Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Rebirth of a Book...and a Challenge to My Sanity

Self-Publishing has been creatively liberating...and endlessly frustrating. (Yes, that's two "ly" words in one sentence. So shoot me.)

Formatting e-books is no fun. Formatting previously published novels without original Word documents is as difficult as getting through airport security the day before Thanksgiving. My conventionally-published books were either written on my old electric typewriter or saved on disks that are no longer compatible with any computer or program.

They were written in the late '80s-early '90s. I think the last of them were saved onto small diskettes....but I have no idea where they are now. convert them to ebooks left me with two options: retype each book (I'm not exactly speedy on the keyboard, so that would have taken a long time) or scan the pages, use OCR software to lift the text from the scanned pages, convert it to a Word file, then to HTML...and pray the final product looked professional. Hmmm...maybe retyping wouldn't have been such a bad idea after all....

The process is even more complicated than it sounds. And getting it right on the first try...not likely. The first time out was initially a disaster. I scanned the pages, Collin took care of the OCR process, I converted it to a Word document, Martin edited it, Collin converted it to HTML and uploaded it...and the sample I got when I clicked "Look Inside" was...the JPEG images of the scanned pages!

How'd that happen?

I still don't know. But Collin managed to fix it...for the most part. We fixed everything we found, because some readers will write a nasty review if a misspelled word destroys their reading experience. (And I thought I had a short attention span.)

Funny how they never notice the errors in conventionally-published books....

We thought we'd learned from that experience, that it would never happen again...but it did. Over the weekend, we published the third of my backlist books via Amazon KDP. After it went live and was in the middle of a two-day free ebook promotion, we discovered a handful of errors. After a couple of days of intense editing, we have it set up at Amazon once again.

Maybe next time, I'll type it....


  1. It's crazy the number of things that can go wonky in the conversion/uploading to the sites, Norma. Truly a ton of trial and error involved, and I'm not sure you could catch all of it on your own. Good you have a team to help sort through it all!

    1. I just wish they'd make it easy. Critics say it's too easy to self-publish. I respectfully disagree!

  2. You must find a good friend who can type ! and let me tell you that is not me, hahahahahaha. I am the worlds slowest typist.
    You wrote about formatting books before, sounds way to complicated for me. Are you not happy Collin knows how to do all this computer stuff.
    Good Luck.

    cheers, parsnip

  3. In the future, triple check everything before going live!

    1. I did promise you I would wait a week after completion before uploading.

      The problem is that a lot of the errors don't show up until it's been uploaded. The review page in Alaxander's Empire (ebook) has numbers on it, for some reason. The numbers do not appear on the scans, the manuscript or the HTML. Go figure.


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