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Formatting a finished work

Posted in Just for Writers, and To Carry the Horn

I've been done with To Carry the Horn since the middle of September. Just waiting for one last bit of information — the Library of Congress CIP (Cataloguing in Publication) block of data for the copyright page — which should arrive in the next few days. After that, whoosh — up go the files for the ebooks and the trade paperback.

Just to give you a little flavor of what that's like…

1) Complete the manuscript (I use Scrivener). Output a version for Word. Use Word to do preliminary global changes. Call that “CleanWord”.

2) Use Word to make a marked up version destined for HTML. Use an HTML editor to make an absolutely clean version as a source for eBooks. Call that “CleanHTML”.

4) Use CleanHTML and Calibre to create the EPUB for Barnes & Noble and Kobo and the MOBI for Amazon. Load the EPUB file onto your ereader and proofread like mad. Three times. Make all the corrections to the Scrivener manuscript, the modified CleanWord, and the CleanHTML files. Note: i am spared doing my own upload to iTunes for Apple because one of the tools needed is a piece of software that only runs on a MAC. (Thank you, Steve Jobs.) I'll have to let Smashwords distribute to Apple.

5) Import CleanWord into a Word template for CreateSpace to create the POD (Print on Demand) file. Chapter by chapter. Apply Word styles throughout, construct the TOC (Table of Contents). Call that “CleanCreateSpace”.

6) Use the CleanCreateSpace Word doc to construct the file for Smashwords which will create and distribute the ebook everywhere besides Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo (which I'm doing myself). Call that “CleanSmashWords”. Astonishingly, Smashwords will not accept perfect EPUB files as input to make EPUB and other digital files.

UPDATE – Scratch that. Smashwords is a nightmare. Start with clean Word version, copy to a text editor to purge all Word formatting, and re-markup in Word. Be careful not to name bookmarks or styles something undocumented that will trip up the Smashwords convertor (and avoid uppercase names).

7) I'm making an attempt to give Google an eBook file for their Google Play site. On the positive side, it's simple to send them files (EPUB and PDF). On the negative side, they don't seem to be able to keep the books.google.com servers up and running. Such an uncommercial set of pages for publishers to attempt to navigate. I think I'll eventually get to the end of the process, but no guarantees.

All of this assumes you have already made the front cover image in several different sizes (both for inside the book and for retailer catalogues), the full cover (front, back, spine) for the trade paperback, and the graphics used inside the book as section dividers, chapter dividers, end-of-book, book-theme, and an image of the title-page with correct display fonts for use in ebooks which don't have those fonts.

I'm learning as I go, of course, and that slows things down, but I'm almost done with all of this. It'll go faster next time.

The good news is that this has taken long enough, with all the proofreading, that I've started The Ways of Winter and finished Chapter 1, just in time to stick it in as a next-book-excerpt into all these formats.

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