Taming the e-Monster

Flying McCoy's

Creating a project to upload as a print book is a relatively simple procedure:

  1. design the book
  2. save it as a PDF
  3. upload it

An E-Book Is a Different Creature

What’s the difference? A print book is a physical being; an e-book is a nebulous changeling whose form depends entirely on the e-reader it’s downloaded into. The more-popular readers are Kindle, Kobo, and NOOK and the many distributors of e-books have their favourites.

Smashwords has a huge list of distributors: https://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords

E-readers vary in screen dimension and the material can be read either portrait-wise or landscape-wise. The size of the words can be varied as well. Pages and paragraphs flow so coding must be kept to a minimum. The nature of the beast demands it.

In order to upload an e-file to — let’s use Smashwords as an example — it must be free of extra coding. Extra coding = junk.

The amount of junk that accumulates in a file is frightening. The only way to keep that particular monster at bay, is to give it a judicious cleaning. And yes, sorry to say, this requires work, attention to detail, a high “pain” threshold, and perhaps a sound-proof room (to keep little ears from learning naughty words).


Forgive me if I’m preaching to the choir, but I’m going to explain Styles anyway. Well, actually, I will direct you to the Help Section and you can learn about Styles on your own. What I will do is tell you why you need to learn how to use them.

I have only started using them within the last couple of years and after a climb up and over the learning curve, I can tell you that I absolutely adore Styles. When I am working in any document, I set up Styles for Title, Headings, Normal, Copyright Page, etc., and stick to them. That way, when I get to the design stage, I merely have to copy that particular file and save it as a .doc file. (This is important. It must be “.doc”. Help will explain how.)

All right. Now we have a .doc file with every single word in it tucked nicely into its own Style.

Now you must remove all the extra returns between everything. Everything! (Search for ^p^p and Replace with ^p. Do that until the little screen tells you 0.)

(By the way … I don’t know how else to tell you this, so I’ll just come right out with it: Any graphics or photos must be inserted later so make notes where they go. But with no extra returns. And keep in mind your Styles. Isn’t this fun?)


Now Save As a Web Page, Filtered (*.htm, *.html). Then close.

I came across a free ePUB creator that has reams of directions. Sigil: http://sigil.en.softonic.com/ At first it will be daunting but it beats paying somebody several hundred dollars if you can learn to do it yourself.

Open the Sigil program. From within the program, open your .htm(l) file and follow the directions. Here’s the user guide: http://web.sigil.googlecode.com/git/files/OEBPS/Text/media_files.html I wasn’t kidding when I said “daunting”, was I?

Once you have the file set up according to the Sigil program’s desires, Save it.

Validate. Validate Validate.

I have also been able to find ePUB validators: http://validator.idpf.org/ and http://www.epubconversion.com/ePub-validator-iBook.php . Use these before you even think of attempting to upload your ePUB file anywhere because those companies will reject your file if there is the slightest bit of non-Style in it.

There is nothing that fills my heart with more joy than having one of these validator programs come back with the message: No Errors Found.

So if you like a challenge, have a sound-proof room (believe me, even if you have never said more than “oh poo” in your whole life, you’ll be making the air blue taming this monster), then go for it.


Next Post — will be April 30 (every two weeks for the next little while).

Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them: http://www.amazon.com/Really-Stupid-Writing-Mistakes-Avoid/dp/1479308226

… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction): http://www.amazon.com/Death-lAcadie-Kesk8a-Sherrill-Wark/dp/1511501154/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


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