Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Opening My Big Mouth

I’m beginning a series of tutorials here in my blog, and I’m doing it for a couple reasons.

The first is that they seem to be needed. Writing a book well is difficult enough as it is. Having to also learn how to format it into an ebook is, understandably, a bit beyond most people’s ability to do on their own. I get asked for help all of the time, from readers of my books, from people who post on forums, from fellow authors. So, I’m going to help you.

The second reason is that too many formatting forums and boards have been taken over, and are now dominated, by self-styled “experts” who, in fact, are not so expert after all.

Some poor, overwhelmed author writes in, explaining his formatting problem, and says what he wants to do. And one of these “experts” answers him and says that you can’t do that, or that you can only do that his way, or that one really should just make the commitment to learn how to code with HTML and then one wouldn’t have all of these problems.

And I sit there and shake my head because what the author wants is actually quite do-able—easily—without learning any code. I know this because I’ve done it, and it works just fine. The so-called “expert” has said something, in print, out there for the entire world to see, that is—to put it bluntly—not true.

The “expert” maligns a way of doing something, or an app, or a piece of hardware, because he couldn’t get it to work, when, in fact, the only reason that it didn’t work for him is because he never learned how to use it correctly, often because of his own ingrained prejudices. It works just fine if you know how to use it. In fact, it works great, especially for that poor author who just wants his Table of Contents to work, or wants to not have extra blank lines between his paragraphs, or can’t figure out why his indents are off.

Sometimes I write in an answer and tell the questioner how to accomplish what’s not working for him, though I’ve been doing that less and less lately. I don’t like to get into a back-and-forth with stupid, bigoted people (and here I mean bigoted in its broadest sense of “holding very strong opinions and being unwilling to accept different views; being prejudiced against those who are different from you”). I don’t like being accused of writing in only because I want to sell someone a copy of my book.

Well, I do want to sell my book. That’s why I wrote it. But the best way for me to do that is to solve your problem for you… for free. Because the next time that you have another problem, you just may say, “Hey. He did a good job for me last time. Maybe I could solve a bunch of my problems myself by just reading his book.” And then maybe you’ll buy one.

So I’m going to start solving a bunch of common ebook formatting problems here in this blog. Many will deal with Kindle books and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing system, because that one is the most commonly used method used by self-published English-language authors. But I will also cover EPUB books, too, since that is the format that’s used by a far larger geographical area of the world. I know how to do these things because I have published books, using both Kindle and EPUB formats, on Amazon’s Kindle store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook bookstore, and Apple’s iBookstore.

If you’re patient, most of what you will need to know will show up here, for free, over the next several months, starting tomorrow.

If you want, or if you’re impatient to get started, you can buy my book anyway. I won’t mind.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to your posts Peter. I certainly understand why you feel the need to do this, I often see lots of 'experts' say you can't do something, when in fact you can. I use Microsoft Word to format client books, it works like a dream, and no complaints yet.