If at First You Don't Succeed....

A journey into e-book publishing - step 7 - creating the e-book

Try again…and again...and again. That’s basically what I have been doing for what seems like the last two weeks – and all in the name of creating then e-book format ready for uploading to Amazon. The attempts have been a series of highs – fleeting moments when problems were solved – obliterated by the lows of finding yet another element that was not formatted properly. I think the only think that kept me going was my unwarranted optimism each morning that that day would see the project complete. Where I derived the capacity to fool myself so consistently from, I have no idea.

Some of the problems were self-induced – trying to run the e-book creator program on an operating system (Windows 7) that it wasn’t meant for – though I wish the error message had come up immediately rather than several hours in. Fortunately being the kind of person who finds it difficult to throw things away, I was able to resurrect an old computer with XP software and start the whole process again.

All was going well until I came to the Table of Contents Wizard which states that it will automatically create the Table based on information that you provide. Sounded easy, after all there were only a maximum of nine single entries to be made, except there was no indication of where the required ‘tag names’, ‘attributes’ and ‘values’, that the form required came from! I tried several variations based on what I thought was common sense, all of which produced a preview page with ‘Contents’ as the heading (that was already there) and absolutely nothing else. Finally, I referred to a book on e-publishing and was dismayed to discover that they suggested I needed to provide an HTML document consisting of separate paragraphs for each chapter.  Now I think I’ve said before that I consider myself computer illiterate and all this weird text terrified me, but I was not about to give up so I duly spent several hours carefully typing out the HTML, knowing that one tiny typo would render the whole thing useless. I hardly dared look at the screen as I loaded the finished file into the creator and re-built my book, but euphoria ruled when I saw that not only was the table of contents there, but the links actually worked. Finally, I could sense the finish line…..until I paged through the rest of the book.

The opening paragraphs of some chapters were indented, others were not. Some of the paragraphs had run into the next paragraph and in a few cases there was only one word on a line – all little irritations which, given they were not in my original manuscript, I had no idea how to correct. But I was in for a bigger shock half way through the book. On two consecutive pages the font had changed to italics – now that definitely was not in my original version. A little detective work revealed that the switch had occurred when I saved the original to Web Filtered HTML, but every time I edited the particular section in the HTML document to the original font, saved it and reloaded the book, the italics were still there. By this time the air was in danger of turning blue.

Finally, I had no choice but to open the document in Notepad to see if I could find anything strange in the HTML language. Sure enough, the whole italic section had different notations than the rest of the text. Buoyed by my success with the Table of Contents, I painstakingly changed the italic section to match the rest, saved it and built another version of my book (I’ve lost count of how many copies I’ve built – good job you don’t have to pay for them or I’d be broke) and finally I’d got
rid of the pesky italics.

I felt great. My persistence had paid off and I had an e-book with a cover, all the required front pages, a working table of contents, the story, acknowledgements and on the final page a little about the author. Or at least that was supposed to be the final page - except all the pages and pages of my HTML document for the Table of Contents (my book has 54 chapters) were tagged onto the end. My first thought was to leave it and hope nobody went past the author page, but my conscience wouldn’t let me. I wanted my e-book to look its best. I could see the logic in why all those pages might have shown up, but the only way to get rid of them seemed to be to delete all my hard work and face the Table of Contents Wizard once again. But that’s a tale for another blog post.


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