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Old 07-13-2012, 11:07 PM   #16
JSWolf
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If you know your output is going to be an eBook, use a good text editor and text markup to show the styles you want like bold and italics. You can also put in notes to say how something is to look. Also put in place holders for images. Then when you are creating the eBook from the text file, it will be easier to deal with then Word's output.

Last edited by JSWolf; 07-13-2012 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 07-14-2012, 12:13 AM   #17
AuthorGreg
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Well, I'm a poor writer who can't afford an expert. And I know enough writers who've complained about paying for "eBook formatters" who just did an awful job (the same can be said of cover designers). I've been approached by these formatters who have even offered me EPUBs and PRCs of their work. Again, the PRC always looks so much better than the EPUB. If you do things right in Word, your final AZW on Amazon is going to be pretty much WYSIWYG. I know there is a huge contingent of EPUB advocates out there, but I wish they would at least admit that Amazon Kindles generally do a much better job of flowing words on to the screen than the Nook.

I'm pulling my hair out trying to produce EPUBs that look decent on ALL devices, and the Simple Touch is driving me to insanity. I don't even mess around with Smashwords because the one time I tried I was left simply aghast at the havoc wrought by the dreaded Meatgrinder.

Anyway... I know HTML, CSS, and a little PHP and JavaScript. So I'm not flying totally blind here. If there's a resource out there that details how to write a perfect book in HTML, I'd love to know about it. Hell, I'd even pay for it. I can write a first draft easily enough in a vanilla text processor, then worry about the formatting later. And again, I just write fiction, so there are no graphics or illustrations for me to consider. I just want to write the best possible product there is, so I can output an EPUB I can be proud of and that the world will thank me for.

I'm especially interested in learning about these embedded fonts that everyone says the Big-Six knows about but no one else really does. I'm an old IT guy, and I know all about self-preservation practices aimed to protect the career I no longer have. Eventually, it all comes out....

I was in the mood to ramble. I apologize.

Greg
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Old 07-14-2012, 04:50 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuthorGreg View Post
I mean, is there a way to write creatively without spending too much time along the way with HTML tags for non-breaking ellipses, italics, em-dashes, and the like.
Yes, use a text format like simple LaTeX or simple HTML or a lightweight markup format such as Textile. Don't worry about formatting until the content is finished.

Ellipses: use "...", or "\dots", or "…". You can convert them to whatever works best later.

Italics: use "<i>...</i>", or "\emph{...}", or "_..._". Ditto.

Dashes: use "--"/"---", or "&ndash;"/"&mdash;". Ditto.

Quotes: use "`"/"``", or "&lsquo;"/"&rsquo;" for opening quotes. Ditto. Normal ' and " can then safely be assumed to be closing quotes or apostrophes. (Beware of automatic "smart" quotes.)

Or modify your keyboard layout to have the proper Unicode characters easily accessible by keypresses. You can even write in Notepad. With a more sophisticated text editor, you can create macros to insert the Unicode characters too.
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:33 AM   #19
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Well, I'm a poor writer who can't afford an expert.
...snip...
Greg
Sorry, but otherwise the quote would be to long.

Anyway, you might want to talk to Hitch. She and her team creates very good quality books and is very pleasant to work with.

The result in ePUB can be better or at least of the same quality as on the Kindle. The trick is knowing what is and what isn't supported. There might be some small differences between readers, due to other rendering engines. Kindle only has one...

I can't really comment on the Nook, but I believe that one has the option to ignore the defined formatting in a book. No matter what you do there, but as soon as it is overruled by the reader, you lost it. No matter who you are. It might be that you can enforce still certain settings, but that would be either in the styles with the '!important!' setting or a special file that needs to be added to the ePUB (just like ADE can have). You should be able to see if this is the case when you encounter a book that does work as you would like.

There are no tricks with regards to embedded fonts that only the 'Big Six' know about. The mechanism is the same, only different fonts perhaps. Also, on iBooks you need to add a file in order to have font-embedding enabled.

Again, you can achieve the same of better results compared to the Kindle. The old Kindle format is a old format (which doesn't support font-embedding btw) and the new is just ePUB3 with another name.
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:45 AM   #20
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I can't really comment on the Nook, but I believe that one has the option to ignore the defined formatting in a book. No matter what you do there, but as soon as it is overruled by the reader, you lost it.
I have never dealt with the Nook either, but I guess you can do some things about this. You can use standard tags when possible. With proper CSS styling these two codes should look exactly the same (when the styles are not ignored):

Code:
<blockquote>
<p>Dear Mr. Jones,</p>
<p>I'm using some <em>italic</em> text.</p>
</blockquote>
Code:
<div class="blockquote first">Dear Mr. Jones,</div>
<div class="blockquote last">I'm using some <span class="italic">italic</span> text.</div>
But, when the styles are ignored, chances are the first code will be displayed much more nicely than the second. That is, assuming some default styling is used anyway (like browsers do).
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Old 07-14-2012, 02:34 PM   #21
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Hmm, yes. In that case you are right, since it will revert to the defaults then. It would be a little better. But, I still find that it is the choice of the user and our of the publishers hands.
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Old 07-21-2012, 11:00 PM   #22
AuthorGreg
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Well, to update this saga...

I ran my Word manuscript through the good old Meatgrinder of Smashwords.

Guess what?

It produces the absolute PERFECT ePub, at least on my Nook Simple Touch.

Em dashes are fully preserved. Line spacing now works. Lines with italics now don't interfere with line height.

I'm too tired right now, but tomorrow I'm going to explode that ePub and see what Mark Coker knows that not many others do.

I now feel bad about every bad thing I'd previously said about the Meatgrinder.

Greg
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Old 07-21-2012, 11:10 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuthorGreg View Post
Well, to update this saga...

I ran my Word manuscript through the good old Meatgrinder of Smashwords.

Guess what?

It produces the absolute PERFECT ePub, at least on my Nook Simple Touch.

Em dashes are fully preserved. Line spacing now works. Lines with italics now don't interfere with line height.

I'm too tired right now, but tomorrow I'm going to explode that ePub and see what Mark Coker knows that not many others do.

I now feel bad about every bad thing I'd previously said about the Meatgrinder.

Greg
It's got nothing to do with what Mark knows. It's what you don't know. When you look at the code, please not how bad it looks. That's because the meatgrinder uses a Word document for Calibre to convert. The code that gets made from a Word document can cause issues such as no font changing and no night mode. And there is a chance it won't validate. Run it through FlightCrew and see if it does validate.
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