I usually write my books in Google Docs, edit them in Word (where I can get the computer to read it to me if need be) and then upload to Lulu.com to produce the paperbacks and eBooks, but something has been going very wrong with the EPUB conversion from DOCX on Lulu recently.
Wrath of Atlantis recently failed validation after their automatic conversion added underscores to the title (seriously why would “The Wrath of Atlantis” become “The_Wrath_of_Atlantis” if I was converting by hand? That had to be an automatic process). Lulu’s response team told me to make changes to my Epub to stop this happening… Yeah, when I upload a .docx, of course it’s my issue.
As luck would have it, I can convert a docx into an epub myself (Using Calibre and Sigil together, any sort of editing and conversion is possible, if you are an eBook author you should have these tools). When I did this and uploaded my own EPUB mysteriously all the faults and warnings that their system was creating all went away.
Why is this happening right now? Well, I could suspect that Lulu are trying to force users to pay their people to format the EPUB for them, while it is reasonable for business to offer extra services such as professional conversion, what isn’t reasonable is to damage your automatic conversion processes so that users cannot convert a valid docx into a valid EPUB without paying, that sucks. I hope this isn’t the case, that someone in the web development team altered a file, without checking maybe they upgraded but forgot to set a few settings, but since then the automatic conversion has been broken.
Regarding that last issue, they allowed me to post The First Seal ebook as “With Strange Aeons 1: The First Seal” , but wouldn’t allow “With Strange Aeons 2: The Wrath of Atlantis” claiming that because the cover had the word book on it before the 2 it wouldn’t be accepted by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
The big problem with that being that First Seal had already passed those checks and was for sale on Amazon, et al. I pointed this out to them, but they declined to comment, ignored that completely and told me that they had consulted with their ebook distribution specialist (who assured them that what happened with Book 1 couldn’t happen — even though it already did!), and reiterated that I would have to change the cover to match. Which also ignores the fact that the covers of the eBooks are the front cover of the paperback, and the series wouldn’t match in style.
So I have had to pull The First Seal and Wrath, re-jig both books and redistribute them. Right now, Lulu are not my favourite company. So why am I still with them? Well, because when I started publishing paperback versions of my books, Createspace were terrible for British authors. They wouldn’t print in the UK, and refused to help with US tax codes (unlike KDP who sorted that right out for you), Lulu just handled the whole thing better. Maybe it’s time for me to investigate CreateSpace again and see if they’ve improved the process any since I last investigated in 2013…