Images in Ebook Files – How to Include Them and Maintain Sanity

I recently rereleased my first novel, Whatever Happened to Lily? I took on this effort because of a stupid error on my part, I hadn’t been consistent with the author name among the print versions and Kindle versions of my two novels. I felt it important enough to change, so asked how this might be done.

Alas. The author name is engraved, set, permanent, not to be changed! And the book has to be completely redone in order to put a new name on it. After some thought I decided I’d go for it, and so if I was going to go that far, I might as well reread it and see what stood out as needing work, or being eliminated, or otherwise crappy writing. I found some things I didn’t like, and added a couple of parts to make the character (Jay) seem less of a turd. I also added a washed out image on one of the front title pages and tweaked the cover. I uploaded this to CreateSpace and all is well.

I ordered a proof, decided I messed up the cover, fixed that and ordered another proof and liked it, plus the interior. That was finished, but now the Kindle version must match the printed version so I did that too.

The Kindle version requires a Microsoft Word document with different formatting. It must have no headers or footers, and the dropped cap and small caps at the beginning of each chapter must be removed.

Next it can be saved as html and, in the past, this was the end of that process. But wait! I wanted images in the Kindle version too, I thought that would make it look more professional. I see the cover picture on some of the books I’m downloading, and I want mine there too, plus I want that washed out title page included.

I transferred the html file to my Kindle and (naturally) the images weren’t there. Figures. That would be way too easy.

I spent two (that’s TWO) days on figuring out how to do this, and I am still not satisfied with the outcome, although the Kindle version looks fine now. I got on the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) message boards and sure enough, there is plenty of chatter about how to include images. Lots of posts that begin with “Help!!” so I know I’m in the right place. They all say, put your images in a folder along with your html file and zip them together and upload the zip file.

Ah! Of course, why didn’t I think of that? It doesn’t know where to find them. I did what they said. Interestingly enough, all three files ended up on my Kindle, both images and the html file, and looking at the html file revealed that the images were, uh, missing. Still missing. A couple of problems here. One, I DON’T want those image files uploaded as separate files, and two, I DO want them to be included in the html.

I am one of the unlucky people who can’t just chalk this up to experience and look for another way. That would be too easy. No, I’m one of those who will find out why this doesn’t work, dammit, zipping up three files shouldn’t be rocket science.

Maybe the path inside the html file is wrong, I thought, and I fiddled with that, wasted more time. Finally I had to give it up. This is a very hard thing for me to do. I decided I had to try to use some software that I had downloaded a few months back, but hadn’t really used, called Mobipocket Creator.

Another learning curve, but I used that and I did get the images to appear inside the file. But now I had formatting issues. It appears, this software ignores those hard break lines you put in the Word doc, which is then converted in the html file, but when creating the mobi file, it ignores those blank lines.

Wonderful. I now have to Google that and discovered that I can create a Style in word. The first line should have 24 pts (points?) before it, which is about three lines. I’d never done too much with Styles so this was good information.

Once that Style was created I could apply it to the first paragraph of each chapter. I was pleased with the end result, but am still frustrated that the first method didn’t work.

There was an interim step in the process where I downloaded more software called Sigil. This was before I ended up with Mobipocket. Sigil informed me that I had to update my browser to IE9 which I’ve been putting off. I did it, and now I have another learning curve to figure out where everything went. My favorites used to be on the left, now they’re on the right. The refresh button moved. And where is the Print button?! I had to actually Google to find out and it seems you have to press the Alt key in order to get the File Edit Tools, etc. menu which then allows you to enable the Command Bar with the printer button on it. Really? The Alt key? Is this really an upgrade? Seems like we’re going back to the olden days, where you had to know secret combinations of keys.

All I want is a browser, a damn browser. I want it to be familiar, and useful, and intuitive. I thought we had that. I don’t mind the upgrade, but why can’t the basic functionality, and the location of buttons, stay the same? It sounds like Change For Change Sake to me, and that is never a good idea.

Even though I want to write, it seems that so much of my time is devoted to trifling stuff like this. I guess I have no choice but still, it is distracting, frustrating and counter-productive.

Now, back to writing.

Kindle Tips and Tricks

I just uploaded Second Stories to the Kindle. I’d been uploading it all along to my device, as a personal file so that I could use it as an editing tool. I noticed some strange behaviors but didn’t think too much of it. I had saved my Word docx file in Rich Text Format, but noticed that the margins were indented strangely in places. I couldn’t figure that out. When it came time to load it up to the Kindle for sale, I decided I’d better fix it.

I started with my main manuscript file, removed the headings, the dropped caps, and small caps, and saved it to a separate file for the Kindle. I didn’t care much about hyphenated words or paragraph breaks where I didn’t want them because that is irrelevant where the Kindle is concerned. It formats it how it will, and it can change according to the font the reader selects on his own device. But still, when I loaded it, there were the strange areas where the margins weren’t right.

I googled it and discovered that it should be saved in html format, so I saved the Word doc as Web Pages (Filtered). That made a difference, because now I had no more strange margin errors, but other anomalies surfaced. My section breaks, which were the wingding version of the letters “e” and “f” now displayed as just that so now my section breaks were

ef

Ugh. Not what I wanted. I changed that to asterisks. Now, with the dropped caps gone, and the small caps changed to regular, and the section breaks, it should have been perfect.

I paged through and yes, it did look good except one chapter was bolded text. What the…? I checked my Word doc and looked at the unprintable characters, and tweaked this and tried that and nothing worked. It was bolded and I had no clue why. I decided to try to peak at the html itself to see if I could figure anything out. I opened my htm file using the browser and did View Source. I thought it wasn’t going to work because it seemed to freeze there, with a blank screen.

I thought well, after all, it is a complete novel so maybe it will just take awhile. I clicked on Facebook to look around, kill some time while I waited, and after a bit, I got the blinking orange tab notification that my file had loaded. I found the offending chapter and compared it to another chapter that was not bolded. The class was different. The good chapter’s class was MsoNormal and the offending chapter was MsoTitle. I had a clue now, what it was and sure enough, on the Home tab in Word is the Styles tab and my chapter had erroneously been tagged as a header style when it should have been normal.

I have no clue how that happened, and it didn’t make any difference until I converted it to html. After fixing that, the file was perfect.

It takes a few hours for the book to be available on Kindle, and as of this writing it’s not there, but will be shortly. I’ll post it on my Facebook fan page when it’s there. The paperback format takes a bit longer, 5 to 7 days before that’s ready, and I’ll be sure to let everyone know when that’s ready too.

www.facebook.com/lynnschneiderbooks