With The White Musketeer, I learned a bit of valuable information no one told me about — and I simply didn’t know to look for it online, as I wasn’t even aware of it to correct the problem. What was it? How to get my paperback and e-book versions of The White Musketeer linked as one listing on Amazon.
I didn’t know how it was done, just that I could get it done, and that was good enough for me. But then I discovered it wouldn’t work. Why? Because
- The e-book and paperback covers had too many different elements on them, so they didn’t match enough, and
- The books had been registered and self-published with different names, because e-books require metadata and the metadata is pulled right from text on the cover.
The first problem: Amazon requires the registered, ASIN/ISBN work titles to match.
There can be no discrepancies. I wasn’t aware this had to be the case; when I found out, I thought I could “alter” the books to make them match. Nope. You can’t do that.
Paperback Titles Are Flexible
With a paperback, you have considerable flexibility with the title. Your text on the cover doesn’t all have to be included in the registered title. So I had my paperback version registered as “Book 1: The White Musketeer” and I also had listed on the cover, “Cover art by Nicole Potter. Story by Christina Roberts. Part of The Libertas League”.
But on the ISBN, I only wrote, “Book 1: The White Musketeer” and it was accepted into national markets.
E-Book Titles Are Not Flexible
With an e-book, any text on the front cover has to be included in the metadata and title about the book. Therefore, I found myself being told that I had to list my title as, “Book 1: The White Musketeer – Part of The Libertas League.” That was too long and, frankly, unacceptable. What recourse did I have to fix this? None, for the current ISBN. Once you lock an ISBN with a title, you cannot alter the title.
The only thing I could do was unpublish both books and re-publish them with completely matching titles, so that Amazon would link the listings into one listing. With this in mind, my question then became, how to reformat and structure both covers so that they match for both e-book and paperback? I had to go back to the drawing board.
Things I learned to keep in mind:
- There is no metadata category or type for ‘series’. To include series information, I had to be satisfied with simply listing it in the copyrights page: “Part of The Libertas League.” Or in any other special page preceding the story page I wanted to, so readers would know it’s part of a series.
- If I did want to include ‘Part of The Libertas League’ in the title, I’d need to do so for all the paperbacks too (and audio books if I did those).
- Any little piece of text might be required to be included on the e-book cover. This is not the case for paperbacks. For instance like above, I was told I had to include “1”, “Part of The Libertas League,” “The White musketeer”, and my name as the author.
- The artwork of both must be as similar as possible
The second problem: Re-titling both formats and fixing their covers
The valuable lesson I learned about titling will be with me permanently now. It has altered my thinking from the very start. When I design covers, I do so thinking of titles for both formats and what information I should and shouldn’t put on said covers so that my e-book is accepted. I considered the following to make both covers match:
- The books are part of a series. Since I don’t want Part of The Libertas League in the e-book cover, I had to remove that text off both covers.
- But I wanted it to still be clear the book was part of a series, so I decided to keep the book number on the cover, and therefore part of the title: “1: The White Musketeer”.
- I took the cover art illustrator name off the front and kept it in my copyrights page.
- I moved the author (Christina Roberts) to another area on the cover for both.
And since my series is ongoing, the considerations I decided upon above will apply to all future books in the series. They all will simply be titled: “number: book title” so that they match.
Satsified, I updated the covers as shown below. I only moved the book number, title, and author text so it would show on the e-book cover after cropping:
Then I retired my original e-book and paperback version and re-uploaded the books with their new covers, new ISBNs, and new matching titles. All of this took several weeks, as it takes 4 – 6 weeks from publication to inclusion on Amazon.
And lastly, when both titles were publicly listed on Amazon, I had to login to the Author Central page and contact them to request that both titles be linked into one listing. I also claimed both titles for inclusion on my author page. There’s apparently no automated way an author can do so.
So in summary, considerations for you:
I don’t want you to go through the painful experiences I had to, so here’s a checklist you can follow to make sure you get your e-books and paperbacks titled right and listed together:
- Consider the title first. If it’s a series, consider global formatting for all books in the series and how to title them the same.
- Keep the information very simple so the title, metadata, and ISBN titles all match for all formats
- Put all “extra” content in the pages before the actual book content. This can be on your copyright page, acknowledgements page, or other page you specify.
- Keep in mind that the dimensions (px, cm, in) for both book covers will be different. Arrange the content on the cover accordingly so all relevant imagery shows when you crop for the e-book cover. If you move elements around on your cover to “accommodate” it for e-book, Amazon may not link the two types together if the covers are too dissimilar.
- Claim your book on Amazon. Amazon won’t automatically know who you are and place the book on your author page. You must go and make sure this gets done.
- Request Amazon to link the titles. Amazon won’t automatically do this for you, either. After both formats are on Amazon, you must manually contact Amazon through the Author Central portal to ask them to do so.