Tag Archive: ebook


The Kindle version of Trolley is under review by Amazon.com. So I have a final version which is a little more edited than the hardcopy, but only for some spelling errors, a few run-on sentences, and other assorted formatting and grammar that made it easier to ready on a Kindle.

I think next book I am just going to skip italics and bold. Too much work, too much goes wrong. I learned a LOT about eBooks, though.

HOPEFULLY… the Kindle version will be ready for purchase in 2-3 days. But I have said that so many times before, I doubt myself at this point.

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Two weeks of the delay is entirely my fault, I got engrossed with Katsucon and Otakon (where the Katsucon table was). But I submitted the last minor corrections last night, and after my final proof, it’s going up, baby. First Amazon.com, and then other publishers. Glad I held out on Borders Nook, whew!

Price will still be $7.99

Well, the e-book thing is still volleying back and forth. Last edit had all kinds of things likelotsofrunonsentences and everythingin italics bled together. I was able to hand fix a lot of mistakes made BY the guy who we hired to format it, but I was unable to get the mobi format to work right. So back to the e-book guy it went. If anything can be gained by this, it’s my sudden intimate knowledge of the epub format. It’s actually quite decently laid out, and can be both flexible and simple.

But not for the Kindle. 😦

I have also noticed, when downloading Kindle books, how many mistakes get through from professional publishers. I am not sure if that makes me feel better, but I can now relate and understand some of the problems they might have. Still, while I am no perfect speller, I do not have a team of people I pay to check these things like a major publisher SHOULD. Here’s some things I have found.

  • Inconsistent justification. Not only do they switch from center to left, but “full-justified” to “non-justified” and hyphenation abuse is appalling
  • Chapter endings/beginnings not on separate pages. Might as well have a PDF, Kindle.
  • Graphics like plates, maps, and diagrams need to be more scalable. This is especially true with books on networks. Some of the tech manuals are almost unreadable because the fonts are teeny-tiny and can’t be made bigger.
  • Missing graphics. Again, usually tech stuff. “In diagram 13.2 we see…” No. I don’t. Someone missed that between 13.1 and 13.5. Where is 13.3 or 4, for that matter?
  • Sloppy formatting where italics continue for the rest of the paragrah. Like someone forgot to put at the end of a line.

So there it stands. In other news, I got a mail back from the people at Wolfsinger. They have a selection of covers for the new anthology I am in, and wanted comments. I was probably too honest. But the proofs of the book are promised shortly. I will let you know when “A Taste of Armageddon” comes out.

More eBook stuff

Had a meeting with Soylent Publications today.

Pretty much good news. We have a new person who came highly recommended to us for eBook and Kindle formats, and we have been given a deadline, but I don’t want to promise another date that slips again. I have been given the green light to be published in Nook and iTunes as well, so I am going to check that out. Sales for my paperback have been good, considering we didn’t really advertise yet, and I discussed some advertising options for the next few months I can’t go into. I have also been told to get a Windows copy of the Kindle reader and study up on that.

There was also the possible inclusion of a new editor, whom they just hired and are testing with another title.

Issues with ebooks

Let me show you one page that sums up the problem:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats

That’s a lot of formats. Also, not all of them are really followed. Kindle has a format, “.mobi,” which if you decode various .mobi books (which may be illegal, but they are being shared willy-nilly out there), you realize publishers are being really lax with the standards. What I’m trying to do is get a standard format everyone can agree on, which I thought was EPUB, but there’s a 2.0 format and a 3.0 format. Given my most popular request is via the Kindle, which does not support EPUB, this is a kind of quandary.

All current readers support plain text, but then that looks like crap. PDF is supported by most readers, except the Kindle version 1, and “Azbooka WISEreader,” but I don’t care about them at the moment. Sadly, our early tests with PDF also looked like crap. Table of contents was messed up, the formatting looked like poop on the K2, and then the K1 doesn’t support it.

And none of this included the hell that is DRM. I’d rather avoid DRM. I think it punishes my honest readers and the pirates would just laugh at us like the laugh at the FBI warnings in front of movies. I can’t stop pirating, and DRM is just adding to the complications.

We have a new converting person, who has the final, final draft of the book. I have to admit, I cheated a little. The final, final draft I sent had a LOT of corrections from the print version. I can’t believe we had six people editing this book (me being one of them) and we missed SO MANY errors. All it took was a seventh editor, a friend of mine who did it on his volition without asking, to find probably over 100 mistakes in the form of missing words, transposed words, and a few words that were incorrectly used. Like I used “ancestors” where I should have used “descendants.” How fucking embarrassing for me. It’s because of this that I still firmly believe that there are two essential pieces to any book: an author and an editor. I don’t have an ego when it comes to an editor pointing out where I used “they” instead of “the” or “mixed words two with one another.” Spellcheckers don’t find things like that. I have no one to blame (but me, the originator of all these mistakes), because it went through six people; two of them who edit for a living. How could we have all missed so many? I guess there is no such thing as a perfect book, because when I did a poll on Ars Technica about what they hated most in e-Books, “constant misspellings and poor editing in comparison to the print version” was one of the tops ones. Really? That surprised me a lot. I guess my book will be the other way around.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted.

On Saturday, I will be Cosplay emcee again. I am not sure when I am arriving Friday night, but if you’re into anime and love costumes, AMA is a great convention down in Chesapeake. They usually have a few thousand people there. I won’t be at a table with my books, but I will have some with me!

http://www.animemidatlantic.com/

No, the Kindle version is not out yet. We had to send the second edition back to the editor with formatting corrections… deja vu. Why is e-book stuff so hard?

No promises yet, but I might be making an appearance at Baltimore Comic con. I have also been tapped to be a freelance writer for a humor website. I haven’t been accepted yet, but I am in the process of talking with people and soliciting work around. It’s a big website, too, one you will have heard of.

“Mothership” outline is done. I have a beginning, middle, and ending with about 40% actually written, written. My target is still Christmas of this year.

This weekend was certainly an eye-opener. I won’t go into grody details (gag me with a spoon) but the end result is twofold. First, my publisher has given the job to someone else outside the company. Second, we’re going to try and get some in-house work on this as we learned SO MUCH about the format and publishing, that I think *I* can do e-books for the company in the future. But I am short on time for the learning curve, so that’s why we’re taking the plunge to pay someone else.

One of the things I think I will do is start from scratch with a basic format, and document as I go to help others. One of the things I have noticed is that you can just put up a PDF, but it’s not going to look professional. You can do an e-book, but sometimes that doesn’t look good on Kindle. We’re not sure what happened with my book, but no matter what we did, either the chapters got missed or the formatting looked really bad. The previous converter person gave up, but didn’t charge us, so we’re okay with her giving up.

So what makes me think *I* can do this? During all the back and forth about formatting, I downloaded some tools to see what I could do. One of the first things that struck me was how e-book formats are nothing more than XML or XHTML code. This is plain text, and I could easily build perl scripts to take raw data and carve it up. That’s what I do at work. I have noticed a lot of the problems we had were based on poor tags and what I call “over-formatting.” This is where a program tries to compensate for all situations and bloats your page with hundreds of lines of formatting instructions that are completely redundant and unnecessary. Microsoft is NOTORIOUS for this, like when you convert a a DOC format into HTML. But they are not alone. Over the years, I have seen many “WYSIWYG” web page makers that do this as well.

But I am a programmer. Maybe not the BEST programmer, but I know how to code, debug code, and I always have an eye for detail and what looks good. The last point is actually quite rare in the programming business; most programmers tend to be focused on doing things without ever thinking about how good the end product looks. “Who gives a crap if there are extra lines,” they may say, “if the output is readable? Don’t be picky.” I am picky. I am an artist, after all. Not only that, many programmers never estimate what kind of input they are going to get. “Some dumbass sent this to me in the wrong format; my scripts can’t handle this!” Well, maybe they should.

Perl was BUILT for data parsing. It’s not the BEST language, but it’s what I know, and I have made some pretty impressive internal tools using it over the years, including a completely automated systems for checking on thousands of servers, and if they crashed, automatically rebooting them. In fact, someone has already made a Perl module for e-books:

http://search.cpan.org/~azed/EBook-Tools-0.4.8/lib/EBook/Tools.pm

More info: http://idpf.org/