ebook Formatting Woes

I was checking a few things earlier tonight when it came to my attention that one of my books was no longer on Amazon. It was Weekend Captive. All traces of it had vanished. It wasn’t even showing up on my author page anymore. First I was like, “WTF?” Then I thought, “OMD – was I banned?” I went to my account – pulled up the book and noticed the book was in DRAFT mode. Upon checking my e-mail I found a letter from Amazon politely informing me one of my books had been pulled because evidently the formatting wasn’t right.

For eBooks you would think you could just upload a finished Word file and you’re done. Oh – not so. No, Amazon has yet to simplify the eBook process like B&N has. With B&N you merely upload your formatted Word file and you’re done. With Amazon, first you have to save it as a *.doc file, then you have to save it as filtered html, then you have to run it through the Mobi converter, then you have to check it in the viewer and if it’s okay – THEN you can upload it.  If it’s not okay, you have to find the problems and edit the html file in notepad (to get rid of Word’s stray html code, which is usually the problem), then re-run it through Mobi and again through the viewer. Or I suppose you could just write all your books in html – but then you would later have to convert them to Word or Adobe to format for your print interiors.  (This is why it’s easier to start in Word and convert to html from there.)

On that note — with Amazon if you have tables or images in your file – not only do you have to follow the above steps to convert it to html – but you have to zip the file to include all the image files and upload that (hoping to the Gods that it formats right).  I did that with Daemonolatry Goetia and thank Daemons it worked.

Yes – I bitched about this on FB, too. I wasted an entire night reformatting two books the Amazon police pulled for wonky formatting (one was a minor DB title) and fixed some formatting freakiness in the Kindle version Training Amy that a reader contacted me about while I was at it.  Yep – I do listen to reader feedback and appreciate it!   So anyway –  if you were looking for Weekend Captive and couldn’t find it  yesterday, today or this week – this is why. 

As it turns out there was a stray “e” and an additional page break that Word inserted into the html at chapter 2. It was something I didn’t catch initially because I wasn’t using the offline previewer that allows you to look at the whole book. I am using that previewer now. So if you’re an author just know that they WILL pull your books for minor infractions like that if your books contain them (I totally understand the quality control) – so be careful to download the real viewer and go through EVERY PAGE of your eBooks before uploading your files. I’ve learned my lesson.

 But really – publishing an eBook should not be this difficult. Lulu and B&N have perfected this. Amazon and Smashwords have not. Smashwords is just as bad as Amazon — they have a  50+ page style-guide that I haven’t had time to read yet that tells you exactly how to format your files in order for them to be included in ALL the distribution outlets. And while I wouldn’t distribute to Kindle or Nook through them, I would like to make my eBooks available to a wider audience. I’m just saying some standardization would be nice.  Even creating a physical file interior and covers is easier than formatting a fully distributable Smashwords or Kindle eBook.

On that note – any readers who would like corrected *.mobi files for their Kindles on any of my books wherein you found wonky formatting – just contact me via the Contact Form and if you send me back a scanned receipt for the purchase of the book (you can black out any non-pertinent info) I’ll send you a *.Mobi file created with Calibre from a pdf (since that’s the most direct method and it likely won’t suck as bad as the  round-a-bout method).

About Steph

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at swordarkeereon@gmail.com

3 Replies to “ebook Formatting Woes”

  1. So sorry for your publishing woes. I went through something similar when I was first posting my book for sale … bleh. Hope things get much easier very soon. It would be so much easier if all retailers just published in one format wouldn’t it!

  2. @Morgan – I hear you. I’m hoping eventually they’ll simplify the process. I think it would be in everyone’s best interest.
    @Tami – Thanks! It seems I’ve fixed it and the book is live again. 🙂 I haven’t had this problem before and I’ve been publishing on Kindle since 2008. So it kind of surprised me. But then I haven’t had strange errors show up in other files like that before. I suspect it was my move to the latest version of Office that may have caused the issue. Word is notorious for sticking lines of strange code into html files so they don’t render correctly. What’s interesting is it was hidden until it converted to the Mobi format. That’s the only time it showed up (as strange as that is).

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