Episode 23: That Time My Second Book Launch Was A Disaster

365 Dates of Travel Podcast

Transcript for Episode 23: That Time My Second Book Launch Was A Disaster

 Hello. Welcome to this week’s podcast. Well, let’s start by celebrating. I have just recently, a few days ago, had my second book launch. So 365 Dates of Travel: The SECOND six Months is out and available to purchase. It is still currently only available on Amazon, both ebook and paperback. And I’ll talk a little bit more about that later. 

But I mean, yay me, I’ve got a second book published, so that is good! And I do feel much better knowing the full 365 dates of travel stories are out there and about for people to read and learn about on here. I never liked splitting the book in two. 

So this is book two, and it’s sort of book one and it’s all sort of all a bit weird and wonderful. And it got even weirder and wonderful right at the last minute, when I was trying to get everything done. But yay, the book is out there. It’s officially finished the 365 dates book. So that is very good. 

I hope some of you have bought it and are enjoying the second half. Obviously, you’ve had a bit of an early sneak peek if you’ve been a regular listener here, because I’ve already started talking about the May chapter and the June chapter, so you’re already a little bit ahead. 

And those who signed up to my newsletter have already had the May chapter for a while now, although there have definitely been some edits. The stories are the same, but if you got the preview chapter, it has been updated since that was made available. I will update the files for any future people who sign up to my newsletter and get the free chapters. So anyone who signs up gets all the freebies that have happened beforehand. So they’re all just there on a special page just for newsletter subscribers. So do sign up to that if you haven’t already done so. 

And the disaster begins

So, like I said, the book is available on Amazon. My other distributor, which I used for the first book, I am technically using for the second book and trying to get the last files together was a bit of a disaster. Hence the title for today’s show. The second book launch disaster. Because it truly was. 

All right, let’s go back to the beginning. I had already finished writing the book. The whole book was written in one section because I always thought it was only going to ever be one book or one book for the first year and the second book for the second year. 


So the writing had already been down, but I thought it would be quite easy because I’d done everything before. I’d forgotten that with the first six months, a lot of that had already been put up, or most or all of it really had been on the website, which means it had already gone through a couple of rounds of edits. So the final edit for the book wasn’t a massive thing, and I based all my time frames around that, but it was immediately obvious that I needed more time on the second six months and it took me a while to realise it was because I was going through the first edits. 

This wasn’t the final edit, it was the first edit. And so it had to go through quite a few processes in order to get it to something closer in quality to the first book. I think I eventually exceeded that quality. I do feel like this book is slightly higher in quality after the final edit, but I could be wrong.  

I used a lot more tools, I guess, to help me with that. Some of that I’ve talked about previously and I’ve learned a lot more since then, so I know what to look for. And with that extra eye over me, or in the back of my head, I’ve picked up things that I might not have picked up in the first book. So that is good. 

Writing style change

Maybe you’ll notice a different style. I do think the second book is quite different in style in a lot of ways and I think my writing also evolved from when I first started to when I finished. And obviously I had no idea I was going to finish when I started. How many people start writing a book and never finish it? So part of me was like, “this isn’t really going very far”, “I’ll lose interest after a while” or “it will just never work”. And so just the whole process of writing and my writing style changed. 

There’s a lot more background to the stories, I guess. And the stories needed some background, as otherwise they just wouldn’t have made sense. And that wasn’t as big of an issue, I don’t think, with the stories I told in The first six months

If I had a do-over

I do wish in hindsight I would have extended my launch. I planned on launching in June, which I extended to July. I should never have given myself an actual deadline, which would have allowed me to change some of the stories. There’ are a lot of stories that have completely been missed out because I saved them specifically for the second year of the book. So there are still more stories to tell. I wish I’d put some of those extra or other stories into this book, but it was too hard to change everything with what had been planned. 

Podcast for more stories

So don’t worry, the podcast is going to have loads and loads and loads of fantastic stories because the second year of stories are not going to be written as such, but will appear here on future podcasts. So that’s semi exciting as well. 

Post launch stress

I can tell this week is going to be a rambling post. I have to warn you. I think I had the worst day of my whole writing career trying to get out this second launch and seeing that was only a few days ago, I’m still affected by everything that happened, but I will get to that when I find the energy. 

First proof

So the first sign of doing something for the second time was when I uploaded files for my first proof copy, which is so you can see how everything looks. I wanted to test the cover and the basics of how everything worked. 

You get the book to a certain point and get the page count. The page numbers give you the measurements for the book cover, which then I have to play around with and all of that. So I thought I’ve done this, this won’t take long, and it didn’t take as long as the first time, but I’d forgotten how many individual little intricacies they ask you when you’re first uploading a book. 

I didn’t have to go through the whole US tax forms again, which was great because that was definitely a hard day when you’re filling out IRS forms, especially when you’re not an American. I guess it’d be worse if you’re an American, but it’s really strange for a non American to fill them. None of that had to be redone, it was just all the different files. So I wasn’t quite ready because I’d just forgotten some of those things. 

But I got ready and got it all together and it technically was quicker and easier and so the third book will be even quicker and easier, especially because I’ll remember what’s involved this time around. 

Extras added to book

One of the things that made it take longer, a good friend came out with the suggestion of QR codes. So thank you very much Miss Rachel. There’s a lot of QR codes in this next book and they’ll give you quick links to the photos. So at the start of every chapter there is a QR link to take you to the photos from that chapter directly on my website and other QR codes, to my podcast, to the website, to signing up to the newsletter, to the other books and all sorts of things. So I needed to know how they would work in the book. So that was also part of that first proof copy, making the QR codes and putting them in. 


Making the QR codes is simple. One of my favourite websites, that is if I have a question and I Google it within the top three results, this website pops up every single time. And if he’s there, if this website is there, I just choose that because I trust them. That’s Kindlepreneur. Excellent website. If you are wanting to write a book and don’t know how to do something, google it. He will pop up. It’s done by Dave Chesson, I think his name is, plus other contributors, but highly, highly, highly recommend Kindlepreneur if you want to know anything about publishing books. 

He has a QR code creator. All I do is open up the page, put in the web address I want the QR code to direct people to, press a button and there it is. Then I copy and paste it to wherever I want it to go. 

But I didn’t know how it would look in the book. I didn’t know if Amazon would accept it and all those things. I even have some on the cover, so I wanted to see how they looked on the cover and on the insides, and whether Amazon accepted it. 


But that took more time. I’ve also introduced indexes at the back of the book. So there’s a chronological index because people prefer to read the stories in order. So now you can do that. It’s at the back of the book. So that took time. 

I’ve got indexes by country. There are indexes if you want to read all the train stories, or all the plane stories, or all the packing stories, or the netball stories, or all sorts of other things. 

In the paperback there’s a link to the website for the indexes and in the ebook. They’re all at the end of the book. So all of that took time. 

Plus a getting to know me section and how to read this book section, as people are a bit confused by how the book works. 

So I’ve added all sorts of extra features and none of those were in my initial time frame plan. The editing took longer. I’ve added extra bits and pieces, so took longer. 

Postponed launch

The June launch was never going to happen. The July launch happened, but I think I wish I’d waited one more week and still been July. That one last week probably would have been a better idea. But it’s hard. I also needed to get it out and done. And that famous saying about how long does it take to do something? It’s like, well, how long have you got? So everyone needs a deadline. So I made the deadline. 

Suboptimal ebook file

I’m not 100% happy with my ebook file. The paperback book file was done earlier and was fine. Everything went downhill with the ebook. I’m still trying to figure out when to start the ebook. The trouble is the editing is done based on the paperback, particularly when you’ve got the proof copies. It’s a lot easier to find all sorts of different little mistakes or things you just want to change. 

So you’ve formatted all your files into paperback form based on how it looks on the page. You can’t have a line at the bottom which continues on to the next page. And so there’s a lot of playing around with making it look good on the page, but you don’t need any of that for the ebook.  

I read earlier that you do the ebook first, because that’s easy, and then you format it into the paperback. But I found editing from my proof copies that one final edit from the last proof copy is so much more beneficial than anything else, or it’s a really good final check. 

 If I’ve done my ebook first, I have to go back and put those individual changes into the ebook file, which is kind of doubling up. So this time waited for the final read of the paperback to make the changes before I fully formatted the ebook. 

I did do a basic format. The trouble is I enjoy formatting, so I get really excited about it and I really just wanted to do it. So again, I probably formatted it a little bit too early. So I had all these last-minute changes to do. 

Last changes

The last changes were based on a read aloud edit from the changes I made after the proof copy. I’d done the Natural Reader as part of the edit process earlier, but it just didn’t seem to work as well on the second book as on the first. And I don’t know if that’s because the editing was not at the same stage. I’m not sure I’ll use it again. Me reading it out loud seemed more beneficial. I did find various things to change. 

So I got the paperback book files loaded up to Amazon and my other distributor, Ingram Spark. Done And then I focused on the ebook where I put in those last-minute changes. I’d written notes and ticked them off one by one. 

It took me about two and a half hours. Everything from a couple of typos to changing words here and there, changing a capital to a small case or vice versa, just little things like that. Two and a half hours and it was done. Simple. 

Saving issues

I don’t know what happened. Everything was saved in the May,  June and July chapters. Once I got to the August chapter and further on, for some reason, my formatting software, which was where I was making all these changes, stopped saving, unbeknownst to me. 

So here I was making all these changes, blah, blah, blah. And I thought everything was done. I was happy with the formatting so I pressed make me an EPUB file, please, which is what you need to upload ebooks to various places. 

Of course, you have to check the final file. In August, I’d done some Facebook quotes and put them in a different font and I realised the font hadn’t worked. That was my first sign the August changes hadn’t saved. And I realised that basically nothing from August on got saved. So the August, September, October and the odd little thing here and there in the rest of the book, none of it was saved. 

I went back and did it all again. And then I pressed, send me a new version of the EPUB, please. And bang, there it was. And it still hadn’t saved. So I think I actually did it about three times, going back in and making the changes. And I’m just like, I cannot keep doing this. 

In the end, I tried all sorts of things to fix it. I copied and paste from the paperback version because, obviously, all the changes had already been made in there. All I’d have to do is take out any paperback formatting that was in there, so extra liness here and there and stuff like that. I did that, but it wouldn’t actually let me do that. So in the end, I had to copy and paste it into another document, turn that into a Word document, and then upload it back in. And that worked fine for the August chapter. August chapter was done and dusted, easy peasy. 

Then for the September chapter, it just went downhill from there. So even the October chapter, the November chapter, all the back matter was fine, just not September. And I don’t know what was wrong with September. It just wouldn’t save. 


Oh, I forgot. So in the process of trying to do this copy and pasting and everything, I managed to delete my paperback version. I nearly died. I had no idea what “children” meant. 

I’d learned how to import a new chapter and did that. I’d created a new file. The video online made it look like it just appeared on the left-hand side. So when I couldn’t find it, I looked everywhere, doing all sorts of things, and eventually I found it in the wrong spot, and it was also in the paperback version rather than the ebook version.  

I tried to delete the new chapter, and a pop-up box said, are you sure? Do you want to delete the children? And I didn’t know what the “children” meant. I’m like, I don’t have a chapter called the children. I don’t have any children of my own. I’m like, so I think it’s probably okay to delete the children. And in one click, the whole book was gone. So I’m now guessing children meant all my chapters. People who were more technologically minded than me might understand what children meant, but I didn’t know what children meant, and the whole book just disappeared.  

I have my contents page, and I have my index at the back. I just have nothing in the middle. May, June, July, August, September, October, November no longer exist. It’s just gone. So that’s okay, the final files had already been uploaded, so it wasn’t the end of the world. It’s just if I need to go back and make a few small changes, then I will have to start again from scratch. So, that’ll be fun. 

Hopefully, I don’t have to make any changes to the paperback files. They’re already out, so it would have to be a pretty major change to end up doing that anyway. And I haven’t lost the words. The words are still there in my ebook file. It’s just the fully formatted paperback. It’s gone. 

Oh, that was not fun. Command z did not work. I tried, and I tried and I tried, but never mind, it’s gone. I immediately made a duplicate of my ebook version, just in case something else happened. I would have a backup with everything else there, but you can imagine what my heart rate was doing when I noticed that all the chapters had just magically disappeared. The click of one button and the whole thing was gone. Seriously, what is a child? What is children? So I wasn’t prepared for that. From now on, I will know to not delete the children. Oh dear. 

Everything I tried just got more disastrous as the day went on. So eventually I feel like I managed to get the new chapter into the ebook file and removed the paperback formatting and thought done. And I was like, Yay. 

So I again tried to save the final file into an EPUB version and I was being diligent, going through page after page, checking everything was fine. Obviously, mostly it was the September chapter that I was looking at and for some reason the QR code for September had disappeared, but all the changes had been made. Every little word or punctuation that I had changed was all in there. It was completely, completely done. The only thing missing was the QR code to the September chapter photos on the website. 

I had to go back and put that in, and thought, that’s not going to do anything, surely. Boy, was I wrong. So literally, just trying to add this QR code, which was on every other chapter and had previously been in that chapter, somehow broke all the changes and they were gone again. 

I eventually figured out, oh, by the way, I’d already turned off the computer, closed down the program ten times, hard refreshed multiple times, logged in, logged out, you name it. I had done all of those things throughout this process and nothing was making this software save again in just this chapter. It was saving changes in every other chapter, just not September. And apparently it had something to do with the fact that it was copied and pasted. So that was the biggest mistake I made. But it worked for August. I’m really confused. 

So anyway, it turns out and I don’t know why this worked, but what I ended up doing was I’d make the changes and then I would save it to an EPUB file again and it would save one of the changes each time. So I did it like multiple times trying to get and each time it would save an extra change, even though all of it had actually been changed. For some reason, it was doing that. And then I noticed it would save more if I saved it into a PDF file first. Somehow that made the changes stick or some of the changes stick, and then I’d print out the EPUB or generate the EPUB file and again, only some of those changes would stick. Like it’s all there in front of me on the screen. So the changes had been made to the document, they just weren’t saving enough to somehow make the software turn it into the final file. So the changes were visually on my screen every single time and they just wouldn’t come out at the end. 

So right till the end, I got a PDF that had every single change plus the QR code all done, and still the EPUB version had lost some of the changes even though they were seconds apart, literally generate PDF. Thank you very much. Yep, changes there. Generate EPUB. Thank you very much. No changes there. 

I’m so confused. The help department didn’t help. They started helping, but of course by that point I’d made it so much worse than it was and then I don’t know if I did the wrong thing by starting off my reply with “thank you” because she was being sympathetic. 

“I’m so sorry. This has to be really hard for you,” and all this sort of stuff. And so I said started off with “thank you”, as in I appreciated her sentiment, but she must have thought, “thank you, I didn’t need you anymore”. But I so really needed her, and she just disappeared. And I still haven’t heard back from anyone. And that was a while ago now, so they never got back to me about if I can save my paperback file either. 

Back up files

All the time I was doing these PDFs and EPUB files that weren’t working, I was doing multiple backup files as well. And so I have all these backup files that apparently they can do something with and reinstall my paperback. But like I said, I asked the question, but she obviously thought I didn’t need her anymore. And three emails since that saying “help, I’ve lost this, I’ve lost that, no, it’s not working” and I haven’t heard back. So that’s a little bit disappointing. 

It was the weekend, but she had started replying, but I guess her work day finished and nobody else came on. I don’t know, I’ve been lost in a sea of emails, but that’s okay. I finally got a file out, but it took me eight hours of this stress of trying to work out how to make these changes stick. So the changes themselves originally took two and a half hours. Eight hours later, I still ended up with a file that didn’t have all the changes made. So if you’re reading the September chapter and you notice something that might not be quite as tight or well written as previous chapters, then know that probably I tried to change it and I just couldn’t. It was just so stressful, I couldn’t go on. It was like 14 hours or so from the time I started till I’m like I just can’t do this anymore. I just need to upload this in order to get it done in time for the launch. 

Ingram Spark issues

So good old Amazon launched well. I managed to upload my slightly unhappy with version of my ebook up to Amazon, no problem, and it made it in time for launch. But the disaster day decided to continue once I got to my second distributor, Ingram Spark. 

During all this chaotic time of trying to fix it, they decided they were going to close down for maintenance and not open until after my book launch. So that really was the last nail in the coffin. I was ready to lose it. Completely ready to lose it. I should have been finished like hours ago. So if I’d actually finished with those original changes saved and done, I would have got all the files in time and it wouldn’t have been a problem for their system maintenance. 

You should have seen the look on my face and the sensation in my stomach when I read this big pink notice saying system maintenance. It really wasn’t funny, but I can semi laugh about it now. But literally, why did they do it that day? 

I could still upload files. I managed to get that they just weren’t going to be looked at. So I uploaded all the files, then noticed there was a mistake in the paperback as well. There’s something weird about where you put your title in and maybe that is why they need system maintenance. 

The paperback, which I’d done earlier at the same time that I finished it with Amazon, I typed in the title as in 365 Dates of Travel: The SECOND six months. Previously, I was calling the first six months the subtitle. But to be clear, because there were some issues with them accepting my title the first time round, I’ve put “the second six months” as the title, not the subtitle. So I had the full title as 365 Dates of Travel: The SECOND six months with no extra subtitle.

 I didn’t notice with the paperback, and then I made it worse with the ebook. Somehow the paperback title, which was “in processing”–it takes a lot longer than Amazon to get processed–so it still hadn’t been processed, even though the Amazon one had already been done and finished. The title came up as 365 Dates of Travel: The SECOND six months: The first six months. Oops, that’s not what it’s meant to be. But I only noticed that after the ebook title came up with that title.

I thought I could just go in and because unfinished rather than in process, I could delete the title and start again. So I deleted the title and wrote 365 Dates of Travel: The SECOND six months. I tried that a few times because it lets you delete it. The box is empty and then you retype it in. But unbeknownst to me, it doesn’t delete anything, it just keeps adding to what was already there before. 

So at the end of this, it was like 14 hours and 45 minutes or something by this point. And I was at my wit’s end. What time did I start? I can’t remember what time I started, but literally like, I know I’m used to being upside down all night, but it was almost getting to lunchtime during the day, so it wasn’t about being up. I was up all night and starting to be up all day, but I just needed to get this process going. I had to keep going, even though it was trying to kill me with every little glitch that happened. 

So now in my account on Ingram Spark, my ebook title is 365 Dates of Travel: The SECOND Six months: The SECOND six months: The SECOND six months: The first six months. Well, that’s a little bit ridiculous and obviously completely inaccurate. Way too many words, I mean, as if that’s ever going to fit on a book cover.  

I have contacted Ingram and I have yet to hear back from them. Obviously they’re closed for maintenance and all sorts of things, so still waiting to hear back. 

When you contact them, it asks what it’s about and then it gives you some suggestions of articles to read to see if that would help your problem. And it even asks you, “Did this help?” So basically they want you to say it helped, therefore you don’t message them. They say, “Do you want to cancel this message?” And I’m like, no, none of them helped. I’m like, “No, I still need help” was what I clicked. And that’s what it says. “No, I still need help.” I’ve clicked on, I still need help, but like I said, they haven’t got back to me. System maintenance, yada yada. 

I mentioned having the wrong title and I want to change my title. So all the articles they sent were about how to change a title once a book has been published. And it goes on and on about how you have to cancel the book and buy a new indicator number, the ISBN number, and you have to create a new cover and you have to do this and this. And it’s like there’s nothing wrong with the cover. There’s nothing wrong with the files with the official title, everything on it. It’s just in my account the title has come up really weirdly. So they could print all the books and deliver the ebooks quite happily and they all have the proper title on them. So no, I don’t need to upload new files; I don’t need a new ISBN because it’s a correct ISBN for a correct title for an already published book. So I cannot publish again under a different number. You just can’t do that. So I don’t need to change any of those things. Therefore, all their help suggestions and frequently asked question comment things and everything, none of it was relevant to what I had. I just need to change it in the account. So I had to say I need help. I’m still waiting for that. 

Amazon only

So that is why the books are only available on Amazon because the other distributor who puts it out to Apple Books, Booktopia, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, all that sort of stuff. They do all the library reads and I have a lot of library reads in America, but all of that is done by this particular company. So none of that is available as yet. And it’s not available to order from bookstores because again, that’s what this company deals with. So they deal with everything that you could possibly think of outside of Amazon, hence why I use them. But I don’t know how long it’s going to take to sort out all these issues because obviously they’re not going to accept the titles as they are, but they’re going to have to tell me how to change the titles and then go through the process again of being resubmitted. 

They do have issues with titles a lot. This company that had issues with my first title for some reason, which I eventually managed to fix. So I’m expecting a few more glitches along the way from their part. So Hopefully one day I will be somewhere other than Amazon. I don’t intend to be solely an Amazon writer. That’s not my intention. But unfortunately for now, that’s the only place you can buy my books because of this disaster date. 

Disaster Day

I ended up having 30 downloads when I was trying to get the right file, the correct file with all the changes, 30 times I downloaded versions in order to try to find even though everything the file was perfect on the screen, it just wouldn’t spit it out as something that I could save. So I will never forget that night. Literally. I was taking screenshots of things along the way. So my final files folder for The SECOND six months has a folder inside it called Disaster Day, which is filled with all the screenshots of all the not fun I was having trying to get this book out. 

All of that made The SECOND six months book launch so much more stressful, so much harder than my first book launch. So the first book I definitely had everything ready and started and even published unofficially too early. Or I did it all too early. This time, I’ve left it too late. So hopefully third time lucky. I’ll be learning from all the things from both launches to make the third launch the best launch out of everything. 

What’s next

Now don’t ask me what the third launch is going to be because this is where I’m at now. Now what? I have loads of things to do, projects to do, but what do I do first? So the next launch may be the audiobook. That was sort of one of my plan. I was going to make blank notebooks or lined notebooks that people can write in, using my covers for the book and things like that. 

Obviously, I’m going to continue some of the travel stories. I’m going to put the full America trip into a book on its own with a lot more background stories and personal stories and all sorts of things. So that’s probably the next travel book that will come out, but I don’t know when that will be. A lot of it is written with stories in both books and I’ve written a lot of other stories that haven’t been published for that trip. But there’s still a bit to go. So that might be the next book launch. 

I’m not ready to do my Cosy Mysteries. I’m going to make sure I spend time on those. So I’m sort of not aiming for those until maybe the end of 2024. I will sort of start working on those soon, though, at the same time. 

The audiobook will be something I can do. I’m probably not going to do it from start to finish and then done. It might be done a little bit here and there and then the America bit story might be done, bit here and there. Cosy Mystery is going to be working in the background, so we’ll see. 

Or maybe I should just start one thing, finish it and move on to the next. I don’t know. I’m just really excited about the Cosy Mysteries and I really want to start writing, but I also know I have a lot to learn. It is a different style of writing. It is a whole different kettle of fish. So I do want to take my time because I want it to be the best that it can possibly be. But I’m back to steep learning curves and new software and processes and things like that. 

It’s nice to have options. If I don’t feel in the mood for one particular thing one day, I can just do something from the other. So I think that’s a nice way of getting away from writer’s block. So that’s good. 

So I guess that’s where we’re at now. So the second book is launched. 365 Dates of Travel: The SECOND six months has launched, it is available. It will be available at more stores in the future. And yes, it is very stressful publishing a book. So if you have any comments and questions, please get in touch. There are transcripts of the podcast on my website, and underneath there, there’s a place where you can comment if you’d like to. If you’ve got any hints and tips and ideas for me, then please put them in the comments. If this has turned you off writing a book or helped you decide to write a book, then also let me know about stuff like that. 

Next week

So next week I will be going back to travel stories. I’ll be talking about all the background and behind the scenes of the July Chapter stories, so that’ll be good. So hopefully maybe you’ve already read the book by the time the next episode comes out and you’re ahead of the July stories and want to know more. Or maybe this will help you decide to go out and buy the book because you want to know more. Either way, thank you very much for listening today. Sorry it’s been a bit of a weird podcast this week, but that’s what happens when you’re a self publisher and you’re writing books and self publishing them and also making a podcast about writing them. 

So, yes, thank you very much for listening. I hope you found something interesting in today or you’ve had some emotion evoked in you based on what my emotions were going through. My biggest disaster day of my self publishing and author career. But until next week, I will leave you with: I wish for you an interesting day.

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