Friday, February 4, 2011

My Editing Lesson - Using Smashwords

I had a question. How do I post by new novel "Tranquillity Initiative" as an ebook for ipad and nook? I Googled the question and discovered Smashwords. Smashwords is a free program that allows writers to put their books up on ipad, nook, Sony and many other epub sites - not on Kindle as of this minute.

Smashwords has directions for preparing your document in Micrsoft Word. For me, this has been a lesson that has set the standard for all future submissions - whether to a book publisher or an e-publisher. I learned a great deal about working with Word that I had not known before.

The step that was so important to me was to turn on the show/hide button. I generally never have it on because it's annoying. However, for making certain you have a clean manuscript, it's invaluable. The other step that was essential was to turn off all the AutoCorrect Options under Tools so that Word wouldn't be second guessing what I actually wanted. Once I got my manuscript uploaded to Smashwords turned most of the AutoCorrect Options back on, but for this project they have to stay off.

Since I did not know about the automatic indent feature that Word offers under Format - Paragraph - Special - First Line Indent - I had tabbed every single paragraph. I couldn't figure out how to globally remove all the tabs so I had to do it manually which was not a bad thing as it turned out. Moving that slowly through my manuscript showed me that occasionally there were half a dozen irrelevant tabs at the end of my paragraphs (epublications don't like tabs) and occasionally there were returns for no reason. More than that, there were strange boxes with in the manuscript, that word had thrown in for no reason, that I had no idea about (epubs don't like things in boxes which is why you remove your page number inserts which come in boxes). There are special instructions for handling pictures but I don't have pictures in my book so I didn't learn that step.

When I was proofing my print edition, I wondered why the publisher had thrown in a few strange returns. Now I know that those returns were in my manuscript and that I had not known enough to look for them since the manuscript fit well on my page.

Smashwords Style Guide is really a primer on many word features that affect epublishing. It is an excellent read even if you don't want to epub. This exercise has taught me how to prepare a really clean manuscript not simply for epub use but for submitting to my publisher. There will be differences of course between the hard copy and epub editions, particularly in the title and copyright pages and between chapters, but the manuscript itself will be completely clean and easy for the publisher to reproduce.

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