selected shorts

Just a few quick things.
  1. A friend posted this on Facebook: "Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of by the folk." (Henry Jenkins, director of media studies at MIT). I've never written any fan fiction, and I haven't read very much either, but I think there's something to this.
  2. In the News: "Lesbians Told They Can't Hold Hands at Gertrude Stein Exhibit"
  3. From the New Yorker: The Pope's Tweets
  4. I'm interested in learning more about e-publishing, from the author's point of view. How difficult is it, how many different formats do you have to have for different kinds of readers, how easy or difficult is the conversion process (and what formats can you convert from, are there options to proof after conversion? Given all the typos I see in e-books, more than conventional books, I'm worried that the conversion processes introduce errors. I know the different websites (Amazon, etc.) offer information, but each only offers info about their device, and (of course) they emphasize the easy parts and downplay the difficulties. So, I'm interested from an author's perspective. Thanks for any suggestions or info.

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6 Responses to selected shorts

  1. From experience with Kindle, it’s not all that difficult. You do have to download a program called Mobipocket Creator to format it correctly, but it wasn’t all that difficult to learn. I originally typed it as a .doc file which I could use. But with Mobipocket you can import .html and .txt files too. You can edit it afterwards, you have to look through the .prc file it converts it into using the Kindle for PC app. You’ll see it how everyone else will on the kindle, and if you see errors, you have to go back and fix it through the original file and redo it that way I think. (I didn’t see any other way to do it.)
    That’s about all I know. I covert my own files using Calibre for people who don’t go through Kindle and distribute it myself. I convert to .pdf and .epub mostly. I forgot the format for a Nook though. Hope that helps. It wasn’t too bad of an experience other than the constant editing on my part. 😉

  2. sonje says:

    What an interesting quote about fan fiction writing. Like you, I haven’t done any of it myself or read it, but I’ve *thought* about it from time to time, and always when I feel like the story I’ve been shown has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

    I know Kristan Hoffman has a book available in all the different e-versions. I think she uses… smashwords to do a lot of it? I’m not sure, but she could tell you. Of course, she’s in a writing frenzy right now…

    Also, I doubt that the conversion process inserts typos, unless you mean something like his&@’s. Strange symbols might get in there, particularly I’ve noticed where there should be apostrophes. But misspelling are just due to the lack of an editor. It’s really hard to get all the typos, especially if you’re the only one who’s read your book before you publish it (I’m sure that happens quite a lot).

    Also, good for the lesbians! Stood up for themselves!

  3. Emerald: Thanks for the information. I will have to find out about the Nook. What about the iPad?

    Sonje: I will definitely pester Kristan, once she’s past her deadline. The books I’m reading are mostly professionally published, so it’s not the lack of an editor (though, as I say, I see typos in paper books as well). Some of what I see in Kindle books is missing spaces between words, which could be the same as the apostrophe thing: a weird character that appears to be a space but isn’t. Hmmm.

    I think A Sane Woman is pretty clean, but it was online for a long time before it got on paper, and some people went through it and sent typos for me to fix. I’m sure it’s not perfect, though.

  4. tpaulin says:

    Anthony, I have been investigating recently, just so I know my options, and here’s what I found:

    Count on losing about 2 entire days’ work on formatting and learning the ins and outs of getting the documents online. You can use free software to convert Word documents, or you can upload the Word documents to Kindle or Smashwords and they’ll do the rest, but you might not have ideal formatting (i.e. chapters starting on new pages, a dynamic table of contents.)

    It took me a couple of days and a lot of yelling, and this is coming from someone who has worked as a web site designer and codes html. i.e. it should have been dead easy for me. Maybe I’m not as clever as I think I am.

    It’s easy in the sense that you can do it. It’s difficult in the sense that it’ll take some time to learn the tools and tricks, and that crap is always annoying. 🙂

    You can get your book professionally proofread for about $500, give or take. Now, that’s not line-editing or even editing, which could be thousands, and rightly so — it’s a lot of work.

    For free or near-free, you can use some software like to help you with the line editing. It will point out things like word repetition. I use it. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I am NO copyeditor, I’m a writer. I like to use the word “shudder.” I don’t know why. But I always need to dial it back.

    Hire someone to do the cover. (Unless you’re a graphic designer by vocation, like me.) People judge a book by its cover. Period.

    Does the conversion create typos? you ask. No, no it does not. Hah! That’s funny.

  5. tpaulin says:

    Also, the PC Kindle Previewer software does NOT display the books exactly as they are on the real, physical Kindles. The paragraphing is totally different.

    In summary: even the basic things don’t really work as expected. It’s very much like web site design back in 1997.

  6. Tamara,the analogy to web design in 1997 makes it very clear, since I was designing websites back then (not professionally). I know exactly what you’re referring to.

    For typos, I didn’t mean “teh” for “the” or anything like that (so, technically not typos, I guess), but like the apostrophe problem Sonje mentioned, or spaces that vanish (I’ve seen that quite often). In the book I was just reading every instance of a particular proper name had a hyphen in the middle of it (a conditional hyphen that got replaced with an actual one for some reason, apparently).

    Thanks for all the helpful information.

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