1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Anyone have any tips for formatting?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by peachalulu, May 18, 2014.

    I'm attempting to upload some short stories to Amazon for sale. I downloaded Sigil but I don't like the spaces in between the paragraphs and I haven't found a way of getting rid of them without retyping everything. So I downloaded OpenOffice. It seems cleaner. I just don't know if it has everything I need. I downloaded a ebook template which is nice and I know I need to convert the docs into Mobi and epub am I missing anything?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I haven't gotten to that stage yet but a friend on another forum that has 8 published books said this:

    "It's just my own preference. It's a Smashwords technique where you go in to the file you are planning to convert to an ebook format (which are very picky) and remove all formatting - all of it, just leaving yourself with text. Also reveal codes & remove any strange marks and hard carriage returns. Then you create heading options for yourself, set up your paragraphs the way you want with the fonts you want, and embed fonts before exporting to .mobi or whatever. I've found that exporting before doing this invariably results in at least a few odd formatting issues in the ebook. Your mileage may vary. I'm pretty comfortable with Word, so that's probably why it's my preference.

    By the way, Mark Coker's Smashwords ebook style manual is downloadable for free, and you can use it for any format - just ignore the parts that are specific to Smashwords."
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This is the scariest part of the process. I'm not computer savvy. So I've been reading a lot. And trying to check out youtube videos. But everyone seems to do it differently! Just when I think okay, I've got it - I've missed something - lol.

    I'll check out the Smashbook style manual I might even have it - all the information is swimming in my head. It's overwhelming.
     
  4. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    After fiddling with formatting for years, I eventually wrote a script that takes a LibreOffice document and squirts out a .epub that I can upload to Amazon to convert into its own format. My experience is that good formatting requires sticking religiously to using styles in the original document, so you can then create a .css file which maps those LibreOffice styles into similar styles for the Kindle.

    I've been meaning to write a blog post on how I do this, but haven't got around to it yet.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I was confused about the need for the Word step in my friend's advice to remove formatting. Many times when one copies from one program to another it adds code like hard returns that weren't in the original. But Kathy knows what she's talking about. I have 4 of her books, 3 on Kindle and one paperback she autographed for me. :)

    But I am fortunate in that my son is well experienced with computers and he'll be able to help me out the first time.

    I think it's good you are just going for it. Regardless of what happens with this one, you will learn how to do it.
     
  6. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Oh, yeah, the other thing about using styles is that you can set up a separate template for other sites like Smashwords that demand a Word .doc, and just cut and paste the text into them with minimal changes required afterwards. Previously, having to reformat everything for Smashwords was a huge pain.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This sounds like a search-and-replace task.

    If I had MS Word, I would probably:

    - Paste the text into a Word document.
    - Do a 'save as' to a .txt document.
    - Open the .txt document and search for instances of two carriage returns.
    - If you find that you have two carriage returns between every paragraph, do a search-and-replace to replace two carriage return with one carriage return.
    - Save again to .txt to make sure that no formatting was saved. (Your search and replace will be saved.)
    - Try to open that .txt document in whatever you're trying to use to prep the document.

    Edited to add: This will kill all italics, boldface, etc. This is fine for me, because I essentially never use italics, boldface, etc. If you use them extensively, then the fix will be more complicated.
     
  8. jannert
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    yikes...
     
  9. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    I don't know about Word, but LibreOffice has a 'clear direct formatting' command, which leaves the styles, but removes any manually-added italics or changes to paragraph spacing, etc. You still need go to through afterwards and fix up anything that was incorrectly formatted, but it's less work than starting from scratch.

    That's another reason I switched to using styles for everything, because you can easily clean out the weird effects when, say, you switch to italics and then back without typing anything between them, but the word processor leaves the 'italics on'/'italics off' commands in the file and generates weird HTML from them for the ebook.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i used only ms word to format all 6 of my e-books... you can check out how they look, on amazon's 'kimble' [where 2 of them are listed]... and all 6 are at:
    http://www.free-ebooks.net/profile/290871/maia

    amazon books by members are now listed on the site and sales help to keep it going... just click on 'bookstore' in the top menu bar...

    i don't see why anyone would need to buy or use anything other than ms word, as it works as well as one can want...
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    MS Word might work fine, but Scrivener was inexpensive and I love the novel template. I also copy paste chapters to Word for my critique group and the two formats are very compatible. So if I end up needing to remove excess code via Word, it won't be hard to do.
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I actually don't have Ms Word. I have Wordperfect. Which I think is compatible with zilch. That's why I've been trying Openoffice and Calibre & Sigil. Can't seem to understand Calibre though, I think you need a Kindle for it or for your ms to be uploaded somewhere on the net.

    Mammamaia - I checked out your books, the other day when they showed up on the Bookstore link - they look real good!

    I know cheap isn't the way to go but for now that's the route I'm going. I think I'll stick with Openoffice so far it looks pretty good. I just have to keep reading up on everything. Trying to keep everything looking professional by choosing the right font's etc.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    WordPerfect is so much easier to use than Word. Don't switch if you don't have to. I had to because all the businesses I do consulting work for use Word. I hated and still hate Word much of the time because the code is so complicated compared to WordPerfect.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014
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  14. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been prepping my novel for self-pub for a few months now and Calibre is working fine for me. I wrote my manuscript in Word and found a link (can't remember where it was) that explained how to "clean it up" for ebook conversion in Calibre. The link said to remove all hard returns and white space. If you want to do a page break (i.e. between chapters), use the page break function, (ctrl-enter in Word). You don't have to remove formatting such as italics, bold, or underlining. Once all of that is done, save as a filtered html.

    Then open Calibre and convert your html file into whichever ebook format you desire. I did AZW3, since I wanted to read it on my Kindle. It worked fine for me. I've been tweaking it for a few months now, revising chapters, adding little formatting touches, and toying with the TOC. I'm still learning the ins and outs of the program, but the basics haven't given me any trouble and being able to read my book on my Kindle has been a huge help. (Note: I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone, whether you're self-publishing or not. I spotted many little errors on my e-reader that were virtually invisible on the computer or even in printed form. I suggest studying your manuscript in as many formats (on screen, on paper, on an e-reader, etc) as possible before submitting it or self-pubbing.)
     
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  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...you're right about wordperfect!... it's useless for serious writers whose aim is to be published...

    ...i'm so glad you liked them... hope the contents are of interest...

    when you're just starting out, 'cheap' makes good sense... and openoffice is probably your best option... you can save your documents as rtf, so when you send them to anyone, they can be opened with ms word and still retain your formatting, so till you can afford ms word, it shouldn't be a problem...

    the most universally acceptable font is courier new 12 pt... and you can find sample ms formats at www.shunn.com

    best of luck to you with your writings... hugs, maia
     
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