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Writing Advice & Discussion > Anyone Good at Epub Formatting

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message 1: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Help! I have my novel formatted on Smashwords well for everything but the epub file. Everything looks good besides the name of the chapter is on its own page and I have no idea why. Only 2 chapters have the chapter title with the chapter number.
Anyone know what the heck is going on??
This is 2016 and I feel like this epub stuff is medieval. Ugh


message 2: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) Danielle wrote: "Help! I have my novel formatted on Smashwords well for everything but the epub file. Everything looks good besides the name of the chapter is on its own page and I have no idea why. Only 2 chapters..."

Meatgrinder, we love to hate you... Have you followed Mark's style guide to the letter? You might find more people with formatting tips (or more rants against the Meatgrinder) here
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

As Mark says... there's always the nuclear option, but I hope it's not that bad! Did you manually do a Table of Content, or did it pick it on its own?


message 3: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Yes, I read the entire guide and did everything I can think of you fix it.
Thanks for the group, I will join. I love amazon. It's so easy to publish and you can preview. This Smashwords stuff is a major headache.
I manually made my own Table of Contents.


message 4: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) You can also try Draft2Digital - it goes almost to the same places, is smaller and more user-friendly... their meatgrinder is easier and if it doesn't work, their help desk is faster than Smashwords! ;)
And you don't go direct to Kobo, I assume? That's another good headache sometimes. And I won't mention Apple - I don't have a Mac and will never go direct there! ;)


message 5: by Bryant (new)

Bryant Reil | 27 comments I recently did the epub for Smashwords. I had to go nuclear, but honestly it wasn't that bad and it really is a useful manual. I learned a lot doing it. Kind of a pain but worth the education. I'm definitely better at Microsoft Word now.


message 6: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Barbara wrote: "You can also try Draft2Digital - it goes almost to the same places, is smaller and more user-friendly... their meatgrinder is easier and if it doesn't work, their help desk is faster than Smashword..."

I'm not sure what Kobo is Barbara. I think I'm just gonna go nuclear. Ugh wish me luck lol

Bryant wrote: "I recently did the epub for Smashwords. I had to go nuclear, but honestly it wasn't that bad and it really is a useful manual. I learned a lot doing it. Kind of a pain but worth the education. I'm ..."


Yeah, I might have to go nuclear as well. It's silly tho because it's just one small thing.


message 7: by Bryant (new)

Bryant Reil | 27 comments Danielle wrote: "Barbara wrote: "You can also try Draft2Digital - it goes almost to the same places, is smaller and more user-friendly... their meatgrinder is easier and if it doesn't work, their help desk is faste..."

So was mine. It was frustrating because I had already formatted for Amazon, had a working Table of Contents, etc. But really going nuclear makes you go deeper into the formatting and though I dragged my heels, when I was done I was glad I did it.


message 8: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Bryant wrote: "Danielle wrote: "Barbara wrote: "You can also try Draft2Digital - it goes almost to the same places, is smaller and more user-friendly... their meatgrinder is easier and if it doesn't work, their h..."

Yeah, I know I need to do it or it will bug me.
I will never look at an ebook indifferently again. Lol


message 9: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) Kobo is the other e-reader besides the Kindle, the Nook and the i-Pad. It's Canadian, but you can find it in other countries as well (in Italy it's with one of the Big Trad Pub Who Also Have Bookshops). Smashwords and Draft2Digital both send to Kobo, but you can also go direct through Kobo Writing Life (higher percentage)...
I don't recommend going direct to Apple/i-Pad unless you own a Mac (going direct means higher royalties - but then I can't be bothered going direct to B&N either, so... YMMV)...


message 10: by Pam (new)

Pam Baddeley | 14 comments Before doing that Danielle, I would try looking at the 2 chapter titles in the actual book part (not the TOC I mean) which are working, and compare to the ones that aren't. Possibly you have a stray style on a blank line or something which the Smashwords meatgrinder is being thrown by?

You could also try clicking the button that shows all the hidden formatting such as spaces, tabs, paragraph marks etc in case you have stray ones of those in there.


message 11: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 43 comments Instead of MS Office, I use OpenOffice. I has an extension called write2epub which is absolutely fantastic. Just make sure that you use at least one heading.


message 12: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Pam wrote: "Before doing that Danielle, I would try looking at the 2 chapter titles in the actual book part (not the TOC I mean) which are working, and compare to the ones that aren't. Possibly you have a stra..."

I've done that Pam :/ there is absolutely no difference that I can see between them when I have all the formatting visible. I read the most common problem is that Smashwords formatting will automatically put a page break before a heading style. So I changed all my heading styles to a normal style and that didn't fix it.

But it does make me wonder why some work and others don't. I'm clueless because all the chapter titles seem to have the same formatting.


message 13: by Barbara (new)


message 14: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Segilola wrote: "Instead of MS Office, I use OpenOffice. I has an extension called write2epub which is absolutely fantastic. Just make sure that you use at least one heading."

although i haven't used write2epub, i also use openoffice. you can directly open an ms word doc in openoffice.


message 15: by Pam (new)

Pam Baddeley | 14 comments Danielle wrote: "Pam wrote: "Before doing that Danielle, I would try looking at the 2 chapter titles in the actual book part (not the TOC I mean) which are working, and compare to the ones that aren't. Possibly you..."

Is the output file with the problem in EPUB format? If so you can use a free program such as Sigil to look at the HTML code around the affected chapter headings to see what it is doing and also to correct it.


message 16: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart Pardon my ignorance, Bryant, but what did you mean 'go nuclear'? Thx.


message 17: by Bryant (new)

Bryant Reil | 27 comments It's a term Smashwords uses to refer to removing all the formatting from your file by pasting it into Notepad. This forces you to format from the ground up,


message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) Martin wrote: "Pardon my ignorance, Bryant, but what did you mean 'go nuclear'? Thx."

or save as TXT and reformat... ;)


message 19: by Bryant (new)

Bryant Reil | 27 comments I suppose! Does txt remove all formatting?


message 20: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart Format how, Barbara?

Tag with HTML and add CSS stylesheet? (I'm good with those two, but it still sounds like a lot of work.)


message 21: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) Bryant wrote: "I suppose! Does txt remove all formatting?"

yes, it does...

Format as per Smashwords Style Guide, Martin. Which means you turn it back into a word.doc and put back in your italics (if any) and page breaks and ToC and whatnot...

Often Word keeps some underneath formatting we're not aware of, hence the so-called "nuclear option" of either copying to notepad or save as TXT to strip all the formatting.

I also use Open Office (haven't had Word on PC in years), and that's how I manage to get through the meatgrinder: save as TXT and do it all again - line spacing, italics, chapter breaks, etc.


message 22: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart Thanks, Barbara, am reading the Smashwords Style Guide and it raises another question.

We've wandered off topic. I'm thinking that Smashwords format will be used by Smashwords Meatgrinder to produce epub format, so we won't need to know how to get epub, right?

Do I want to be dependent on Smashwords for this? There is, for example, a "writer2epub" extension that I could install (LibreOffice or Open Office) and generate my own epubs. (Well, that's the claim. Don't know the truth.)


message 23: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) LOL, Martin! My more techie friends use Jutoh to make their own e-pubs. Or you can use calibre. Or you can use Draft2Digital (which is the other distributor that I use, since their meatgrinder is less touchy than the Smashwords one...). Or if you're a Mac person, just use the i-Bookstore... ;)
Tell you a secret: SW requested I uploaded bigger cover images to my first titles (they changed the size since 2011). I did, and they rejected from the Premium Catalog because there was no ToC (it wasn't necessary back in 2011). So I made e-pubs on D2D and uploaded those... went smoothly through the Premium Catalog! ;) Yes, D2D makes the ToC for you! :D


message 24: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart Barbara, you are a jewel!

Looked up D2D (https://www.draft2digital.com/faq/) and liked what I saw. I assume you use SW for the retailers D2D doesn't yet support?

I tried, BTW, the "writer2epub" extension. It took 22 minutes to turn my LO novel (234k words) into an epub, missing a couple dozen of my styles.

And that ToC (yes, for a novel! C. Dickens named his chapters, after all) is vital. I love chapter names.


message 25: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) Martin wrote: "Barbara, you are a jewel!

Looked up D2D (https://www.draft2digital.com/faq/) and liked what I saw. I assume you use SW for the retailers D2D doesn't yet support?"


Yep! And I go direct to Kobo (KWL) and Amazon (KDP)...


message 26: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart KWL, Barbara? I'm getting ready to publish my first novel. Will missing KWL be a big deal?


message 27: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) Martin wrote: "KWL, Barbara? I'm getting ready to publish my first novel. Will missing KWL be a big deal?"

Kobo Writing Life. You go direct to Kobo instead of going to Smashwords and D2D and get 70% royalty instead of 65%. Just sayin'... Kobo is big in Canada and outside the US, so you're not really missing anything if you go through the distributors, but you'll earn more if you go direct! ;)
https://writinglife.kobobooks.com


message 28: by Pam (last edited Jul 31, 2016 11:44AM) (new)

Pam Baddeley | 14 comments I've just read the Smashwords Style Guide having obtain a more up to date one, turned out the one I downloaded from Amazon was version 6 something and they are now on 9.

they now do accept EPUB but they have quite a few caveats about whether or not it will be accepted. They still greatly prefer a Word doc (.doc not .docx) formatted simply and with styles to do just about everything - line spacing, indents or blocking, centring, font family, font size - except bold, italic and underline. with those last 3 you can apply them direct to text but everything else should be created with styles. So if we want to upload a word file, it's best to set up all styles, either in the normal template or by creating a separate template with those styles in and creating a new document based on that template and then pasting in a copy of the novel which has gone through the 'nuclear' option of being copied out to Notepad or some equivalent. Then you go through and apply the styles and create a table of contents with the bookmark/hyperlink method (not the automatic TOC generation with which I'm familiar because that uses field codes and they deprecate any use of field codes).

I'm not in the position of doing this yet but I am doing a practice run as a method of ebook generation on the Derek Murphy site recommends using the Smashwords method before creating an epub or mobi by a different means. so that you have a 'clean' file to input to other tools. However, I'm going to see if just creating the new file with the styles and then copying my stuff in and making sure the styles are correctly applied is going to be sufficiently rigorous, because I have created and applied the sort of styles they recommend after hearing about this a few months back so am hoping there won't be much 'rubbish' to copy over and upset the process.


message 29: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart Anybody tried Scrivener for this? It is, the ads say, completely epub savvy. I'll be testing this soon.

Anybody got any practical experience with using graphics for hyperlinks in a Word/LO/OO document?


message 30: by Pam (new)

Pam Baddeley | 14 comments Thanks for the tips Barbara, will make a note of your recommendations in case I have problems.


message 31: by Pam (last edited Aug 01, 2016 10:32AM) (new)

Pam Baddeley | 14 comments Martin wrote: "Anybody tried Scrivener for this? It is, the ads say, completely epub savvy. I'll be testing this soon.

Anybody got any practical experience with using graphics for hyperlinks in a Word/LO/OO doc..."


Martin, Scrivener is probably OK if you have the Mac version. I was very disappointed recently when I did a trial run using it on Windows to discover certain functions that I consider very basic to be missing:

centred text remaining centred (in the Mac conversion screens there is a box to tick to preserve formatting on centred text - those kinds of options just aren't in Windows version so it left aligns all centred text)

first paragraph of a chapter/scene remains blocked on the left rather than indented (again, Mac has a box to tick to do this, missing from Windows so in Windows the output file ends up with all blocked paras indented)

I did look at the option of creating an epub from Scrivener complete with these faults, and then using something like Sigil or Calibre to apply corrections to the underlying HTML, then creating a mobi (I'm doing this at present so I can put the file on a Kindle and get it to read it back to me, which is proving very useful in spotting clunky terms of phrase) by dragging it on to the Kindle Previewer, I think it's called. But on reflection, it seemed like an awful lot of work and I looked into alternatives.

Therefore, I am now looking at the method listed by Derek Murphy - Ebook Conversion which starts off by preparing your file according to the Smashwords method - hence why I've been reading their style guide and applying it to a version of my novel this week.


message 32: by Martin (last edited Aug 01, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

Martin Rinehart Oh, Pam!

Anybody got an emoji that cries real tears? Leaves water stains on your email?

Your examples re centering text don't specifically disqualify Scrivener for me, but they do not give me hope.

Thanks for the warning. Thanks for the Derek Murphy link.


message 33: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) Pam wrote: "I did look at the option of creating an epub from Scrivener complete with these faults, and then using something like Sigil or Calibre to apply corrections to the underlying HTML, then creating a mobi (I'm doing this at present so I can put the file on a Kindle and get it to read it back to me, which is proving very useful in spotting clunky terms of phrase) by dragging it on to the Kindle Previewer, I think it's called. But on reflection, it seemed like an awful lot of work and I looked into alternatives."

I upload the Word.doc (formatted as per SW specifications) to all retailers (KDP, Smashwords, Kobo)... converted just fine everywhere so far! :)


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