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Old 03-10-2012, 10:31 PM   #1
anamardoll
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Meatgrinder (Smashwords) Venting

*sigh*

I hired 52 Novels (i.e., The Folks Who Do Konrath's Books) to create a Smashwords-compatible doc file of my ePUB because I knew the meatgrinder would be a nightmare. I was happy to pay professionals, but not surprised when even they couldn't promise 1-to-1 perfect of my original ePUB against the Smashwords attempt.

This is now the 5th upload attempt and it's still not working perfectly.

I was NOT pleased to note that Smashwords does the "cut a new chapter any time I see the word CHAPTER because that's a great freaking idea!" slice and dice, which meant that while before I had a nice little set up of:

[PICTURE]
Chapter 1 - Rosella
Blah, blah, blah...

Now, I have to do:

Chapter 1 - Rosella
[PICTURE]
Blah, blah, blah...

Yeah, that's a little thing, but it hurts my artistic soul. And Now Smashwords is having angst over the TOC -- the chapters all render perfectly in scroll-view, but the first and last section are switched in the TOC (ETA: but only in Calibre, but not in Sigil? WHAT.) and I can't figure out why, so I'll have to poke my poor beleaguered 52 Novels guy again.

WHY. WHY ARE WE CREATING EPUBS FROM WORD DOCS? THAT IS SO BLOODY STUPID.

Just had to get that off my chest.

Last edited by anamardoll; 03-10-2012 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:55 PM   #2
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GAHHHHHH.

And, thank you, Smashwords, for requiring me to put copyright information on the cover page instead of on a separate page. That looks really professional. I mean, traditional books do it that way, right?
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Old 03-11-2012, 12:28 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anamardoll View Post
GAHHHHHH.

And, thank you, Smashwords, for requiring me to put copyright information on the cover page instead of on a separate page. That looks really professional. I mean, traditional books do it that way, right?
Well, it beats trying to figure out exactly how many carriage returns will generate a new page on each reader.

I'll be honest, I wasn't too keen on the idea of using a Word document, but it has its advantages. By reading the Word style sheet data, the meatgrinder is able to quickly and effectively generate a functional document. It might not be pretty under the hood, but it works.
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:15 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anamardoll View Post
I was NOT pleased to note that Smashwords does the "cut a new chapter any time I see the word CHAPTER because that's a great freaking idea!"
I didn't know they did that, but the easiest workaround would be to have the chapter headings as a graphic.
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:35 AM   #5
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Well, it beats trying to figure out exactly how many carriage returns will generate a new page on each reader.
Why... would you do this thing?
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:36 AM   #6
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I didn't know they did that, but the easiest workaround would be to have the chapter headings as a graphic.
Oooh, that's a good idea, but I'm edging the limit of the 5MB upload already, and I'm sure that would put me over the top.

I already had to cut out the back cover, which made me sad.

Funny how HTML is so much more space-efficient than Word. It's almost like Word docs are crammed full of poorly optimized code that shouldn't be used as the base for a transform.
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:57 AM   #7
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Oooh, that's a good idea, but I'm edging the limit of the 5MB upload already, and I'm sure that would put me over the top.

:
Can you not build it into the graphics below the chapter heading, like this?
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anamardoll View Post
Funny how HTML is so much more space-efficient than Word. It's almost like Word docs are crammed full of poorly optimized code that shouldn't be used as the base for a transform.
No... it's exactly like Word docs are crammed full of poorly optimized code that shouldn't be used as the base for a transform. Word wasn't designed to be used as a simple base for transforming into other formats; it was designed to stay as Word, to be transferred into other (Microsoft) programs, then back into Word, and retain as many of their features.

I, too, think that Smashwords should have gone with HTML as the base for their conversions. But I understand why they didn't, as more people use Word than program in HTML, and Smashwords was trying to make it more palatable for more people to use their system. Meatgrinder is designed for the largest common denominator... which doesn't describe most of the writers on this site, unfortunately.

I don't like to use it, either; but I just set myself to a determined state and get through it, with good results.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:30 AM   #9
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I agree...Word to HTML seems to me to be a terrible workflow decision.

Smashwords could have offered a plain text template for people to download and fill in if they were not comfortable with very basic HTML:

<h1>(TITLE)</h1>

<p>insert text here...</p>
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Old 03-11-2012, 02:30 PM   #10
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I wonder how many authors would complain, if Smashwords didn't support Word.

Lots of people use it, unfortunately...
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Old 03-11-2012, 02:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSmithBooks View Post
I agree...Word to HTML seems to me to be a terrible workflow decision.

Smashwords could have offered a plain text template for people to download and fill in if they were not comfortable with very basic HTML:

<h1>(TITLE)</h1>

<p>insert text here...</p>
This is the old argument I had with Goodreads; some of us want to format our works like actual authors and not fanfic- spewing phillistines. HTML has no provision for a first- line indent, and from what I've seen the software engines will strip out any attempt at using a style sheet to provide one.

The response I remember getting was, "Well, maybe its time for grammar to adapt to the internet instead of expecting the internet to adapt to grammar."
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teh603 View Post
This is the old argument I had with Goodreads; some of us want to format our works like actual authors and not fanfic- spewing phillistines. HTML has no provision for a first- line indent, and from what I've seen the software engines will strip out any attempt at using a style sheet to provide one.

The response I remember getting was, "Well, maybe its time for grammar to adapt to the internet instead of expecting the internet to adapt to grammar."
Wouldn't the following work?

<p>
& nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; Paragraph starts here....
</p>

or

<STYLE TYPE="text/css">
<!--
P {text-indent: 30pt;}
-->
</STYLE>

(just put a <p> code at beginning of each paragraph, </p> at end, and a simple search and replace)

I'm not very HTML literate, but aren't there any provisions for defining styles within the HTML document (besides separate CSS files)?

Personally, I am so accustomed to reading block paragraphs a la internet style that I don't care about first line indents, just double-space each paragraph. No biggie. I long ago go over the hang-up that block paragraphs are a format fit only for "fanfic- spewing phillistines" (sic) since worldwide, far more words are published in block paragraphs (by a large margin) than traditional first line indent-style.

'Course, then again, I much favor Mr. Labatt's finest beverage over "fancy-pants" beverages such as wine, so I'm definitely of the more blue-collar, pragmatic, utilitarian aesthetic.

Last edited by BillSmithBooks; 03-11-2012 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
Can you not build it into the graphics below the chapter heading, like this?
Ah, now there's an idea, but I did want the Smashwords version to largely match the other ones I have. Something to consider for next time, though.
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSmithBooks View Post
<STYLE TYPE="text/css">
<!--
P {text-indent: 30pt;}
-->
</STYLE>

(just put a <p> code at beginning of each paragraph, </p> at end, and a simple search and replace)
OO will automatically generate a passable CSS style sheet, but all of the HTML processors strip it out as a matter of course. Both Goodreads and DeviantArt do, and Goodreads adds injury to injury by also processing tabs and space- based indents out of .txt files as well.

Quote:
I'm not very HTML literate, but aren't there any provisions for defining styles within the HTML document (besides separate CSS files)?

Personally, I am so accustomed to reading block paragraphs a la internet style that I don't care about first line indents, just double-space each paragraph. No biggie. I long ago go over the hang-up that block paragraphs are a format fit only for "fanfic- spewing phillistines" (sic) since worldwide, far more words are published in block paragraphs (by a large margin) than traditional first line indent-style.

'Course, then again, I much favor Mr. Labatt's finest beverage over "fancy-pants" beverages such as wine, so I'm definitely of the more blue-collar, pragmatic, utilitarian aesthetic.
Indents are where I draw the line in the sand. If I'm seriously writing, I want someone to be able to format it like I'm seriously writing. Block formatting doesn't feel like serious writing.
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Old 03-11-2012, 05:07 PM   #15
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Goodreads (now) accepts ePUBs directly, which is what would be offered for sale anyway. All this conversion-from-whatever is bad for customers, because conversions are rarely perfect.

I'd rather buy an ePUB from a place that accepts ePUB directly (GoodReads, B&N) than one that came from a Word doc, txt file (txt?!), etc.
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