...The Tech's Blog
A blog by Paul (Jack) Daniels, of all things technical being an independent publisher and some things not.
Sat, 07 May 2011 01:50:28 +1000 422 views

I'll get right to the point of what's wrong, I don't care what apparent justification there is (and I've heard a few), Word "doc" is truly an awful format to be submitting books, just awful. Let's not forget that even Microsoft itself can't provide consistent rendering of their own format between versions of Office, that's just not a good sign.

My solution, give us the option to upload as simplified HTML + CSS (or even ePub). For the masochists who still want to use MSWord, go ahead.

That should be the end of this blog, but I can't resist blabbing on a bit more and spilling a bit more of my personal bile onto the net.

There was a question tonight on a forum about what size the cover art should be (for the Kindle it's 600x800px), but then I saw this response from a fairly popular writer;

...insert the image on the first page and resize it to 3/4rds of the page. Be sure it's on the first line of the page ( no whitespace before the image ). Then after converting it in mobi, send it to yourself via the Kindle mail doc method and download it to your kindle. You should have a cover to almost the full screen, the kindle will rescale if it's not the right size.

I mean, what the *BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP*. Let's get something very straight here, we're supposed to be advancing computer usability here. The HTML option we could just link the image of the right size and be done with it. This is merely one of many comments I see on this topic, all dealing with managing the peculiarities of using MS-DOC as a submission format.

Have you read the Smashwords Style Guide? It's like a 12-step program on losing your sanity all because of needing MS-Word input. You can't just send your manuscript, even if it does look good in MS-Word. You have to strip it of everything, then go through and rebuild the formatting all over again (you can bet you'll stuff up a few paragraphs). This is actually to be expected, as MS-Word fills your documents with a plethora of pedantic crap, hence your 1 page letter is saved as 1MB file rather than 0.01MB. Finally you get to submit the "sterile" MS-DOC to the meat-grinder and wait a few hours while 3000+ other virtual-cows ahead of you are put through the mincer, then even if it's "passed" you'll naturally have to check it and repeat some steps as required (the check and repeat thing of course applies to any submission file format).

Don't even bother telling me that ms-word is used because it's "defacto", it's a woeful excuse. HTML is more than ample for eBook tasks, especially with the power of CSS (best of all, Smashwords could provide CSS templates/themes that you can use) - more to the point, HTML is what is used behind the scenes as the precursor to generating eBooks.

For people who want to stay with MS-Word, sure thing, I'm sure the meat-grinder will stick around and will have plenty of people submitting to it, but seriously, Smashwords, for those of us out here who are technically capable and have the know-how of generating good, clean, correctly formatted HTML suitable for eBooks, won't you let us please submit directly, rather than going through what we see as an abomination of a file format, MS-DOC.

I'll sign off by saying, I want to be involved in the Smashwords program - but until they start accepting HTML (or ePub) directly I'll wait it out.