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Old 12-21-2012, 07:40 AM   #61
exaltedwombat
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I think we should challenge the "need" to embed a font at all. At the present state of the art, offering a client a facsimile of a printed book (though this is so often what the client WANTS) is doomed to failure. We should also challenge the conventional workflow of importing to Word, then to HTML, then to Sigil. If Sigil starts with clean text, it's very easy to add as much formatting as an eBook can realistically take, and still be portable.

I spend too much time tarting up code so a client sees "perfection" on their favourite device, knowing quite well that details of layout will be different on others but keeping my mouth shut!
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Old 12-21-2012, 01:19 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by cybmole View Post
I think we've collectively made our points - maybe one of us should now answer the embedded font question which started this thread, (restated in #55) , just to clear up the "how to do it / can it be done " point.

I doubt the OP still lurks here, unless he has a very thick skin, but the answer may be of some use to other amateurs or pros.

I must confess that find the original question hard to understand & don't know the answer myself, but surely those XML declarations should not be in every <p> tag line
@Cybmole:

Actually, we don't need to. Not being my usual cranky old self--he figured it out. He had originally put a manual call to the font in EVERY paragraph (, it makes my head hurt), but then wanted the font to be used "in the entire document." He finally noodled out how to put in an external SS and embed the font to achieve what he wanted.


@ExaltedWombat:

Meh. I rather like font embedding. I concur that it has the obvious drawbacks, but there is still pleasure in looking at what is clearly a carefully-crafted book--and that includes fonts, and sometimes illustrations. One need only look at Jellby's lovely work to appreciate that eBooks don't have to look like word-processed documents.

With regard to the "the conventional workflow of importing to Word, then to HTML, then to Sigil," I don't know anyone who imports TO Word, then on from there, but most of us, of course, receive our files in Word, or some word-equivalent. If you have a macro, like Toxaris', for exporting relatively clean HTML from Word, or, if like most of my shop, you have built in regex-clips in NoteTabPro, that are looking for certain standard Word cruft, and removing same, it's a 10-minute procedure. Are you suggesting starting off with the text inside Sigil? Using it like, say, Jutoh?

I agree, though, that we, too, spend some time tarting up perfectly good books so that a client can see precisely what they want--and this is almost 100% of the time for a client with an iPad, using iBooks as their reader. The other issue, of course, are those that use ADE but still can't wrap their heads around reflowability ("Can you please move that line up to the 'next page?'" type requests), but that's an issue of client education, which I personally find exhausting. Hell, I wrote an 80-page "ebook fundamentals" sort of thing, laying out all the "sorta basics" (ebooks don't have pages, running headers/footers, yadda), but I can't get them to read it, , naturally. Heck, I even used boatloads of pics, too!

Ah, well.

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Old 12-21-2012, 05:39 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by Hitch View Post
@ExaltedWombat:

Meh. I rather like font embedding. I concur that it has the obvious drawbacks, but there is still pleasure in looking at what is clearly a carefully-crafted book--and that includes fonts, and sometimes illustrations. One need only look at Jellby's lovely work to appreciate that eBooks don't have to look like word-processed documents.

With regard to the "the conventional workflow of importing to Word, then to HTML, then to Sigil," I don't know anyone who imports TO Word, then on from there, but most of us, of course, receive our files in Word, or some word-equivalent. If you have a macro, like Toxaris', for exporting relatively clean HTML from Word, or, if like most of my shop, you have built in regex-clips in NoteTabPro, that are looking for certain standard Word cruft, and removing same, it's a 10-minute procedure. Are you suggesting starting off with the text inside Sigil? Using it like, say, Jutoh?

I agree, though, that we, too, spend some time tarting up perfectly good books so that a client can see precisely what they want--and this is almost 100% of the time for a client with an iPad, using iBooks as their reader. The other issue, of course, are those that use ADE but still can't wrap their heads around reflowability ("Can you please move that line up to the 'next page?'" type requests), but that's an issue of client education, which I personally find exhausting. Hell, I wrote an 80-page "ebook fundamentals" sort of thing, laying out all the "sorta basics" (ebooks don't have pages, running headers/footers, yadda), but I can't get them to read it, , naturally. Heck, I even used boatloads of pics, too!
Don't you find the more "careful crafting" you do, the less portable the eBook becomes? :-)

Maybe I'm unusual. I get a lot of my work from a publisher, who will already have worked with the author designing a printed edition. The original Word file is a distant memory - I'm working from the final "approved" proof, usually a PDF, sometimes an InDesign file (and if you think you've seen messy code from Word, check out what InDesign's Export as EPUB function spouts out - that's when it doesn't give up and freeze the computer :-) It really is often quicker to drop the whole mess into Notepad to strip all formatting, then relay the text from scratch in Sigil.

It's a long time since I've had a good straightforward story to work on. Obscure local histories, "I can fix the recession" manuals and a whole LOT of alternative therapy hokum dominate at present.
Quote:
Hell, I wrote an 80-page "ebook fundamentals" sort of thing,
Maybe if you'd written a 2-page one...? :-)

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Old 12-21-2012, 06:37 PM   #64
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Maybe if you'd written a 2-page one...? :-)
I'll answer/reply to the rest later, but, bottom line? I have not found anything that they'll read. Not one-paragraph explanations, like on our Knowledgebase, nor the same on our FAQ; not the 300-word explanations of how to clean up a Word file; not the video versions.

I got so sick of answering the same questions, over and over, particularly after I'd given them a link to our KB, and said, "please see this article: [link here]," and then getting the SAME QUESTION back in email that I made the Handbook out of the KB and FAQ, added a crapload of pictures, used a reading comprehension calculator to simplify sentences (no, I'm not making that up). I now send it to every potential victim that comes by, along with the links to the KB and the FAQ. When they don't read it, and ask "X," I tell them to see paragraph Y of the Handbook.

What slays me is that 90-95%--maybe more--of the questions we get have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the service that we actually provide. It's questions about publishing, not making the eBooks ("where do I get my ISBN," "what should I set my price at," "how do I upload to Amazon," etc.)

I'll give you an example: we have a production checklist, which is basically just the metadata from the client for embedding. It's a page and a half, a basic table. I've attached a link to a very thorough PBS article on the topic for them to read. Additionally, (because NOBODY reads the MediaShift article), I created two pages of instructions for it. Very simple stuff: "For Description, put your blurb" kind of thing.

I had them on our YSI Dropbox, which identifies every download, and tallies them, so this isn't "guesstimation." Over 68% of the clients never downloaded the INSTRUCTION sheet, and then emailed us to ask what to put in the table cells.

I've tried videos; I've tried Powerpoint shows. I've tried written instructions. I've tried Knowledgebases, FAQ's, the Handbook. I've tried screenshots with text boxes and instructions above. I've just found that at the end of the day, the bottom line is that if it's easier for someone to pick up the phone and ask us a question, or email us and ask us, instead of reading something, or watching something, or Googling something, they will.

THUS, instead of creating 100 different pages of instructions or answers, which already exist in the KB and the FAQ, I put it all in the Handbook, (along with some marketing carrots, like a list of 50 book blogger sites), and send it out. We receive 300+ emails a day; half are production emails going in and out of our PM system, and the other half are author questions. Of those, 10% are new client queries; the rest are questions from existing clients, asking us stuff about publishing. (n.b.: a large number of questions are "issues" created because clients don't have an e-reader, and expect an ebook to work like a print book. Our Handbook has some novice articles about that, as well--resizing text, reflowing, etc.) At some point, you either become rude, because of course, you're not being paid for answering publishing questions, or you create something you can send out instead. I chose the latter. {shrug}. Dealing with publisher clients is one thing; dealing with author clients is a whole different cup of tea. Fortunately, we've added a large number of publisher clients, but we still have a very large author-pub clientele and client base.

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Old 12-22-2012, 03:33 AM   #65
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I have not found anything that they'll read.
That's human nature, don't think your clients are in the least special

I work in scientific research, my co-workers are all educated persons with PhD and all you can wish... yet I'm practically the only one who reads the software manuals, or online help, or user forums, or mailing lists, or anything like that. And I'm not talking about office software like Acrobat Reader or PowerPoint, but scientific software that we actually use for our research, and I'm not the "computer guy". The others, of course, prefer to cry, rant and complain until I read the manual and find a solution for them
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Old 12-22-2012, 06:05 AM   #66
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because of course, you're not being paid for answering publishing questions...
Sure you are! Particularly to amateur writers - you're not just selling technical eBook production skills, you're selling the "Being a published author" experience.

This happens all over the entertainment business too. What the audience is buying isn't always what you think you're selling. A performer's pride in his technical skills can make this difficult to see sometimes!
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Old 12-22-2012, 06:06 AM   #67
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A guy named John Holland wrote a book on vocational choices and theorized that people have 6 basic characteristics on the job: Social, Artistic, Investigative, Enterprising, Realistic and Conventional.

I'd guess whatever other characteristics people on here have, they rate pretty high in Investigative and the people they interact with do not.

@exaltedwombat: It seems to be a truism that a performer's favorite song is almost never the audiences!
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:27 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by exaltedwombat View Post
Sure you are! Particularly to amateur writers - you're not just selling technical eBook production skills, you're selling the "Being a published author" experience.

This happens all over the entertainment business too. What the audience is buying isn't always what you think you're selling. A performer's pride in his technical skills can make this difficult to see sometimes!
@EW:

I don't disagree on what's being "sold." However, the difficulty arises in that like all businesses, we have to compete. The current market really does not have "room" for hours of consulting time in the book-conversion price. Remember, in fiction, at least, the average book converts for less than the price of dinner for two at a better (but not "top of the heap") restaurant in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Copenhagen, etc. Without liquor or wine. Our average fiction title gets converted for about $160.00, to both (not each) ePUB and MOBI.

By the time I cover the actual labor costs, the overhead, the software costs (we run fairly expensive project management, accounting/billing and CSR software, dropboxes for everyone, network, Amazon S3 storage for archives, blabbety-blab, etc.), admin costs for the people who are not in production (not line, in other words)...that does not leave a lot of time for the "sizzle" in terms of answering phone calls and questions unrelated to the product. As you deal primarily with publishers, you have the luxury of not having to answer all those same questions, or at least, only answer them once per client. The question volume around here is so high that we generally consider that every first book for a first-time client is a loss for us.

Not to mention, the huge number of hours we spend in "tech support," (which we don't provide, either). We really do spend probably a full manhour per day, minimum, explaining to clients how to download a file from a browser for which they don't already have software to launch it. The vast majority of our clients have NEVER downloaded a file from anywhere but their email; and they have almost always only had either pictures or Word files. That's it. I have a client that has called me 14 times since October; 12 times in the last 30 days, and 5 of those calls have been to walk him through downloading his ePUB or MOBI files. Believe me, I've lost my shirt on that one. And, yes, we have instructions for downloading, for the major browsers, but we don't know every email program that every client uses (we have a shockingly high percentage with AOL email addresses, which should say a lot!).

Our average client emails us not less than 24 times during the course of production (~2 weeks). We have clients that have emailed us 90 times, although obviously that wasn't in two weeks. The winner, and still champ, is a guy who gave us a book and emailed me (no: I am not making this up) 801 times. I finally fired him as a client, in desperation. (There were other issues, but, still....). Eight Hundred and One.

Anyway, yes, before any of you suggest it, we do offer consulting time, but at the end of the day, there are (watch for the nice seque here to @mrmikel's post!) fundamentally different mindsets. The clients, who are right-brainers, perceive what they've done and are doing as art, not business. To me--pretty much all left-brain, all the time--publishing is business. If we're all lucky enough to create art along the way, great, but publishing is about money. That sounds crass, but that's what it is.

And even the clients know that in their hearts--they want to be "best-selling authors." There isn't a well-known phrase for "best-giving-away-author." No. There's just "best-selling-author." Most authors will demur, and tell you that they just want their work to be read--but count the books that are put up as PD on PG, for example, or up on Scribd as free books.

We may be selling the sizzle, but we still gotta keep the lights on. ;-)

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Old 12-22-2012, 03:19 PM   #69
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@EW:

--they want to be "best-selling authors."
Hitch
and it has to be the #1 best seller.

Has anyone , ever, seen a book with "runner up" or "2nd place in the best seller chart" on its cover!

maybe these "best seller charts" that get mentioned in the promo blurb only have 1 slot each ???

There's an interesting emergent strategy on Kindle where authors get to the top of the best selling Kindle charts but with titles priced as low as 20p. As at now, 3 of the top 4 best selling non-free fiction titles are at 20p - the odd one out is a huge 99p - but scroll down & there are many more at 20p each.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bestselle...ext/341689031/

I'm guessing this is the DIY market, as they'd have to shift a lot of 20p books to cover a $160 e-pub conversions, after paying Amazons cut.

I guess they plan to charge a lot more for their next book but of course that will get buried by the next round of hopefuls selling for 15p or less. Maybe they should all go read Grapes of Wrath
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Old 12-22-2012, 03:51 PM   #70
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I have a client that has called me 14 times since October; 12 times in the last 30 days, and 5 of those calls have been to walk him through downloading his ePUB or MOBI files. Believe me, I've lost my shirt on that one. And, yes, we have instructions for downloading, for the major browsers, but we don't know every email program that every client uses (we have a shockingly high percentage with AOL email addresses, which should say a lot!).
I just send them as email attachments. Why be complicated?

I never QUITE believe a business owner who says he regularly takes on loss-making jobs. I hear it quite a lot - from people who always seem to be driving bigger cars than me :-) But if you really feel your private customers at 100UKP (that's about 160USD isn't it?) a book are losing you money, feel free to direct them my way!

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Old 12-22-2012, 06:44 PM   #71
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I just send them as email attachments. Why be complicated?
How many books are you making at a time? 10? 20? 50, even? How many do you make a year? How many crews are you running? How many books do you ship out to clients every day?

I think it would be best if you and I stick to the technical details of bookmaking, in our discussions. I genuinely don't want to keep discussing my business-which is none of yours or anyone else's--and given that you don't seem to have any suitable frame of reference, I don't see this as being fruitful. I'm not trying to be rude, but I don't see any common ground for discussion outside of the technical aspects of ebok-making itself. Thanks.

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Old 12-22-2012, 07:58 PM   #72
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Well, you've got to email them saying the book is ready! Why not simply attach the goods? You were the one complaining your method caused problems!
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Old 12-22-2012, 09:07 PM   #73
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Well, you've got to email them saying the book is ready! Why not simply attach the goods? You were the one complaining your method caused problems!
First (see last note), that didn't really work, either, even when we did email them. Secondly, we don't actually "email" them. We send a message from within the PM system (project management) which is browser-based. We "attach" the relevant files to that message. It's almost exactly like a forum post with an attachment; the notification to them has a link to the (secured) attached files.

Email's not secure. We have some heavy-hitter clients, like the "Men are from Mars..." guy, Jackie Collins, etc. I'm not name-dropping; but we get asked about the book security a LOT, and I have to demonstrate all of it, from intake to production to sending the files to the Amazon S3 archives.

From our clients' viewpoint--how they see it--everything IS done by email. The PM system has a mailserver, and every "message" we put on the message board for the project gets sent out as an email. The incoming emails (each client's project has a unique email address, so that all incoming messages, emails, etc, are automatically routed) are posted as messages (or comments) to the relevant project (or relevant file, respectively) and that's how we make sure that a client's email doesn't sit in my inbox, or my assistant's, and get overlooked. What does happen occasionally, though, is they log in to the browser interface (where they can see all the task due dates, milestones for file uploads, etc.) and they decide to download the file from there, rather than the link we send them in the email, which is somewhat transparent. Usually, they can't find the downloaded file; sometimes they can't get ADE or Previewer to work; sometimes, all three or more things that we can't make up.

We have between 100-200 books in production at any given time. Emailing from a regular email system really isn't viable; it's a recipe for disaster, from any organization standpoint.

And, yes, we had almost as many problems, if not more, when we DID email them (about two years ago), because invariably, they'd double-click the attached file to launch it, like a Word file, before they'd read the instructions that said, "don't double-click the attached file." I had near-daily complaints that "the Word file I'd sent them" didn't work. So...that wasn't a perfect solution, either. (And, yes: we put, "DO NOT DOUBLE CLICK THE ATTACHED FILE" in bright red text at the top of the email, too.)

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Old 12-23-2012, 03:27 AM   #74
rkomar
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Originally Posted by Hitch View Post
Our average client emails us not less than 24 times during the course of production (~2 weeks). We have clients that have emailed us 90 times, although obviously that wasn't in two weeks. The winner, and still champ, is a guy who gave us a book and emailed me (no: I am not making this up) 801 times. I finally fired him as a client, in desperation. (There were other issues, but, still....). Eight Hundred and One.
Add a few hand-drawn illuminations and this could be compiled into a cult art book classic (as well as a devious way of educating the artistic masses).
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:29 AM   #75
mrmikel
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Anybody who has been in business for a while successfully will tell you that if you try to make money on every single job, you will end up failing.

In my end of the world, that is true of small business. If you have a monopolistic hold on the market and your customer by the neck you can make them pay every time.

Small businesses in any line have to respond to the customer on price and service because they need their customers and can't tell all of them to take a hike, although there are days..... The Amazons and Allen-Bradleys of the world have billions in cash, so no one customer, even a big one, matters much to them.

I am fortunate in my trade that my customers know they are over their head and glad to have found me. Hitch's customers think (like many many people who want to own a restaurant), heck I know how to write (cook), how hard can it be to make it an ebook (run a restaurant.)

I think both are hard rackets when the customer thinks they can do it themselves, yet know very little. What is the phrase, know just enough to get into trouble?
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