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thrillerz
05-22-2011, 09:28 PM
I am publishing my first eBook in a month. I want it to look nice so I've been reading some about typesetting. Does anyone know where I can find some good how-to's for Do it yourself typesetting?

For example, if I want a picture header for each chapter. Anything that looks better then the free kindle books I've seen.

Many thanks for any help!

eqb
05-22-2011, 10:08 PM
I just released my first self-pubbed ebook, so understand that I have some experience, but not a lot....

One thing to keep in mind is that you have less control over fonts and formatting with e-books. The reader can choose a larger or smaller font size, or even a different font, depending on the e-reader. You also can't decide what size the page is, or how graphics will scale on any particular reader. So your best approach is to keep things simple. Use font sizes based on em-size. Keep the graphics to a minimum. Test your eBook on as many different readers as you can.

KevinMcLaughlin
05-22-2011, 10:24 PM
What eqb said. Because the end user has complete control over font, type size, orientation of the device, and may even read the book on something as small as a cell phone or large as an iPad or computer screen, there's *very* little real control over how the book looks on the publisher's side.

There's things you can do - things like having a properly formated table of contents, having consistent breaks (for scene, chapter, etc.), not using unusual ASCII characters that some readers may have issues with, making sure your paragraph breaks translate cleanly, etc... But honestly, it's a lot less typography and a lot more just making sure your .doc file is pretty clean of inline formating.

eqb
05-23-2011, 12:28 AM
But honestly, it's a lot less typography and a lot more just making sure your .doc file is pretty clean of inline formating.

If you do use Smashwords, yes, follow their guidelines strictly and you should be fine.

However, if you are submitting directly to Amazon and B&N directly, you need to create those ePub and Mobi files yourself. A couple suggestions...

If you are starting with a .DOC file, or with a publishing application such as InDesign, use paragraph and character styles. Don't depend on local formatting.

Restrict the number of graphics you use. My suggestion would be to use graphics only for illustrations and, if you must, for scene dividers.

Once you have the document and TOC the way you like in Word or your publishing application, export to ePub and forget the .original file exists. Use Sigil for the rest of your edits.

Strip out all in-line formatting. Define all formatting in your CSS file. However, in your class definitions, avoid font designations. Bold, italics, are okay, as well as margins, padding, indents, and line-height defined by em-sizes. Basically, set things up based on an undefined font type.

Once your ePub version looks good, use calibre to convert it to Mobi format.

veinglory
05-23-2011, 12:57 AM
Where are you distributing it? Smashwords requires very minimal formatting

thrillerz
05-23-2011, 01:13 AM
Can't find "sigil" - do you have a links?

Does anyone have a standards for formatting eBooks? Please tell me it's not like css (been developing web sites for 16 years and it has been the bane of my job - formatting it for different browsers).

Thanks!

CaoPaux
05-23-2011, 01:17 AM
Sigil: http://code.google.com/p/sigil/

eqb
05-23-2011, 01:23 AM
CaoPaux provided the link for Sigil. It's free and available for Windows and Mac.

As for ePub, an ePub file is a zipped file that includes all the files needed for the e-book, including the cover image, internal images, XHTML files for the individual chapters, and a CSS file for formatting.

If you don't like CSS or HTML, stick with .DOC files and Smashwords. They do the conversion for you. Mind, you still have the headache of different devices and browsers, but you have no control over that.

Medievalist
05-23-2011, 04:31 AM
ePub understanding, so to speak, of css is partially device driven.

There's a fabulous book on ePub and how to create ePubs for a variety of platforms and devices, by Liz Castro. Liz is one of the most knowledgeable people about ePub since she helped create the standard, and she's a good tech writer.

Her book blog blog is here: http://www.elizabethcastro.com/epub/

Her book is available from her in ePub, and in other formats including hard copy from the publisher Peachpit, and on Amazon etc.

Also, if you use images--even as decorative items, add the alt description meta data if at all possible. Some screen readers and ereaders stall out at the image if there isn't an alt tag, and it's very frustrating for visually disabled users.

KevinMcLaughlin
05-23-2011, 04:35 AM
Very useful link, thanks Medievalist!

thrillerz
05-23-2011, 04:21 PM
Wow - there's more to it than I originally thought. So I get the MS, copy it to wordpad to remove all hidden tags, then copy that to caliber (or publish to caliber), then use Sigil to edit the file WYSIWYG. Then take it back to calibre to distribute it?

Do you have control over where calibre distributes it?

Medievalist
05-23-2011, 08:14 PM
Wow - there's more to it than I originally thought. So I get the MS, copy it to wordpad to remove all hidden tags, then copy that to caliber (or publish to caliber), then use Sigil to edit the file WYSIWYG. Then take it back to calibre to distribute it?

Do you have control over where calibre distributes it?

Calibre is an eat-and-spit converter. You import one format/file, and it exports another; it's a free downloadable application you run on your computer, and the files are produced on your computer.

thrillerz
05-23-2011, 08:59 PM
If you give it a formatted *.doc will it keep the formatting?

Al Stevens
05-23-2011, 09:16 PM
If you give it a formatted *.doc will it keep the formatting?
Assuming you are asking about Calibre:

Calibre can keep .doc files in its library, but it does not convert them to e-book formats. Save your .doc file as .rtf or .html. Calibre can work with them.

thrillerz
05-23-2011, 11:37 PM
What's the best way to keep format from *.doc, Calibre or Smashwords?

Al Stevens
05-24-2011, 03:17 AM
Lots of .doc format gets lost in the conversion to epub or mobi. That was explained above. It reflects the limitations of the e-readers themselves. If you want to tightly control page format, publish in .pdf, which some e-readers can display. But you won't be marketed on amazon or the iBookstore. You'll have to handle distribution yourself.

thrillerz
05-24-2011, 03:20 AM
Thanks