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Friday, 19 June 2015

UPDATE ON ALTERING AN E-BOOK: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

Here's the recap...


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You can, and should, alter your e-book with the following in mind...

One. Correct mistakes, formatting glitches, and other typographical inconsistencies.

Two. If you made a potentially defamatory statement in your e-book, go back in and remove it.

Three. Make mechanical changes to improve the reading experience. For example, a Table of Contents with a better layout. Areas in the front matter of an e-book deserve to be clutter-free.
   In the back-matter of an e-book, you might be forced to update also available entries or biographical notes.
   You may still live in Wisconsin with a husband, but if he's your second husband you might want to mention him by name to avoid confusion and dagger-stares. And a second divorce.

Four. Adding bonus material that was unavailable for various reasons. This is okay. Best to leave it in the back matter.

Five. You spot material that needs tidying on the following grounds...the material as written makes a nonsense of the plot and you realise this late in the day...
   New material adds clarity to the work...
   Legal reasons prevent use of the material as written and something must take its place.


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Plans often stand in the way of other plans. My intention was to take batches of blog posts and bundle those with novels. At most, I'd do that four or five times.

   All self-publishing is an experiment in self-publishing. After I published the first volume, I didn't follow up with the rest of my scheme.
   The time has come to divorce the blog posts from the one novel I released in that format. I'm talking about MIRA E.
   What didn't sit right with me? Blurb. Product description. I put blog posts at the start of the e-book. The novel lurked beyond the paywall.
   And so. You didn't gain a taste of the novel from clicking to look inside the free sample on Amazon. That's why I offered the first chapter free on this blog. And it's why I loaded hefty chunks of the book into the Amazon blurb.
   This one book's blurb ran far longer than usual, for all these reasons of the plot. And I didn't like that. Book blurb on Amazon is limited, true.
   But you should never reach close to the limit. Book blurb remains comfortable in doses of 1-300 words. I used over 600 words to provide a sample of a novel that was shunted after a bunch of blog posts.
   An admirable goal - experiment. In e-publishing, you can fix mistakes. I considered the blog bundling a mistake. So. Time to fix that. How?


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I learned a lot about setting up nesting Tables of Contents when constructing the package. There were many gremlins and glitches to avoid. The experience was useful.

   My main ToC had links to the blog post chapters. A sub-listing existed for the novel's chapter links. I hyperlinked and bookmarked the hell out of the text.
   It all worked. I'd put the hours in, uncovered gremlins lurking in pitfalls, and I went on to use the knowledge elsewhere.
   Well, I had to go back in with the flamethrower. Almost all the blog posts roasted in the flames. The story was inspired by the work of Zenna Henderson, so I retained the blog chapter about her.
   I was forced to kill off any introductory comments that talked about blogging.
   The blurb had to go. It dropped to a respectable 200-odd words.
   Oh, and I had to republish all my books. Back matter. Plugging the book at the back of other books...that's a good thing.
   Updating details is also a good thing. Doing that for umpty files is annoying. But drudgery is part of writing.
   Get used to it.
   I updated many files. There was always going to be more to it than just removing blog posts from a book. Those posts remain on this blog.
   For the reader, there's the mention of Zenna Henderson, an intro, and then it's straight into the novel. And that makes for a better purchasing experience, checking the free sample on Amazon.
   It's important to change your mind. To rethink. Recognise mistakes. Fix what you can. Live with what you can't.
   Concerning the alteration of books, I'd said that if I went ahead with additional material, providing clarity, I'd talk about that in a blog post...


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Well, in this case, it wasn't strictly a question of adding material. (More on that at the end.) This was mainly about removing mini-chapters from a blog-novel bundle...

   Yes. Taking stuff out also provides clarity. And I found an awkward typo. How awkward? It was a space at the end of a sentence.
   These things are minor, invisible, and throw Kindle pages out just a touch. Always kill off things that don't need to be there and don't seem to cause trouble. They'll only cause you trouble...
   Said the man on the stair. Yesterday. When he wasn't there.



I have no desire to alter the plots of any of my stories. In looking over MIRA E. I added a few lines for clarity, during a car-crushing scene. Many YouTube videos were scoured, for the information I needed.

   The plot stayed unchanged.
   So not for the first time, I urge ye. Revisit your work. Kill inconsistencies. Catch invisible gremlins. But don't rewrite your plots. Stand by them, fair or foul. If you write a bad story, write a better book next time. And if you write a good one, write a better book next time.


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Updating a book on Amazon takes a few hours. The updates appear in phases. First to change was the shortened title and the whole book - easily visible in the free preview.

   But the previous cover, with the title telling readers this was volume one in a series, well, that remained online overnight. As soon as the cover updated, I tried to revamp the slideshow widget on this blog. But the old cover lurked in the system.
   The curious thing about removing 99 pages of blogging material was that the estimated page-count shot up by 9 in the revamped product. So, even though this was about removing material, Amazon decided my book was a shade longer.
   And that's that, more or less. I feel better about the other volumes I would've published as blog bundles. Those will go out, one day, as individual books.

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