Kindle-izing & Backlist CPR

My last blog post “kindled” several email list discussions (sorry, couldn’t resist). It seems many of us have been frustrated by the stack-o-books under the bed collecting dust, while the hoards of used book sellers camped out on our online book pages collect inflated $$ on the same title, often before the R.I.P. trumpet finishes its echo.

There’s nothing restful about a dead book. After the weeks, months, or years of teeth-gnashing, blood-letting angst required to give birth to them, a book shouldn’t die in infancy. So I’m performing CPR on my backlist-babies: Copyright Publishing Redistribution. 

A colleague just asked me about prevailing upon my publishers to bring out these books in Ebook version, that it would be in their interest to do so and earn royalties? Well…yeah. But why should I give them back that right, when I can do it myself and earn much higher royalties than ever garnered with the paper versions? Granted, I may not sell a single Kindle book–which is a really good reason for the original publishers to steer clear. On the other paw, maybe I’ll raise some gas money.

On to the nuts-and-bolts of CPR. The Ebook formatted manuscript must be a single file. So I first opened each chapter/file in turn, and cut-and-pasted to one master file. Remember that you won’t necessarily need page breaks, or specific margins, because that all goes away once it’s translated to the HTML. Also, remember that chapter titles, headings, and the like need to be consistent throughout. This will be VITAL when creating your TOC in HTML (more about that in a future blog).

Last night, I completed the text formatting of Complete Kitten Care, including hyperlinks to product sites, and clickable links to additional information, such as my About.com columns. Heck, it’s all about cross promoting, right? Today, I’m ready to import the cute-and-fuzzy kitten pictures and illustrations–but wait!

Will the links work? For the Aging Cat book (and others), I’ve included hyperlinks to the expert veterinarians and researchers, their university pages, bios and such-like. I believe that’s an incredible value-added for the books. The pictures–well, if they don’t work as well, the text should still do most of the heavy lifting. Nothing to do but try and see how it works in the test uploads.

I do know that graphics suck when translated. My books have LOTS of text boxes and breakout sidebars. So I needed to find a way to have those set out, but without the boxes. Because when the boxes are translated to HTML, they “float” and move where you don’t want them, often over top of other text.

My answer: The running boxes, sidebars, and other pull-out material may be 1) title bolded, and used as regular paragraph within regular text; 2) typed in contrasting font from other text  and/or 3: place inside horizontal lines above/below text. 

I found that it works best to format each individual chapter/file first, before cutting-and-pasting into your master file. Make a note of how you plan to treat each heading and pull-out box of material, so you’re consistent. 

More on the CPR in future blogs. Kitten pictures am-a-calling! Incidentally, Kindle does not display color images (at least not yet). But the PC version DOES display color images. I suspect pictures will be a PITA so unless you’re a masochist, don’t bother. I may do a PDF version downloadable from my website, for those who want that version–complete with color photos, text boxes, and other cool schtuff.

PITA, here I come! Hell, successful writers have to be something of a masochist to endure all the rejection that comes with the job. It HURTS so GOOD! LOL!

Happy Kindle-izing!

 amy

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