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Old 04-27-2012, 08:51 AM   #20
teh603
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
I am not certain I follow the logic behind Smashwords - but note that I am looking at this as a total outsider (so far). Let me see if I have this straight...

The writer writes their novel (or whatever) using Word (or whatever) and is careful to get everything exactly as the writer wants it to be - perhaps exporting out to epub (or whatever) every now and then to see if it is all working.

Then, when everything is done and is looking just right, the writer is supposed to strip out all that careful formatting (smart-quotes, em-dash, bullet points, etc. etc.) and upload this essentially plain text file up to Smashwords.
That assumes you did all that in the first place. I write in unformatted .txt so it doesn't stat looking pretty until I apply the style sheet in LibreOffice. I don't have to spend hours stripping out text boxes and other nonesuch, and "the nuclear method" is simply re-importing everything from the original .txt files instead of doing a long copy-pasta that might get truncated.

Quote:
Smashwords will then, if the few examples I've found are anything to go by, execute an automatic process that puts some of your original formatting (smart-quotes etc. etc.) back in to the final document.

The main difference between the writer's original epub and the smashwords' epub is that the original was carefully crafted for a specific result, while the second is automatically generated based on some fixed set of, one-size fits everyone, rules.
Using style sheets to apply formatting is a more consistent way of doing it, provided you remember to actually use the style sheet. I don't see much of a reason to not use it, aside from sheer laziness. Sure you can't add a lot of frills- I'd love to be able to use some of the Unicode dingbats for dividers instead of the usual * * * or # # # , but that's more a limitation of the readers themselves instead of the epub or meatgrinder.

Quote:
I have a little difficulty seeing that a writer supplied epub (which is probably produced using a software automation process rather than hand-coded, and so the format is likely to be highly consistent), could possibly produce a worse result than the tortuous process already in place. If they can already parse Word documents to reject all those things they don't like, it doesn't seem like it should be beyond them to reject epubs that don't fit within some reasonable criteria.
As I've said, that implies that the writer is capable of crafting their own epub. I doubt most colleges' creative writing programs have the inclination to devote a section to writing CSS HTML, and Creative Writing majors aren't allowed into those classes anyway because of degree restrictions and course prerequisites. What most authors do know is Word, even if they don't have any formal training in it.
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