Sunday, 8 May 2011

Getting it right.


­Having heard that formatting for Smashwords was a bit of a nightmare, I didn’t bother with it when I published Treespeaker to Kindle. I figured I had enough grey hairs by the time I’d worked out how to do even that. This weekend, though, I decided that it was probably a good idea to have Treespeaker available through as many outlets as possible, so I took a deep breath and stepped out into the world of Smashwords.

Carefully I followed the instructions, checked, double checked and pressed the button. Then my heart fell. 'You are in the queue at No. 4675', it said. So I went away. I came back an hour later. No.4358. Went away again, returning two hours later. No.3846…you get the picture. A friend who had just published hers through Smashwords told me that hers had taken 26 hours and then she had formatting errors so had to start again.

Now I waited in dread. It reminded me of when I was doing Archaeology in University and had to use a statistics programme called SPSS. The handbook for using the programme was three inches thick and had to be followed exactly. I’m going to show my age now by admitting that this was in the days before PCs. The computers were the size of fridge-freezers and entering data was done via a pile of cards with holes punched in them at just the right places. The university had only one machine that punched these holes, so preparing the cards generally meant lining up until 3am. Once you’d prepared the cards, you handed them in to the nice computer experts behind the little window and crawled back home to sleep.

The next morning you’d rush down to the department and look in your pigeon hole. What you should find was a thick wad of paper with all your results. Inevitably what I found was two pieces of paper-- a cover page and another saying something like “Error:Line3”. I fully expected much the same from Smashwords and sure enough, when Treespeaker finally came through the queue I was told that there was an error in the size of the font I’d used (I’d forgotten to change the title page from size 16 as it was on Kindle) and my Table of Contents was wrong.

So yesterday, I spent the afternoon carefully redoing the Table of Contents, deleting hidden bookmarks that seemed to multiply as quickly as I zapped them, and making sure that there wasn’t a single font over size 14. Then I sent it off again.

Now I wait. Sigh.

7 comments:

Shirley said...

I just left my book as it is, not bothering about the premier listing but I have just sold my first copy on there.

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/57802

Gregory House said...

Oh yes I can definately sympathize, the Smashwords edition of my novella The Liberties of London is still a few weeks later slowly working its way through the premier approval. Yep their program Meatgrinder is very cumbersome. In the meantime Amazon kindle took only two days to process the same novella which (luckily with only a few errors, soon to be corrected. So now I have one up on kindle while the other very very slowly winds its way onward. But if you've got to did, well you've got to do it. Good Luck.
Regards Greg

Kate said...

Good for you, Shirley. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, I'm afraid. I won't let a few brackets and hieroglyphics beat me!

Kate said...

Thanks, Greg and good luck with yours, too. Yes, Kindle is a breeze compared to this. I'm still waiting for the verdict on the second attempt.

Clare said...

Just been catching up on your last two posts, Katie - makes me feel a bit breathless. Writing the novel is starting to look like the easy part now! :)

I agree with what you say about authors who constantly push their books, even when it is inappropriate to do so - I've been put off a few like that myself recently. Getting the balance right sounds like a feat in itself - but I think you're managing it. Well done!

N. L. Earnshaw said...

May I recommend Indie Aisle. Sometimes its better to give someone else the headache.

http://indieaisle.com/ebook-conversion

Eliseo Mauas Pinto said...

Hi Katie!... there are a couple of cute extra site you should try to get Treespeaker available through as many outlets as possible
http://www.feedbooks.com
http://www.lulu.com
Regarding the best software...

For me "Sigil" is at it's best and shareware!

Keep on shining thru...
Nous Sommes du Soleil ☼