Kim McDougall
So this happened.

I'm in the middle of republishing my children's books after my publisher went out of business during Covid. I ordered a proof copy of Once Twice Thrice and this is what I got.

This is the cover of my book. So far so good.

But look inside, and...oops! That's not my book.

Yes, the printer bound my cover with the wrong book. On closer inspection, I found that they had actually bound my book along with this other author's book, turning my 24 page picture book into a hundred page book (which, of course, threw off the cover drastically.)

These kinds of misprints happen, I won't say all the time, but often enough. I've received books that were bound upside down, books with faded covers or damaged covers and books that were printed at a 15% angle. But let's not forget, I order a lot of books, cases of them. What do I do with these defective books? I simply return them to the printer for replacements.

But as a customer, I understand that receiving a damaged product can be distressing. So what should you do? One thing I'd encourage you not to do is leave a bad review for the book on Amazon or another retailer's page. I get it, my name is on the book, and you want to let me know that you're not happy. And I want to know when my readers aren't happy too.

But to understand why this isn't the best route to having your issue resolved, we need to understand how the modern publishing industry works. Most independent authors and many small to medium publishers use a Print on Demand (POD) service to publish. What does this mean? It means that a book isn't printed until a customer actually buys it. There is no warehouse of 1000 books waiting to be shipped. Each book order is printed as it is ordered.

This means that Jane can buy a book on Monday and receive a perfect copy. Bob can buy the same book on Tuesday and get a defective copy with the cover on upside down. Those two books were printed separately, and the author never touches/sees/reviews them before they are shipped.

But Kim, that's just crazy! How can you have confidence in a system like that? Yes, it does sound a little high-maintenance. While most of the system is automated, there is definitely a human element that can introduce errors. But the the lack of warehousing and $0 cost to publish makes the higher maintenance of POD worth it. Without POD the indie publishing world wouldn't exist.

So who prints the book? Who is responsible for quality control?

If you order a POD book from Amazon, it will be printed and shipped from Amazon. If you order a book from another bookstore, it will most likely be printed at Ingram Spark (the major distributor of POD books in North America). Ingram Spark will ship it to your bookstore or drop ship it directly to you on the store's behalf. That means that if you have a quality issue with a book, you need to contact the bookstore where you purchased it. They are almost always going to replace the book. It will take some time, but I'm confident that they will take care of you, or I wouldn't trust them with printing my books.

That's why the book review space isn't the best forum for a complaint. First, Amazon doesn't monitor that space for quality issues. Your complaint will fall on deaf ears. And since your product is a one-of-a-kind, the issue you have today isn't really relevant to a book ordered tomorrow by someone else.

But by all means, let me know if you have quality issues with any of my books. I may not be able to do anything about it, but I'm happy to commiserate. And I can drop a note to Amazon or Ingram Spark if I see repeated issues. The best way to contact me? Visit my CONTACT ME page to drop me an email.

So, getting back to my little picture book fiasco. I contacted Ingram Spark (because I ordered author copies directly) and a new book was printed and shipped within 5 days. I'm happy with that, especially since this flub happened during the Christmas rush when printers are printing thousands of POD books a day.

If you'd like to learn more about how POD books are printed, check out this video: (Note, this link takes you to Youtube.)

What do you think about the POD process? Have you ever had quality problems when buying books online? Feel free to reply right in the comments below to let me know or to ask anything about POD publishing.

Book News

Dragons Don't Eat Meat ebook will be free for 5 days only--January 19-23. If you've been on the fence about starting a new series or want to suggest it to a friend, now is the time!

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Kelpies Don't Fly audiobook is on sale! Get it 50% off until January 27 at

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Ghouls Don't Scamper is a pick of the pack with the Wolf Pack. Check out the other great reads running with the pack this month.

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Book Fairs & Great Deals

January is the best month for great book deals. That's because authors are eager to get their books in front of people who got e-readers and Amazon gift cards for Christmas. That means you can take advantage of some terrific deals right now.

Take a look at the 5-day Fantasy book fair in particular. For books that are in the Kindle Unlimited program, Amazon lets the author give away their book for free for 5 days each quarter. This book fair is highlighting those books. You won't get them free anywhere else and only for a limited time. So be sure to check out those deals before they're gone!

If you missed the last newsletter, there are more book fairs going on the BOOK FAIRS page.


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