Ebook Formatting Hell

Posted: September 27, 2011 in Self-Publishing, Things that frustrate me
Tags: , , ,

So, I’ve been researching ebook formats and formatting for two days, tried about, oh three ways of doing it, two of which made me say “WHAT!” repeatedly and one (I’m looking at you Scrivener-Beta for Windows) that didn’t have all the necessary bits and bobs.  I’m not mad, Scrivener, you know I love you.

After a minor burn-out when I felt all the hope of a balloon in a room full of cacti, I finally asked myself if I was going to let this one thing stop me from getting this story published so I could move the *bleep* on to writing more stuff?  So I dug in my heels and my stubborness paid off.  I found something that worked. I’ve spent the whole day today converting my manuscript in XHTML.

Wow, is it painful and slow. But strangely this XHTML coded version seems to make the most sense to me. I actually almost understand what I’m doing, which is no mean feat for someone as computer illiterate as me.

In case you’re interested, I found a very helpful tutorial from Paul Salvette. If I can follow his instructions, so can you.

That said, I would probably not use this method (at least with the skill set I have at the moment) for full length novels, because it would make me jump out of the window.


It isn’t high enough to kill me, but it would annoy me to no end because I would probably land in some nettles and then have to walk all the way around the house to get back in.

I’m annoyed enough.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that by the time my novel revision is done and I’ve typed everything up and want to turn it into an ebook, I can either afford to pay someone to do it for me, or at least have that neat conversion thing the Scrivener for Mac has (yes, I’m jealous).

I have so much admiration towards all you coders out there. You who make my favourite software and my favourite games, I salute you.

  1. Catana says:

    I’m surprised Scrivener doesn’t have all the bits and bobs for Windows yet. I’ve been using Mac Scrivener user for years, and believe me, I really appreciate what it can do. But the thought of trying any kind of HTML coding gives me the cold shivers. I wrote in Scrivener, but formatted both my novels in Open Office, a nice open source freeby that’s an excellent replacement for Word. My first conversion with Scrivener didn’t work out the way I wanted, but will try it again when i have the time to fiddle with it more (and maybe even read the manual). I’d just as soon not have to port Scrivener files to OO.

    • Hi Catana!

      I thought about Open Office, but I’m so unfamiliar with it I thought I’d try something else first. Nex time though!
      Personally, I think there isn’t enough tutorials for people like me who need the For Dummies edition of everything. Trying to understand how formatting works, at least to me, is similar to filling forms: there’s always one question that can be interpreted at least two ways and it makes me crazy trying to figure out how they meant it. I probably think things to death 😉

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Catana says:

    Not only are there two or more ways to interpret things, the exact question you need answered is hardly ever addressed.

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