Sunday, February 10, 2008

Uploading to Kindle

Making the book available on Amazon for Kindle readers was not easy.

Amazon recommends uploading the file in HTML format, which I did. They strongly encourage you to review the uploaded file, which I also did. And when I reviewed mine, I saw all the quotes had been replaced by other characters. Amazon says that if there are problems with the uploaded file, download it and clean it up, then upload it again in HTML format.

The clean-up task is to be performed at the HTML level. How many writers are familiar with HTML? I would guess there are many who aren't.

I rejected that approach out of hand and read their instructions again. They said sometimes Word files upload without a hitch. Since my manuscript does nothing fancy in Word, I decided to try uploading it as it was, a .doc file. It uploaded with the quotes fixed but with extra spacing between paragraphs.

Better, but still not acceptable.

I abutted the paragraphs in my Word file and tried uploading it again. It made no difference.

I tried uploading the abutted version as a text file. Same extra spacing.

I thought maybe the font was the problem, so I did a global change from Palatino to Times New Roman. The extra spacing persisted.

Since I write on a Mac, I thought I might have better results if I did the uploading from one of the ubiquitous Windows machines. Same big gaps between paragraphs.

I went back to my Mac. I tried uploading the Times New Roman version in HTML. Same weird characters replaced my quotes.

I used to code in HTML. Nothing fancy, just the basics. But I thought if I could get the uploaded Word file downloaded maybe I could fix the extra spacing with an HTML editor.

I tried TextEdit as my editor. TextEdit was overwhelmed.

I searched my hard drive for an old copy of Bare Bones Software's HTML editor. I must've deleted it.

I Googled for an HTML editor. After looking at various possibilities I came up with Panic Software's Coda. You can download it for a free 15-day trial. I did and opened the Kindle HTML version of my novel, with the quotes fixed but too much spacing.

Fortunately, the fix was easy. All I needed to do, after examining the file closely, was issue a global find and replace. Find the line break command (
) and replace it with nothing. In other words, I deleted the extra line breaks.

Coda has a window in its editor where you can preview your HTML code as it wouuld appear in a browser. After issuing the global find & replace, I went through the entire file and checked every paragraph. Everything was in order. Quotes looked good, as did the spacing. Amazing.

I saved it then wondered how I would get it uploaded to Amazon.

Amazon's instructions say to upload the edited Kindle HTML file as a zip file. On the Mac, that's the Archive command in the Finder. I zipped my edited file then uploaded again. My confidence level was low but the darn thing worked.

I wasn't quite through. In my joy at seeing a clean file I had overlooked the book image I had uploaded earlier. This is what it should look like:



This is what actually uploaded:



I felt cheated. I had dragged the correct image file from BRC to the Desktop, but somewhere in the copy process everything but the thunderstorm was lost.

The problem was made worse because I had already clicked "publish" to tell Amazon to publish it with the bad image. The publishing process takes 12 hours or more. So I had wait until it was finished, make the change, and publish it again.

Now I'm working on making a hardbound book available.

8 comments:

Murf said...

I love your "never say die attitude" very inspiring.

Joe said...

Hi George,

I read with both interest and amusement your trials and tribulations concerning your ef-forts to load your book into Kindle.

Mine (Ordaining Reality) is in Word 2007, and I have tried everything within my limited file formatting to no avail.

Did you ever succeed and, more important, do you have any further advice?
You can respond if you like to Joe@OrdainigReality.com

Good luck

DavidDerrico said...

I'm glad to see you finally got the kinks worked out. I went through a VERY similar series of trials and tribulations in converting my own novels and making sure they looked perfect on the Kindle (I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my novels).

In the end, I performed major surgery on the HTML that Word spit out (as you did), and used MobiPocket Creator on a PC (I also use a Mac, so this step was the most distasteful). But it was the only way for me to ensure the cover, table of contents, page breaks, and everything came out properly on the Kindle.

You would think Amazon would try to make the process a bit more user-friendly. I mean, who writes novels in HTML? No one. But you must be proficient in HTML and MobiPocket Creator to create your perfect Kindle file.

Ah well, just another hat we independent authors/ formatters/ cover artists/ interior book designers/ marketers must wear. =)

Good luck with your book... and, Joe, don't lose hope. It takes time and effort, but it can eventually be done.

- David Derrico, author of Right Ascension and Declination, Top 500 Kindle sci-fi novels for just 99 cents each.

Binary God said...

Hi, thanks for the blog, I run Mac on a windows based PC and have Coda already never thought to use that, so thanks for the memory jog.

I'm very surprised that Amazon hasn't thought to make a kindle book editor for its loyal customers with all the necessary tags that are allowed in an easy to apply GUI.

I think these people just don't always see the wood for the tree's but it would be great to see a "Kindle Kustom HTML Editor" appear, even thought of a name for it lol... wish I could program sigh!!!

George said...

To Murf, Joe, David, & Binary God,

The Kindle upload process is still crude at best. I uploaded my second book last year, and it's readable but far from ideal. Customers want and deserve better. I used to make a living as a programmer so I'm not turned off by intricate workarounds, but I know there are writers with good books who will throw up their hands at the upload process. As Binary God suggested, a Kindle Kustom editor would be great, and I keep looking for Amazon to announce one.

Anonymous said...

When you republish the ebook, does Kindle show it as a new edition? Do you now have multiple editions of your book on Kindle? Or does it simple overwright the original? I'm asking because I had nothing but nightmares with Lulu publishing years back. They published my test prints on Amazon, and couldn't remove them without a court order, which I still haven't gotten around to.

George said...

I haven't uploaded to Kindle in over a year but at that time every upload replaced the previous one. Kindle editions have an ISBN assigned to them, and to have more than one edition would require multiple ISBNs, as I understand it.

My experience with Lulu was brief. The retail price of the finished book was too high - as I recall the hardbound edition of my first book was a little over $30. Also, there was no easy way to get the book posted on Amazon. CreateSpace was and has been the answer for that. I recommend CreateSpace highly.

Fred Harding said...

Hi George

You might find writing books for the Kindle a much easier option with a new software program dedicated for that purpose. Called Kindle Writer it does what it says on the tin.

It is ideal for beginners as this independent review points out.

"Kindle Writer is an all in one tool for making basic Kindle ebooks . It can handle all the steps from editing the text file, adding formatting/cover/images, to creating the ebook and uploading it to KDP. As a single compact tool it is rather nice."
- The Digital Reader (July 23rd, 2011 by Nate Hoffelder)

You can read about it at

http://www.kindlewriter.co.uk and download a 30 day free trial to try it out.