Who would have thought it could be so difficult?
Having published the print version of The Battle of Chibi (Createspace, 2010) I thought it would be a breeze to produce an e-book version. Well, it is harder than I thought.
I loved learning about the process of writing a book. It had to be well-written, of course. There ought not to be any mistakes, grammatical, typos, or worse; I understand. There should be consistency in the format of the pages and of the paragraphs; naturally.
Wouldn’t it be the same for e-books? Well, not exactly. The text for print must be the same and consistent through-out, so the best format is Adobe Acrobat which produces "pictures" of each page, as it were. But in an e-book, the text has to flow and wrap around regardless of the size of the font or of the page. Needless to say, page numbers are worse than useless and an index that cannot refer to page numbers, well! As for Adobe Acrobat, just forget about it. On the other hand, it would be nice for the reader to find roughly where he or she needs to be so it is highly recommended that the Table of Contents has links to the different chapters and chapter-like elements.
As it appeared from the existence and recommendations of various style-sheets that different electronic publishers could be very different, I thought it would be a more complete education to try to publish the e-book on two web-sites.
The first site I used required all the items I mentioned two paragraphs earlier. This exercise was like proof-reading except that it included the “cues” to the publishing mechanism regarding paragraphs, font styles, etc. There are no more than a dozen of these things that one has to learn in addition to the items required for a print edition. So it was relatively simple to send this to an automated process on the publisher’s web-site and in a day or two the process was done. A couple of problems were flagged for correction and then we were done-done.
The other site proceeded as smoothly except that the publisher’s web-site kept sending me what I thought were mixed signals. Specifically, it would tell me that the conversion was complete and I would find upon proofing it that it was not. So I tried again, and again. Since each attempt took about three weeks, I decided that three times was enough. I “simply” paid to have this done for me. I don’t regret that decision one bit.