Friday, 19 April 2013

The OverDrive Saga

Back in August last year, I had an author ask me about uploading to OverDrive. (OverDrive is a distributor that many libraries go through in order to get eBooks into their catalog.) As we've had a number of requests for our eBooks in libraries, I thought, "Heck! Why not?" Yes, I'd heard what a nightmare it could be to accomplish it, but I had no idea just what a nightmare.

So, I filled out the application, sent in the test files, and waited two-three weeks. They finally responded, but I think by the time they did, I was once again in the throes of quarterly reports. When I contacted them again, they told me I'd waited to long and needed to apply again. Okay. I did that… and waited another 5-6 weeks. o.O

Once the account was set up, I received this email informing me that I was special and would get to use their FTP upload instead of the internet interface, which, by the way, doesn't work with Google Chrome at all and only portions of it with Safari. It works best with Internet Exploder. Yay! I'm on a Mac. That means I have to cross over to the dark side and use a program called Parallels that turns my Mac into a PC. (If I wanted a PC, I'd have that instead of a Mac, but whatever.)

I read their uploading information and nearly fainted. They wanted me to send them a spreadsheet with all 200+ of our eBooks in it. Not only did they want titles, they wanted the ISBN, the blurb, the author name, editor name, cover artist name, genre(s), a brief excerpt, BISAC (library speak for library genre), release date, your mother's grandmother's grandfather's mother's maiden name, and the last time you ovulated (or ejaculated, if you are a man). Oh, wait! Scratch the last two. Maybe that's why they told me that the first file wouldn't work. Too much information. (grin)

No, seriously, they did reject the first spreadsheet I sent because, even though I followed the instructions on their website, it wasn't in the format with the information they said they wanted. It was, but not to them.

"Download our metadata template and use that."

All right, I do as they request, input the information, changing the book info from rows to columns because that was how the metadata template was organized, fill in the information (but only for ten books because, if I made a mistake—wait! Did I just say "if?"—it wouldn't be a huge waste of time), and upload that with the ePubs/PDF via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

A few days later, an email arrives from their tech department. "We cannot use this spreadsheet because it does not follow the guidelines."

Um, yes, it does. I followed it to the tee. I even switched everything from rows to columns, which took a long time.

"Oh, well, the information needs to be in rows not columns."

Okay. That's not what your template/website says, but whatever. I searched the internet for an easier way than retyping it all back into rows. Yay! I found an answer, did it quickly, and uploaded the new file.

Less than a half hour later, a new email arrived. Here's a little quote for you:

"Thank you for resubmitting the metadata, we can now use that to upload your files. However, before we can continue with the uploading process we ask that you you rename all of your files (epubs, pdfs and jpgs) by ISBN so that we can match them up to the appropriate metadata accordingly. Ex: 9781603819091.epub"

ARGH! No! No! No! Nowhere on your *&!%$@ website or in any of your information does it say that I have to name it by the ISBN. No, it specifically states that I don't have to name my files by ISBN as long as I include the names of the files within the spreadsheet. I did this because, I don't know about you, but I don't know the eBooks by the ISBNs. Astonishing, I know. For instance, if you said, "Oh, I love 978-1-61798-075-6. It is just the best first book of a series I've ever read," I would probably look at you as if you'd grown dandelions on your head for hair. Unless I consulted my ISBN log, I'd no idea that was Fangs for Christmas. Now, if you say, "Oh, I love Fangs for Christmas. It is the best first book of a series I've ever read," I'd know exactly what book you are referring to.

I am not a computer. I don't crunch numbers in my sleep. I might cuss numbers in my sleep, but I don't crunch them.

So, that is where I am at now. I have to change all of the file names to ISBN.

Did I mention that I also had to make separate ePub files for them because the covers in the ones I make for every other distributor is just a hair bigger. (So, the cover will fill the screen of your Kindle/Nook/Sony/etc.) Just one more thing to do, because I don't have enough already. o.O

At this moment, if I could reach through the email and stuff spreadsheet and files where the sun don't shine, I would.


Cassie Exline said...

That's absolutely crazy. It's like they want you to fail. Sounds like they are making it as hard as possible. Good luck and may the force be with you.

Anthology Authors said...

I don't think they do, Cassie. Some hypothesize that this is to keep self-publishers from applying. Yeah, I don't know. I think it's just to irritate the bejeezus out of us.

Anthology Authors said...

And, yes, may the dark side stop interfering with this process. (g)

Jaime Samms said...

Good grief.

steve shilstone said...

Dang. That's horrible. I'm glad I have my son to do everything internettish for me. I do have a few libraries ready to grab my books if you are ever able to conquer those pesky folks.

Faith said...

I don't envy you. That would be one more thing to make me cuss way too much and I'm trying to cut back, lol.

Anthology Authors said...

I know, Jaime. It's unreal how difficult of a process this has been.

Anthology Authors said...

HAHAHA, Steve. My husband will help me with things, but not this type of stuff. Should my computer wig out or our network not work, he's the man. Something this tedious? Well, that's my venue. LOL

Anthology Authors said...

I was cussing a lot yesterday, Faith. I'm usually pretty good, but I was beyond annoyed.