we all get before publishing a file (the one that usually picks out all the foreign or slang words)? Or something else? How do we access it of the book is already published?

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Alicia: Once we upload a file, Amazon provides a tool/app on which we can review the book just as it appears on a Kindle. Spend some time on your book page. You may proof it via the Kindle app inside KDP at anytime…Just go to your book and tick edit details…Do NOT forget to tick you own the rights each time you review your book. This separate from what you call the spell checker. You may review your book on this app at any time inside KDP. You are in effect republishing the unit. However, it says live on Amazon. Earlier editions stay live until one uploads the corrected file over the old. Hope this helps.

  14. I agree. Some typos are easy to miss, even with the spell checkers, KDP etc. But, I fix anything I find asap.

  15. Rickk Berry III says:

    This is good in an overall sense. There is potential for abuse. People complaining for the wrong reasons comes to mind. Also, they mention “junk” characters. Does that include things like asterisks that represent time skips in a book? I’ve read plenty of novels (indie and trad) that use asterisks for just that. I’ve no doubt someone will end up screwed over the whole thing even if the overall intent is on the up and up.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Rickk: What you describe are separators. Those are not junk characters…Amazon is addressing low quality scans of print editions. A publisher I hired to scan two of my units put out an awful product. “L” turned into 1. Exclamation points read >>>. It took me three rounds of edits to get all of those corrected. So. The heads up is, we have to check the quality of work and the body of work by service providers we consider hiring. An early editorial service I hired had a bunch of text in a file on the Clipboard in Word that ended up in my book. Amazon proofing didn’t catch it because none of the words were misspelled. My bad for not using the entire proofing process. Now I do. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  16. Julie Frayn says:

    Even with an editor, betas, and one eagle-eyed proofer, errors slip through. I wonder what level of errors will be allowed before that notice is posted? I try for zero… :). But there are Canadian vs. American spellings, and regional dialect, and a raft of other potential correctly spelled things that might get caught in that net. Just something to keep in mind.
    Julie Frayn
    Author of Mazie Baby

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Julie Frayn! so nice to see you among us again. Hope all is well with you and yours. Different spellings and dialects are not going to be the issue. I sense that audience/reader complaint will trigger Amazon to get in touch with authors/publishers. Amazon already has the auto proofer. Once we upload a ms/file, we have the opportunity to review errors Amazon highlights. Some are errors, some are not. FEW authors use that one line proofing. and even fewer, “look inside” once the unit is online. We are on notice to use those features.

  17. P.C. Zick says:

    Thank you for being on top of this, Jackie! I plan on sharing. We must adhere to the highest standards. I hope Amazon uses this policy wisely.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Patricia…one of eNovel’s prolific authors! This Amazon rule has always been in Amazon Terms of Service and guidelines. I sense Amazon is fed up with authors/publishers ignoring reader reviews/comments about ill-formatting and editorial mishaps. The big stick has alway been in Amazon’s corner. Now Amazon is swinging it. I like it. Some of those catfishers and bottom feeders are gonna have to find another way to make a living…instead of sucking in indie authors with hype about how they wrote 100 best sellers…using a raft of aliases. Guess what I’m going to be doing on February 03, 2016? Cruising Amazon…
      Jackie Weger

  18. […] Click here to read Jackie’s post.  […]

  19. Traci Hall says:

    The goal is to create a great book–I’m all for it, and glad for the opportunity to fix it!

  20. TJ Shortt says:

    These new rules sound like everyone wins. Author’s will have opportunities to correct tiny typos, writers with less than stellar books will be presented with the opportunity to better learn their craft and the readers will enjoy the benefits of good writing!

  21. In a way, I’m glad: This new rule will help improve the quality of all books published today. If a few typos slip through despite our editors and beta readers, I doubt that readers will lodge a complaint. However, if a book is poorly written, with lots of grammatical errors, etc., then an author should be informed.

    I’ve made 2016 my year of “taking stock.” I don’t plan to release any new books until I’ve gone over all six of my novels. I want to work with what I have first, before I press on. Some people will say that this is a waste of time. For me, it represents my growth as a writer and how I want to be regarded as an author. Will I ever make all the readers out there happy? No. But the first person I have to please is myself.

    Thanks for the timely post, Jackie. Am sharing. 🙂

  22. In theory this is a very good thing, and long overdue. In practice, I see a lot of potential pitfalls. So many things – spelling, punctuation, word choice – are dependent on where people live and the dialect they write as well as the genre in which they write. Some ‘mistakes’ are deliberate choices to enhance the story.

    I can also see where a bunch of trolls intent on destroying/discrediting a writer (don’t frown – it does happen more than we would like to admit) gang up and send in a mort of complaints. Will Amazon listen to them more than they will the poor writer, who explains that such-and-such is part of the story? Does Amazon choose the writer over the serial returner who buys a couple of books a week, reads them and then returns them for full credit? Amazon is never really the writer’s friend.

    I have been a professional novelist since 1979 and pride myself on my books. I have a minimum of three beta readers, a minimum of two editorial passes by professional editors and a professional formatter, but know that in spite of all that small errors can slip through. Case in point, I have a 100,000 word book out there and recently found two errors in spite of all my protocols. One was an ‘ei’ reversal; the other a comma at the end of a paragraph instead of a period. Out of 100K. Will my book be kicked back for that? Will I have to pull it, wait until my formatter can squeeze me into his already tight schedule to fix it, and then have to pay him for his time – all when the book hasn’t even earned out what I’ve spent on it yet? And lose whatever income there might be while it’s offline? There is a lot of garbage – real garbage out there – but that isn’t right.

    There has to be a middle ground that is fair to both readers AND writers.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Janis Susan May: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. You make valid points. IMO the powers that be in Amazon will tread lightly. However, if the rules in effect are for all digital books regardless of publisher…that makes for a level playing field. To the best of my knowledge and recall, Amazon gives authors five days to respond to emails, make corrections and upload corrected files. But Amazon has to rid itself of the catfishers along with those who attempt to scam the system, thus Amazon customers. Yes, we will have to pay for repairs. That is part of it. No way to get around it. The fact is many indie authors have ignored rafts of reviews calling for editorial corrections. Another fact. Legacy publishers often upload ill-formatted and overpriced ebooks. They snub their noses at digital and don’t give a fig for the reader’s enjoyment. I download dozens of books a month. Some I buy out right, some are KU. I’ve even found snags in Kindle Scouts, Amazon’s own press. We will just have to wait and see how the issue shakes out. Again, thank you for commenting. Your concerns are valid.

    • KJD says:

      You make a number of very good points here.

  23. Donna Barker says:

    Thanks for the news! This seems like a good thing. And the way you’ve explained the process, something I’d welcome….if it were needed… which I sure hope it’s not with my title!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Welcome, Donna Barker: Thank you for commenting and sharing. What I love about this process, is when Amazon alerts an author about a needed correction, it pinpoints the exactly the place in the text for our review and if a correction is needed, we can do it…if not, it is simple matter to respond to Amazon. I once was alerted to misspelled ‘sotto voce’. A reader complained I spelled ‘voice’ wrong. No. Sotto voce is Italian for soft spoken or muttering beneath one’s breath. Good to go.

  24. My friend posted this on Facebook. I’m glad she did because now I’ve found you.

  25. Thanks for the heads-up, Jackie!

  26. Great article – thank you for sharing the information along with the best way to address any problems that arise. Very helpful and good for future reference!

  27. Rich Meyer says:

    This will end up being a nightmare for folks. It’s certainly warranted since I would say nearly 50% of the indie freebies I pick up and read need serious proofreading, editing, or formatting, but I’m betting it will ONLY be applied to indie books.

    And just like you can’t fight city hall, you can’t fight an algorithm. I’ve seen Amazon’s proofreader bring up mistakes when I’ve uploaded books, and 99% of the time, they are NOT actual errors – colloquialisms, special formatting, foreign words, alternate spellings – nothing that would make any difference unless someone was really being a ratbag while reading a book.

    I would sooner trust Word’s spell check to be my only editor as I would Amazon.

  28. I’m glad to know Amazon is doing this. If you are a professional author, you should already be on top of all this, and not have to worry. Thanks for sharing this!

  29. L. says:

    There’s no doubt, room for improvement is gravely needed in this area. Nothing’s more painful than to curl up with a book then find yourself jarred out of the story by sloppy editing and funky words that aren’t sanctioned by Mr. Webster. But the million dollar question remains . . . is Amazon the one to do it?

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, L…it’s like this: It is Amazon’s store. They own it. Amazon can make the rules. Publishers, and indie authors are publishers, are extended the privilege of putting a product on the virtual shelves. Same rules for digital publishers, legacy publishers and boutique publishers. We own our product, our books. It is our responsibility to have them meet Amazon’s guidelines. If our books don’t, Amazon is gonna tell us.

  30. John Pesta says:

    Will the new rules allow characters in novels to speak like real people? I hope Kindle’s quality controllers will not expect all characters to use perfect grammar. I also hope the rules will allow for dialect and slang. If not, there’s going to be a great deal of unrealistic dialogue in Kindle books.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hello, John, thank you for stopping by eNovel. Well, I am not a spokesperson for Amazon. I’m Southern, and I write dialect. I am not at all concerned about dialogue and dialect. Both give substance and flavor to a character. Amazon is neither our agent or publisher. It is virtual market place. Amazon is telling us all published work has to meet a certain standard. Amazon will address complaints by readers concerning editorial and formatting flaws. I suspect, but cannot confirm, Amazon will eventually have those algorithms and spy bots looking at average review rank on an author’s body of work. Readers can despise a well-written book and I have strong doubts Amazon will interfere with a book’s message. Readers have opinions. Every reader will not like a book/story arc, etc. A book with a raft of reviews that speak to grammar, misspellings, wrong tenses and massive plot holes will get eyes on. This is actually nothing new. Amazon is just spotlighting it and giving us a heads up. New indie authors are on notice that Amazon’s customers will no longer act as a beta reader. Those days are G.O.N.E.
      Jackie Weger
      No Perfect Destiny

  31. Thank you, Jackie, for sharing! We might be running into this when we are promoting books. Something important to look out for! Liked and tweeted!

    – Jay :o)

  32. Dale Furse says:

    Thanks, Jackie. And thanks everyone for your comments. If, when, I am notified of errors, I will be more than happy to fix them asap.

  33. Wow, I’ve made posts on my own blog about how the ebook market is over saturated, not only making it harder to get noticed as an author, but also tarnishing the title of “indie author” when anyone could, and would publish a story. Then this comes along. It’s like they’ve read my mind (and I’m quite sure several other people’s as well). This is very good news indeed!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Welcome, Angela Colsin. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’ve been careful not to consider the ebook market is oversaturated–as in too many books, because when we visit a bookstore, we don’t think: Oh, there are too many books on the shelves. Same with a library. But, as indie authors become more savvy our books face more competition for visibility, we do see fewer downloads in our promotions. I do factor in that some promoter subscriber lists are tired and need refreshing, i.e. new subscribers. But many promoters have waited too late to renew and build out their subscriber lists. However, that data is for another blog, another day. For sure we need this discussion. Amazon needs to get rid the market of catfishers: people who hire books written for as little as $20 from non-English speaking natives and publish in the hundreds. Usually how-to books, diet books, etc. Fiction is not immune. Amazon continues to create a new audience for our books, though–with sales of digital reading units and moving into global markets. We just must learn to promote smart. Nice to meet you.

      No Perfect Fate

      • Hi, nice to meet you, too! I hadn’t actually thought of it that way (being that no one ever thinks there are too many books on a physical shelf). Actually, they probably think the opposite, or that there’s not enough shelf space for all of the books they’d like to see there. In any case, you’re right, and we have to work smarter, not harder. Thanks!

  34. - Symi Dream says:

    […] Amazon’s indie book standards It looks like book readers are now going to have the chance to whistle-blow bad layouts, editing and writing. “Beginning February 03, 2016, Amazon will start posting a little message on all Kindle books not up to snuff. Doesn’t matter if the book is by an indie author, small press, online publisher or boutique publisher. But this will most assuredly affect indie authors the most.” [See full article here.] […]

  35. I’ve gotten a couple of these alerts and I act immediately and thank Amazon for letting me know. Why wouldn’t an author want this kind of cheap (free) editing? Thanks for sharing.

  36. Jon Goff says:

    Good advice all, but please, the next time you reference a tool include a link to that tool. I have scoured Amazon for the online proofing tool you reference, and cannot find it.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Jon Goff: The proofing tool is inside the “process” of uploading and publishing your book.
      Amazon suggests you use it. You have to go into Edit/Details etc on your book…
      You cannot get to the proofing app until you upload the mss. Once done, you may return to the edit details/etc and
      proof your book on the app that looks just like a Kindle page. Sorry, I can’t put a Snipit in this reply to direct you.
      Just go into your KDP account and explore. Tick all of those drop downs on the right side of your book title with the ellipses…
      Thank you for commenting…When I blog the next in this series, I will provide a Snipit from my own book page. If you have published a book on Amazon, you overlooked or ignored the proofing tool. If you have yet to publish on KDP, you don’t have access to the app.

  37. I’m heaving a sigh of relief. So glad to see these requirements in place.

  38. Jameela Lanza says:

    Oh, thank goodness! I’m just a reader, not an author, but I’m so sick of trying out a book and discovering that the author can’t really spell, or (even worse) writes in slang! English may be a living language, but I still prefer that the written word conform to the standard rules of English. I find a character ‘taking ahold’ of something rather jarring. Granted, these rules won’t solve the problem of plain bad writing or plotting, but every bit helps!

  39. Great job on getting the word out about this!

    After buying a few Kindle books that made me feel ripped off for paying a measly $2, I bought a few books at $5 and still felt ripped off. $5 was the going price for a paperback back in the day, and one should expect a certain amount of professionalism even with a low price.

    I agree it is long overdue. However I do agree with Janus Susan May that they should be judicious in their enforcement of this rule. Stream of consciousness writing has the capability of having tons of grammatically incorrect sentences, that could possibly be flagged. So hopefully you are right in that they won’t be wanton in their enforcement.

  40. Great job on getting the word out about this!

    After buying a few Kindle books that made me feel ripped off for paying a measly $2, I bought a few books at $5 and still felt ripped off. $5 was the going price for a paperback back in the day, and one should expect a certain amount of professionalism even with a low price.

    I agree it is long overdue. However I do agree with Janus Susan May that they should be judicious in their enforcement of this rule. Stream of consciousness writing has the capability of having tons of grammatically incorrect sentences, that could possibly be flagged. So hopefully you are right in that they won’t be wanton in their enforcement.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hello, JLynn Hernandez: You are so right and every author in eNovel empathizes with your reading experience. We are readers as well as writers and we get annoyed as you and other readers do, when mishaps in a book interfere with our reading pleasure. There is nothing worse. Hey! I was around when books were priced at $5 and even $1.95 and less for paperback. The sad fact is, even many of those earlier publishers who are still in business, often do not produce a stellar book today. It is difficult beyond measure for an indie author to produce a pristine book. We try. Most indie authors will repair a mishap ASAP. But many indie authors don’t make those repairs and that is what damages our reputations. I am of the opinion that Amazon is clearing out the most egregious of ill produced books. Especially those by catfishers…the slang/lingo for people who hire non-native English speakers to create text from an outline and data cribbed from other books. There are thousands of those on Amazon to include How-to/DIY, diet and cookbooks. Thank you for weighing in…we need to hear from readers!
      Jackie Weger
      The House on Persimmon Road

  41. Jackie Weger says:

    Catfisher! If any of you would like to know how scammers and catfishers work, read this:

  42. Thanks for sharing, Jackie. So important for authors to perform quality control on their books. It’s tedious and time consuming, but critical to offering a good product. I’m in the midst of tweaking files for upload to CS and KDP in the next week. Eagle eyes needed 🙂

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Laurinda Wallace: Smart you! I am not an oracle, but as soon as I saw Amazon pushing Kindles and KU subscriptions Thanksgiving, plus advertising that KU & Amazon Prime subscribers had a choice of one million ebooks, I had a flash of clarity. We would have an entirely new audience as new owners of Kindles arrived on Amazon…many who have been reading only legacy published print editions–new or used; it didn’t matter. I started right then reviewing my books in the Amazon online proofer and tweaking and revising where it made sense. I still have books that I think need work and another set of editorial eyes on. I will never put out a perfectly rendered book, but I’m doing the best I can for my books. Nice to meet you and thank you so much for your comment. It is dead on.


  43. Voyle says:

    Appreciate the heads up.

  44. Thanks for the heads up about this, but I wonder if they’ll be looking at older reviews when they decide to remove a book, or if they’ll check the book themselves. My very first indie-published book I thought I could edit myself. Reviewers quickly informed me otherwise. I had it professionally edited and re-uploaded, but those horrid reviews telling me of the errors are still there on the book page. I wonder what Amazon will do in such instances. Any idea?

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Meredith Bond: IMO–not to worry. First, as a rule, a specific complaint has to be lodged with Amazon about a mishap in a book. Amazon verifies the misspelling or whatever mishap brought to their attention. You did the savvy thing by hiring an editor and uploading a revised edition. You’re good. We just have to ride out those early reviews. I have a few myself. Amazon is just putting all publishers on notice: Produce a quality product. The stray typo will not be on Amazon’s radar–UNLESS a reader points to it specifically. We will be asked to correct it. This has always been the rule. Here is the kind of book that will be on Amazon’s radar: Look inside. Also note the author’s bio. An Award winning Chef…but none of the awards are listed. It is a badly translated book. Or perhaps: 48 pages. And most of the data crabbed from other text/blogs/ etc. One cannot identify the author or find him listed in any competitions…yet he sets himself up as an expert in his field. Look inside at all of the disclaimers. Very odd. Hope this helps. Thank you for sharing your concerns.
      Best from

      Jackie Weger
      No Perfect Secret

  45. There is one problem though, of Amazon’s own making, and it’s this – they continue to sell print editions, which have subsequently been corrected. I have made it clear that I am now selling a 2nd edition (fully corrected) but this is undermined if they continue to sell the older copy because they printed up x amount… ??!!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hello, Sarah England: I am not a spokesperson for Create Space. But CS is Print on Demand. If you bought proofing copies and checked the revised book, all is good. Print on Demand happens when a unit is ordered–so your revised edition is the one sold and sent to a buyer. However, used copies sold by third parties may be the earlier edition. Nothing you can do about those. You can email or call Create Space and have your concerns addressed within 24 hours. My experience is: A phone call is usually returned in less than five minutes. So, don’t suffer unnecessary angst: check in with Create Space. Appreciate you stopping in and commenting.
      Jackie Weger
      Setting Up House

  46. Judith Rook says:

    Hello Ms England, Thank you for this timely warning. I’m very glad to see it. I have looked at so many books (mainly ebooks) on Amazon only to become irritated by the – I hate to say it – amateur presentation which generally includes basic spelling and grammar errors. I will be glad to see those disappear. The only thing that concerns me is the legitimate difference between UK and USA spelling practices. I wonder if the sniffer algorithms will be able to cope with these? Thank you for sending this well-written and clear article out to us.
    One more thing; Is Amazon not taking an ambivalent position regarding the use of professional editors, proofreaders and the like? These are people who are paid to enhance the presentation of a book for the sake of Amazon customers. And yet, Amazon will not allow the posting of paid-for reviews. But after all, paid reviews enhance the reputation of a book – for the sake of the Amazon customer? I find just a hint of double standards here.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Judith Rook: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This blog is not so much a warning as a suggestion that as indie authors we need to master Amazon. The guidelines are not new. Read them! This entire firestorm began because an author blogged on Kboards she received a Quality Control Message from Amazon, pinpointing 3 misspelled words in her book as reported by a reader; error verified by Amazon. That annoyed the author. She considered Amazon was bullying her. Maybe a troll reported the misspellings? The author did NOT respond to the first email. Lo, Amazon sent a second Quality Control Notice that did get the author’s attention. Repair the errors and upload the revised and corrected file for verification OR Amazon would flag her book as having Quality Control issues until repaired on her book page. New program starting February 03, 2016.

      If Amazon notifies a publisher/author of a verified mishap, the author is obliged to make the repair. That is it. Amazon has always held the right to remove a book or any item it deems unsatisfactory for its customers. What I notice is indies are all aflutter, skipping over V.E.R.I.F.I.E.D. Amazon is a virtual Walmart. Would you buy a broken dish at Walmart? Heck no. Suppose you buy a ceiling fan at Walmart and discover missing parts when you unpack it at home–would you return it for an exchange? You bet. Amazon gives the author plenty of time to fix an issue in a book. The problem for the author arrives only if one ignores that Quality Control Notice. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter if your worst enemy reports the mishap. It doesn’t matter if a troll reports the mishap. What matters is if the mishap is in the book and Amazon verifies it. You gotta fix it.

      The other issue you address is suggesting Amazon is ambivalent about editors and indie author service providers. Amazon does not pay those folks to do a job. We do. It is up to us to pony up, speak up and hire the right professionals for our work. Before you hire an editor, you need to look at the books he/she/it edited on Amazon. Read those low starred reviews. It they speak to editorial issues–do NOT hire that editor. Caveat emptor.

      YES, Amazon does allow the posting of paid reviews in EDITORIAL on the book page. Only organic reviews by readers may be posted on the buy/book page. That is fair and levels the playing field. Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus and Midwest Review all charge for professional reviews, as well as other review services. There is no double standard when all books may be read and reviewed by those who buy them to read for enjoyment. Those are the reviews readers trust the most. Reviews are not to ‘enhance’ a book as you suggest. Reviews are posted to let a book buyer know an earlier reader’s opinion. It is virtual word-of-mouth. The opinions/reviews belong to the reviewer, not the author. Go HERE to read about the nature of reviews by a TOP 1000 Amazon Reviewer. Good Luck with your books.
      Jackie Weger
      Finding Home

  47. Rosie Dean says:

    Useful to know this, Jackie, thank you.

    And I’m very glad to see that Amazon intends to alert authors to the specific mishaps, which makes the repair an easy fix.

    I do wonder if they will pick up on slang words or colloquialisms in speech, e.g. ‘Whaddya think?’

    • Jackie Weger says:

      NO! Rosie Dean: Dialogue defines characters. “Waddya think?” out of a character’s mouth is fine. It is even okay in stream-of-consciousness. You would not write that in narrative. There’s a difference. I am not changing my voice or my writing style. NOT. but I am making an effort to correct mishaps in spelling/grammar/em/ens.

  48. Thank you for this. As a copy editor, though, I have to mention two caveats related to choosing an editor based on published works they’ve edited:

    First, in indie publishing, an author can choose to ignore an editor’s suggestions. One of my clients once hired a proofreader who undid many of my edits. The client happened to share the file with me because she was smart enough to question one of the changes. I told her that if she followed the proofreader’s suggestions, I’d have to ask her to remove my name from the acknowledgments, because my reputation would suffer. Authors may also accept an editor’s changes but then make cuts or additions that introduce new errors.

    Second, unless you know how bad the manuscript was to begin with, it’s very hard to judge the quality of the editing. I’ve turned down jobs from authors who try to skip developmental editing and go straight to copy editing. Fixing plot holes is not part of my role, but if the story is poorly plotted, I still look bad. Of course, if there are three errors on the first page–as I’ve found in some books promoted on BookBub–that’s not something you should ignore. 🙂

    • As another editor, I have to add one more issue. Sometimes an author publishes an unedited book, gets slammed for the poor quality, then comes running to an editor to fix it — but the reviews complaining about editing still remain on the product page.

    • KJD says:

      Amanda, you make some very salient points.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Amanda Sumner: Thank you for weighing in. Nice to have straight talk by a copy editor. Here is my straight talk: I looked at your credentials. Impressive. I looked at your website. I didn’t see a list of client books. And that is where I start my research. I want to “look Inside” those books on Amazon. You also use a comic avatar instead of a photo of yourself. You mention RWA on your website. Are you an associate member as a service provider or are you also an author? I’m not being snarky. An editor’s body of work speaks to his/her craft. I’m gonna look at it. True, we don’t know how raw a ms before an editor had hand’s on, so all that is left is to look at the finished product. You make a valid point in that the indie author may accept or reject an editor’s changes/suggestions. Those of us who have been legacy published understand revision letters and the process. We’re under contract and we must agree to revisions before final contract signing and an advance is paid. Thus we know to respect an editor’s input. Many indie authors don’t get it. Nor do many understand the difference between an editor who addresses interior construction and a copy editor who does not. IMO, that is left to the editor to educate the client. Again, thank you for stopping by. Appreciate your input. It calls for another discussion.

      • Not taken as snarky at all, Jackie–thank you. Others have mentioned the points you bring up about my site, and I will get around to addressing them sometime–thanks for another nudge! At the moment, I have more work than I can handle through referrals, so it hasn’t been a priority for me. And yes, I’m a romance writer as well. I offer free five-page sample edits, so other than the time invested in sending me the sample and reviewing it, authors don’t lose anything by seeing how I’d handle their manuscript rather than looking at someone else’s finished product.

        However, not every editor offers samples, and of course it’s good to see the results as well. I’m afraid your recommendation just brought to life some of my nightmares about what could happen to a book when it’s out of my hands, but that’s part of the business.

  49. Leigh says:

    Written for a publisher, after being read by beta readers, agent, and acquiring editor, my books are professionally edited, professionally copy edited, and read by professional proof readers – and errors can still slip through. It takes a great deal of time and many sharp eyes to make ensure a manuscript is fit for publication. I always suggest indie authors invest heavily in good editors – although of course the professional editors tend to work with publishers… I admire writers who successfully self-publish. It must be very tough.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hello, Leigh Russell: I do believe you are the author of The Geraldine Steel Mysteries, among others. Your books are legacy published and well received in the UK. Actually, many ‘professional editors’ got kicked to the curb with all of the buyouts and buyins among the Big Six. I was once legacy published and find every single unit in my back list needs another round of edits and beta readers. What I love about indie authorship is that I can evaluate a reader’s comment/complaint, and if on target, I can revise so that the next book buyer has a better reading experience. The indie author’s print on demand paperbacks are every bit as nice as any legacy trade sized edition. As far as mishaps in books…Amazon has always leveled the playing field, so it won’t matter the publisher if a reader complains of errors in a book that interfere with the reader experience. The publisher, indie or otherwise, will hear about it. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Appreciate it. Good luck with your new release.
      Jackie Weger
      The House on Persimmon Road

  50. I was fascinated to read this article – I didn’t know about this latest Amazon tactic and hope that all my books e or print do fit the latest guidelines. I will certainly take action if contacted. And I was also interested to read that you could ask for a review. Apparently that is also a good idea. I am always open to any review and hope that adding this to my books will get a huge response.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Welcome! Pamela Strange: I am glad to learn you are adding the gentle gem at the foot of your books. Amazon guidelines and policies have always been in place. We indie authors sometimes do not revisit our work to make improvements, even after a reader or reviewer mentions a snafu. I am looking inside my units on Amazon. Last night I discovered three minor errors. 97,278 readers have downloaded the unit and not one reader has mentioned the errors I spied–because the eye slides right over them. I was three paragraphs down before the mishap pinged in my brain. I’ll get those fixed ASAP. The digital reading audience is expanding by the day. We are obligated to provide the best reading experience we can. Thank you for commenting. Good luck with your books.

  51. Thank goodness, Amazon is finally getting on top of these poorly edited or not-edited-at-all books.

  52. Teri says:

    This may provide some reassurance for the people who are concerned about a few typos in an otherwise pristine book.

    I bought a 99-cent 4-book set even though the preview showed some problems. It turned out to be so awful I started highlighting the errors. I stopped reading when I found 100 in the first 7 chapters. Since he included “if you spot any errors” I wrote the author and shared some of the problems:

    On the East side of the park

    [me] East is not capitalized when used as a direction, only when it modifies a specific location such as East India, East Asia, etc.

    Moments later the silence was shattered by the thrumming roar of a single engine.

    [me] Moments later, the silence was shattered . . .

    San Valences, CA.

    [me] San Valencez is the spelling used in the rest of the book.

    . . . he would stand up to it; with honor.

    [me] . . . he would stand up to it with honor. [The semicolon makes no sense at all.]

    He roared up the street and slid down thirty-eighth as the cops hit the main drag at Laurel and Thirty-Sixth.

    [me] If Thirty-Sixth is capitalized, then so should Thirty-Eighth. [In my opinion, both should be numerals: 38th, 36th.]

    . . . involved. Vasquez’ bike remained,

    [me] Vasquez’s

    The sound of the wind beyond the walls of his shed became the breath of something large and sinuous, and the rain, crashing in heavy waves across the time-worn walls and tin roof the scrape of talons on stone and sand.

    [me] . . . tin roof, the scrape of talons . . .

    walked to Old Martinez’ss

    [me] Martinez’s [you have this several times, so I suspect a global search and replace problem]

    . . . to wait the “Prophet’s” arrival.

    [me] . . . to await the arrival of the “Prophet”. [This avoids the awkward possessive-in-quotes construction.]


    His response?

    “I wrote [book] a long, long time ago. I have several new books in the works, [my] publishing company (over 1300 titles and about 200 authors to deal with) – a full time job – and a family. If I hired a copy-editor for this one, I’d have to commit to the other thirty backlist titles also, and the cost of copyediting is not cheap, as I’m pretty sure you know.”

    There are eleven reviews for this set. Two of them complain of typos and grammatical errors. (Two of the five-star reviews are for other products.)

    I’m not involved with Amazon other than as a customer, but I feel certain that this is more likely the type of author they are targeting.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Teri: WOW! First, if I had such a detailed message from a reader, I’d hand that off to my editor or formatter before I could blink. Those fixes would not take ten minutes. IMO, that is the kind of ebook that needs to be reported to Amazon. I am so not an editor or a reviewer, so I cannot say all of your comments are valid or not. But my editor would know. Thank you so much for sharing this. I do think the author’s response is awful. Am I reading the response correct? The man owns a publishing house? Do this, please message me on Facebook and tell me the name of the publishing house privately:
      Accent on Romance.
      Best, Jackie Weger

  53. Sophia BYron says:

    I’m overjoyed with Amazon’s new rules! When I decided to write a novel, I did my homework, and one of the issues that surfaced, repeatedly I might add, was readers who complained about Indie Authors with poor writing quality, sub-par grammar & punctuation, and poorly formatted books. The second complaint related to series books where a book simply stopped. They felt forced to purchase a second or even third book in order to know the whole story. Some went as far as to state they refuse to purchase future books written, edited, and/or published by an Indie Author. As a reader myself, I’m a stickler for those types of issues.

    For my novel, I set out with two things in mind; to give the reader a full-length novel that was well written, proper grammar usage, and a beautifully formatted novel. We all miss things, even the biggest publishing house and best-selling authors have a typo or two. Like you, I paid a very good editor, a professional formatter, and multiple beta readers to ensure that my novel was a clean as I could possibly make it. After all the effort, we still found two snafus after publication. I immediately pulled it, made the corrections, and republished. The effort has paid off, it has won an award and has multiple honorable mentions. I’m thrilled that Amazon is going to push us to give the readers’ phenomenal reading experiences and if we are unable to meet the new criteria, it needs to be pulled off the shelf.

    Thanks so much for sharing the information, you made my week!

    • Sophia Byron says:

      See how easy it is to make a mistake, Byron should not have two capital letters 🙁 One typo will screw the entire post!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Sophia Byron! Thank you for an excellent round up. You said it so well. When I make corrections, I do not pull the book. I just upload the new file over the old. Takes less than five minutes to get through the process. Too many indie authors were listening to self-appointed gurus about ehow on using a first unit in a series to snag a reader. It backfired. When Kindle Unlimited was launched, there were a jillion blogs about ehow to break a novel into a series to game the system. Indie authors shot themselves in the foot. Early on I bought the first two books in a mystery series…and still the author did not reveal the killer. Later, I’m on a Facebook page and saw the author asking for suggestions as to who the killer should be. She didn’t know. HUH? Next, the author had a personal issue and stopped writing. I still don’t know the killer. But I would love for that author to stand by my rural mailbox…so I could take a few potshots with my snake gun. I still see the occasional blog that suggests stand alone novels do not sell well. Well, boo-ya. Mine do. Because I promote the things. Thank you so much for stopping by. I adore indie authors who have their heads on straight and think for themselves. Don’t be a stranger.
      Best, Jackie

  54. Lorna Earl says:

    I’ve seen your article on a few blogs I follow. Thanks for writing it. I have mixed feelings. As an Indie author, I want Indie books to shine and look professional. I just don’t want Amazon to use this tool to pick on us the way they have with reviews from our colleagues.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Lorna Earl: Thanks for weighing in and sharing your thoughts. I get it about your mixed feelings. I don’t get the sense Amazon picks on indie authors. Amazon Terms of Contract are clear. If we publish on Amazon, we must abide by those terms. It is Amazon’s store, and as indie authors we are merchandisers. Amazon does NOT say colleagues may not exchange or write reviews. It does say those reviews may NOT be posted on the book buy page. They MAY be posted by the author on the book page in Editorial. This happens often. One’s colleagues posts four and five star reviews…Once the book gets into the hands of the ordinary reader (organic readers–book buyers) we see 87% of the reviews are one and two star speaking to bad grammar, massive plot holes, misused verb tenses, and rafts of misspelled words. Readers/book buyers call those early five star reviews ‘stuffing the ballot box’. Readers don’t like to be fooled or lied to. All paid reviews go in Editorial. If one does not understand any part of Amazon’s TOS–ask Amazon to clarify. Good luck with your books.

  55. Cameron says:

    I’m completely new to self-publishing so when I heard the new Amazon deal about pulling books I was frightened. Thanks for sharing that it’s more than just pulling books based on reader commentators and how to improve the quality of editing.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hello, Cameron! Thanks for weighing in. Yep, a lot of the headlines are designed as scare tactics. Amazon has always had the guidelines and rules in place. Congratulations on entering the Indie Universe. It is not an easy landscape to negotiate. You will be fine if you think for yourself and do not listen to rumors…which abound. I always suggest an indie author make the best decision for their books–based on fact…not fail. Don’t be a stranger. If you need to know an Amazon fact–ask Amazon. Great good luck with your book.
      Jackie Weger
      Caras Ocultas

  56. I agree with Rich about Amazon perhaps perusing indie authors with greater zeal than legacy authors and, from some of the comments above, many appear to think errors are found mostly in indie books. Yet I, who have edited, copy-edited and proofread as a profession and can’t help reading everything, including print books and newspapers, with a red pencil (which is why I am having trouble converting to my reader… I’m frustrated by not being able to jot down my corrections and comments as quickly and easily as on paper!), have been finding more and more errors in legacy-published books with every passing year. I understand it may be because traditional publishing companies are not doing as well as before and, consequently, are cutting corners by using less layers of editing or less-experienced and less expensive editors/copy-editors/proofreaders. I do hope their books will not be overlooked by Amazon and readers simply because they are legacy published. Of course, this doesn’t mean I think that we indie writers should not strive to put out the best products we can, simply that I believe traditional publishers are no longer doing their due diligence and, thus, their authors can no longer be given a free pass.

    On the point Lorna made above, I believe she is referring to Amazon’s practice of removing all of an author’s reviews if they find some… any!… connection between the reviewer and the author, such as a fan e-mail or a post on an author’s Facebook page. This is not the author’s fault and is not related to asking family and friends to review a book. (One would be foolish to do that these days!) Authors have no control over what a reader may do if s/he likes their books, yet they can lose all of their reviews as a result. I am horrified by the thought that I could lose any of the few (but good) reviews I’ve garnered. The trouble is you never know when someone might decide to post a review of your book, thinking they are doing you a good turn. Luckily, since most of my family haven’t even read my book, I think I’m safe… so far!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Welcome J.Jade Jordan! I love this: “The trouble is you never know when someone might decide to post a review of your book, thinking they are doing you a good turn. Luckily, since most of my family haven’t even read my book, I think I’m safe… so far!”

      Girl, you are paddling the same boat I’m in. If my family ever Googles my name they are gonna fall over in a dead faint. As far as legacy published books: I’m of the opinion, if a reader files a complaint with Amazon about a less than stellar produced ebook, Amazon will tell ’em. This is happening with those legacy books: They are being scanned into digital and not proofed. I’ve downloaded a few from Bookbub. I messaged the authors on their FB pages. However, politically, Amazon cannot come down on just legacy published units… it has to be universal in its approach.

      As far as reviews being removed…we don’t really know the entire story. The authors report everything in the best light for the author–and always make Amazon the bad guy. Frankly, I prefer not to have author-generated reviews. There is one sitting on one of my books right now–fat Spoiler. I’d like to shoot the author with my snake gun, but I have policy of not responding to reviews in public. So I don’t. I noticed Posted reviews by authors who publish in another genre are usually given a pass by Amazon.

      I do not trade reviews. I do not ask colleagues to read and review. If I come across a book that knocks my socks off–I write an editorial or comment on Facebook. Those can be posted on the book page in Editorial by the author. That works. I cannot speak to removal of reviews posted by fans. I’ve found the best thing is to publish my books without fanfare, promote the unit or a sister book free or discounted sans a review and wait for organic reader reviews to be posted. Some are nice, some not. The excuse used to be that we cannot promote a book without reviews. But now we can, because even some of the best sites will accept a new release sans a review. It is somewhere in the indie author psyche that reviews sell books. Only visibility and promotions sells books. Utterly impossible to convince some indies of that truth. I’ve stopped trying. Thanks for weighing in. It is always good to hear different views. I’m so not touching Rich’s comment. Laffin’.

      Jackie Weger
      Caras Ocultas

  57. M. C. Elam says:

    I am brand new to KDP and have only one book online right now. It’s a fantasy called Ascalla’s Daughter. I use a lot of language I created for the story. It appears as part of conversation it most instances and is a way of speaking for the common folk in the realm.

    I found your post extremely interesting and full of information.
    Thanks so much,
    M.C. Elam

  58. Laura Woodswalker says:

    I want to know how Amazon is going to go thru millions of books and find these errors. Or are they going to depend on readers to complain? Because I know of one book that is just plain horrible…and the author’s friends gave it 5-star reviews. I wrote a one-star, and the author somehow got it removed. Now I”m not vindictive or out to destroy anyone’s career, but Awful books just make all of us indies look bad. I would report this book…

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Thank you, for weighing in Laura Woodswalker. Yes, Amazon will rely on reader complaints to notify authors of errors. Amazon editors/staff will review the complaint to VERIFY errors. Actually, a book described as ‘awful’ is one reader’s opinion. You don’t say what made the book awful. But if the book has grammar, punctuation and verb mishaps, those must be pointed out to Amazon by the reader. It does NOT destroy an author’s career to report a misspelled word or a dropped quotation mark and mix verb tenses or skewed formatting. We repair those. I cannot address how a one star review was removed. I have low starred reviews by readers who do not like my books. Yet, 87% of readers enjoyed the things and said so. I don’t know those readers. But the low star reviewers also make the same complaint as you–that my friends give the books favorable reviews. I do not invite family, friends or other authors to review my books. I prefer organic reviews. However, if you write in the same genre as the author of the book you think is awful–Amazon might take a close look. It is against Amazon’s Terms of Service for a competitor to diss a competitor’s product. If one has a specific complaint Amazon will address that with the author of the book, but story arc and character development is the author’s province. Hope this helps to clarify. Thanks again for stopping by. Appreciate it.
      Jackie Weger
      No Perfect Secret

  59. June Shaw says:

    Thank you for the advice! I had no idea Amazon was doing this. I’ll certain let my authors’ group know about this new policy.

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