Sunday, July 18, 2010

Some Notes on Publishing Killing Trail: Part 2


OK, so last time I talked about transforming the cover from an MS word file to a Jpeg and about inserting images directly into the word file and using them without converting. I discussed my copyright page and posted it as an example. This time I’ll talk about the text and the table of contents.

Again, I used an MS Word 97-2003 file for sending to Kindle and didn’t make any html notations in it before sending. I went with Times New Roman 14 as the text font, and I used TNR 16 point text for the chapter titles and for headings like “Table of Contents.” Here’s one thing I noticed. On page 2 of the collection I repeated the title above a picture of the gun in its holster. I tried to do the tile at TNR 40 point, which made it as wide as the image below it in my original file. It came out smaller than the image once Kindlized, though, which I think means that Kindle won’t recognize very large font sizes that are sent to it.

I don’t know what the largest size Kindle will recognize is, although I’ll do some experiments eventually to find out. If I had it to do over, I’d just convert page 2 to a jpeg too and insert it in the text. Font size is irrelevant to the result on Kindle when you do that.

For the table of contents, I did something different from any other kindle ebook I’ve seen before, and I’ve received one email from someone who thanked me for how I did it. Some ebooks have the table of contents set up as a “clickable” file using HTML. That means that you can select and click say, Chapter 12, and leap directly to that chapter. Other ebooks, including most that I’ve seen, just have the table of contents page without the clickables, which just tells you what stories or chapters might be in the book, but won’t allow you to jump to them.

It occurred to me that, for Kindle, the “location” is the equivalent to page number in a printed book. If you don’t have a Kindle this might not make much sense but I’ll try to explain. Killing Trail has 1371 ‘locations’ in it. If you want to go to location 1300, you press the menu button, select “go to location,” enter 1300 at the bottom of the screen using the keypad, and “click” the selector. You’ll be taken directly to location 1300.

What I did was figure out where the “locations” for the stories were going to be in the Kindlized book and add them to the table of contents as if they were page numbers. In Killing Trail, you don’t just click on the story “Powder Burn” to go to that story, but you enter the location for the story, which is 742, and that will take you to it.

How did I know what locations my stories would be at? Well, that takes me to the most important element of all this information. Kindle allows you to Kindlize all kinds of files. When I got my Kindle, it came with instructions about how to send any personal file to Kindle so they could change it to Kindle format and send it back. You can have these files sent directly to your own Kindle, for a very tiny charge, or can have them sent to your email for downloading free of charge. Then you can move them back and forth to your Kindle as you like.

I’ve Kindlized lots of text files for my own personal use. So, once I had Killing Trail set up how I wanted it, I kindlized it and had it delivered to my home email. I loaded it to my Kindle, checked where the locations were, and wrote those into the table of contents. Then I Kindlized that version to make sure the locations were correct. They were. I actually Kindlized five different versions of the book for myself and finally selected the one that I liked the formatting on best. That was the one I uploaded to be published.

At the end of the book, I wanted my contact information, my email and blog address, and I just typed them into the word processing file and hit enter after them. This automatically converts them to a clickable in MS Word, and that came through just fine on the Kindle when the file was converted, without doing anything else.

I also did the same thing for the “Other Books By Charles Gramlich” section. I typed the title of the book, then added the Amazon link and hit enter after it. It became a clickable and that translated into the final Kindlized version. If I had this to do over, I’d use the “tinyurl” process to decrease the size of the links. I did convert them to TNR font 6 in my text but they came out pretty large in the finished Kindle book. They are clickable, though. You select one and can jump right to Amazon to the listing for that book. Here’s exactly what it looked like in my original file:

Write With Fire: Thoughts on the Craft of Writing.
http://www.amazon.com/Write-Fire-Thoughts-Craft-Writing/dp/1434403629/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248328011&sr=1-1

OK, there’s still more I can talk about so there’ll be a third post in this series, but this is enough for today. I’ll end with another review of Killing Trail, this time from Bernardl. Thanks, man.

“KILLING TRAIL combines all the elements of good Western storytelling - strong characters, hard places, and grim down to earth action. It is a very entertaining read.”
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37 comments:

Deka Black said...

This series of articles are good because the facts come from someone who tell his own experience, not a instruction manual. I'm sure a lot of writers will find this articles very helpful!

laughingwolf said...

excellent part 2, charles, will add it to my notes as well...

Ron Scheer said...

Thanks once again, Charles. Very helpful. Kindle gives you an opportunity to think out of the box, and it sounds like you're doing that. I'm interested in what else you can do with this application to "add value" to the product.

Paul R. McNamee said...

OK, I was going to comment about the lack of a clickable table of contents, but that seems to have been your choice.

I really think a clickable t-o-c is a selling point. Maybe not on a linear novel, but something like this, where readers might like to revisit a certain tale, I think the active t.o.c. would be a benefit.

Yes, the location feature is a help, but it requires two steps - hop to beginning, note location, input location. Active t.o.c. is one click.

For instance, with so many of the different public domain Kindle editions available, I usually opt for active t.o.c. if I can get it (reasonably priced.)

Just my opinion.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, thanks. I hope so.

Laughingwolf, good.

Ron, I'm doing some thinking along those lines myself.

Paul, yes, I think clickable content might be better for a collection like this, although not neccessarily for a regular novel. I just didn't know how to do it and couldn't get an explanation that made sense to me. Although eventually I may try again.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Charles, this couldn't be more timely! I've been putting the final touches on an ebook in PDF form. Now I'm thinking I need to have more than one hyperlink; that the TOC should be interactive as well. These last two posts have me thinking about it. So let me see if I've got this right, I can go to the Kindle site (even without owning a Kindle) and "Kindlize" an ebook?

Laurie Powers said...

All this about the TOC kind of blew my mind, so I'll have to go back and read it again. I'm not Kindle-saavy enough yet I guess.

Can't wait to read Part 3. You doing a real service here, Charles - thanks.

Evan Lewis said...

The process sounds intimidating, but your tips are great!

Charles Gramlich said...

JR, I hear from many that they like the interactive TOCs, although it doesn't do anything more me. I actually don't think you can kindlize your personal material unless you own a kindle. You can get kindle for pc and buy and read books that are already kindled, but I don't know if that allows you to kindlize material. I'm actually trying to find that out right now and will let you know.

Laurie Powers, if you have a kindle, open a document, go to menu, click the selector, and you'll see the command "go to location." Select that and click and you'll see that the cursor appears in the open line at the bottom of the page. you can then use the keypad to type in any number, like 451, press the clicker and it'll take you there in the book.

Evan Lewis, I felt very much that way until I did it. It's not that bad.

Natasha Fondren said...

Kindle doesn't really read font-size like that. If you're going to convert from your Word document, try using the styles Word gives you, like the "Header 1" and "Header 2" styles. Also, make sure you've got a hard page break between chapters. (CTRL+Enter) Usually all that will convert adequately.

I should get my butt in gear and do a section on the the table of contents. (Sorry!) :-)

The only thing about using the locations is that the locations are dependent upon the font size the reader selects on his own device. So while Chapter 5 might start at location 600 for you, it might start at 900 for me.

That sorta goes back to the above with font size. The font size you select will largely be ignored, because the Kindle adjusts to the sizing the user wants to read it in.

Steve Malley said...

Thanks for this. Right now I'm dealing with formatting Crossroad Blues for Smashwords-- quite a bit more involved...

Charles Gramlich said...

Natasha Fondren, yes, I did the hard page break, which I got from your guide on Kindle publishing. It worked well. I didn't think of the header thing. Should have. I found that on my device the locations stayed the same no matter what the font size. That's why I ended up using them. I tried several different times to make sure.

Steve Malley, I only took a brief glance at Smashwords but I may go that route sometime. Looks like it's kind of an individual process all around.

Heff said...

Gotta love computer program settings, eh ?

cs harris said...

I'm beginning to think this is easiest if one owns a Kindle, but has a serious learning curve otherwise. You are a brave soul.

jodi said...

Charles, you are so much more technical than I. Got a IPad for my birthday, so we will see how that goes. I love the large screen.

Jess said...

Reading this info is a real learning experience for me. I'm passing your blog link to several writing loops I'm on. I think some of their members will benefit from your personal experience with publishing to the Kindle.
Thanks.

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, sometimes I feel like my life is pretty programmed

Candy, At each step it at first seemed like there were endless possibilities, but once you narrowed it down it wasn't so bad.

jodi, I'm not really, although I learned quite a lot through this process.

Jess, hope it helps. There seem to be quite a few different ways to go about it.

Natasha Fondren said...

Oooh, you're right! I looked it up, and every 128 bytes is marked by a location. I think my mind confused why page numbers don't work with how locations work. :-)

Natasha Fondren said...

Oooh, another thing I was wrong about! LOL. *sigh* The page breaks for your book aren't working on Kindle or Kindle for PC. (They do if you jump to the location, because it puts that location on the top of the page, but if you're just hitting "next page" as you read, they don't.)

I'm not sure why. Everyone says that it converts, but I noticed a lot of people on the forums who say it doesn't lately, so I'm wondering if they changed the way the converter works. I tried it myself, and page breaks converted, but I'm not sure if the email converter works differently from the dtp one.

Just so I can get my guide correct, I was wondering if maybe you would consider emailing me the Word file you sent through the converter? I already bought it, I promise! No worries, either way, Charles! (spyscribbler at gmail dot com)

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for another good explanation of producing your book of stories.

BernardL said...

Very informative part 2. A news clip today stated Kindle novel sales surpassed hardbound. Although many don't want to hear it, especially the publishers, this trend seems to be picking up speed like a runaway locomotive.

Travis Cody said...

This is really fascinating information, and doesn't seem too hard. A tech ijit like me gets scared easily.

David Cranmer said...

Learning and saving. Thanks, Charles.

Kate Sterling said...

Oh, that's cool, Charles. Great information worth saving.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Yeah Charles, keep me in the loop here. I'm not big on proprietary gadgets (For instance: I've never bought itunes). I do like the Adobe Reader that's available to the general public; not that I'll need it, but my ebook is easily "downloadable" there. BTW, thanks for the interest in my chapbook. It'll be sent out this week.

Charles Gramlich said...

Natasha Fondren, sure, I’ll send you the file. I only inserted page breaks after sections, not after every page. Like I inserted one at the end of the story, then at the end of the next story. Other than that I just let it wrap.

Shauna Roberts, I’m finding out there are many ways of doing it, it looks like.

BernardL, it does. I’m finding myself not very surprised by that at the moment, as I’ve delved into it.

Travis Cody, I was scared at first but it worked out better than I’d imagined. And I think my formatting looks a lot better than some of the books out there.

David Cranmer, glad to hear it’s useful.


Kate Sterling, thanks, Kate.

JR, I can’t read PDF files right on my kindle so I don’t get them generally. They come out with very very tiny print and you can’t change the font size. Looking forward to the chapbook.

Barrie said...

Sometimes it all seems so overwhelming. Thanks for helping to clear the air, er, code. :)

BStearns said...

I had no idea so much work went into the process! Thanks so much Charles, this is invaluable knowledge.

-Bryan
www.sff-hub.com

Charles Gramlich said...

Barrie, lol.

Bryan, it's starting to clear a bit for me. I learned quite a lot.

Greg Schwartz said...

sounds like a pretty painless process, and very friendly to the reader. congrats on the good review!

X. Dell said...

This and the previous post give a fascinating look at the ins and outs of self-publishing on kindle. Seems user-friendly.

Did I miss something, or is jpeg the only file format supported by Kindle? Seems like it would a godsend to do it as a pdf file.

Michelle's Spell said...

All very informative, Charles. Lots of good stuff here to keep in mind!

Charles Gramlich said...

Greg Schwartz, I've heard that Smashwords is even easier but I didn't have any issues really with Amazon. We'll see about the payment issue.

X. Dell, they definitely do NOT support PDF. You can read PDFs on kindle but they don't read right and you can't change the font size. They do support some other image type files though.

Michelle, thanks. BTW, I ordered JR's book. Looking forward to your stuff soon, I hope.

Ty Johnston said...

Great series of articles. I won't be putting up anything new on the Kindle probably until the end of the year, but you definitely taught me a few things I didn't know or didn't know how to do. I might even have to go back and rework the files on some of my already published stuff. I especially liked the ToC idea.

Cloudia said...

I admire your attention-span and drive, Charles!



Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Charles Gramlich said...

Ty, I still have to get some of your stuff for Kindle. I have not had a spare moment lately to look around.

Cloudia, thank you. I try.

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