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Kindle-izing the Backlist–Shoelaces for Dummies

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This is my third blog about my Kindle-ization journey. The feedback has been incredible. And some of y’all had the nerve (pronounced “noive”) to say, “Publishing with Kindle is easy!”

Well excooooooose me! Perhaps for those with text-only content, I agree. And for those technorati-inclined yahoos who never have to ask where the on/off switch might be (my husband is one…he actually built our first computer), just go back to your little perfect right-brain world and let the Dummies-R-Us club have our own play date. Ahem.

It’s been tedius, frankly, with lots of do-overs. But it’s sort of like learning to tie shoe laces. After you’ve managed the feat a few times on one pair of shoes, the “duh!” moment comes and it’s a no-brainer with future footwear.

My struggle has been in two areas. First, the pictures which add so much to nonfiction books. And second, the “added value” text in boxes and sidebars in print versions that simply run together in the HTML that Kindle requires.  

In a previous blog, I reported removing the text from boxes, and changing the font face while including an “auto-line” break before and after the call-out text. It worked on my laptop, looked keen when translated to HTML. I also reduced my images size to 72 dpi (from the 300+ needed for printed work), and inserted in the text. In addition, since the Kindle screen size limits viewing, I changed my page size to approximate that finished reader. I used the “A5″ setting which is approximately 6″ x 8.28” and still isn’t quite right but comes close.

One of the complaints I’d heard about Kindle was that pictures often were too small to view, so I wanted my pictures to be as large as possible and fill the full screen. The text-wrap default cut words in half in odd places if pictures weren’t inserted at hard-text-breaks. Placing images between paragraphs eliminated that problem.

To save in HTML, you go to “save as” and click on “other formats” and use “web page filtered.” You will lose pretty much all of your margins, and the text will run together. But you also can see where you need additional hard-returns or tab-indents, and can check to be sure photos are not too close together (which really screws up formatting).

At this point, probably three weeks or more into the project, I felt ready to ‘test’ the finished updated Complete Kitten Care book in the Kindle Digital Text Platform. They actually do walk you through the process, folks. I’d already set up my bank account for electronic funds receipt (for all the many hundreds of thousands of sales I expect to make–ha!). The first step includes providing book copy that one might read on the back cover or inside flap. You also must provide a jpeg or tif image of the book cover, with very specific size requirements. Another step covers your assertion that you are the copyright holder and/or can substantiate reversion of rights. You also will be asked to price your book, and the size of the file dictates that to some extent. All of this information can be edited, prior to you actually submitting the whole schmear for publication.

The step that took quite some time was the “publish” and “review” section. It’s dummy-proof (and that’s saying a lot, coming from me). Basically you upload the HTML file you’ve saved, and then click the “view” button. This shows you an approximation of how your book looks on the screen of the Kindle.

My pictures weren’t there. And the lines containing the changed font sidebars had disappeared, as had the font change. Grrr! Another pass through the manuscript removed all the lines-that-wouldn’t-be-seen, and switched the font to the Header 5 default. I changed the photos from tif and jpeg to gif formats. Uploaded the manuscript again, and clicked “view.”

Now the pull-out boxes looked great! Eureka! But…still no pictures, only place holders. Double grrr. They showed in the HTML version, but disappeared on the Kindle. So when you’re driving along in the car, in unfamiliar territory and get lost, it’s best to find a safe place to ask for directions. After a search for info in the Kindle Forum I found my answer. When pictures are imbedded in a Word file, but then saved-as an HTML file, the pictures are dumped into a second folder and the two link together somehow…

Okay, I can hear the hyena-laughs from all you techies out there! Just stop, okay?

Anyway, when uploading to the digital text platform of Kindle, both files must go together. To do that, you must first combine them in a zip folder. Sounds difficult to do, but proved surprisingly easy. Just highlight both files, RIGHT click your mouse, and select the “send to” option which includes a zip (compressed) option. Once that’s done, upload this single zip/compressed file to the Kindle and view the results.

SNOOPY-DANCE-‘O-JOY!!!!!!!!!

The pictures were there (they looked great!). The pull-out blocks of text looked fine. So last Thursday–April 15, 2010–I sent the updated kindle-lized version of Complete Kitten Care to be published. Somehow that date seems appropriate. An email shortly came confirming that the material had been received, and would be reviewed and published within 24-48 hours. The next day another email message arrived, this time requesting documentation of right-of-reversion, and I sent a scanned copy of that letter from my publisher New American Library. Late last night, another message–this one stating that my book had been published by Kindle and would be available for purchase — $2.99–within 24-48 hours.

When that happens, I’ll publish another blog announcing the re-birth of the baby, along with a recap how-to. Believe me, the next Kindle-ization backlist books Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog won’t take nearly the same effort or angst.

Heck, I may just look into Sony-Reader-izing the books, too. Because I’ve learned how to tie these shoelaces. And you can, too, if you want. Don’t settle for the Velcro fasteners or zippers for your hightop shoes just yet. You’ll be strapping on those high-fashion sparkly designer slippers in no time!

Whether or not readers will buy the polished footwear is another question–and topic for a future blog.

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About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant, award winning author, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

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