Friday, 23 August 2013


The thing I hated about creating book blurb for Amazon? I'd use a combination of an excerpt from the book and a commentary about the story. Fine. Except that the slice of fiction lost italics.
   How to fix that problem?
   Encode the book description with HTML.
   Hugely Tiresome Muddling Laborious code.
   I've just been experimenting with the code, altering my Amazon Kindle blurb.
   Here's a link to the official Amazon page. OFFICIAL. That page shows the HTML code acceptable in a book's content, but there's a sub-heading for code you can use in the blurb. BLURB.
   There's not a lot of code available. When I say that, I'm talking about official code. Supported code. Code the Amazon publishing factory will permit you to use.
   Even the Amazon publishing factory doesn't like the code that is supported. I'll return to that.
   So how do I use the HTML code to change the look of my Amazon blurb?
   I want to make the title VAMPIRES. appear in bold italic type. And it looks that way in the Word document. Cut and paste that text into Amazon's publishing factory, and the effects are stripped away.
   Those effects must be reintroduced using HTML code. Find the code for the effect you wish to use. Type it where you want that effect to start.
   There is an off-switch for that code - add a slash to the code when you are finished. Example...
   The code for bold text is <b> and the off-switch is </b>, so I'd set this up...
   That's it. Once you've arranged this fiddly piece of work, Amazon will raise an objection. Here's an example...

   You'll see I've used codes for bold, italic, and a line separating sections of text. I don't recall adding a slash inside the <hr> code for a line. But there it is.
   The red text is a warning you can ignore, provided you are using basic things like commands for bold.
   Note the number of characters left. Usually, I'd write a short blurb for Amazon products. Occasionally, I'd go into more detail.  HTML coding counts against the number of characters.
   Remedy? Make it fit. Edit the text. You are in the writing game, after all.
   If you go surfing the web on a spider's surfboard, and pick up other HTML coding that's not supported by Amazon, you'll risk receiving the second red warning.
   The first one is okay. Ignore it. Save your publication page. The second warning kills your work off - and Amazon refuses to save changes made.
   If that happens, resort to trial and error message. Keep chipping away at the nasty code until Amazon accepts the saved changes.
   Then publish. Wait for the product to cycle through Amazon's system. The updated blurb will appear long before Amazon e-mails you to say the book is ready.
   Get it wrong? Wait for the book to become available on your publishing bookshelf, and make changes. That's the most annoying thing - the cycle-time if you have to fix errors.
   I had nine products available on Amazon when I decided to upgrade my book descriptions. The first one was HTML-encoded the night before, so I could sleep on it and see the effects come morning. Then I switched to production.
   Here's the before/after look to the blurb for WEREWOLVES. I didn't go over the top with dancing figures and spotlights. At that reduced size, you can still see the differences. Which is my point...


    In publishing for Amazon, we often live in a thumbnail world. View everything at reduced size, to see if you can see differences.
   Click on the cover below to see the updated blurb for WEREWOLVES.


  1. Love the new look of your website, and grats on republishing your books!

  2. Hey, Karen. My books were all published again with updated blurb as that was the only way to alter Amazon's product description. I'd like to see a separate system for putting the blurb out there - the cycle-time involved in fixing product description isn't pleasant, tied as it is to republication of the whole book.

    This entry on HTML takes a leaf out of your blogging style. But you suspected that. ;)


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