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Old 05-30-2010, 01:01 PM   #1
J. Strnad
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Formatting is driving me crazy!

I'm trying to get Risen ready for ebook publication, and just creating the HTML (Web Page) document is driving me nuts.

I've given up on the title page entirely. The type won't center properly and the simple, three-line "Risen" "by" "Jan Strnad" splits onto two pages. Can't figure out why. Screw it.

I have certain paragraphs that begin with italicized words. For some reason, I keep getting the code "<o></o>" in the paragraph above the one with the italics, inserting an extra line break. I go in and manually remove this code, save the file, "add" the file to Calibre, "convert" the book to epub, preview the book and it's fixed!

Except that if I go back to fix something else, the "<o></o>" reappears and I have all of those extra line breaks again.

As I expect my publisher will be opening the file to add some stuff, I don't want to send it to him "fixed" only to have it corrupted again when he saves the file.

I read where it takes some people maybe half an hour to format a book. I'm starting Day Two. (I had some other issues and had to learn how to generate a table of contents.) If I weren't so anal retentive I'd just say "screw it" and leave in the formatting problems.

I'm beginning to see why big publishers with thousands of books to format don't want to spend the time to do it right.

Very frustrating!

EDITED TO ADD:

Hah! You see what I mean! The code is supposed to be (without extra spaces) < o : p > < / o : p > and here it gets translated into the very appropriate emoticons!

Jeez....

Last edited by J. Strnad; 05-30-2010 at 01:03 PM. Reason: LOL!
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Old 05-30-2010, 01:15 PM   #2
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Things like center and italics are set by the .css file, not in the html files. I made a nice epub from your old PDF version, I can send you that if you want but if you've re-written the ending it will be out of date now. Send me an email address if you want it, or if you want me to format the new one for you. Takes me about 10 minutes or so to do them.
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Old 05-30-2010, 01:36 PM   #3
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In the advanced posting feature here, there's a checkbox for "Disable smilies in text." It's very useful for posting HTML.
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Old 05-30-2010, 06:27 PM   #4
J. Strnad
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Okay, it's now about 5 hours later, and I think I have a good html file. Calibre has created an epub that looks good on the built-in viewer with a table of contents that works. With a title page, even.

It's now obvious to me that Word is not the best choice for editing html.

Word for Mac was putting that code above in the file whenever an italicized word opened a paragraph. I switched to my wife's Windows desktop machine but the "script editor" wasn't installed and wouldn't install, so I took the file over to my netbook.

The script editor installed and I went to work. The problem with the italics disappeared by itself, but two others popped up:

Every time "Main Street" appeared, it appeared in italics on a line by itself, with the rest of the paragraph in single-spaced lines beneath, thanks to some special "street" code Word had installed.

"Cooves County Hospital" became, uniformly, "CoovesCountyHospital" because of some "place" code that I never asked for.

I found the offending code and removed it from every incidence. But I noticed that every proper name now has a "place" code around it. However, that doesn't seem to affect the ebook.

I got the extraneous code to stop appearing by turning off every automatic Word function I could find. The file is still loaded with all kinds of code that'll probably mess something up but I can't possibly go through every paragraph and delete it.

Thanks for the offer of the epub! My publisher needs a "source" file, though, because he'll have some stuff to add...samples of other books, and in exchange I'll get samples in the ebooks of other authors. And as you mentioned, I've done quite a bit of rewriting from that PDF edition.

What's your 10-minute process?
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Old 05-30-2010, 06:46 PM   #5
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Word, at least on Windows (I'm not sure what your "script editor" is doing, honestly), fine for basing a ePub off, really. But.

You have to do everything, and I mean everything, with styles.
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Old 05-30-2010, 07:05 PM   #6
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1. Convert to RTF (program varies depending on original file type).
2. Open RTF in Word, run spell check, set paragraph styles (body, chapter title, etc), add page breaks at end of chapters.
3. Convert RTF to epub with Calibre.
4. Open epub in Sigil and set the font size, line and paragraph spacing to my preferred standard. (could be done without Sigil, but you get a quicker preview of any changes with that).

But if your publisher is asking for a source file, they probably mean a normal word processor document they can play with themselves, not a finished epub file.
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Old 05-30-2010, 09:34 PM   #7
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OKAY!

I took my Word doc and saved it as a "Web Page (filtered)." By choosing the "filtered" option, the html was much, much, MUCH cleaner. I converted the file with Calibre and it came out perfectly, as far as I can tell. I couldn't stomach going through every single page again, but I hit a lot of them, including the problem pages, and it all looks good!

As Mr. Ploppy says, it's about a 10-minute process!

So, apparently, my hours of torment can be attributed to Word's bloated html created when you save as a Web Page, not filtered.

I'll send the clean html file to Ghostwriter Publications.

Thanks, all, for letting me rant!
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:51 PM   #8
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This guy will format it for you, quickly and inexpensively. J.A. Konrath recommends him.
http://www.52novels.com/kindle_services/
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Old 05-31-2010, 07:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Strnad View Post

It's now obvious to me that Word is not the best choice for editing html.
You never wrote a truer word in your life. The HTML and CSS from Word and Writer is garbage.

Could I suggest that you invest a little time in learning how to do markup in HTML and CSS? And learn how to validate it with the W3C validation service at http://validator.w3.org/? It really is not hard to learn - if I can do it anyone can.

You know the old saying "Garbage in, garbage out"? If you don't get the base document right you can't expect that Calibre or Meatgrinder or similar programs can produce good quality/well formatted ePubs.

Regards, Alex
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Old 05-31-2010, 03:12 PM   #10
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Anyone can do it, with six months to learn the way every different browser screws it up.

Or you can use Sigil, and not worry about that, because the massive pruning job done on CSS for the standard means that what's actually used for ePub is actually sane.

(It's not coincidence that there's full XHTML 1.1 support, but only "partial" CSS per-se)
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:49 PM   #11
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What about spacing between lines?

Does your ereading device have its own spacing, or is that a variable I should set?

What spacing do you prefer? Single, like a book, or 1.5, or doublespace?

Thanks for the input!
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by J. Strnad View Post
What about spacing between lines?

Does your ereading device have its own spacing, or is that a variable I should set?

What spacing do you prefer? Single, like a book, or 1.5, or doublespace?

Thanks for the input!
I prefer single or slightly more, but not as much as 1.5, indented paragraphs with no spaces between them.
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Old 06-01-2010, 02:37 PM   #13
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Mine can set its own line spacing, but not spacing between paragraphs. I don't like indented paragraphs, but that is something I can change too. Mine also doesn't like blank lines, it deletes them. So if you want blank lines, you need to add a few (space) characters.
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Strnad View Post
What about spacing between lines?

Does your ereading device have its own spacing, or is that a variable I should set?

What spacing do you prefer? Single, like a book, or 1.5, or doublespace?

Thanks for the input!
For me it depends on the way the paragraphs are formatted:

- If the first line of each paragraph is indented, then I prefer no space between paragraphs and no extra space between the lines.

- If the first line of each paragraph is not indented, then I prefer one blank line between each paragraph but no extra space between the lines.

I format my ebooks as PDFs (generated from OpenDocument files) so I have a great deal of flexibility when formatting my ebooks. Setting the above formatting is just a matter of changing the paragraph style.
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