So far, I’m happy with the basic formatting results with “Chase of a Lifetime,” but I wasn’t 100% thrilled, which is why we’re still working on one issue. In several places, I’ve found that one line paragraphs, usually with dialogue, didn’t indent properly. This isn’t an editing issue and it’s not that I don’t know any better. It’s a formatting issue that happens all the time when Word is converted to HTML and they aren’t always compatible. There are tricks and secrets Tony knows that I honestly can’t explain in detail. I will provide a few links below, though. (I’m going to try to get Tony to write a guest post, in more technical detail, about this.)
I’m not going to get into all the technical issues in this post. I barely know how to pronounce them let alone write about them. But since I’ve been talking about the self-publishing process since I started the project, strictly from the writer’s POV, I want to mention everything I’ve experienced along the way. And, for the record, this isn’t something I’ve read about on any of the more popular blogs about self-publishing on Amazon. I’ve read about how important it is to edit, to get a cover that works, and how to promote. In fact, what I’ve read about self-publishing has always been more about promotion and self-promotion than anything else. All those things are very important. But getting the right formatting is just as important, and for people thinking about self-publishing they need to know all the issues that can arise.
I’ve read where people who are self-publishing poetry books on Amazon go absolutely crazy. I’ve read so much by now I feel lucky that I’ve only experienced issues with indentations in only certain sections of the book. And now I know why I’ve seen these indentation issues in other e-books I’ve read…even from large publishers where I’ve paid 14.99 instead of .99. It’s not a simple process and for anyone thinking about doing this I would advise getting help from a professional if you’re not all that great with formatting and converting Word to HTML. It’s almost like trying to translate one language to another, and sometimes things get lost in the translation. Tony is doing it for me. I’m very lucky to have a smart and good looking partner (who is great in bed).As I write this post he’s still trying to figure out how to get those indentations right so a revised version will be up today. Considering some of the mistakes I’ve seen in all e-books, not just those that are self-published, this might not be the biggest issue in the world. But I’d still like to get it right. And not only for “Chase of a Lifetime,” but for future Kindle books.
There are also issues with regard to e-reading devices I won’t get into right now. Sometimes the formatting is perfect on Kindle devices and not so perfect on iPads or iPhones. I read about this late last night while I was checking out issues other authors have had. Getting digital books up and running is a science, and it’s not easy. But authors are working on these issues all the time and trying to get them right. At least I hope they are.
Here’s a link to one web site that I think explains some of the formatting issues very well (they also provide the QED E-book Seal of Approval, which I’ve blogged about before). Here’s a link to another, written by an author who makes it easier to understand. Like I said above, if you’re not the best at formatting and converting and you don’t understand anything about HTML, you probably should hire someone to do it for you. It’s worth the money.
In any event, a version of “Chase of a Lifetime” with the corrected indentations will be up today. It’s not that different from what’s already there, other than the fact that several sections where the indentations didn’t format correctly should now be fixed. I’ve already purchased the book myself and I have it on three different devices, so what I’m going to do is take it off my e-readers and then have Amazon resend me the updated versions. So I’ll be checking it out, on an actual e-reader, to make sure the issues were corrected.
This is just a small suggestion, but in a perfect e-book world Amazon would hire some of these college kids who have student loans to pay off to help out with these formatting issues. It would not only give Amazon a great boost as a seller of quality e-books, it would be a great way for Amazon to say they are helping the economy, too. Last I heard, we need more jobs in the US.