The Rebirth of a Book…and a Challenge to My Sanity

Self-Publishing has been creatively liberating…and endlessly frustrating. (Yes, that’s two “ly” words in one sentence. So shoot me.)

Formatting e-books is no fun. Formatting previously published novels without original Word documents is as difficult as getting through airport security the day before Thanksgiving. My conventionally-published books were either written on my old electric typewriter or saved on disks that are no longer compatible with any computer or program.

They were written in the late ’80s-early ’90s. I think the last of them were saved onto small diskettes….but I have no idea where they are now.

So…to convert them to ebooks left me with two options: retype each book (I’m not exactly speedy on the keyboard, so that would have taken a long time) or scan the pages, use OCR software to lift the text from the scanned pages, convert it to a Word file, then to HTML…and pray the final product looked professional. Hmmm…maybe retyping wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all….

The process is even more complicated than it sounds. And getting it right on the first try…not likely. The first time out was initially a disaster. I scanned the pages, Collin took care of the OCR process, I converted it to a Word document, Martin edited it, Collin converted it to HTML and uploaded it…and the sample I got when I clicked “Look Inside” was…the JPEG images of the scanned pages!

How’d that happen?

I still don’t know. But Collin managed to fix it…for the most part. We fixed everything we found, because some readers will write a nasty review if a misspelled word destroys their reading experience. (And I thought I had a short attention span.)

Funny how they never notice the errors in conventionally-published books….

We thought we’d learned from that experience, that it would never happen again…but it did. Over the weekend, we published the third of my backlist books via Amazon KDP. After it went live and was in the middle of a two-day free ebook promotion, we discovered a handful of errors. After a couple of days of intense editing, we have it set up at Amazon once again.

Maybe next time, I’ll type it….



13 responses

  1. I know your pain. My original MS’s were on 5 and a quarter inch diskettes. And I once lost an entire novel on an early laptop with volatile Ram, ie, if you lose power, you’ve lost everything.
    Not to be smug, but I’ve never read a “conventionally” published book in my life without finding at least five mistakes. I know, I should get out more.

  2. Norma, you really had a ton of challenges, but thank God you eventually overcame them! We are happy to have the book up and realize just how hard it is. And I agree, I find mistakes in conventionally published books all the time (they really need to check themselves). I think you deserve a vacation now; Norma, you’ve really earned it! Take care and good luck! Can’t wait to read this book! Now, go have that calgon bath…let it take you away!

  3. Hello, Yes some people are picky. Not me, I don’t care how many words u mispell, I just love to read your books. Keep on writing. We all make mistakes & sometimes don’t catch them.

    Dawneda Yost
    Pace, Fl.

  4. Norma,
    To tell you the truth, I would not have noticed errors in your books because when I read your books, I, too, am too involved into the stories. 🙂 I do notice typos within conventionally published books. But, at that, only rarely, because I am also too involved in reading the book, not in critiquing it.

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