Tuesday 28 August 2012

The creation of the Kindle Edition of "The Only Genuine Jones"

The Kindle Edition -- fresh from the press
Things are starting to happen! Recently I have been sending out an advance reading copy of my book to various people, but that was only a rough mock-up in terms of formatting, straight out of Microsoft Word (and hence a very quick and dirty 'build'). Today I have been engaged in the task of digital typesetting, creating the Kindle Edition itself.

Kindle uses the MOBI file format, which is actually a variety of HTML. Although Kindles can accept Microsoft Word documents, Word is terrible at producing HTML and it ends up being a very messy file that often exhibits strange behaviour and random glitches. At the start of today I was faced with code that refused to format the first line of sections correctly, refused to format chapter headings, and refused to display my cover image properly!

The solution: a tactic known as the Nuclear Option. This sounds drastic but is actually the only way of cutting out all the formatting dust that Word sprinkles through the file. The entire text has to converted to raw text before a painstaking process of converting special characters to their HTML codes, manually formatting anything in italics, and adding stylesheets. The result looks nothing like a piece of creative writing but my years at UEA studying computing science have certainly paid off at last.

I then used a piece of software called Calibre to take the HTML file and the cover image, add metadata, and compile it into a MOBI file for native viewing on a Kindle device. The result is almost perfect: everything works correctly except the start location (which I still need to figure out how to set to the Prologue!)

So, a very productive day all round. I am on track for an Autumn release of the ebook and an early 2013 release of an extended paperback edition.

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