Yesterday, I published this post about a one-star review I received due to what at the time I thought was user error with the Kindle. It turns out, I was wrong (and am feeling rather sheepish as a result). Thanks to a commenter to the review on Amazon who goes by the screen name of Fate, I learned that it actually WAS the formatting that caused the reviewer's ire. Apparently, when you output for Kindle in MS Word, it also adds html color tags to the elements, most often black. Night mode makes the background black, and text a light grey in order to keep the screen darker for bedtime reading. It is also useful if the white is just too bright and hurts your eyes, as in the case of the reviewer.
While I still would have preferred the user had contacted me directly (either through Amazon or by finding my contact info at the back of the book), the review did work to alert me to the problem, and allow me to fix it. Now you know too.
So many people jumped in with help and support in light of the review. To everyone on Amazon, Goodreads, and here on my blog who pitched in, you have my sincere thanks and appreciation.
When I was ready to publish, I used the 'Building Your Book For Kindle' document that Amazon provides to format my book. This morning I searched through it for night mode, or anything that may have warned me of this issue ahead of time. I may have missed it, but I didn't see anything.
I also used the online Kindle Previewer to check my book before I published it. This previewer doesn't offer mode switching.
Yesterday, when I corrected the book, I downloaded the actual Kindle app for Mac, and used the downloadable Kindle previewer to output the html to .mobi format. At that point I was able to review the content in night mode, although the Kindle app crashed three times in the process.
In any case, let this be a lesson:
Check your book in the different modes before you publish.
As for sales... we'll have to wait another day or two to determine how much of an effect the poor review may have had (and now I wonder how many returns were due to the night mode issue). What I can say right now is that I sold 26 books yesterday (up from 15 after the review), with 14 of those sales coming between 9:00 pm PST and 7 am PST, after a couple of positive reviews gave me back my half star.
Coincidence? Possible, but I'm not convinced.