Thursday, December 1, 2011

My First Kindle Book and What I'm Gonna Do About It

Three nights ago I retired at Recently, I’ve kept some late nights--working on my publishing--but by , one should consider staying awake and watching the sun come up. I didn’t do that; I slept. I’ve seen the sun before.

The significant thing about that  bedtime is that I went to sleep having created my first mobipocket book. I spent hours putting River’s Bend into mobipocket format, repeatedly opening up the “My Publications” files created by Mobipocket Creator on my computer, correcting, creating and re-creating files in Notepad++. With every minor (and some not so minor) change, I’d go back to the Creator window, remove the old file, add the new file and then try to build the book. Occasionally it would build, but there was always something wrong with it. When I tried to fix it, I’d be back to the point where it wasn’t building again.

As I struggled, I resolved to determine how many files I actually needed in the mobi folder to make my book build AND look right at the same time. I can be an anal individual. I like to know what I’m doing and why. I’d done extensive work this past spring creating an epub version of my third novel Epico Bayou.  I’d used, as my guide, Elizabeth Castro’s EPUB Straight to the Point. From my point of view, Ms Castro had done a credible job explaining the epub’s files. And I also noted familiar-looking files between the epub I created last March and the mobipocket creation I struggled with in the wee hours of this past November night. Terms such as open packaging format (.opf), metadata, guide, spine, and toc.ncx, a navigation control file for XML. I’m not clear on what that means, but I do know that the ncx file is a tool by which the human reader can navigate my book. A table of contents is needed for the Kindle, but Kindle2 requires a “navigational” table of contents. If Kindle2 needs one, I want my book to provide it.

I used Joshua Tallent’s how-to guide Kindle Formatting as the basis for creating my Kindle book. He does not elaborate on the whys and wherefores of the files making up a mobipocket book the way Elizabeth Castro explains epub files. Perhaps that’s because there are programs such as Mobipocket Creator (which I used) and Calibre--and there are others--that automatically create the critical .opf files, the table of contents, and whatever else, then zip it all up together into the “book.” With epub files, given the way Ms. Castro instructed, the publisher creates the files manually, then zips up the folder (which comprises the book), and uploads it to a capable e-reader device so the author/publisher can check it. In truth, that’s the kind of guide I’d like to use to create my mobipocket books. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but I do know that as of right now I have a mobi book that looks really good on my Kindle and behind that little beauty is a folder in my computer’s “My Publications” containing nine files.

Yes, my gut tells me that with only two graphics, I've got too many files. Certainly the two .txt documents saved by mistake during the long hours of editing are suspect, but those I can deal with. The real problem, I fear, is that I have too many tables of contents. The tocs are the source of my main confusion, but that I’ll save for a later post.  My point here is, I’ve got the files, and I can use each of those files (once I figure out the ones I really need) as templates for all my books. I’m gonna start working on that next week--as soon as I’ve got the Christmas decorations up. In the meantime, I want to share with you some of my lessons learned as I navigated Mr. Tallent’s book, which got me as far as I am today. Next week, I’ll start with the Smashwords Style Guide and relate it to formatting for Kindle--the subject of the first six chapters of Joshua Tallent’s book . As I said in my last post, I love Smashwords and for more than one reason.

Thanks for stopping by, and if any of you know how many files the Kindle book folder requires (and which ones, precisely, they are), please feel free to let me know. I’d appreciate it.



  1. You've worked so hard, Lucy. I know you'll get this down, too, and will soon have all your books up on Kindle! I'm glad, b/c I've ordered a Kindle Fire... so now I can get the ones I've missed!!

  2. Lucy, love the blog! I've seen the sun too, and it's over-rated :-) Keep up the great work...and someday when I write my first book, you will be the first I turn to for help. - as always, Melinda


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