33 Comments

  1. rat’s trash fuming manuscript?

    just kidding, no idea, but will be curious to see what it really is 😉

    oh, also calibre is free online and can convert most things to most things, works pretty quickly easily, seems there’s an update for it each week 😉 ie, very well kept up app

    • You’re close, Adan!

      I really like Calibre for conversions as well, though Dave G. has a point that truly professional conversions should be done at the HTML level.

      I was just compelled to write this (rather snarky, I admit) post because I couldn’t believe that a) the lesson learned was NOT, read KDP’s own guidelines and learn how to do it properly, it was “go get a professional to do it,” and b) 6 or 7 people in the Comments were “yeah, that happened to me, too” and “Amazon sucks!”

      I don’t like mis-information being tossed around like it’s gospel. 🙂

      • Yeah, there was a wave of that when the Fire came out. Some of those who took the shortcut of uploading a Word .doc or HTML file directly to KDP discovered that their books were rendering terribly on the Fire. There was lots of ire directed at Amazon, but, the fact is, the only way to ensure that your e-books will look perfect on all devices (present and future) is to hand-code the HTML, then convert to a MOBI via Calibre (or some other tool).

        Plenty of publishers (esp. large ones) are guilty of similar shortcuts. They take the proofed print file, tweak the front/back-matter, then run it through an automated conversion tool (like Quark or InDesign) which spits out an EPUB (which they then also convert to MOBI). The problem with this time-saving approach is that the EPUBs these automated tools spit out tend to be riddled with errors. This is compounded by the seeming lack of any testing/quality control/proofing of the e-book file *after* the conversion process – leading to the high profile cases recently with Rowling and Pratchett’s new releases containing major formatting errors.

    • Hey Phillip, thanks for stopping by. Yes, that’s pretty much where I was going…yet I wouldn’t have Commented or written this post if I hadn’t seen a half-dozen people (including a “book publicist”) say, I’ve had that same problem!

      What are they thinking? I had a pulse of 150 the first time I hit Publish on KDP, hoping that I’d done everything right…

  2. I think its “Read The F…..G Manuscript”, and I agree with the post, I have published to kindle using word doc, but depending on the book layout you may have to upload many times before getting it to display properly on kindle, I’m still trying to format my poetry book “The Black Hole” because the layout of the poems requires each one to have their own page, it is very time consuming.

    • barbara, i had the same problem re separate pages for each poem; it took a few months, but i came across (in my learning curve 😉 ) creating / inserting separate pages for each poem

      i use Pages, but i think word etc have a similar function

      some samples of (prose) poem books i’ve done i have free are listed on my page, at : http://yoga-adan.com/free/

      best wishes 😉

      • Thank you so much for your help here, I am still struggling a bit, every time it looks right on Kindle it seems that the pages I have already formatted change somehow, will take a look at your poem books and try the separate pages also.
        Best Wishes
        Baarb

      • Matthew Iden

        Baarb/Adan – Does Mark Coker’s Smashwords guide help at all for poetry? If I remember right, he’s got a section on how to format for pieces like poetry that need intentional breaks.

      • matthew, re “Baarb/Adan – Does Mark Coker’s Smashwords guide help at all for poetry? If I remember right, he’s got a section on how to format for pieces like poetry that need intentional breaks.” –

        i have read mark’s guide, which does have a lot of info, but i don’t use word

        but essentially, creating a page break is the main thing (if i remember correctly) which is what i found i needed to also do in apple’s program “pages”

        it works really well for me; the insertion template for a “chapter” segment automatically creates a page break, and has formatting for writing a chapter-level heading, which then gets put in the toc (table of contents)

        i’m also going to have to go out on a limb here, trying to remember the first few months i even began looking into epublishing, and recalling the sheer cliff of a learning curve i faced, say i clearly remember not realizing many of pdf’s limitations (lack of text flow, etc) –

        my experience with reading adode reader pdfs was pretty good; i assumed my first products for this would be too

        also, places like google books, and the u.s. library of congress, require pdf copies (though with the former i can then also upload a pdf) –

        the lack of functionality for a pdf, vs epub/mobi/etc, was not something immediately apparent for me when i began

        now, i find readers don’t do a good job of reading pdfs i send for later reading; yet, my adobe readers does

        the variety and complexity of proprietary reading platforms is, for me, a positive symptom of a welcome problem: the bursting of individual creativity upon the masses of people, which, i assume 😉 includes myself 😉

        i am not here addressing the appropriateness of the author’s handling of her problem with her file; i can’t begin to know what may or may not have happened

        i am merely responding in the conversation, and hope it adds something in value to the mix

        best wishes all 😉

      • correction to: “also, places like google books, and the u.s. library of congress, require pdf copies (though with the former i can then also upload a pdf) ” –

        should read : though with the former i can then also upload an epub

      • Adan – You make a good point that the learning curve can be steep. In effect, you don’t know what you don’t know.

        It reminds me of a poor woman in our audience at the self-pub panel: she kept asking us “where do I take my manuscript to make it into an e-book?” She simply didn’t understand that it had to be emailed to someone to do the work. As another audience member said, “She wants to know where the e-book store is.”

        I guess I would say: if you have even an inkling that you don’t know what you’re doing, then your first move shouldn’t be to hit Publish. Some amount of due diligence is called for before diving off cliffs. 🙂

      • great line 😉 “Some amount of due diligence is called for before diving off cliffs. 🙂 ” –

        always a balancing act 😉 thanks matthew

  3. I would recommend all ebook authors to test in the most popular readers. Test on a Kindle if you have one available. Amazon has a free Kindle Previewer for desktops especially for testing. It takes 5-10 minutes to download, then install and scroll through your ebook. Do the same in Kindle for PC and on your mobile phone or tablet. Get the Nook apps and test there too. For EPUB and PDF, grab Adobe’s Digital Editions and Acrobat Reader.

    @Matt, Thanks for the topic. Good point by David that the big publishers have also messed up a lot of ebooks too. I’ve had a few from pro publishing houses which showed they lacked any understanding of ebook formatting. And yes, they too had taken a PDF and squeezed an EPUB or Kindle/mobi ebook out of it. They then charge you about 2-4 times that of an indie author and deliver similarly poor results.

    And now I realize this comment is getting too long and technical and should be a blog post…which I haven’t done in several months. Time to return.

  4. Dissatisfied Downloader of Screwed Up Book

    As a potential reader of the book in question, the author may have “com[e] clean about this calamity” in her blog post (which I haven’t read because not sure where it is) but she certainly didn’t do it on the book’s Amazon product page. There, it reads “… The original, which readers had problems with, has now been replaced. Anyone who had such problems please download this version.” She essentially displaced the blame onto the readers and/or their e-readers! Furthermore, she kept saying (writing) that the problem was due to a “corrupted” file—which again, placed the blame somewhere other than on her.

    I actually got the book even before the author became aware of her mistake, and had sent a query to Amazon CS about the state of the file. Assured that it would be corrected, I kept downloading the book periodically but only got the same crappy format. So I finally gave up and advised the author that I wouldn’t be reviewing her book. She certainly apologized well enough, but then went on to blame Amazon’s system and its conversion of the original PDF file, and then call the original download “corrupted”, among other things. At that point, I lost patience and suggested that she should be use the proper terms. The file was not “corrupted” as there was no virus; it was crap because in her ignorance, she uploaded a PDF. The readers has “problems” because again, she uploaded a PDF. So in the end, she just screwed up. Which is fine; we’re all human, right?

    But as Matthew has already stated (and others have agreed), any quick research into ebook publishing would tell a prospective author that PDF is never, ever the way to go. I’m not an author or connected in any to publishing or even tech-savvy, but even I know that PDF is a horrible source format. And again as Matthew noted, did she not read the KDP guidelines???

    I could’ve excused (maybe) the author’s ignorance on this point, but her subsequent actions and trying to give me a snow job just pissed me off. To quote one of Matthew’s reply here: “I don’t like mis-information being tossed around like it’s gospel” (especially when it turns out that I am better informed than the speaker).

    Thanks for the post, Matthew.

    • Ah, that really is a shame. A true mea culpa, and not just the corrected file, might’ve actually endeared her more to potential fans. As you say, most people can understand and sympathize with a screw-up, but very few are forgiving when hearing a dismissive “it was KDP’s fault.”

      Funny how some percentage of this is “okay” (read: not really) because it was a KDP free sale. Imagine the howls of protest if this had been for a pay-download…the permanent damage done to this writer’s reputation on a debut is frightening to think about.

      With that in mind, I repeat: the lesson of her post should’ve been: “Know what the hell you are doing before you hit publish!

  5. Dissatisfied Downloader of Screwed Up Book

    Oh, bummer! I came back because I realized that I had forgotten to solve the acronyms in the post’s image at the end of my comment. But then, that’s what I get for being so long-winded, I guess! Probably just as well because I thought to check and saw that the prize had been claimed long before I first found this post. LOL!

    But since I’m here and didn’t see mention of it, may I be so bold as to suggest an ebook creator/formatter from my personal experience and use? Again, I am not an author, and in fact, I was a very late and reluctant newcomer to the whole ebook revolution (imagine a child with his/her cherished blankie, and then visualize me with a paperback).

    Last year, a friend introduced me to a wonderful freeware called Sigil. It’s a simple but fairly powerful WYSIWYG program which produces EPUBs from scratch, as well as permits the user to open and modify an existing EPUB. I initially learned to use Sigil to better save and organize recipes collected from family and friends over 20+ years (originally written on large index cards and then slowly transferred to a Word doc). But using Word became cumbersome as the collection grew. I first saved each recipe as a separate doc and then combined them based on categories and then… well, cumbersome. Then my friend said, “you tech ___!” and proceeded to gently bring me into the 21st century.

    If you are familiar with HTML, then using Sigil may be even easier. The beauty of Sigil is that I could use the first sheet (a “page” if you will) for a Table of Contents and continually add links in it while each subsequent sheet contained a recipe. My “master” doc remains the EPUB but periodically, I use calibre to convert to MOBI so to transfer to my Kindle and I have never encountered a problem (well, unless caused by my input error, of course). Granted, my use is fairly simple but once I got comfortable with setting up a CSS (stylesheet) and whatnot, I’ve gotten fancier with headers and other things which would apply equally to ebooks. Also, I’ve ventured into tweaking some of my ebooks and do not see much difference, except that the coding seems to be much more convoluted than necessary for the average book.

    Having first used Word, I noticed that sometimes, formatting errors can inadvertently occur due to Word’s built-in autoformat function. And sometimes, headers and hard page breaks don’t convert well or consistently (when I used calibre to convert my Word doc to MOBI). Also, I learned that there is a lot of invisible coding specifically for Word which is unnecessary for another format but gets included anyway if one created a Word doc and then saved it as say, an HTML for subsequent conversion by calibre.

    Using Sigil was very daunting for me at first, but my friend showed me the basics and my “learning pains” came from my own curiosity as to how much more I could do with the software.

    So, another long comment. Mea culpa. Apparently, Sigil is a very popular software so forgive me if you already know of it. But just in case, this link [http://code.google.com/p/sigil/] will take you to its development home page where the download is available. If you do decide to try it, please be sure to download the stable version, NOT “beta”. The “wiki” tab (3rd one?) is a basic tutorial. But you can also do a Google search of “how to use Sigil” which should bring up other tutorials and resources.

    Best of luck to you all. As an avid reader without a smidgen of creativity, I applaud your endeavors to entertain us with your books.

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