Tuesday, April 20, 2010

E-Books Really ARE Different Animals...

I spent the bulk of yesterday tweaking and "republishing" the Kindle e-book edition of Little Birdies!. The mini-project started out as my wanting to add one sentence to the manuscript -- I'm reading Suzie Gilbert's Flyaway, and I wanted to amp up a paragraph describing the world of wild bird rehabilitation.

I added my sentence and then, as long as I was under the hood, decided to make a few other changes. I completed the list of my published novels that appears in the opening, title pages. I added sample, promotional chapters of The Last Bartender and The Cenacle Scroll to the end of the book. I standardized all of the the fonts in the manuscript so they were more "Kindle-friendly." I added hard breaks in between chapters, also something Kindle appreciates.  

Editing these things is time consuming and difficult. A Kindle e-book (Birdies, for instance, with its new promotional chapters) is essentially a 440-page-long, single scrolling web page. You not only have to check it for the usual array of typos, spelling errors, formating screw-ups and the other copyediting land-mines that you would normally scan for in a hard copy edition, but must add to that (and fix) the seemingly inexplicable HTML conversion artifacts that always creep into the mix. It's actually worse that that, since, for me at least, publishing a Kindle e-book involves converting a Word.doc to HTML to Kindle's proprietary DRM (digital rights management) AZW file format. Stir in the sub-standard reader-emulator that Kindle gives you to work with, and you've got a real party on your hands.

What's interesting about this process, though, is that I'm able to edit and/or update a book "on the fly." After "republishing," the book will effectively be off-the-market for only two or three days while Amazon confirms that it is what I say it is, and then the new version will be available to the public, and at no cost to the publisher (that would be me). I reedited and reformatted the book on Monday, and the new version will be available to readers by Wednesday or Thursday. Try doing that with a print version.

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