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Cranky Cuss

Cranky Cuss
Location
Ossining, New York, United States
Birthday
February 28
Bio
I am the author of "Send In the Clown Car: The Road to the White House 2012," currently available on Amazon and CreateSpace. I'm currently semi-retired after 23 years in a corporate environment. My motto: The conventional wisdom has too much convention, not enough wisdom. Corollary: Even Einstein was wrong sometimes, and you're not Einstein.

MY RECENT POSTS

MAY 3, 2012 11:50AM

My Self-Publishing Experience, Part II

Rate: 21 Flag

 

“Kindle” is the appropriate word. Halfway through converting my book to Amazon’s e-reader, I wanted to hurl stuff into a fireplace.

     

Before I bitch and moan about Kindle, let me say that, on the surface, it is as easy to create a Kindle book as it was with CreateSpace.  You upload your text, wait a couple of minutes while it converts, and then view the pages on an on-screen “device” which simulates an e-reader screen (and on which you can adjust the text size).  CreateSpace offers to do the conversion for you, but they charge $69 (which may end up being more than your total royalties) and offer a time frame of 4-6 weeks.  Meanwhile, you can do it yourself for free and – theoretically – have an e-book available the next day.

    

Once I had successfully formatted my book in CreateSpace, I assumed it would be a snap to format it for the Kindle.  Well, you know what they say about “assume.”  I spent parts of several days formatting it, while formatting new combinations of four-letter words.

    

My main problem was line breaks between paragraphs. When I type in Word, I always place one blank line between paragraphs.  However, when I uploaded the text to the Kindle software, I got some chapters with no blank lines, some with one, some with two, and many with variations within the chapter.  Apparently there is a lot going on behind the scenes in Word and unless you’re Word-savvy – I’m definitely not – you haven’t a clue.

    

I wish I had met fellow OSer Froggy a few weeks sooner.  When she visited New York last month, she gave me a copy of the book Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide by Joshua Tallent.  It would have saved me some time and aggravation.  While reading the guide recently, I used one of my OS posts as a demo and discovered that, of the piece’s 31 paragraphs, 27 had one format while 4 had another.  I don’t know how this occurred, since I typed it all at once without copying and pasting from another piece or website, but the different formats indicate that the Kindle software is liable to handle them differently.

    

Eventually, I fiddled around with the source text of my book enough that the breaks were fairly consistent. Close enough, I said.  Only one chapter continued to give me a problem.  Unfortunately, it was the first chapter.

    

The Kindle software is notorious for difficulties converting non-paragraph text: bullet points, etc.  And my first chapter is entirely in a quiz format: 45 multiple-choice questions.  For example, here is one of the questions:

    

12. Why is the Republican race like an Etch-a-Sketch?

a)      Because the voters keep shaking it up, hoping to create a more appealing picture

b)      Because only a child would find it intellectually stimulating

c)      Because their ideas are rooted in a previous century

d)     All of the above, not to mention that the product used to be manufactured in the U.S.A. but is now built in China

   

Unfortunately, when I uploaded it to Kindle, it added blank lines between each possible answer:

   

12. Why is the Republican race like an Etch-a-Sketch?

 

a)      Because the voters keep shaking it up, hoping to create a more appealing picture

 

b)      Because only a child would find it intellectually stimulating

 

c)      Because their ideas are rooted in a previous century

 

d)     All of the above, not to mention that the product used to be manufactured in the U.S.A. but is now built in China

    

With the limited number of lines per screen, the narrow margins and the text indentation, it was difficult to get a single question to appear in its entirety on one screen. I assumed that the paging would be exhausting for the reader, and who wants to piss off a reader in the very first chapter?  Nothing I tried made it significantly better.  Some changes would eliminate the spacing problems for some questions, but not all of them.  Another changed a), b) etc. to 1), 2) etc.  I even tried reconstructing the entire post from scratch, creating the 1a, b, c, d format over and over in the exact same manner, then cutting and pasting each line of text into the new format.  Didn’t help.  I would spend an hour or two, get frustrated, hurl imprecations at the Fates, and then put it aside for the next day.

   

After several days, I ended up with a version with no line breaks between the answers but two blank lines before each new question.  Combined with the removal of the indentation for the possible answers, I decided it was the least imperfect version and declared victory.  I don’t remember what I did to achieve it, but it probably involved death threats. 

    

Unlike the print version, I didn’t go through the Kindle version line-by-line, so there may be other mistakes there.  I wouldn’t be surprised; I’ve read a few of my friends’ books on the Kindle and occasionally see a blip, like a line or two of text at the end of a paragraph that isn’t left-justified but instead is centered like a chapter title.  C’est la vie.

   

Once I gave the OK, it was less than 24 hours before the e-book version was available on Amazon.  There was one last problem, however.  Because the CreateSpace and Kindle versions had been done separately, the book titles were spaced slightly differently and thus didn’t appear on the same Amazon page.  Fortunately, the Kindle creation website has a useful help section, and with a quick email, the two pages were combined within 48 hours.

   

Next time, I will relate my experience with promoting the book.  I’m saving it for the Open Call about not-so-awesome stories; it is sadder than the moment in Titanic when Kate Winslet releases her grip on Leonardo DiCaprio’s corpse.  One quick story: as soon as the Kindle version was available, I sent a PM to every one of my OS favorites.  Because my rare blogwhore PMs have often ended up in spam folders, I sent the PM to just ten or so recipients at a time, hoping that would prevent it from being interpreted as spam.  No such luck.  The PMs ended up in spam folders anyway.  Good old OS!

    

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Comments

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This is really helpful, Cranky. I'm still trying to decide if I even want to do this again. I have a book of essays but I just don't know if I have the mental energy to go through this again. I'm sure it will help a lot of people, however.
As the hip ones are wont to say, altho, not being hip I'm not sure what it means, meh. Or should it be, gah?
Word! a perfectly miserable program. I have a lot of self-publishing experience. I use Serif PagePlus, a publishing program. You can get it exactly like you want it. They have a very helpful forum, too. I make a PDF and upload it to Createspace. Can't do my book on kindle, though. It's 9x6, in columns with pictures that have to stay put, and can't be reflowed.
Say hello to Mohegan Lake
Well you know what happened to me. I paid the 69 bucks after hearing the horror tales. Still another two weeks. Anyone who thinks publishing a book is easy is wrong. I sit her with a few stacks of books for promoting. I am sick of seeing my face on the cover hahha.

I think I just want to start another book and apply everything I learned to that one. I am sharing with others though like you are.
The Titanic???
James Cameron still has not found me with his sub hahaha
HUGGGG
I think I"ll just wait to be discovered - even if it takes forever. But thanks for sharing your journey.
Much appreciated. I've been contemplating this route for a few months now, and my wife is already working on it. The heads-up is helpful; we will buy more wine shortly.

Meanwhile, don't forget that if you really want to get famous, it's good to die first, preferably in a dramatic fashion. Such ideas can readily be found in the news on any given day...
I think I see a business model, kindle formatting for the frustrated. Probably $69 is a good deal after all, eh?
Thanks for another great tutorial.
"Open Call about not-so-awesome stories; it is sadder than the moment in Titanic when Kate Winslet releases her grip on Leonardo DiCaprio’s corpse"

Hee hee. This two parter has been very informative. Thank you, Cranky.
If I ever decide I want to do a book, I think I'm going to stick with xeroxed pages and staples.
I hired a guy to do mine, because it involved different configurations since B&N and Nook have it too, as do other outlets. My sister -- a professional book cover designer -- did my cover for free. (She's pretty smart -- she knocked it off in an hour.)

In fact, if anyone potential eBookers are interested in hiring her, I'll be glad to provide her info. Obviously, she's not going to do it for free, but I don't think her charges will be nearly as outrageous as others. If you haven't seen my cover yet, check out the website: www.threeandahalfvirgins.net (No, this isn't a pathetic attempt at self-promotion. I've already given up on that.)
That seals it. Not going to use Kindle publishing. Thanks for the heads up!
I had the reverse experience--I find Kindle easy and CreateSpace formatting hard.

I also find math hard.
I am late getting to read this but after doing so I have decided to stay with my own unbeatable plan for publishing my second book. I'm letting Mel handle anything smacking of tech stuff. I'm barely able to turn on the computer and she did a bang up job on my first book.
It will never be of practical use to me but interesting to hear of the nuts and bolts frustrations nonetheless. I'd be inclined to pay $69 to live my life without such hassle.
Ugh, that formatting!!! You have my sympathy! I will never again snark about glitches I see in the formatting of the Kindle versions I get for my iPad!
Step one: Write book. Oops, haven't cleared this one yet. I will save your excellent advise for future reference, along with fifty plot lines that went nowhere. R
Just from moving documents from Word to OS I learned something:

If you want clean returns, hold the Shift button (I think it's Shift, not Control, but if one doesn't work try the other) down while you return. It formats your return differently - as an actual return, whereas if you hit Return without the shift, it can format as a paragraph break, which different forms of software interpret differently.

I found this out by accident while editing where I could actually see the symbols.
Rated for patience. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!
This was not boring. Quite educational actually. Thank you for sharing. I am liable to wrestle with this someday soon.
Thank you so much for continuing this series! So helpful and insightful, though I'm sorry you had such a frustrating time of it!

And "it is sadder than the moment in Titanic when Kate Winslet releases her grip on Leonardo DiCaprio’s corpse." is going to keep me laughing all day, though I wish you'd had a much more positive experience - because I like you and because your book is so darn great.

Rated, and eagerly waiting for the next installment!