I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

ClearFormattingWord2010

I wish I had written the lyrics and not just used them for a title to this blog, but they belong to Messrs Jagger and Richards so I will have to be content with enjoying the song if not the sentiment. And the song is of course all about frustration. So is writing. In that it is not unique. There are so many aspects of human life that expose us to frustration of one type or another.

For the most part I find things other than writing are the cause of my frustrations, a lack of time to sit and actually do the writing bit is my particular peeve. That is not what I am complaining about today, however. No, today it is formatting. I am not sure if I have touched on this subject previously but formatting is an important and boring part of the job of being a writer these days.

I write using Microsoft Word. It is a word-processor that I know very well and consequently I am comfortable with it. The problem is that when submitting my manuscript to Kindle they did not, in the past at least, mention that they convert the Word document into the EPUB format and that this can cause problems. When writing in Word the program automatically puts code into the text. There is nothing suspicious about this, it is not some proof of the existence of the Matrix, it is just designed to help display our lovingly written words in the best possible light. The existence of this code can cause problems during the conversion process though.

When I published my first novel, The War Wolf, I was unaware of this problem simply because Kindle Direct Publishing did not mention it at the submission stage. I was horrified when I saw how the first version looked! There were all kinds of mistakes in the body of the text. I quickly investigated the matter and discovered that I should have removed all the pretty formatting from my manuscript prior to submitting it.

Back in the early days of ePublishing it was quite common for reviewers to complain about weird looking lines in the body of the text, but they, like the author, probably did not realise that there were technical reasons for this. I have since discovered that converting the Word file to an RTF file, or putting it through a program like Sigil, can cure the affliction of spurious formatting, as can converting it to a PDF, which is very easy to do.

As I am finishing The Blade’s Fell Blow I find myself thinking about this formatting issue. I have taken to writing my books using Createspace’s Word template as I like having a paperback version of my books. The manuscript is formatted accordingly, with different sized fonts for headings and use of italics for emphasis where necessary. My intent is to make the text look good to the reader and also uniform in respect of the two previous books in the series. Once I am happy with the way it looks, however, the frustration part will kick in. It is then that I will have to consider how I re-format the manuscript for uploading to Kindle Direct Publishing.

This not really a monumental task, just tedious. For an author with a publisher it is something that they do not even have to consider, people are employed to do this on their behalf. I am still waiting to have that luxury. Apart from the interminable checking that everything is okay, which it seldom is on the first attempt, or even attempts, what I find frustrating about the whole process is knowing in the back of my mind that I could be writing instead!

I want to write.

I do not want to do all the file conversions, the self-promotions, and the website maintenance. I want to be like a reasonably successful author and spend my time crafting enjoyable tales. It is frustration avoidance of course. It is also just a dream at the moment. The fact is that I am going to have to bite the bullet and bury myself in the formatting and re-formatting process in order to get my book other there for people to read. If there is anything that helps keep me going it is the idea that someone will read my book, it would be nice if they gave me a review as well but that is another matter.

So, in all honesty, the title of this blog is a little misleading as I can get some satisfaction at the end of the process. To be honest the whole procedure of producing a novel in both hard and soft copy has got easier over the years. This may well be because I am no longer a stranger, or even inexperienced, in the whole process from original idea to finished product. In fact I would say that that has a lot to do with it. Experience is a very valuable asset to have. The Blade’s Fell Blow will be my fourth novel and it will be available in both paperback and eBook formats. I must be getting some satisfaction somewhere then?!

 

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About petercwhitaker

I am an author and lover of life!
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