Friday, January 11, 2013

Kindle Fire

Here I am, a week later, and I've already read a book and a half. In case you haven't guessed by that, I'm doing a lot more reading than I am working on new stuff. The internet and Facebook are such an irresistible attraction.

Way back in May, I talked about document appearance, and frankly I like even my eBooks to look good. I won't go buy my Fortunes of Magic eBook just so I can see how it looks, but I hope it looks just as good as it did during the proofing. I went through and looked at every single page. I looked for paragraph indents being lined up, for chapters beginning on the top of a page, and for them to be centered. I even went back and redid it once because of that and also ended up dimming the heading and making it smaller. Between the two, being full color black, it was hard to tell the difference between the header and the chapter title.

The first time I was checking through it, there was this one little line that snuck in out of place. All it was, was "__" where it didn't belong; in fact it didn't belong at all, but it was over on the side, not in anyone's way. I don't even know how it got there. I was going to let it slide, though you know it would nag at me, but then I saw that apparently the chapter headings were indented, putting them five points off center. It would have been completely unnoticeable if it weren't for the header text having no indent so they weren't lined up. That's when I noticed how hard it was to tell the difference between those two elements. Sigh - time to start over - completely. These issues, though found while going through my eReader proof, were in the hard copy book too.

I fixed all that and reloaded the document. It didn't take very long, a chunk of an afternoon is all. Now I have a book and an eBook up on Amazon, and I did it all myself.

During my online writing research to this end, I've had the pleasure of seeing several different formatting strategies different publishers take to make a document eBook friendly. I do believe it's SmashWords where you go through an entire process to remove all the things Word does automatically, and then you put them all back in manually. I've done it. It's a pain but it's possible. Maybe one day I'll go that route too, because they do hit a different market. I'll have to think about it.

Because of all these different formatting issues a writer puts their document through, of the now two books I've seen on my Kindle Fire, the formatting is all messed up. Paragraph indents are all over the place, anywhere from no indent to up to three. A Kindle viewer window is pretty narrow; tab over three times and suddenly your first line indent is half way across the page. It would bug me no end if my books were like that, sadly I was only able to proof one of my books, so if my formatting is all messed up in my other two, please tell me so I can yell at someone.

For me, the appearance of my work is very important. You spend good money to read my work, I want nothing there to take away from your enjoying the story. Paragraphs that don't line up, or chapters that start on the last line of the previous page are a distraction.

If you ask me, if you want sales, don't let your work go before it LOOKS as good as it reads. No one's perfect. The occasional typo or homonym, might slip by the best of us, but if that's all they manage to find, it's not going to piss your reader off much, if they even notice it. Unfortunately, we all judge by appearances, and I want my reader to love my story, not shake their head at how messy the page looks.

How much attention do you pay to your document's appearance?


F.A.Ellis said...

I'm not a publish author,but i do pay attention to ever little detail of my manuscript, instead of trying to finish it. I just every thing to be right,I was going to type perfect.That's just impossible to have everything perfect.
I want it to be legible,and interesting at the same time with out any mistakes.

Anna L. Walls said...

It's hard to go for perfection, especially in content, but in my opinion, attention to details is important.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli said...

I spent entire nights trying to get my first Kindle ebook looking the right way. The navigation table of contents was hell to me... but I made it in the end. It was a hard work, but I'm so happy I did it, also because I was praised by readers for that. Actually there are so many badly formatted ebooks out there (in particular in the ebook Italian market, which is still young), and I think that having your ebook perfectly formatted allows you to stand out from the crowd, in particular if you are self-published.

Anna L. Walls said...

I do like a table of contents. Maybe someday I'll figure it out too. Maybe I'll come knocking on your door saying, "teach me". haha

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli said...

Sure! You can count on me ;)

William Kendall said...

I'm not that far off from publishing. A paperback version will be one thing... the ebook formatting is something I'll be having done. I'm anxious about getting it all right.

Mari Collier said...

Of course, appearance is important. Errors and abominable, but they happen.

Anna L. Walls said...

William, I found CreateSpace incredibly easy, I used the same document for both, merely removing the Table of Contents before loading it as an eBook. It's automatically converted to pdf format which holds everything in place. SmashWords is where the conversion is such a headache, but really that's not so hard either, just tedious.