A few notes about my first book

The Smashwords e-book edition of my first collection of poems (I’m already working on a second collection) is available as of today, June 30th. Here’s the link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/444694

Yes, several months in the making, the book is finally available. I’m still waiting on my first copies of the print edition, but the e-book can be had now. (For more about the content of the book, I refer you to an earlier post: http://wp.me/p1lXwc-np.)

The e-book edition was a bit tricky to produce. I work primarily in InDesign, but much of the careful formatting and layout work doesn’t get preserved when converting to ePub or Kindle formats—so I had to re-do the whole thing in (shudder) Word. There was a lot of trial-and-error involved, as I had to let the Smashwords converter (which they affectionately call “MeatGrinder”) do its thing, then download the resulting files to see what changes I needed to make to the Word document so that the e-book would look good.

I’ll tell you right now—testing was a pain. Testing for the Kindle was actually pretty simple, as I actually own a Kindle, and Amazon’s Kindle software gives results consistent with the Kindle device itself. With one very minor exception (an extra blank line between stanzas in one poem) that I couldn’t figure out how to fix, the Kindle edition looks really good.

As for the ePub? Smashwords recommends opening the file in Adobe Digital Editions and/or Apple’s iBooks. Unfortunately, the ePub files looked quite different in each program, so I had no way of knowing whether or not either file was reading the contents correctly. That meant I was effectively testing my e-book with a huge blind spot.

In the end, I made the Kindle edition look as good as possible; as long as the ePub file passed the validation process (which it did), I simply had to trust that it would display properly on other e-book readers—so I hope it will.

Despite the hassles involved in formatting the Word file (because, you know, it’s Word), and the lack of control over things like typeface selection and layout, the e-book format offered a couple of advantages over the print edition:

One was that I could leave the color photographs in color. For the print edition, I had to covert all the images to greyscale, since the Espresso Book Machine allows for color only on the cover.

The other was that I could put all of the NaPoWriMo poems in proper chronological order. In the print edition, I wanted to make sure that longer poems could be read without having to turn the page, so I had to place some poems out of sequence in order to maintain the integrity of the spreads occupied by those longer poems.

In any event, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. The day is here at last.

(30 June 2014)