eBook Blues

Blog No. 351

6075402xRemember when everything even remotely related to the internet had to have a lowercase ‘e’ in front of it? Then Apple made the ‘i’ a thing and we’re still feeling the backlash from that. It’s all a moot point, though. I just wrote the title and it struck me that we’ll be stuck with eBook for the foreseeable future. No Light Tomorrow came out at the end of 2015 (so long ago now). I did the layout, making many mistakes along the way, but ultimately getting a good handle on the process. I assumed, especially since it is an advertised feature of most modern layout and design programs, I could just knock out the ebooks too. I could not. Eventually, Mirror World took up No Light, so I didn’t have to worry about that any more, but I have two books of a novella series (The Synthetic Albatross to be exact) and since I did those ones on my own, I wanted to make sure I had some good ebooks to go along with them.

The design process has gotten easier and easier with each subsequent book (partially since I’ve been working to make good templates that I can use with other books). I tried a few different methods to get the ebook finished (sticking with the supposedly easy methods built in to those programs) but to no avail. From there, I tried learning some of the coding (just enough to steal what I need from templates and other examples and put it together myself) but it seemed like that would be a long road that I wasn’t looking forward to traveling. So, I took a shortcut. I used a program designed to do HTML and CSS for ebooks (rather than the more common websites) did a simple sample chapter, made a list of the things I was struggling to apply. (I’ve learned over the years that I should do as much as I can on my own, do some research, and have a concrete list of what I want to do before I bother a friend for tech support). After banging my head against a dead end for a while, I made a plea to Arvin for some assistance.

undergradsskull-e1494221142427-300x214Actually, I made a general frustrated complaint to a group message board and he offered to help me. (How generous). It turns out, using the last program got me going in the right direction (though I wasn’t using good coding practices). For two hours, we went over my file and my list of issues I was having, and Arvin helped me with every one. I managed to get chapter one of The Thinking Machine to look exactly as I wanted (with as little enforced formatting as possible since the whole point of ereaders is that they are fixable). After clearing my list of needs, he even helped me with a frivolous want. I feel like I was on the right track, but there were definite gaps in my knowledge (and in where I was to where I needed to be) that Arvin thankfully filled in for me. I feel like with this first chapter template, I can go through and finish the rest of the book (by literally copying and pasting what he helped me do). There are likely going to be a few hiccups still to go (I’m anticipating having trouble with the author bio page) but with what I’ve learned, hopefully I can manage that on my own. Then, I’ll have a completed template that I can use for The Neon Heart and the upcoming Broadcast Wasteland.

All that work gets me an epub file (ebook standard) but that doesn’t get me an Amazon proprietary mobi (or azw3) file. That’s going to be a whole different challenge that I may just not fight and do the Kindle Direct Publishing step by step guide. No need to make this even harder than it has been. I hope I’ll be able to get it to look equally as good with publishing standards that I struggled with (like indenting the first line of every paragraph, except for the first paragraph of the chapter). (Why do none of these ebook making programs just have a standard fiction layout option?) Again, I’ll cross the Kindle bridge when I get to it. There are several potential issues I’m going to have to research. I am well on my way to getting my books in the digital realm, though (finally). I’m not expecting to start making millions, but it’s an entire book segment that I haven’t been part of yet. Here’s to good friends willing to help and boo to stupid unintuitive programs.

2 thoughts on “eBook Blues

  1. foodtravelmovies

    As much as it hurts my wallet, this is the reason I pay someone else for such services. And as much as I think we all hate dealing with Amazon they now practically run the publishing industry and we are forced to do things their way. Even in my case where I”ve published through an independent POD company I’m still limited as to what I can do with my books in their world.
    Technology rocks and sucks at the same time.

    1. You’re not wrong. I’m still too stubborn to just let someone do a mediocre job of it. Now that I have the one almost finished, I think the rest should be rather smooth. Depending on the Amazon process. You never know what problems could arise there.

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