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Is Good Enough, Good Enough?

25 October 2012

From author and frequent visitor JW Manus:

 This week Mark Coker wrote an article for the How to Successfully Self-Publish site: “Amazon Is Playing Indie Authors Like Pawns,” says Smashwords founder, Mark Coker.” The main point Coker makes is a good one. Writers should not limit their market to Amazon. (My feeling about KDP Select is that exclusivity is a good idea for some books, but not for others, so writers should do their marketing research, and no I don’t want to discuss it right now, so take any conversations about it elsewhere, m’kay?) Coker unfortunately misses another big point, namely that the ebooks his Meatgrinder produces are burnt toast. When a writer jams a Word file through Smashwords, the very best result they can hope for is a generic, bland looking block of text. Try anything visually interesting and the ebook will break or wobble. (This writer, me, refuses to use Smashwords anymore because ebooks generated with Word offend my sensibilities)

It’s good enough for some folks (the bland, generic part, not the wobbly or broken part).

It’s not good enough for me.

. . . .

Yet the same publishers putting out those lousy looking ebooks are spending a lot of time and effort ADVERTISING and MARKETING and endlessly tweeting and facebook spamming BUY MY BOOK!

Sorry, folks. The book, the story, the writing, that’s the meal in this scenario. Presentation matters. If you don’t care how it looks, how it feels, neither will your customers. At best they won’t give your next book a shot. At worst they’ll tell their friends, “Oh that one? Sucks. Don’t bother.” (There are entire publishing houses from whom I will not purchase ebooks–no matter what the price and no matter who wrote the book–because their ebook formatting sucks rocks, and yes, I do tell friends to not bother)

. . . .

I told you before and I will tell you again why I am spending so much time and energy on learning how to properly format and design ebooks. It’s because I love books and I think ebooks are real books and I truly believe ebooks can be as beautiful in their own way as printed material.

Link to the rest at JW Manus

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66 Comments to “Is Good Enough, Good Enough?”

  1. God yes. I hate meatgrinder. The ebooks I create on my own look a hundred times better than what meatgrinder spits out. And honestly that’s Coker’s biggest problem: not anything Amazon is doing business-wise, but that as a publisher I DON’T LIKE THE END PRODUCT coming out of Smashwords.

    I still use them though.

  2. *sigh* I wish J.W. wasn’t so right about the Meatgrinder. The sad part is Coker thinks he’s doing us a favor by making it as easy as possible for those with no tech skills to upload to Smashwords, but it’s not. I know I’ve e-mailed him about allowing us to uploaded our own EPUB files, a feature he promised months ago.

    On the other hand, Coker’s made no secret that his priority retailer is Apple. I can’t afford to buy a *#&$ing Mac just so I can upload a properly format EPUB to the iBookstore, so if Apple wants crap files from Smashwords, so be it.

    • EPUB is the standard for B&N, Kobo, and others. You don’t need a Mac to create one.

      • True, but if you want to sell an ePub on the iTunes store you have two choices:

        1. Get a Mac, because the tool you use to upload ePubs to the iTunes store is ONLY AVAILABLE FOR THE MAC, or

        2. Sell it through a services that has a business agreement with Apple.

        There are a few such services, but MOST services require you to be a big-time publisher and have hundreds of titles to sell. Smashwords is one of the few who lets you upload things on an individual basis. (Lulu is another, but their ePub validation service is buggy. It wouldn’t accept an ePub I’d created on the grounds that it failed B&N’s ePub authentication services, when B&N HAD ALREADY ACCEPTED IT).

        So if you don’t have a Mac, and you want to sell on iTunes, Smashwords really is your best bet right now. Not to mention SW has access to Sony and a few other markets, and Library services. Those are nothing to sneeze at.

        There’s a lot of tools that SW has that are very, very valuable to authors. Unfortunately Meatgrinder isn’t one of them. *sigh*

      • You’re right that you don’t need a Mac to create an EPUB. However, in order to get the product onto the Ibookstore without going through an aggregator you have to use Apple’s iTunes pRoducer aPP. Which only runs on Mac.

        Or is that mAc? Major reason my next computer is probably going to be a Mac Mini.

  3. I’ve been experimenting with this formatting. I use office 2007 on windows 7. I have Calbre and tried to make a epub file with it but Caliber wouldn’t accept it so I saved it as a RTF and then Caliber accepted it and it made a not bad mobi file but when it came to this epub file it turned out looking like chinese. What happened? I read where someone gave Smashwords a RTF file and it went through. I was thinking of doing that.

    • What was your source file? Calibre is a great tool, but I’ve learned that it’s picky.
      The trick to formatting a good looking eBook is in the coding. Take your source file and run it through a program like Sigil or–if you have the HTML know-how, even Notepad. An ePub file is basically a well organised HTML document; if you can code webpages, you can code eBooks.
      If you give Calibre a properly formatted ePub, it’ll give you great looking results.

  4. Thanks for picking this up, PG.

    I want to make it clear that I don’t have anything against Mark Coker or Smashwords. He’s done a lot of good for a lot of people and that I appreciate.

    But that Word thing? Nuh uh, not so bueno.

    • He keeps saying that he will accept ePub somewhere down the line…. so WHEN?!?!???

    • Right on, Jaye.

      I’ve decided not to mess with Smashwords until they accept an ePub file that works with Pubit.

      If there was a time in the development of indie publishing when the Meatgrinder was necessary, that time is gone. 99.99% of indie publishers figure out how to turn Word documents into formatted ebooks for Amazon.

  5. I don’t use InDesign, I know how some people love it. Yesterday I had to reformat a book for a friend. Something was wrong (no idea what) and the mobi/prc output was corrupted. She was tearing her hair out for two days and we all know there is no real tech support at Amazon.

    I appreciate the desire to have beautiful ebooks. IME all that extra is what can throw Kindle or Nook for a loop. I’ve yet to get a TOC to display correctly at BN.

    I won’t publish my verrines cookbook at Smashwords because each heading doesn’t start with “Chapter”–I don’t know what happens to Tofu Salad Verrine, so I’m not wasting my time.

    Our intentions may be great but their coding pretty much stinks. Until that changes, it’s plain vanilla for me.
    If readers can complain about formatting glitches and Amazon will unpublish your book over it, why risk it?

    • Barbara, have you tried the alternate method of creating a TOC on non-standard chapter headings? Same could be done with graphic headings, I’m sure. Essentially you have to create a manual TOC at the top of the file with the right bookmarks in place, coded so that the Meatgrinder will pick them up and create the menu TOC. I had to do that with my “How to Make an Ebook” book, since all the chapters started with “Step 1, Step 2, etc.”

      It’s a bit of a pain, but it worked and cleared for professional status that way.

      • Thanks for the tip.
        I’m not interested in investing that much time in it.
        If it can’t be easier than “a bit of a pain” I can pass on Smashwords for cookbooks. Usually when something is a big of a pain that translates into many hours I’ll never get back either in life or fortune.

    • I love InDesign for creating paper books, but I would never try to use it for an ePub. It’s just too oriented toward fixed-format.

      Unfortunately, the way I prefer to create ebooks — via html and Dreamweaver — is yet another whole skill set for folks.

      What I really want? A staff of minions. Skilled minions.

      • I use HTML and Dreamweaver, too! Minions would be nice; I’ve only formatted shorter works so far. I’m releasing my debut novel in December and am pretty much terrified.

      • Camille, I agree with you but there’s someone on one of the publishing lists who big time loves it for ebooks.

        I use Expression Web for html and recommend that as Dreamweaver and I were not beshert, at all. Anything Adobe for me has a huge learning curve–I don’t know how I learned Photoshop.

  6. This is what I like about Scrivener: I can set up compile pre-sets for Kindle and epub files, and the print version needed for Create Space or just plain RTF/Word. I have a Kindle Touch and access to a Nook so I can tweak as needed. Amazon has a Kindle preview software for the various Kindle versions, although I still prefer to check with my actual Kindle. Presentation absolutely matters, and I fully admit I’m the persnickety about such things. One thing I still mean to find out is how to use fleurons in place of the # or *** for scene breaks in the e-book compile settings. I can’t trust that the blank space you see in the print versions won’t seem like formatting errors on someone’s Kindle.

    As for Word, I’ve always despised it, particularly for its attempts to “help” me, and the strange formatting it inserts in the best of circumstances apart from e-book creation. I was a die-hard WordPerfect user until I defected to Scrivener. I won’t use Smashwords just for the requirement to use Word alone. Let me upload my own epub/mobi file and we’ll talk. Until then it’s dead to me.

    • Jamie, use a graphic. Use the insert command (not copy/paste), make sure you highlight the line and set the margin to 0 before you center it. Check the font size, too, that it’s set to the same as your body text. Scrivener will sometimes “adjust” the graphic size for you if you don’t pay attention. And to help keep the file size down, degrade the quality of the graphic to 75%. You won’t see the difference, but it will knock a lot of kb off the final tally.

  7. Bartholomew Thockmorton

    Hummmm…I dunno guys…I use Word and have never had an issue with the Meatgrinder or formatting in general.

    But then again, I’m a tech. guy and know how to work with that stuff…

    • I’ve been working with Word since 1.0 in 1984, and I feel fairly confident in saying I ‘know how to work with that stuff’. But the Smashwords epub version of my first book has a formatting error that shows up only in iBooks, only in one chapter. This is after I used Coker’s ‘nuclear option’ — twice. A line-by-line examination of the HTML and CSS in the epub file reveal no reason for the error. It displays perfectly on all other readers I’ve been able to try. And the version of the epub I made especially for the iTunes store (using Pages and iTunes Producer) has no such error.

      Word was never meant for producing ebooks; .doc is an obfuscated and proprietary format, and now deprecated even by Microsoft themselves; and Coker is a fool if he thinks his choice of .doc-only input is making anything easier for anyone.

    • I never had trouble with Meatgrinder until recently. For some reason it doesn’t recognize my copyright line anymore — no matter what I upload. I don’t get it. I’m at my wit’s end. I’m formatting with HTML, then converting the HTML file to a Word 2007 file. It uploads fine, and Smashwords accepts it, but they won’t okay it for distribution until I fix my copyright line. This has literally happened with the last five or so ebooks I’ve uploaded to SW. I keep having to resubmit, and eventually a live person approves it. It’s making me crazy!

      All that to say I’ve come to hate Meatgrinder.

  8. Meatgrinder eats my heavily formatted books. Until Smashwords takes epubs I won’t even consider trying to upload to them again.

    Did the iBook store direct for a couple of titles. However, having to borrow a mac to tend to my books there was just plain stupid and I delisted everything. I think I made $5.

    B&N went nowhere for me. I had a book selling hundreds of copies on AZ that only sold 5 on B&N in the same time period. Forget it.

    Frankly, with 19 titles it’s a lot of work to manage multiple platforms anyway. Select pays me way more than any of the other sites did.

    I know that folks are talking about Kobo and other sites “coming on strong” and I hope they do. For now, I’m not chasing it.

    I load to Amazon and get on with the next book.

    • B&N is a strange animal, I agree.

      We have sixty seven titles, and the ones that sell on Amazon are completely different than the ones which tear up our spreadsheets on BN. It’s a neat thing to watch, for sure.

      Right now Amazon is outselling them for us, but not by too much!

  9. In the comments section of the blog post JW is referencing, Mark Cocker responds to some of the Meatgrinder complaints. And did mention that the ability to upload your own EPUB files should be in place by the end of the year.

    That will be good, especially on ebooks that require a more personal touch to display correctly.

    • Hallelujah! Huzzah huzzah! A single workflow for quality ebooks! Oh frabjous day, when the epub upload finally comes to Smashwords.

    • Why in the world does it take Smashwords so long to accept ePub?

      Given the glitchiness and arbitrariness of Meatgrinder and the length of time it takes Smashwords to accept ePubs, I have to question whether Smashwords has some serious deficiencies in programming talent.

      • The only excuse I’d be willing to accept is if they’re modifying meatgrinder to take an epub and spit it into all the other formats they support, including .mobi and the Sony format. I would consider that useful. But even then I’d have to wonder why they didn’t just let us upload the epub and then introduce the conversion stuff later.

        • Based on the HTML/CSS you can see in the EPUB files, it seems that the Meatgrinder uses bits and pieces of OpenOffice and Calibre. I can’t see why they’d have to make many (if any) modifications to it, unless they’ve turned the Calibre internals into hamburger.

          Kobo’s converter seems to use a modified version of Calibre, as well (though I upload my EPUBs direct).

          One of these days I’ll get my Python scripts to generate my own EPUB files instead of an RTF. And once I can ditch the Meatgrinder, I can format a book properly. Oh, the glorious days.

  10. Until Barnes & Noble allows authors from outside the US to use their Pubit system, I’ll have to continue to go through Smashwords for them. And for Apple, as I’m not going to buy a Mac just to go direct with them.

    I really wish some of these companies would take a more global view of the business, and that includes Amazon and their insistence on a US-based bank account for monthly payments. [end mini rant]

    • Oh yes. These annoy me as well. I sell tons at B&N, my last two releases took two months to show up in B&N. So frustrating, but I have no other choice being Canadian.

    • XinXii also distributes to Barnes & Noble (and a couple of others) and they accept epubs. And since very recently, they don’t require you to have an ISBN for distribution to Barnes & Noble and Spanish retailer Casa del Libro. No idea how long it takes them to distribute, though, since I only just signed up for distribution.

  11. Coker keeps saying epub uploads. No mention of HTML, RTF, text, or mobi.

    What if the reason it’s taking so blasted long for them to allow epub uploads is that they’re recoding the Meatgrinder so it will create all the other formats from the epub?

    (I wish I hadn’t thought of this.)

    • Yes, I suspect that’s exactly what they’re doing… and that’s a GOOD thing. epub is a much better sourcefile than doc… unless people are just making their epubs from doc files.

      • But it’s a bad thing if the system they’re building is as lame as Meatgrinder.

        • One of the biggest problem with using Word is that ebooks have TWO tables of contents. The toc the producer creates and something called a toc.ncx. Why? Dunno. Don’t make the rules, just try to follow them. Ebooks also have navigation guides that make jumping from chapter to chapter or section to section possible, and that’s different than the toc.ncx. It’s all based on html. Word is junked up with tons of code. It doesn’t take very much wayward code to mess things up. Even something as simple as a page or section break can give it fits. Then there are problems with the devices themselves. They have defaults. When the producer’s commands collide with the default settings, things can go haywire, too. For instance, I got a new Fire. Some of the ebooks that render just fine on my Kindle Keyboard are double-spaced in Helvetica font on the Fire. They look like manuscripts. The Fire won’t let me change the font or line spacing. I’ve also seen ebooks that rendered perfectly on the computer screen via Calibre, but on an iPad they squished with the line spacing so tight they were barely readable–and again, the device wouldn’t allow for a change.

          Making a stable ebook is trickier than it looks. Going to EPUB will be a big step in the right direction for Smashwords. Unfortunately, it’s going to freak out a lot of people. The smart ones will use Scrivener or Sigil, creating validated EPUBS. Many more will run Word docs through Calibre to make EPUB files and end up with ebooks that are even more unstable than before.

        • I disagree that accepting ePubs is bad if they are using the meatgrinder:

          Yes, the meatgrinder sucks, but a major reason it sucks is because of how bad Word docs are. Even if they don’t make any improvements at all, the meatgrinder should put out more reliable and higher quality results if it starts with an epub that gets through the vetting process they are already using to meet vendor standards.

          Of course, yes, I am saying should. It is possible for them to screw it up in many ways, but they can do a good job with the tools they have if they start with a higher quality input.

          • Starting markup with Word is like starting a voyage to Mars by crashing your spacecraft at maximum velocity into Challenger Deep.

            So Son of Meatgrinder may be better than its predecessor.

            The only ebook I bought at Smashwords had random variations between standard weight and boldface in the text. Maybe the author didn’t notice while he was writing. But I surely would have. I suspect the Meatgrinder.

            • I’ve seen problems with my ebooks on Smashwords which are .doc files output from LibreOffice. Somehow the .doc file would contain italics which LibreOffice displayed as normal text, and I had to delete that text and type it in again to remove them.

              Now before uploading I output as HTML and search for unexpected italics tags.

              • Word processors all ought to add WordPerfect’s Reveal Codes function.

                • +1 to infinity and beyond. I discovered WordPerfect in college in the previous millennium. I was loyal to them for that feature alone (there were other features). The absence of this in Word, coupled with Word’s strange codes and formatting, is the reason I will only use Word under duress (there are other reasons).

              • I’ve had the italics problem in Open Office/Libre Office too, not evident until you export to RTF or DOC. What I discovered caused it is changing to italics on the fly. Ctrl-I, text, Ctrl-I. Probably same using menu or toolbar.

                What solved it was to type the text, then go back, mark it, and italicize it. Then it didn’t do that. Strange but I’m surprised no one has done anything about. But then, maybe no one has submitted it yet. Run a few test and see if you get the same results as I do.

                • True, I guess if we can find a way to reliably reproduce it we should actually report it as a bug :).

                  You’re probably right, I normally type the text then add italics, but sometimes I turn italics on, type something and turn it off.

  12. I’m personally baffled by this insistence that ebooks have to look like more than text. I mean… seriously. Baffled. All this care about font, about sizing, about this, about that… And I’m just going to suck it into my favored e-reader (Stanza), make the font whatever the heck I prefer, change the size to whatever I like, and cope with the fact that poor Stanza has a teensy flaw of not liking to center text. So sad. Oh, and I’ll adjust the paragraph spacing and indentation and borders to what I like.

    Or, if I have to read it on the Nook app or B&N? I’ll put in my overrides. (Kindle: Georgia, estimated 12-point, above-midpoint brightness, white page, black text. Nook: Georgia, estimated 12-point, white page, black background, space-and-a-half line spacing, middle margins, Justification ON, Publisher defaults OFF. iBooks: Palantino, about 14 point, pale sepia page, black text.)

    So all that fiddling and fussing and whatnot? Gone. Let me reiterate: It. Is. GONE. I don’t see it. Frankly, I don’t want to see it; my eyesight is what it is, and I grade e-readers on two things: the ability to drill-down by author-sort, and the ability to adjust the formatting to suit my desires.

    The only way to be sure that something will display cleanly on as many devices as possible is to make it as simple as possible. Body style that defaults to something inoffensive like 12-point Times New Roman. Header Style that adds Bold, maybe bumps up to 14-point. Bold. Italics. Maybe underlines. Centering, sure, but make sure it breaks gracefully. A hand-made ToC seems to work with Amazon and Smashwords, so put one in — it’s a kindness to the people who don’t have easy navigation on their e-readers. Feeling fancy? Do the Dropdown initial capital hack of making it a couple points bigger than the body-text, and putting it in Bold. So long as you’re consistent from chapter to chapter, it won’t jar.

    If you work in PDF? Yes, work and slave over making it pretty. If you’re formatting for CreateSpace or Lightning Source, then yes, work hard and consider hiring a pro layout person. But otherwise… Hey, if it turns you on, go for it — but I’m never going to see it, and I don’t really want to unless you’re Katherine Blake, author of The Interior Life.

    • All that means is no matter what I do, you’ll be a satisfied customer. However, there are people who don’t fiddle with the settings to get exactly what they want… and in those cases I can do some extra things to improve the readability, like adding more white space between lines (that’s especially helpful on phones. You don’t have to add a lot) and generating a custom table of contents that’s more informative than the one that gets created by default. I’m not even talking about adding pictures!

      Anyway, if I do that then not only are you happy, but so is the reader who is running on default settings!

      • …what table of contents “by default” do you mean? I do the ToC by hand at all times; anyone allowing Word to do a ToC for the Meatgrinder should re-read the (baroque, aye) Smashwords styleguide thingie, because that’s specifically called out as “this will break Meatgrinder; don’t do it,” as I recall.

        Is there really that much difference in the default text formatting? Seriously? I’ve been flipping back and forth on the phone in Nook and not seeing much — my sample of McGuire’s Countdown looks virtually identical, for instance. For that matter, so does a sample of my own work, and I followed Coker’s styleguide pretty automatically.

        So… I’m still not seeing the fuss here.

    • That’s actually why Word is so BAD BAD BAD BADDITY BAD!

      Word insists on embedding a whole lot of formatting junk in the file, whether you want it or not. It even puts stuff you explicitly DON’T want in the file.

      And while some ebook apps may handle that extra junk okay, not all do, and those readers are screwed because it forces inappropriate formatting on them.

      This is, btw, why InDesign is utterly wrong for ebooks. It’s worse than Word.

  13. In the cited thread Coker comes across as thinking his customers are too dumb to use Meatgrinder, and THAT’s why they don’t want to use it. Not impressive. At all. That kind of arrogance might be tolerable with uber-competent geniuses who are performing essential functions–a Dr. House type–but Coker is obviously no such thing. His customer service attitude ought to reflect that.

    It’s odd that the workflow requires an inferior tool for the job, in this case Word, and that he insists customers justify why they don’t want to utilize that inferior tool. Yes, utilize, because Word is obviously not intended for e-book creation purposes.

    I mentioned in the customer service thread that I did tech support for a major daily. When we completely overhauled a certain aspect of our site, I made a point of taking down customer complaints and having those complaints addressed with the team responsible for those changes. It did not occur to me to gaslight customers into thinking that their concerns were invalid, or tell them that they were freakishly unusual for having those concerns. I despise salesmen et al who think it’s okay to tell people what they should want and ignore what people have actually said they wanted. Not impressed. Customer is king, act like you know it.

    • To be fair: writers/publishers are not “customers” in this case. Smashwords is our customer, we’re a supplier.

      I agree, though, that even though they are “always right” about what they want to accept, if they want the partnership they claim, they need to stop treating people like idiots.

      HOWEVER; we don’t know what their service logs look like. One downside of working with a lot of people (customers or suppliers or whatever) is that you get so saturated with the few who are idiots, that they take up a disproportionate share of your world view.

      For that reason I cut him a little slack on his arrogance. Or will when he lets me submit epubs or html.

    • Bad programmers always blame users when the program doesn’t work.

      • I’ve worked with them many times, often on projects that were my brainchild that they had to put into something users could interact with. Only the very best programmers never blamed me/the user for something not working the way it was supposed to. They asked more questions and then fixed the issue. The bad coders would insult me and/or the users by assuming that the reason things weren’t working correctly was either user error or pure stupidity.

        • The bad coders would insult me and/or the users by assuming that the reason things weren’t working correctly was either user error or pure stupidity.

          Thereby guaranteeing that they would never learn from their mistakes, and ensuring that they would remain bad coders. Ain’t self-justification grand?

  14. If an author has a good ePub, why does she need SW?

    • I’m not sure what you’re asking. Are you asking “need Smashwords” or “need the Smashwords Meatgrinder”? Those are two very different questions.

    • Access to their channels — Apple, mostly, but also Sony and Libraries.

      I also have readers who use Smashwords exclusively. Keep in mind that there are people who go to SW specifically to buy stuff to read, and they spend money.

      • *nod* And when they spend money at SW, SW potentially has the biggest royalty of them all.

        (For those who don’t know why it’s potentially the biggest royalty: One short story sale at 99c, and Paypal’s cut eats my cut down to about 51-54 cents — which is still more than 35 cents. Several short story purchases in the same shopping cart, to spread Paypal’s transaction fee between them? I can get up to about 81 cents per 99c short story.)

    • That question assumes reluctance — that is, if Smashwords were to get rid of the negatives, you could still only be dragged kicking and screaming to use them because you “need” to.

      The only thing I hate about Smashwords is their insistence on using Word files as the basis for everything. And yeah, if you like to micromanage things, they are a barrier between you and their other partners. But I don’t like to micro-manage. As a matter of fact, I like the convenience.

      In the meantime, Smashwords is one place I can send any customer to get just about any format for my books. They pay very well for the 99 cent short stories — and have negotiated a deal with other retailers to pay me better than I would otherwise get.

      They’re convenient and they’re fast, and though they aren’t as responsive as they were, they are responsive if you are smart about your first contact. (I.e. including all info they need including links, etc.)

      If it weren’t for the Word thing, I’d have no complaints about Smashwords.

  15. So far I’ve been using word, then converting in calibre to epub. I started with Smashwords, but now that Kobo and B & N are accessible, I only use SW for the ones I can’t get into otherwise and upload to the others individually. So far I haven’t had any problems with the conversions. *fingers crossed* But then I’m more techie then the average user, but not full-on IT. I just learn fast as I go along. Besides, most of it isn’t that difficult, just time consuming.

  16. Last time Mark posted a survey on Smashwords (Feb 2010 on his blog), nearly 30% of his downloads were in PDF format and about 17% were PLAIN TEXT.

    Most of his readers DO NOT care about fancy formatting.

    I suspect if Amazon and B&N offered different format options, you’d see a similar percentage.

    In my experience, people simply want something that is readable…the fancy epub tricks are something designers love and readers hardly ever notice. (Until the design breaks because of all the fancy tricks.)

    • Some people have never really accepted the fact that on the web, the reader is the publisher. Same thing for ebooks. If they want to, they will override all your fancy designs with a click or touch.

      I’m not saying you don’t design websites to be attractive. But you do have to know when to let go.

  17. I posted this comment on Jaye’s blog so I thought I’d post it here as well.

    I couldn’t agree more about Smashwords, there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’.

    I am a website designer so I work with html and css all day long. I formatted my own Word ms into mobi/prc for Amazon and my books look exactly as I want them to. I created my own pdf version of my tapas recipe book which is downloadable direct from my website and it looks exactly as I want it to.

    For ease, I used Smashwords for the rest (iBooks, Nook, Kobo, etc.) and, while they’re passable, they don’t look how I want them to look. Word sucks as a converter to html, it’s the most bloat-heavy code I’ve ever had the misfortune to work with. How anyone without a thorough html knowledge can find their way around it, I do not know.

    The sooner Smashwords get their digits out of their butt-holes and start accepting epub files, the happier us bunnies will be. Until then I’ll be uploading the next book in epub format direct to the three sites in parenthesis above and probably ignoring the rest. (Other than those three, I haven’t seen any sales from the rest anyway.)

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