Tuesday, June 23, 2009

adventures in converting and formatting

I stepped out of my cave long enough to give people an update on my adventures in converting print books to ebook format. When it comes to programs and software I'm going to sound like a total idiot. That's because I am. Most of the stuff on my computer -- no idea what it does or what it's for.

I did a test run with a short story, and it's now available on Kindle and Scribd. I thought that would be easy because it was a Word file. Nope. Took the better part of a day, and the Kindle version still isn't quite right.

So I moved on to one of my old titles. An online friend scanned the book and sent it to me in a rich text file. Now what happens with scanning is that suddenly the scanner decides what should be what, and rugs are suddenly called hags, and flicker is suddenly dicker. Such as: He felt a dicker of attraction as he pushed her down on the hag. Indents are off the page, and paragraphs might be waaayy to the left, or waaaay to the right. Anything unusual, like a strange font, will suddenly create a great vomiting of numbers and symbols.
Average number of mistakes or weirdness per page? About five. And the problem with trying to correct some of the weirdness is that you have no idea what's causing it. So I finally got the idea to start hitting keys and poking at things. For some reason I decided to save the file as an OTD file. I later discovered this means open text document. It automatically opened in NeoOffice, something my son installed on my computer and I'd never used. It has something called nonprinting characters, and I was suddenly able to see why indents were running off the page, and why paragraphs wouldn't line up.

In another few days I might be close to being done and I hope to have the book on Amazon and Scribd next week.

So when somebody asked if it's hard to convert and format print for a Kindle, I will have to say it's hell. Very, very labor intensive. One person who does this for hire told me it's sometimes easier to retype the entire book. I believe it.

Fia M. Ryan, the lovely person who scanned and also chased down more than her share of weird typos, designed the awesome cover. I think it captures the story perfectly.


  1. The cover is gorgeous, Anne. Love it. :-)

  2. i spent two days trying to create a cover. fia saw my feeble attempts and offered to try her hand at it. i love it. and it's so much better than the original cover.


  3. Will put as-yet-written project on #Kindle. What program should I use to write it in? Word 2003? 2007? Rich text? Other? Help!

  4. hi josephine!

    i would use word and i would upload it in word to begin with to see if it looks okay. some people don't have problems. you can always preview. if it doesn't look good, you can make a duplicate file in rich text, etc. and try again.

  5. Oh, I so hope there will be some way for me to buy this for my Sony Reader. It's one of my favorite books (after One Fine Day - a yearly reread for me). I agree, the cover is awesome.


  6. God, kindle frightens me but then all technolgy does. It took me a month to set up a blog -although it's taking me longer to get out of it!

  7. Thanks for sharing. I've been wondering about Kindle, but haven't gotten my feet wet yet.

  8. sorry i didn't reply for so long! i was out of town!
    jen, if i put it on sribd maybe you'll be able to read it on your sony.

    Paul, kindle scares me too. i'm waiting for the itablet, hoping it's not a rumor.

    marilyn, you should try it when you have a shitload of spare time. ;)

  9. i took a hardcopy of bad karma with me to florida. ended up getting involved in revising. hadn't planned to, but there it was, i kept seeing things that would improve the story. mostly just deleting stuff. really amazing how simply deleting material can vastly improve something. and there's also the total sense of freedom since i'm not writing this for a publisher. i'm not used to being able to do whatever i want. i have to keep reminding myself that i can remove this, or i can change this. it's 100% mine.