Yesterday was a pretty big day here at www.davidbeem.wordpress.com, with lots of visitors surfing over to check out Abyss‘ cool new cover. Today, however, it’s back to business as usual for me as I wrestle with getting Microsoft Word to behave as I prepare the manuscript for an armful of ePub formats. The uninitiated might imagine that one simply finishes his/her manuscript, clicks “upload” and you’re done! HA! Not even close, but let’s not throw too much scorn in the direction of those naive souls who took seriously advice like, “if you don’t have too many strange formatting issues, conversions are pretty straightforward.” After all, nearly EVERY ePub device I’ve considered formatting for begins with a lure like this one.
Anyone who has done much with Word knows exactly what I’m talking about. The problem isn’t that most novels have “strange formatting issues,” the problem is that Microsoft Word has strange formatting issues, and they’re all invisible to you until you try getting Word to talk to another program. That, you should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER, do. Don’t do it. Don’t. (If you can avoid it.)
OK, but if you’re reading this, and you’re an author, you probably can’t avoid it. So here’s what you do if you find yourself in my lamentable situation: You give your precious manuscript a lobotomy. Seriously. You purge all old formatting and rebuild it from the ground up. Crazy? No.
Here’s the deal-e-o, peeps. Your final manuscript has been through, what? A hundred revisions? Maybe it has dozens of cut and paste jobs plastered here and there through the entire length of the document. Cut and paste jobs which have left the sticky, gummy tape-marks in code, but are gloriously pristine to view on the page because that’s why you’re using a word processing program in the first place, right? Imagine if you could peel back that gorgeous veneer that Word has laid over your sweet, pretty words, you’ll find the stinky, yellowed pit-stains of effort, coffee marks, maybe even some buffalo sauce. (You didn’t really work on your novel during the Superbowl, right?) All those…”good times”…need to be scrubbed clean before you introduce your novel to its new partner. A Kindle. A Nook. A Kobo.
If you’re trying to teach Word to play nice, why not check this out. When you’re done, come back here and let me know how it went. Maybe I’ll loan you my manuscript for lobotomization…