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Publishing your e-book at Kindle

Amazon has made it almost trivial to publish your e-book to their Kindle store. You just visit https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin and follow simple directions to upload your books.

I have two of my books up there now:

Linux and Unix Troubleshooting [Kindle Edition]

Psst - wanna work for yourself? [Kindle Edition]

Neat, right?

Well, yes and no. I'm not entirely happy with the formatting. Creating a .mobi file was easy enough (Calibre can do that, for example), but I'm not entirely happy with the results. It's little stuff like a chapter end page having only one sentence or an extra blank page here and there. I need to find a way to fix that up and (so far) have not been doing well.

There's no technical barrier, of course - it is just trial and error. I'll get it right eventually.

I'd also like to use Smashwords because they can get your book into the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and more. The hangup is their 69 page Style Guide. Let's face it: I have no style..

Yes, it's just a matter of paying close attention and doing things exactly as they say, but following strict rules is not something I do easily. So, I instead turned to their convenient list of folks who can reformat existing books for a fee. Why frustrate myself when I can just pay someone?

So, I contacted a few people. One responded quickly and asked to see the books, so I sent them along and she came back with a quote of $45.00 each, soup to nuts.

Are you kidding me? Of course I'd take that - $90.00 against my swearing at Microsoft Word for a day or two? Yeah - done deal!

Well, except..

She informed me that I had to use just one font. She also mentioned something about HTML links, saying "They are very strict with formatting, particularly when it comes to hyperlinking".

I wrongly interpreted that to mean that I couldn't use any hyperlinks, so I replied that if the links had to go, so be it, but I really needed to set off code listings in a different font. She came back saying that the font issue was unavoidable, but didn't correct my misunderstanding about the links.

I just found that hard to accept. I've read far too many e-books with code listings and hyperlinks to believe that, so I dug into that Style Guide and discovered that she was wrong. While in there, I also found that hyperlinks are fine, they just don't want them over done. Yeah, that makes more sense.

So I wrote back to her mentioning this and she got ticked off and told me to take my business elsewhere. She insisted that she was right about the fonts and was even more angry about my misunderstanding her on the hyperlinks. Oh well..

So, I guess I will be reading that Style Guide and cursing at Word. That's probably better in the long wrong - I'm sure there are still typos and other things I should fix while I'm in there.

You are probably wondering why I don't just use Open Office? I bet I could, but that Style Guide gives instructions for Word, and I don't want to spend time translating, so I will just suffer.

If you are starting an e-book, I'd recommend using that guide - you may or may not ever want to publish at Smashwords, but it probably won't hurt to follow their rules anyway.

Oh, and if you are tempted to hire a reformatter, you might NOT want to mention my name..



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Fri Mar 4 02:06:19 2011: 9353   Sledge

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What about TeX/LaTeX? It seems goofy to have a style guide for a publisher that uses MS Office products and expects to get it right. Word is OK but it is not really useful after a dozen pages, IMHO.





Fri Mar 4 11:25:40 2011: 9354   TonyLawrence

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You have to submit a Microsoft Word doc file.



Fri Mar 4 18:11:13 2011: 9357   AaronBenedict

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Tony, If you're going the third party route, you may want to look at eBooks architects (www.eBookArchitects.com) I heard an interview with the owner a few months ago on Kindle Chronicles Podcast.



Fri Mar 4 18:38:56 2011: 9358   TonyLawrence

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Looks like a good resource, thanks!

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