Friday, July 29, 2011

How to create a personal Kindle eBook

Not quite ready to share your manuscript, but want to see how it looks on a Kindle? Here’s an easy way to convert your Word document into an eBook—for your eyes only. Seeing your draft in print will inspire you to keep writing and finish. (Not to mention it’s fun to show your mother.)

There are plenty of instructions out there, but I’ve found this to be the quickest and cleanest way. After you’ve done it once, you'll be able to build new versions in a few minutes. If you know a better way, we can both agree you’re smarter and prettier and move on. Unfortunately, this process works only for PCs. (Sorry to all you Mac hipsters.)

As your teachers used to say, please read all the instructions first.
  1. Convert your Word document: Using Word 2007 or higher? Start with this step. If not, skip to #2. In your manuscript, go to “File > Save As > Word 97-2003.” Your new file will have a *.doc extension rather than *.docx. Delete your TOC and any notes a reader shouldn't see. Page numbers in headers or footers are okay; otherwise remove.

  2. Still in Word, go to “File > Save as “Other Formats.” In the “Save as Type” field, select “Web Page, Filtered (*.htm, *.html).” Hit “Yes” at the message. Close.

  3. Use Mobi to build your eBook: Download and install MobiPocket Creator and MobiPocket Reader Desktop (both free).

  4. Open MobiPocket Creator on your PC. On the home screen, select “Import from existing file > HTML document.” Browse to your book’s *.htm file and hit “Import.”

  5. Your book will appear under “Publication Files.” Under “View” on the left, you can add a cover image (if you have one). Browse to add and hit “Update.” You can also build a TOC here, but for time and editing purposes, skip this step.

  6. Back on the “Publication Files” screen, select “Build” from the top bar. On the next screen, select “Standard compression” and “No encryption.” Hit “Build,” and your book is on its way.

  7. Once the process is done, you’re given the option to “Preview with the MobiPocket Reader for PC.” Select this, and you’ll see your new eBook in semi-Kindle format. I often proof my book in MobiReader and flip back to the manuscript to make edits.

  8. Send to your Kindle: You should have created a device email address when you registered your Kindle. To find it, go to “Menu > Settings” and page to the “Device E-mail” section. Add this address ([yourname] to your contact book.

  9. Send an email to your Kindle e-mail address. Attach your eBook file (*.prc) by browsing to “My Documents/MyPublications/[yourbookfolder]/[yourbook].prc.”

  10. “Turn on Wireless” for your Kindle and “Sync and Check for Items.” In a few minutes, your eBook should appear on your Kindle home screen. Congratulations. You’re an eBook author!
Please read all compatibility requirements before downloading apps. The author disclaims any liability for errors, glitches, gremlins or user error. Good luck!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Published? Nah. Who needs the validation?

    Everyone has a talent at 25. The difficulty is to have it at 50.
                                                                                          —EDGAR DEGAS

    This quote jumped out at me from Susan Shaughnessy’s wonderful Walking on Alligators, and I wanted to share it with someone. Facebook? Twitter? But wait—people would know how old I was because the line meant something to me. Delete, delete. Welcome to the New Age, where we pretend to be younger, funnier and braver than we really are. Editing is a powerful thing.

    Show of hands: Does the twitosphere make you feel like you’re back in junior high, leaning up against the wall while “Stairway to Heaven” starts to play? After all these years, I was getting pretty comfortable in my own skin, and along comes the “Follow” button to slap me down to earth.

    I’m a solitary bird by nature, working at home with my husband, building a business that's flourishing, even while the economy tanks. My second job—writing—is back on the front burner after years of “let me just finish the laundry/painting/reconstruction first.” A great friend and author, Glenn Gordon, suggested that Twitter might be a good way to connect with fellow writers, so I gave it a shot. Which brings me to my other favorite quote:

    A poet or novelist will invent interruptions to avoid long consecutive days at the ordained page; and of these the most pernicious are other kinds of writing—articles, lectures, reviews, a wide correspondence.
                                                                                           —SHIRLEY HAZZARD

    How busy we writers are, talking about writing. I finished my first novel ten years ago. (It’s in a drawer where it belongs.) My second one is nearly finished—445 pages done, maybe five more chapters to go. So what am I doing? Writing a blog, of course. With any luck, I can string out this gig for another year or two.

    As long as my book stays locked away on my laptop, it can be the blockbuster that outsells J.K. Rowling while simultaneously winning the Pulitzer Prize. My dreams are safe. One day soon, I’ll have to gather my courage and send my child out into the world to be taunted and bullied—or worse, ignored.

    Remind me again why we write?

    In the old days, we fantasized about finding an agent, getting a publisher, seeing our names in hardcover on a bookstore shelf. (Or dare we even hope for a table by the door?) Press tours, radio interviews, maybe even a spot on NPR. Today it’s Kindles and Nooks and Google Books, no middleman in sight. Used to be we only had to worry about a handful of rejection letters from the literary gatekeepers. Now? The whole damn world can judge us in 140 characters or less.

    World, please be gentle. Or, at the very least, be funny. That’s all I ask.