I spent much of this weekend thumbing through what formatting is required for ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle. I can’t say if I’m surprised or not. It’s a mixed bag.
I had some level of expectation that converting my writing from Word documents to something that wouldn’t be hideous on the Kindle would be a significant amount of work, though really the biggest time sink was finding information that wasn’t totally useless to me (see: Amazon’s Kindle Publishing Guidelines) or gated off by blessed dollars (see: Kindle Formatting: the Complete Guide etc.) Though, to be fair, I heard from a more reputable source that this book is the one to have. This was after I followed said source’s instructions and formatted my writing without paying $10 for a book to tell me the same thing, and I’m not a fan of paying $10 to get a simple answer out of a book that I only need the single simple answer from and not the entire manuscript of all the how-to’s there are to know.
Needless to say, it turns out the Kindle just uses very stripped down HTML with some minimal CSS style sheeting. However, the simple answer is that hand coding your writing to be formatted well on the Kindle is tedious work. Converters make a mess and do not work well. This is the key note for the issue.
Rather than go into it in depth, though, I will just plug the person’s work who I learned from. Natasha Fondren’s blog is a simple “tells you how” source for this information, step by step. I believe her work isn’t finished on the guide to formatting, but the bulk of it is there and can be used to get a polished copy on the Kindle that looks authentic.
The HTML also needs to be converted into a compatible file that the Kindle can read—I believe the official extension for ebooks on Amazon is .AZW—but I did not delve into this at length since I was coding unfinished copy for the Kindle. If I was done and ready to actually publish, I’d have more to share.
I also had a fun time (read: depressing) when I decided to check into whether or not the Kindle had the ability to run a word count. Upon googling this, I regretted it almost immediately. I lack the energy or enthusiasm to rave about it at length, but let’s just say Amazon and B&N’s failure to take initiative to move word count into more mainstream use by readers over vague and ineffective methods such as page count or “locations” strikes me as hugely upsetting. More than likely this topic will be back again at a later date for its dark revenge.
As far as my actual writing goes, I am in the process of overhauling the work I did during last November’s NaNoWriMo. Given the nature of how NaNoWriMo works, there are many snags to iron out in my story that will probably be months in the making. I do hope to have a beta copy some time in the next few months for people to read. At that time I may post samples!
Isn’t that something? Writing in a self-proclaimed writing blog.
I am slowly making progress on this “hey don’t double space at the end of sentences” thing that apparently is not preferred.
Still railing on that edit button.