Way back in November i managed to publish my latest story in the Meg Brown Mystery series (The Ice Cage – Meg Brown Mysteries #5) through the Lulu service. I’m sure quite a few of you have tried the same, as we try to claw out a litter box for ourselves in the now thoroughly glutted universe of e-literature. I have to say i wasn’t well pleased with the service. The advertise the ability to publish to all the major e-readers. They give you options on covers. They seem reputable and like a nice one stop marketplace for people trying to get their work out there. Well….
In december my sister got, as a christmas gift from Santa, a Nook. It seems like a nice gadget. I don’t have one myself. In fact my little tablet, an iPad, was recently absconded outside of a wedding reception and i’m now completely out of e-readers. bummer. If you stole my iPad, you suck. In any case, as a budding writer, the first thing i did was download The Ice Cage onto her Nook. The second thing i did was scream in horror at just how incredibly awful the formatting was.
Now just so you know, it takes a while to upload something through Lulu and the first thing you’ll notice is that it does NOT upload itself to Kindle. I did that well after the fact. On Kindle the story looks pretty nice. On Nook it looks like an eight year old wrote it with no concept of paragraphs or structure. Every paragraph was wiped out and line breaks were shot throughout as though from a literary shotgun out of one of Jasper Ffordes novels. Of course this is even AFTER you manage to negotiate the approval process which took upwards of two weeks. In the interest of fairness i’ll admit that the approval process was complicated by issues in formatting the title and the author name. Everything must be exact throughout the whole process: I included a middle initial in the author name and that sent me back to the drawing board in spite of everything else being correct. It also only handles one error at a time. Basically this means, correct, resubmit, wait, then read the NEW error report and correct again.
Lulu does provide a sample e-reader experience to review your work before it goes out and, of course, i used it. Everything looked fine on my end. Which means that either their sample e-reader wasn’t updated to current specifications or… well… that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t work. Like i said, formatting on the copy i had was just fine and the issues weren’t discovered until i downloaded it to my sisters Nook.
Anyway, now i have to work through the unenviable fix. Whatever that is. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. It may require deleting the entire thing off of Nook and resubmitting it direct, without using Lulu. I don’t know what that would do to sale but i can’t imagine that it would be any worse than the story being completely unreadable. If, however, any readers who stub their toe on this blog has a different answer or hints at how to fix it, i’ll be happy to listen.
I don’t intend to use Lulu in the future. I don’t exactly know what i’m going to do in the future but Lulu isn’t on my list. Nothing personal, folks at Lulu. I don’t think you did it maliciously. I’m not nearly famous or important enough at either blogging or fiction writing for anyone to take a grudge against me. Unless you’re just a jerk and take grudges just because it’s fun. In which case you probably stole my ipad and as i mentioned before, you suck.
Post Script – oddly enough i just looked at the version in the Barnes and Noble store – independent of an e-reader and it looks just fine. So if you have a nook, would you be a dear and tell me all about it when you buy it? It’s cheap. I’d reimburse you but i’m currently broke so…