So You Want to Publish Digitally — By Yourself…

April 14, 2012

Have you ever purchased an ebook (Kindle, Nook, Sony, whichever) and found, as you read it, that the text had short lines and long lines, or blank lines for no apparent reason, or short indents then long indents? And that the Table of Contents only shows you the number of chapters, but it won’t take you there?

Let’s face it: Neither the Amazon coding program nor the Smashbooks coding program are great. They are all in computer codes, and most of us writers aren’t all that into code. I’m certainly not. But if I do publish digitally, I’d like to make it look good. And I’ve found someone who can help.

I encountered Ian S. Rutter on LinkedIn, in one of the writers groups. He’s a former code-writer (or engineer? Please comment, Ian!) for Microsoft, so he knows code like I know grammar. And when he saw people advertising to pay $149 to “format” your precious books, and that probably doesn’t include inserting photos, or (gasp!) videos, he got upset and decided to do something about it.

So he wrote about it on his pages like my pages. In details.I’m having serious trouble inserting it so you can use it (this is my fourth try), so I’ll explain it instead. The address starts the way most do, with the h-part and the double-u’s, and the punctuation. Next is his name,(Ian, then s is for a middle name; then Rutter. ALl run together.) After that it says that it’s in a country, by using the first two letters of code, followed by where he is, the United Kingdom, but just the first letter of each word. Then there’s a nifty slash, and it says that it’s one of those things like you’re looking at, followed by how to make an ebook, with those words connected with dashes. That’s it. That’s all. Maybe I can get it into a comment. Sigh. But GO THERE! That takes you to the first part, and there are links to parts 2 though 4. I’m sure 5 will be ready in a few days, if his fingers don’t give up!

I’ve done the four chapters now, and to my amazement, I’m getting it. I’m starting to understand what the code means and how (and why) to use it! I can’t tell you here, but if you want to save yourself some trouble (and possibly some money), check out Ian’s blog. You won’t be sorry.

Oh, and up to Part 4 is primarily text with image inserts (.jpgs). He’ll get to putting in videos, and what you have to do to make it upload on Amazon, too. He’s a great teacher, and he incorporates videos into his blog and they help.

Fellow writers, I know you’re thinking that this is not for you, and if you have a great relationship with an agent and a publisher, maybe it isn’t. But don’t think that it’s something you can’t learn. You can. And Ian can help!


4 Responses to “So You Want to Publish Digitally — By Yourself…”

  1. leescott58 said

    Maybe I can post the blog address here instead. Please, wordpress, please!

  2. Ian S. Rutter said

    I’m the guilty one! Thanks for the post.
    When I left school I studied Mechanical Engineering then decided to go into IT. I have a background that consists of Linux, Microsoft networks and all the hardware software that goes with it.
    Never one to go the easy route, I wanted to find out how to make an ebook without relying on an automated formatting system.
    It would really annoy me after purchasing ebooks, I was a little confused that a lot had terrible formatting issues, not all, but a lot. Many had no clickable Table of Contents, some didn’t even have a Table of Contents! – Cardinal Sin!
    So if anyone is interested, you don’t have to do it, but the knowledge of how it’s done can help.
    Pop over to my blog and watch, read and download the videos. They are also on Youtube.
    Very kind of you to post and thank you for the kind comments.
    They should all be on the front page, if not they are in Articles and How to – Categories.

  3. leescott58 said

    Thanks for stopping by and introducing yourself, Ian! And again, I think that even if you’re not considering coding your own ebook, it’s worth taking a look at Ian’s blog. And if you are considering it, you really MUST take a look! If I can do it (and if you know me, you know how tech-challenged I am!), then you can, with Ian’s explanations and awesome videos!

  4. Meg said

    Fascinating stuff. I’ve only done formatting using the “meat grinder” approach, but it’s nice to know how the nuts and bolts work. Thanks, Ian, and thanks, Lori, for pointing the way!

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