Thursday, January 21, 2016

Coordinating Nook, Kobo, and Kindle eBook Publishing – Take 3

When I started publishing my manuscripts, I wanted to make that process as simple as I could, rather than spending hours fiddling with proprietary editors or hiring someone to edit the HTML for different readers.  Basically, I wanted to find a single MS Word format for the source manuscript that would require the fewest, most straightforward conversion steps to produce Nook, Kobo, and Kindle eBooks.

The guidelines I posted on Oct. 19, 2015, have worked pretty well for me.  They produce a Kindle version that seems error-free (other than my typos), while the Nook version I get is OK, but has always had some small but annoying problems.  (Sorry, I am less well informed about Kobo, because I don’t have one).  The problem with the Nook version shows up with hyphenations.  They appeared at strange places, such as “…be a matter of momen-” and on the next line, “ts before…”  Dividing the word “moments” between the n and t is a bit strange.

When I dug into it, it seems that the process was allowing HTML to be inserted within words.  So, the HTML for the example above was “…be a matter of momen</span><span class="calibre2">ts before…”  So, when the Nook wanted to hyphenate moments, it used the location where the HTML had been placed.

After a bit more testing, I’m on version 3 of this process.  Only the steps for producing the ePub that is used for Nook and Kobo have changed, but to keep everything in one place, I’ve reproduced the steps for Kindle as well.

As I have said from my first posting on this topic, if anyone has a better approach, I am all ears.  I just want to reduce the time and pain in the actual act of publishing as much as possible, leaving more time to write.

For Kindle
  1. Follow the Kindle instructions for formatting a Word manuscript.  Most of those guidelines can be boiled down to a) keep it simple; and b) use the built in Word controls for things like line spacing, indenting, etc. rather than carriage returns, spaces, or tabs.  Check those guidelines for specifics.
  2. Define each chapter and the major upfront sections (title page, dedication) and end sections (acknowledgements, about the author) as Header 1 text, so that they appear in the table of contents that Word generates.  Change the actual format of these sections to whatever you want (e.g., the title page does not have to use the Header 1 format; just change it after it is tagged and do not redefine the Header 1 style.)  When the TOC is generated, spaces between sections (e.g., after the upfront material or between major sections) can be added to improve readability.  The generated TOC should look exactly like what you want in the final product.
  3. Save the Word document as a filtered webpage and upload it to the Kindle publishing site. 
  4. Preview.  Correct all errors in the MS Word document, and then repeat Steps 3 and 4, if needed.  The intent is to produce a manuscript that needs no editing here, so it will likewise, need little editing in the Nook and Kobo process.
  5. Publish.
For Nook and Kobo
  1. Upload the filtered webpage created for Kindle to the software application Calibre, using the Add Books menu option (along the top).  Calibre is a free software application and can be found by searching the Internet.
  2. Use the Edit Metadata menu option to check for any modifications needed.  If the properties on the MS Word document are set correctly, you may not need to do anything.
  3. Use the Convert Books menu command to create an ePub version of the manuscript.
  4. Use the Edit Book menu command to edit the HTML.  After opening the HTML by clicking on any element of the text, I run a spell check at a minimum.  Spell check is the icon showing ABC with a checkmark under it.  HTML that breaks up a word will create a spell check warning.  Correct the errors and save.  I also run the automatic check on the HTML, but have never found a problem with this step.
  5. Save the ePub version from Calibre to your hard drive.  The command is 'Save to disk'.
  6. Verify the ePub book at http://validator.idpf.org/.  (Probably unnecessary, but I am a better-safe-than-sorry type of guy and this step only takes a couple of minutes.)
  7. Upload the ePub version to Nook and Kobo publishing and preview them without any editing.  All of the page breaks and chapter titles should be there, as well as the upfront materials and end sections.  If there are any errors, make the changes in the Word manuscript and repeat the process, rather than using the Nook or Kobo editors.
  8. As a final precaution, when I publish the Nook version,  I click “Publish” on the Manuscript page and select “The original .epub file I uploaded”.
Happy writing,
BmP

Hmm, just noticed this story this morning (1/22) on a related topic and decided to add it as a note to the original post:
 
http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/kindle-e-books-will-have-a-warning-message-if-they-have-spelling-mistakes-or-bad-formatting

Many of the comments to this story suggest the report is nonsense, and I have my doubts too.  But if Amazon has an error reporting feature, why don’t they share the results with us?  Let’s face it, even paid, professional editors miss errors.  Crowd-sourced error detection would have a great deal of value to me and I would gladly fix any typos my customers found…hopefully, that number would be very, very small, but I am certain it is more than zero.