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Old 06-15-2010, 12:16 PM   #16
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^^Blimey, that's rough! In my defense, the manuscript I prepared - in strict accordance with the Smashwords guidelines - didn't suffer any of these problems, and passed through the vetting stage quite easily. I'm annoyed at the paragraph breaks, because - again, strictly following the Smashwords guidelines - I had to take great care over the formatting of these.

The table of contents and chapter breaks aren't really a problem - a book with only numbered chapter breaks doesn't need a table of contents, and I was advised that page breaks need to be left out because they do not translate well across formats. I think I might download a mobi viewer (I think Calibre should do the job) and take a look myself, though. Thanks for the input, by the way!
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:24 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by A_J_Lath View Post
The table of contents and chapter breaks aren't really a problem - a book with only numbered chapter breaks doesn't need a table of contents, and I was advised that page breaks need to be left out because they do not translate well across formats.
Well that's one opinion I guess. Personally I prefer a TOC in all my books (although it's not a deal breaker). As for things not translating across formats that sounds like a problem with Smashwords' conversion software as I've never had a problem with them coming through fine when using Calibre for conversion. It would be nice if Smashwords would let writers who want to spend the time making their books look the best bypass their auto conversion meat grinder.

As for what readers think about chapter/page breaks...
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=86312
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:29 PM   #18
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But that is not the point. The point is, an independently published ebook may be a masterpiece, or a piece of garbage. The sample and the reviews are the only things to help you judge before you buy, unless you already know and trust the author.
Personally I wouldn't buy anything without reading at least a 20% sample first, no matter what the reviews say. I know what you mean about independent editors, but unless they are making a decent income from it that's not going to happen.

I read a free one a while ago that was basically a ripoff of I Am Legend. It was OK, and I did read it all (and it was 3 books worth), but some parts of it were just plain annoying. The lead character was never given a name to the readers, but he did give his name to other characters a couple of times ("he told them his name"). And there was a bit where 3 characters died a few paragraphs after they were introduced, then they were fleshed out in flashback over the next few chapters. It would have worked better if you actually cared about the characters before they were killed.
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:39 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by AnemicOak View Post
Well that's one opinion I guess. Personally I prefer a TOC in all my books (although it's not a deal breaker). As for things not translating across formats that sounds like a problem with Smashwords' conversion software as I've never had a problem with them coming through fine when using Calibre for conversion. It would be nice if Smashwords would let writers who want to spend the time making their books look the best bypass their auto conversion meat grinder.

As for what readers think about chapter/page breaks...
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=86312
Okay, I've just downloaded Calibre, and had a look at the mobi version of my ebook - and it's not ideal, as far as I'm concerned. The biggest problem, as far as I can see, is that it has not translated any centred text - which would make the whole thing appear a whole lot better in terms of chapter numbers etc. It's a bit disappointing, TBH.

Oh, regarding chapter breaks - a quick glance at my original manuscript shows that I DID include breaks ... but the Smashwords software didn't translate them. Hm!

Just out of interest - does your Kindle read any other epublishing formats? I'd like to see if any of these might look better on the device.

Thanks for your help, by the way.
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:02 PM   #20
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Some free books are exceptionally well crafted, others you need multiple clothes pins on your nose to get through. One excellent free book is Shayne Parkinson's Sentence of Marriage, which is the first book in a quartet (the other 3 books cost $1.99 each). I reviewed it here and there was a MR thread about it (search for 10,000th download to locate the thread). Also an excellent free book is Tracy Falbe's first book in the Rhys Chronicles (the name of the book escapes me); it is available here on Mobile Read (search for the author in the E Books forum). The followup books were very reasonably priced.

But paying for a book isn't an indication that it will be good. For example, I found the new Robin Hobb Rain Wilds series to be abysmal (reviewed here).

My attitude is that if the book is free and seems to be a subject/plot that interests me, I'll give it a try. The worst that can happen is that I waste 30 minutes; the best is that I find another author I like and whose books I am willing to buy.
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:04 PM   #21
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From what I've seen the Smashwords folk gratefully accept feedback and try to change the system for the better. Any automatic system is bound to have its faults. Send them a message with the problems you find, they'll try to do something about it. I know they fixed a problem with the spaces after italics disappearing, for example, making the word in italics run into the next one (in epub).
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:10 PM   #22
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AJ, interestingly enough I downloaded the ePub version of your book and converted it to mobi with Calibre and it looks much better (has a cover and everything). The only thing still missing IMO is a Table of Contents.

Smashwords must have something against covers for their mobi versions as I downloaded the Shayne Parkinson book that Richard mentions and it doesn't have one either and also has the funky meta data (although it is formatted better overall having chapter breaks).
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:27 PM   #23
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^^Anemic, I downloaded the epub version in Calibre - and the results are much, much better than the mobi version: covers, correct formatting etc. Like you, I converted the epub file to a mobi file, and the results were much better than with the original Smashwords mobi file. So what to do now:

I may, for the time being, put a note on my Dreamshade page recommending that Kindle users download the epub version and convert it via Calibre to mobi format for a much better reading experience. Of course, this sort of hassle might put off customers - but there's plenty of other formats out there, and the most important one (as far as I can see) - epub - seems to work fine.

@omk3 - Yeah, I'm going to get on to the Smashwords people about it. I'm really not impressed by the quality of their .mobi conversion

Later plans may well see me issuing a separate Amazon .mobi version, with the rest on Smashwords. Hopefully, I'll have all this sorted out by the time the special offer ends, so the customer does not feel peeved at shelling out for a badly formatted ebook.

Great thanks for all your input guys - it has been MUCH appreciated!

Last edited by A_J_Lath; 06-15-2010 at 01:28 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:57 PM   #24
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^^Unfortunately, there's not enough space on my Smashwords Dreamshade page to insert a note recommending the epub version. Damn and blast! Anyways, have contacted Smashwords about it and am awaiting a reply. I think I'm going to have to look into doing a seperate Amazon version.

How the hell I go about that, I don't know, lol...
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Old 06-15-2010, 02:02 PM   #25
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I think I'm going to have to look into doing a seperate Amazon version.

How the hell I go about that, I don't know, lol...
If you mean formatting the mobi file and such. I can send you the one I'm messing with for my Kindle (which will have things like the chapter marks for the K's progress bar) once I get it done (just PM me your email).
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Old 06-15-2010, 02:13 PM   #26
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Quality on free eBooks is only decent

I run an eBook Store that has 400,000 "pay" titles and the entire Google Free Library. Generally, the Google books are decent in quality but not perfect. This is because, I think, they are PDF. PDF is little more than a picture of a printed page. So, any errors in the origional go unfixed. This is a problem and the industry and the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) are working on this. Largely, when you take a photograph, some of the text can be missed or simply cut out. I have purposely read some really old classics like "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and found some errors. YET... reading the eBook made from the origional manuscript, after seeing all the versions of the movie, brought the characters to life for me and SO many details were filled in. Was it ideal and well proofread and typeset... not totally. Did I enjoy every minute... absolutely.

This eBook Store of mine (www.EZread.com) also has many works by Independent Authors. We really go after Independent Authors and Publishers and WANT to get their eBooks up and selling. Many of those are $1.99-$5.99 and some free. Steven Lake, for example, does a wonderful job. On those the quality is high as the authors really take pride. So, in my opinion, price itself is not always a good indicator of proofreading.

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Old 06-15-2010, 04:41 PM   #27
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Also the *** section separators aren't centered, which just looks odd to me.
I've never seen those centred in any ebook I've ever read. Maybe my reader reformats things like that, but it is something I've got used to now. I don't like indented paragraphs either.
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Old 06-15-2010, 04:45 PM   #28
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From what I've seen the Smashwords folk gratefully accept feedback and try to change the system for the better. Any automatic system is bound to have its faults. Send them a message with the problems you find, they'll try to do something about it. I know they fixed a problem with the spaces after italics disappearing, for example, making the word in italics run into the next one (in epub).
They might have fixed it for their own generated epubs, but there is still something wrong with them because if you open them in Sigil (like to fix a spelling mistake) all the spaces after italics disappear again. This only happens with epubs from Smashwords.
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Old 06-15-2010, 05:16 PM   #29
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I've never seen those centred in any ebook I've ever read. Maybe my reader reformats things like that, but it is something I've got used to now. I don't like indented paragraphs either.
Where as I almost always see them (*****, etc.) centered. I can live with non-indented paragraphs if there is a blank line between each paragraph, however I prefer not to have those blank lines and in those cases want an indent. To each there own however, I'm sure some people don't like the wat I like things formatted either. That's why I mentioned to him that plenty of folks would be fine with it as is.


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They might have fixed it for their own generated epubs, but there is still something wrong with them because if you open them in Sigil (like to fix a spelling mistake) all the spaces after italics disappear again. This only happens with epubs from Smashwords.
Weird. I've opened A.J.'s book in Sigil and not had that problem.
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Old 06-15-2010, 05:37 PM   #30
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Our independent MR authors are so good that I now read them almost exclusively. When the stories are so good by these writers, I don't care what it looks like. It is all about content to me.
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