I didn’t make my Friday, 23 December 2011 deadline and bring my blog back on schedule, and I didn’t upload River’s Bend to Amazon’s DTP. Oh, but I do have a nice .prc book sitting in My Publications folder on my hard drive.
Mobipocket Creator compiled the book from five files: my book in .html format, River’s Bend's open package format file, the toc.ncx file, and the cover and logo graphics. The Creator didn’t create any of those files. I created them, then uploaded the finished document into Mobipocket Creator’s Publication Files window.
Okay, I’ve misspoken. In point of fact, way back in November, the Creator did make the first .opf file, which I subsequently annotated. Mobipocket Creator created the original .opf file automatically when I hit “Build” the first time. That file was compiled from the data I gave the Creator using my input to the “Book settings,” “Metadata,” and “Guide” sections in the Publications Files window. Without that step, I would have had to find an example of another .opf file for mobi, then modified it to fit my book. In the beginning, I wouldn’t have even known I needed an .opf file, much less thought to create my own from scratch. I know now.
As it was, I spent a significant amount of time changing (which mandated, by default, studying) that most critical “.opf file”. Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll not have to use the Creator to conjure up another generic .opf file. I now have, in my humble opinion, a beautiful .opf file. But I digress. A detailed description of my trials and tribulations with that .opf file will be the subject of a later blog. The file might be beautiful now, but it took a lot of work getting it to that point, and I want to share.
I intend to use the files I created for River’s Bend as a template for my other three published (and all future) books. I will, at that point, as I’ve done with River’s Bend, upload the completed files into the Creator’s Publication Files window. No more inputting data, then having the Creator crunch out files, which I subsequently have to modify.
In a nutshell, here’s the process I’ve come up with using the Mobipocket Creator to create a .prc version of my book for subsequent upload to the Amazon DTP:
1) I took the Word (.doc) document I created for Smashwords and saved it as a filtered web page (that converted it to .html.). [see my earlier blogs regarding the Smashwords Style Guide.]
2) Per April L. Hamilton's Indie Author Guide To Publishing For The Kindle With Amazon’s Digital Text Platform, Mobipocket Creator & MS Word 2003 Or Higher I went back into my graphics program (I use Paint Shop Pro 8) and reformatted my two graphics (cover and logo) to meet Mobipocket requirements. [Changed image size and dpi]
3) I opened my .html document in Notepad++, added anchors, and cleaned up the document.
Preparing the .html document for upload to the Creator (and subsequently to the DTP at Amazon) takes work, no question about it. But if you know the basics of .html, doing so isn’t hard. “Tedious,’ in my opinion, best describes the effort.
4) I annotated the .opf file as explained above.
5) I manually created the navigable table of contents (toc.ncx) required for Kindle 2.
Joshua Tallent and April Hamilton both provide guidance on creation of the toc.ncx. I, fortunately, had already created an .xhtml toc.ncx for another of my books I put in ePub format, so I was familiar with the structure of the .ncx file. I even used that previously created “xml” file as a template for the toc.ncx file associated with my .html document.
6) I uploaded the .html document and graphics into the Creator’s Publication Files window along with my now “beautiful” .opf file and my toc.ncx files.
You will not see the .ncx and .opf files in the Creator’s “Publication Files” window, but you will see them in your My Publications folder. Make sure you click on “all files” when you start your search.
7. I hit “Build,” which took me to the “Build Publication” window where I opted for standard suppression and no encryption, then hit “Build” again.
And it built. No errors and no warnings.
I reiterate that the 7 steps I outlined above are what I’ve boiled the process down to. You see, when, at point 7 I said my book “built” perfectly, I left out the first 50 times I’d come to point 7 and it did not. Failure after failure to the point I just wanted to sit down and squall. That or take a hammer to the poor ole computer, which really couldn’t be blamed at all.
I did neither. I went to bed and woke up the next day and started again. I’m pretty sure “I got it” now. Look in next week, and I’ll tell you what I understand about the Tables of Contents.
Thanks for reading.