Well Crap, what now?

It a rare Tuesday post, because I ran into a problem. I uploaded The Playground, checked everything, and it looked great. I've done this a few times, and maybe I've grown complacent. Now I have a formatting problem.

I write in Apple Pages, and have been very happy with it in all respects. To publish a book, I have to create an ePub file, and use the Amazon system to create the Mobi file that Kindles all use. I've never had a problem before.

Software gets upgraded from time to time, and sometimes things don't work the way they used to. Pages has been upgraded multiple times. So has the Kindle software.

My problem involves italics. I use them for emphasis, which I really like. I also use them for thoughts, and the occasional newscast. Just highlight the word, presto, italics.

I decided to see how much of a free preview Amazon is giving customers. My italics are making a completely random error. Sometimes everything is perfect. Sometimes a single word in italics makes the whole paragraph display in italics.

It will throw someone out of the story. I'm bound to get a crappy review because of this.

I can't duplicate it with a test page. It seems to happen completely at random. It would be much easier if it happened every time.

My old friend Google seems to think it involves changing a word to italics the correct way. Amazon appears to want me to change the font. In other words, Times New Roman is a font, and Times New Roman-Italic is looked at as a completely different font.

I write everything in Courier, because that seems to be the most highly recommended font. Never had a problem. There may not be a Courier Italics font.

Okay, back to my test page. If I change the whole page to TNR, then change a few words to TNR-italics, it seems to work fine. The problem is that I can't duplicate the error.

I could go through my document and make these changes. It's a lot of work, but I could get it done in a day and reload the book. I just don't know if it will work at all – because I can't duplicate the error.

I might be able to create a test sheet, load it to Amazon's converter, and proofread the test sheet. Then I have to change my mind and not actually publish it. If it works, I would then go back through The Playground and change it line by line.

Part of my problem is that the problem occurs randomly. It works fine in some sections, and fails in others. I don't think a test sheet is reliable. If it fails, I know it won't reliably work. If it passes, I have no guarantee that it won't fail on a different page.

Changing all my future work to TNR, and TNR-Italics on occasion, isn't a huge problem. At least until the software updates again and something else happens. People already have The Playground, and I want to fix it.

Does anyone have some kind of superior knowledge to share with me? Tomorrow is my day off, but it doesn't look like I'll be taking that breather. I'll probably take a chance on changing the whole thing, and spend my day on that.


Filed under Writing

48 responses to “Well Crap, what now?

  1. I so wish I had an answer for you! That sounds like no fun at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wish I could help, but I’ve never run into this issue before. I use MS Word and convert over to an HTML file to upload to Amazon. Although I do my writing in one font, I don’t think it actually embeds a particular font into the HTML version. Perhaps saving as HTML file would clear the issue? (Or it could goober things up more…)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just an additional bit of info, though I’m not sure if it will be useful or not. Here’s a link to the guide I use for formatting if you want to try the HTML file approach: http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/digital/otp/help/Building-Your-Book-for-Kindle.pdf
    The instructions for saving the specific HTML file type begin on page 13. (The overall formatting instructions start on page 3, if you want to compare.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apple is so different that it doesn’t help much. I can’t even save-as. I can export a file, but not in HTML. I can buy Word for Apple, but right now, I’m stuck with a Pages document. I don’t think I’m willing to hand type the whole novel in a new format. I appreciate the help, and may have to look into something like that on my next project. I’ll see if Amazon can help me tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Where are you testing the preview from? The pre-order page? Have you tried downloading a review file and looking at it on a personal device to see if the error is in the actual file or the preview sample only?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ali Isaac

    Oh no! What a disaster. Technology… it’s great when it works. I have no answer for you, I’m afraid. I work in Microsoft Word, and either upload as an Html file or word doc. I haven’t come across this issue before. Hope you get it resolved quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Darn it, how annoying! I get annoyed if I spot a typo in a blog post after I’ve published it – this is a whole other league! As the commenter above me said, maybe it’s just in the preview sample but the actual file is perfectly fine. Either way, hope you resolve it quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How frustrating! My publisher says the Kindle converter is notoriously unstable with italics. On the last pass, her editors make all italics blue, and then they manually tag the html files for each instance of italics. VERY time-consuming.

    I write in Storyist, which is not only loaded with features for writers, but exports very nicely into HTML, MS Word, and almost all ebook formats. It’s only available for Apple OS but very affordable and reliable.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry to hear that you’re having problems, Craig. Sadly I have no useful information to offer – I wonder if it’s a kindle thing, rather than your software. Hope Amazon can sort this out for you. I do get what they’re saying about changing the front rather than italicising, but the random nature of the fault seems to indicate it’s something more than that.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. How infuriating! I have no idea Craig. I upload all my stuff in word but I still get the occasional problem with page breaks and centring etc. Good luck and don’t worry, I’ll ignore the formatting 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good luck! How annoying! I haven’t tried doing this, but it’s good to hear about people’s problems and successes. I write in Word for Mac. I’ve always used TNR.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This must be so frustrating. My editor highlights all italics, but beyond that I don’t know the procedure. Garry swears by Callibre (it’s free). Callibre has specific guidelines for formatting, but I have the steps (getting 60 Ways ready for AZ) if it’ll help you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Could it have been a burp during the original upload? I’ve heard there are times when the Amazon system simply mucks up the format after you hit publish. Extra spaces, shifted sentences, etc. Maybe you only have to upload it again and the problem will be fixed. Beyond that, I’ve got no idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Craig – I think this might be something to do with Amazon’s ePub to mobi interface as it’s a ‘one size fits all’ johnny and so may not cope as well with ‘non-standard’ ePub files produced on platforms like Apple.
    I produce my ePub files using Adobe software (which all have a huge number of typefaces to choose from) and get it verified in a proprietary ePub validator on this site – validator.idpf.org/ which is the International Digital Publishing Forum.
    I’ve done several ePub editions using this validator using Garamond, which, like TNR is a popular font style and accepted by KDP and haven’t had any issues with italic or bold etc used within the body text for the mobi edition. I think the IDPF validator must sift through all the coding to ensure it will translate smoothly into mobi etc when you upload to your distributor. I used Ingrams (Amazon’s principal POD partner) for my first eBook and it was they who put me onto the validator, and to Sigil an ePub editor (http://web.sigil.googlecode.com/git/files/OEBPS/Text/tutorials.html) which lets you view your pages and edit directly into the ePub file. I do get some code errors, but you soon get used to how they need correcting (mine are all on the document setup data entry usually) which the validator throws up for you. I’ve not had any trouble with my ePub files when I finally upload to KDP and the mobi formats look fine.
    Hope this helps a little! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Bummer. No, I cannot help, I’m sorry to say. I hate formatting issues. Spacing is a big problem for me in WP, but Word gave me fits all the time, so I understand your dilemma. Wish I could help! Best of luck getting it sorted!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dam, good luck getting it sorted.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I want to know how to do this and trouble shoot. I am of no use to you. I pay to have my file formatted with a workable TOC then upload it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m late in replying to this, and you might have everything figured out by now. When I upload my own stuff, I create the file in Word, replace all things like italics and bold with HTML code, then move everything over to Notepad for a final look at the coding, and then covert to mobi using Kindle Gen. It sounds to me like you didn’t close out the coding italics in the right place and that’s why it’s spilling over into other paragraphs. I’m sure Apple is different, but would the same thought process apply that you just need to close the code in the correct spot and then delete it in the other?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that is absolutely correct, only my word processor won’t let me check html. I’m sure there is an Apple product for that, but I need to research what that might be. It might be as simple as writing it in italics in the first place, because you turn it on, write, then turn it off. Turning it off is the important part.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve never formatted a book myself so I’m of no help. But I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I can appreciate how frustrating it must be.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. If I do a review, I promise not to fuss about the italics.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh man, this is the kind of nightmare that keeps me from ever thinking about self publishing. It was bad enough trying to do the fonts and formatting on a dissertation, worse because I can’t see, I paid someone else $30 an hour just so it could be remotely possible to finish the thing. If this happened to me, I would not even know there was an italics problem until someone or many left bad reviews, informing me second hand much after the fact, to my surprise. I wish I had something helpful to say. That really sucks, I empathize, and I hope you can figure something out!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I think you are on the right track with TNR italics or any other italic font that the Kindle converter can read. Hope you get it solved.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: Writing Links in the 3s and 5…4/11/16 – Where Worlds Collide

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