Tag Archives: file conversion

All fixed up, kind of…

Amazon got back to me with a solution to the italics issue I have in my newest book The Playground. They ran my file through something, probably Word, and sent me an HTML file.

I woke up with tightness behind my ears, running all the way to the small of my back. I had an important meeting this morning, but took vacation time the rest of the day. I know the italics issue is the cause of my stress.

I uploaded that file to Kindle and it looks great. This seems to fix the problem I have at the moment.

I fiddled around in my document, and found a typo. That was after Amazon sent me the HTML file, so I may be forever haunted by that typo.

While I'm happy to put a better product online, (excepting one typo at least) this doesn't solve my long term problems.

On a PC, I can open Amazon's HTML file in a web browser. When I get home, opening it in a web browser isn't an option.

I downloaded a program cleverly named File Converter. This is a cool little app. It will make pretty much anything into pretty much anything. There is a quality issue here though. When making a mobi file, I can try the base formats of Pages, Word, pdf, and ePub. Each of them comes with its own conversion problems.

One is left justified with no indents, and nothing centered that I want centered. One puts about an inch of space between paragraphs. Nothing is quite what I expect.

I tried making an HTML file, but the italics disappear completely. That isn't what I wanted either.

I downloaded Word for iPad. Apparently it only works for $100 per year, every year, with automatic renewal at their option.

I downloaded Google Docs. This one is free, but it doesn't offer any other formats.

I also fiddle farted around with Calibre, but it's an independent program outside the Apple Store.

At this point, I'm kind of frustrated about things. I might be able to paste everything into WordPress, copy the HTML file and do something that way, but that seems kind of absurd.

I'm sure this disconnect is some Apple attempt to force me into their book store, but quite frankly they can't do what Amazon can for me. Why the absolute impossibility of getting something I create on a product I love into a format I can use?

At this point, I probably ought to look for someone to format my books for me. If it were $40 vs. the lifetime servitude Word requires, it is probably worth it. More so if I could make changes when something comes up, or to add a new book link to it when I have a new book.

I could email my file to a PC and try using Word to convert it. That would probably work as well as anything else. My problem is I want one stop shopping here. I want to do everything with my own tools.

I could look into something like Scrivener. I would need some guarantee that it will do my file conversion though. I could even keep writing with Pages and just use it to convert files when I'm ready. It would have to work pretty well too, because my other converter leaves something to be desired. I'm not real excited about learning a whole new word processor.

I could rely upon the kindness of friends, but that's absurd too.

Or I could just give up completely. I spend an incredible amount of effort on these projects, and maybe that time is better served elsewhere. 90% of today was driven by stress. I already have high blood pressure, and don't really want to experiment with what's next on that path.

While Experimental Notebook and Panama are profitable, overall I'm not making a profit at this stuff. I keep holding onto the belief that someday I will. Either one title will take off, or volume will eventually produce something tangible. It's important to have dreams and work to make those happen.

Okay, surrender is a mathematical possibility, but we all know I'm not going to do that. Honestly though, drafting new material is the most fun part, and I don't have to publish to enjoy that.

So I'm going to throw it over to you guys. Can anyone recommend a file converter that actually does a professional job? I know a Scrivener expert, and am going to contact him via email. Do any of you use or own a paid service that you're happy with to convert your files, and do they allow updates?

The Playground looks pretty darned good, and I'm not stressed about someone getting lost in all the random italics that were generated by the conversion process. It already has a five star review, and I'm excited to have more people read it.

Hit me up with your recommendations for my future use. I probably have six months to fiddle around with something until I really need another file converted.

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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.

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