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Old 06-02-2013, 09:07 PM   #1
valyria
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To Format or Convert?

Hi, everyone. Sorry if this came up before.

I'd like to know if I should format or convert my file. I have an ebook I'm interested in self-publishing. I know HTML, so I can format by hand. But since Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing both convert your Word .doc file to most ereader formats (ePub, Mobi, PDF), what is the point of formatting HTML by hand? As long as you make sure your Word doc complies with Smashwords' and KDP's conversion requirements, you're good to go.

As a side note, my ebook contains some bullets and images. It's not purely text, which is why I'm wondering if I should format using HTML code.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:09 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valyria View Post
Hi, everyone. Sorry if this came up before.

I'd like to know if I should format or convert my file. I have an ebook I'm interested in self-publishing. I know HTML, so I can format by hand. But since Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing both convert your Word .doc file to most ereader formats (ePub, Mobi, PDF), what is the point of formatting HTML by hand? As long as you make sure your Word doc complies with Smashwords' and KDP's conversion requirements, you're good to go.

As a side note, my ebook contains some bullets and images. It's not purely text, which is why I'm wondering if I should format using HTML code.
It is important to look at the book post conversion to see if it really turned out the way you want. If it doesn't you can either attempt to fix it in the source and resubmit or you can use you html skills to pull the book into Sigil (a free program available on this site) and modify it to meet your exact needs.

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Old 06-03-2013, 03:11 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by valyria View Post
what is the point of formatting HTML by hand?
Simple and readable code is more efficient (smaller files), more likely to work as intended (ebook readers are dumb), easier to maintain (this semicolon should not be italic), convert to further formats, etc.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:44 AM   #4
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I have found some fairly significant issues with the smash words meatgrinder product. If you have the skills to code it yourself, I would definitely recommend that path.
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:14 PM   #5
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If you follow the Kindle (KDP) forums, you will find that the most common complaints are:

1) PDF made a mess of my e-book

2) InDesign made a mess of my e-book

3) Createspace made a mess of my e-book

4) Word made a mess of my e-book

While there are still a few who swear by uploading Word docs to the KDP, they each (there are two of them!) have developed such elaborate workarounds that it would be a whole lot easier IMHO to start from the beginning.

My workaround is to run the Word doc through word2cleanhtml.com online, then fix it up with a style sheet and a template. I understand that Toxaris has a macro that does much the same, but I confess I don't understand the forum thread on how to get this into action.
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:36 AM   #6
Toxaris
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The installation of the macro is not that difficult, but I would actually recommend to take a look at my add-in. That can also help you in this, including cleaning up source.
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Old 06-08-2013, 01:08 PM   #7
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MS Word works fine as the starting point. Just make sure you use styles for everything (I mean Everything!) and the conversion will work.
My workflow is to then save the document as a filtered web page, then bring it in to Sigil.
Create your stylesheet for the document, then delete all the style information in the document.
You now have a clean epub that you can convert to Kindle.
Simplified view of the process, but works very well.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:12 PM   #8
Hitch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Notjohn View Post
If you follow the Kindle (KDP) forums, you will find that the most common complaints are:

1) PDF made a mess of my e-book

2) InDesign made a mess of my e-book

3) Createspace made a mess of my e-book

4) Word made a mess of my e-book

While there are still a few who swear by uploading Word docs to the KDP, they each (there are two of them!) have developed such elaborate workarounds that it would be a whole lot easier IMHO to start from the beginning.

My workaround is to run the Word doc through word2cleanhtml.com online, then fix it up with a style sheet and a template. I understand that Toxaris has a macro that does much the same, but I confess I don't understand the forum thread on how to get this into action.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there's not one damn thing wrong with Word. What is wrong with Word is that nobody who writes seems to know how to use it. If a Word file is formatted correctly, using headers and Word's built-in styles, it can make a pretty damn good book at the KDP. (Not, mind you, with lists and tables--but those won't work well with Smashwords or Calibre, either). Most folks cannot get their heads around the idea that Word is nothing more than a GUI for HTML and CSS.

That being the case, a correctly-formatted Word file, eschewing ad hoc styles, should format about 95% or more of the way to a perfectly fine ePUB file. The problem is, nobody ever takes the time to learn how to use Word properly; thus, they get cruft. But if someone takes a shortcut like, say, BookCreator, cleans the file, sets it all to Normal, then uses 5-6 styles (or what have you) and exports the end product to html, you can have a damn clean book. Nuke the nine bajillion extra fonts, etc.,that MS exports into the HTML CSS, put in your own SS, and Bob's yer uncle, as they say.

Just my $.02. To the OP: use HTML, you'll be happier.

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Old 06-10-2013, 10:31 PM   #9
DaleDe
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Each person will have their own idea here. Word 97 was excellent at creating an HTML file. It was simple and easy to use. The later ones attempt to present the HTML controlled like it was page oriented. They fill of the CSS (style section) with all sorts of extraneous things. Even filtered is not very clean about this. However there are tools that can read DOC files and create cleaner html or cleaner ePub that doesn't require as much fix up and removal of extraneous items (bloat) for eBook use. Word is good at handling an automatic TOC generation, links to footnotes, auto quotes and other items and the resultant doc file is quite useful, but not the html output IMHO. YMMV.

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