Monday, July 9, 2012

Update: Those very expensive words

Well, well, well, well, well.  You learn something every day.

Or at least you ought to.

Over this past week-end, I began the process of publishing Firefly via Smashwords.  The exclusive listing for Amazon's Kindle expires on the 17th of this month, and I wanted to make sure I had sufficient time to check out the various formats offered by Smashwords.  After uploading what I believed was a "clean" copy of the file, I checked it using Smashwords' own applications.

This is a screen capture of a page from the Amazon Kindle version as it appeared via the Kindle for PC app, the copy that I downloaded when the book was offered free in April:

As I think you can see, the bottom line on this page reads: 
She was a good cook, she smiled proudly to
Now, here's the same passage as it reads in EPUB format via Smashwords' conversion:

Again, that line is down toward the bottom, and everything looks fine.

The third downloadable version I checked was the Smashwords Kindle/mobi version.

That stopped me cold.  Where did that screwed up font come from???

What I discovered on going through the entire file was that every time I used italics, the font changed from Times Roman to "ugly" courier for the entire paragraph, then switched back to Times Roman. 

I also discovered that the original Table of Contents I put into the Firefly file for Amazon, then revised for Smashwords but ultimately removed prior to uploading to Smashwords is still present.  This is, of course, a MicroSoft Word .doc file, which is what it has to be to upload to Smashwords.  And to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform.  I will have to go back through the file to find out where this TOC formatting hides and remove it.  Even though it actually functions as a TOC, I don't want it there.

The next thing I checked was the "preview" from the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

Again, the single word is italicized, but nothing else.  This was exactly what the file looked like when I uploaded it originally.   There was nothing to indicate that the whole thing would appear on some customers' devices in "ugly courier."  The screenshot of the Amazon Kindle version above is, in fact, from this same original upload and not the later "corrected" one.  That's why I had no idea it would download in another format.

Here's yet another version, the "Look Inside" sample from the Amazon offering:

Once again, just the one word is italicized, the way it should be.  And this is from the current, updated, supposedly "clean" version, yet it now has lost its right justification, which shows on all the others!

This is how the various digital publishing software packages transform the author's file, and this is why it is so very very important that the author check each and every version.  Sometimes there may be absolutely nothing you can do.  But if you can do something and you don't do it, it's no one's fault but your own when a reader complains.

At this point, I'm not sure if the complaints about the "ugly courier" font on the reviews for Firefly on Amazon were because of something I did or something inherent in the Amazon software or something in the hardware devices the readers were using.  I do know that I've done whatever I can think of to make sure the version readers download is as close to what I want them to see as I can get it, but obviously it's not as perfect as it needs to be.  So I'm going to keep working on it.

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