Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard: Cautionary Tale

The WIP has not been going well at all. I've done all my front work--did a collage and made a soundtrack. I've written out the GMC and a blurb. I've got character details written out. And still nothing sparked. 

This is where the trouble started, because I decided to format an e-book. I know enough about HTML to not get too lost when people start speaking in code. I did a little research and hit a goldmine. Guido Henkel did a wonderful series on formatting an e-book. Step by freaking step he tells you how to get your book from a document to an e-book.

Easy as pie. Right?

Of course not, because I am the inspiration for Murphy's Law. For example, I spent hours upon hours trying to figure out how to make a particular file in Jedit (a wonderful program that lets you code) into an html. Hours. A little more research and all I had to do was type .html at the end of the file. Ok. I was still game for this. I mean, if I learned how to do this... I don't know, I could conquer the world.

Got the book all ready and roaring to go for the simple step of finding and replacing all " " ' ... and anything else that requires an English to HTML translation. Turns out you need plugins. I did some more research to find out what specific plugin I needed. Download. Find out that plugin needs a plugin. Ok. Still game. Download. THAT plugin needs a different plugin. Turns out THAT entire plugin is sort of useless without a totally different kind of plugin.

Rinse and repeat fast forwarding a few hours. I AM STILL GAME, DAMMIT! I find and replace everything. I backtrack a bit to turn all my sentences into real paragraphs or real paragraphs according to HTML. I open the file in my web browser. Something has happened and all my sentences run together. I've got dialogue back to back. Something like this: "Hi, Jane. How are you?""I've been written by a bunch munch. So I'm doing fine."

It's not the computer's fault. The computer only does what you've told it to do. So, of course, I did something because I'm game. I assumed if I formatted the paragraphs this meant, you know, Paragraphs. If I had double checked my English to HTML translator I would have known this spelled doom for the entire book.

Desperate, because my gut instinct was screaming at me, "You'll have to do everything all over again." And a voice that sounds a little like Inigo Montoya starts whispering, "Back to the beginning." I search far and wide for a solution that will undo the Format Paragraph Legion of Doom. There's nothing in the Help installed on the program nor at their website. I start searching the forums they have to see if anyone else was as Game as I was.

You guessed it...of course not. I now start copying and pasting to see if I can leap from file to file, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping the next copy and paste will be my leap home.

Refer to Murphy's Law. I have to start over, all the way back to the Word doc.

That's ok. I've gotten this far despite all the mishaps. I AM STILL F***ING GAME DAMMIT!!!!!

Like all things that require a learning curve, the second time around is much easier. I don't even breathe anywhere near the Format Paragraph Legion of Doom. I get through all the steps. I save. I open the file in my internet browser.

And there is my first e-book. It needs a little tweaking here and there, but...I've got an e-book, dammit. I finish the rest of the steps, which involves checking your code in various e-book formats. And the book is still there, needs a little tweaking...but an e-book, dammit.

The moral of the story--Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard.


  1. OMG that was hilarious and so sad (as I doubt I could have done nearly half of what you accomplished). I'd be curled up in a ball and crying if I had to go all the way back to the beginning after all of that. Congrats on you e-book!

    1. Thank you on the congrats! And, you could do it too. I'd just suggest a shot of something 80 proof to help you along if you make mistakes. It eases the OMFG, Why me?

  2. The easiest program available for transitioning any material into e-book form for publishing on Amazon or even just for reading on a Kindle is Mobipocket Creator. I used it to publish three books on Amazon and I use it even for putting ongoing WIP's on my Kindle so I can highlight editing problems. Your post recounting problems with the process though was very entertaining. :)

    1. "The easiest program available for transitioning any material into e-book form for publishing on Amazon or even just for reading on a Kindle is Mobipocket Creator."

      I've checked it out. It streamlines what I have--Jedit and Calibre. Although with Calibre I can create several different kinds of files outside of Mobi and PDF like EPUB. I'll download the program to see if it's as flexible as Jedit. The find and replace feature is a God send.

      "Your post recounting problems with the process though was very entertaining. :)"

      This amusing blog post is the silver lining. Turn my frustration into laughter.

  3. This such a true story. E-formatting should be on one side of the planet. Writers on the other.

    1. They are, but it's when we try to put them on the same planet that we get into all this trouble. :) I keep telling myself I now have a potentially profitable skill set. I'd rather write and make that profitable.