This is a cross post from my Rowdy Vulcan website. I have so many websites, I’m not always sure what is best to post where. In prepping Darklaw for digital, I ran in to many decisions and problems I didn’t have to make with print. The one I took the most time to solve was the logical table of contents.
It’s truly amazing that we can publish our own works. I much prefer doing it myself to the traditional route of going through a publisher. Crafting a book is more than just weaving words together. It is the presentation and accessibility to those words, as well. At least for me.
I have had short stories published in both print and digital anthologies. I have also self-published a novel. The story itself was nearly two decades in the making. Crafting the illustrations, laying out the book pages and uploading the file for print-on-demand was a year in the making. Presentation matters to me. Detail matters to me. Besides a well-reviewed story, I received praise for the production quality: well-edited and good illustrations. It was satisfying on all counts.
Now, I’m putting that print edition into digital. Same issues of crafting the presentation, only with digital the publisher doesn’t control the presentation entirely. The reader controls what they see by the product they view it on and their own settings. That creates problems for illustrations, particularly. So I’m leaving the illustrations out, except for the map of the fantasy world.
Technical Points for Conversion to Kindle – The TOC
The biggest headache was the table of contents. The TOC is a common problem. If you use Microsoft Word — and I do — you’re supposed to be able to create not only an HTML TOC, which is just links within the document that are coded right on the page, but also an NCX TOC. The NCX TOC is a navigation document and gives you what you see in the menu of the Kindle reader. Many self-publishers can’t get it right so they settle for having only a “beginning” and “cover” link in the Kindle’s menu. I don’t settle.
After trying various methods suggested in the KDP FAQ and on the forum from other users, I gave up on Word doing this for me. I imported the filtered HTML, saved from my DOCX file, into Sigil. Sigil connects the HTML files together. It’s a fantastic program because it’s logical and open source (free!) and saves your imported HTML to EPUB format. You can upload the EPUB into the KDP website.
You can create both the NCX TOC and the HTML TOC in Sigil by selecting all the things you want in your contents (book title, copyright, forward, preface, illustrations, chapters) and formatting them with a header tag, like an H1 or H2.
The Sigil program interface
Technical Points for Conversion to Kindle – Metadata
I still had problems converting after that, but the Kindle compiler didn’t tell me what the problem was.
Through trial and error, I found that the Kindle compiler expected the metadata information. Sigil lets you create metadata with the click of a button, too. I added all the fields I could think of: creator, date, format, ISBN, publisher. Now I have my EPUB for Smashwords and B&N and, after compiling with the Kindle Previewer, I have my MOBI for Amazon.
You don’t need to know HTML to use Sigil, but it helps. I clicked over to code to delete all the garbage Word sticks in there.
Microsoft Word is an excellent program. I’m not a hater like so many web publishers seem to be. Word is terrific for what it does, and it does A LOT. It does too much, in fact. It’s that effort it makes that interferes often with those of us who don’t need web help. I’m able to write code and script and format any webpage, so the Word code clutters my code. I don’t like that. But for those of you who need the help, you can usually go right from Word to Web with a button. I haven’t found a way to strip the Word code out of the HTML document in Word itself. That would be an excellent feature.
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