Showing posts with label ebook formatting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ebook formatting. Show all posts

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Smashwords Style Guide Translated to Italian (Guida allo Stile Smashwords)

The Smashwords Style Guide is now available in an Italian translation, Guida allo Stile Smashwords.

The Italian translation is thanks to the generous volunteer effort of Giuseppe Meligrana, an Italian publisher at Smashwords. Giuseppe is also planning to translate the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.

The new Style Guide will make ebook publishing and distribution more accessible to thousands of Italian-language authors. As one of a handful of authorized global Apple aggregators, we're pleased to distribute Italian authors not only to their home country's Apple iBookstore, but worldwide as well.

As we announced October 24, Italy is among the 26 new iBookstore countries now served by Smashwords distribution.

Prior to these new stores, Apple operated in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and Australia.

Of the 26 new stores added by Apple, the Italian store was the top performer by unit sales for Smashwords authors and publishers for the week ending November 20.

Two fun facts about the Italian language, per Wikipedia:
  1. Italian is spoken by 55 million people in Italy, and 6.7 million outside the country
  2. Between 120 and 150 million people worldwide use Italian as a second or cultural language
The release of the Italian Smashwords Style Guide follows the recent release of French and German Style Guide translations. Additional translations are in process for Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Bengali.

If you're a Smashwords authors or publisher and you'd like to translate the Style Guide into your native language, please see the instructions here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Smashwords Style Guide & Meatgrinder Blades Take Smashwords Ebooks to New Level

I released a new revision to the Smashwords Style Guide that makes it easier to produce, publish and distribute a great-looking multi-format ebook with Smashwords.

In parallel, in the last 30 days we developed, tested and introduced new EPUB and MOBI Meatgrinder conversion blades that give authors and publishers better control over the final look and feel of their ebooks.

The new Style Guide marks the 42nd and most significant update to the Style Guide since we first released it in November 2008. Our last major revision was in April, which is when we first introduced new guidelines for paragraph construction and linked Tables of Contents.

The new Guide draws upon our experience helping over 8,500 authors publish nearly 20,000 books at Smashwords. We analyzed the most common formatting problems and then enhanced the Style Guide's instructions to make it easier for authors to use Microsoft Word to create higher quality source files.

Here's a summary of some of the most significant enhancements:

  • More screenshots - We added more images to make it easier than ever to understand how to control the look and feel of your ebook's formatting

  • Samples of well-formatted books - The Style Guide now contains links to two examples of well-formatted books. Download their RTF files for free.

  • Faster formatting - Dozens of time-saving tips help you clear out hidden corruption and create the cleanest, highest-quality formatting in the least amount of time.

  • Paragraph construction - The bulk of the most important Style Guide enhancements fall under this category. New instructions show how to manage and modify paragraph styles to improve readability and formatting quality. Learn how to modify your line spacing, code for first line paragraph indents, control fonts and paragraph styles, or code for block paragraphs.

  • Hyperlinked Table of Contents - Updated instructions make it easier to create clickable ToCs, footnotes and endnotes using Word's bookmark feature.

  • How to check your work - Learn how to use use Adobe Digital Editions and Kindle for PC (or Kindle for Mac/Linux) to troubleshoot your EPUB and MOBI files.

  • How to pass EPUBCHECK - If your EPUB file doesn't pass EPUBCHECK validation, we can't distribute your ebook to Apple. New tips show you how to repair problems in your source file so you produce EPUB-compliant files. I expect we'll continue to update these tips as we learn more.

  • New fast-track tips - Learn how to reduce the time it takes for your book to earn inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog, and gain faster and more reliable distribution to our growing retail distribution network.

  • Keyboard shortcuts - A new section provides a refresher course on how to use keyboard shortcuts and Word's FIND AND REPLACE feature to reduce formatting time and errors.
Access the new Smashwords Style Guide here.

I'd like to thank the thousands of Smashwords authors and publishers who have entrusted Smashwords to produce and publish their ebooks. In the last 2 1/2 years, we've worked to continually improve our Meatgrinder file conversion technology based on your feedback. As a result of your feedback, the files we produce today are dramatically better than what we produced just a few months ago. With your support, we'll work to improve it further in the months and years to come.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Forget what you know about book formatting

One of my many joys of running Smashwords is working directly with authors every day who share my passion about the promise of ebooks. Their feedback, dreams and frustrations are what guide our development.

The biggest challenge these authors face getting their book into ebook form is that they're held hostage by their previous conceptions regarding how a book should be formatted. Traditional print formatting is very forgiving. If you use space marks or tabs instead of indents, for example, as long as the words are arranged where you want them on screen or in your PDF, the book prints reasonably well and all your bad formatting habits are forgiven.

Ebooks aren't so forgiving, because for the most part, formatting is the enemy of good ebook formatting. If my statement sounds circular and nonsensical, allow me to elaborate.

In the ebook realm, authors must abandon the notion of the "page." Pages have no meaning in ebook form, because pages become amorphous shape shifting creatures depending on the ebook reader; the reader's choice of font size, font style or line spacing; or in the case of the iPhone, whether they're holding it vertically or sideways.

When the notion of page disappears, it creates other problems for traditionally formatted books. The page numbers in your table of contents or index become meaningless. Your artificial page breaks, made via the common bad habit of multiple paragraph returns, create blank pages. Your forced page breaks disappear.

The secret to good ebook formatting is to keep it simple: A paragraph return at the end of a paragraph, a proper indent at the beginning of the paragraph, a couple paragraph returns between each chapter, things like that.

For long form narrative books, which is what most people read, readers buy books for the words, not the formatting. Don't let your formatting get in the way of the words.

For helpful formatting tips, read the Smashwords Style Guide.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ebook Authors: Liberate the Words from the Formatting

I remember when I was a kid my dad lifted the hood of his car to reveal the handle of a pair of pliers plugging some open orifice in the engine. I asked him what he was thinking, and he said, "The car works, doesn't it?"

Massaging Microsoft Word files into usable ebook formats is kind of like that. To be successful, we have abandon perfection and focus on making the dang thing work.

One of my first projects after launching the public beta of Smashwords was to write the Smashwords Style Guide, which provides authors tips on how to format their Microsoft Word manuscripts in preparation for feeding them into Meatgrinder, our ebook conversion engine.

As I work with authors to improve the quality of their conversions, one of the biggest problems I run into is that so many manuscripts contain unnecessarily complex formatting. This usually isn't the author's fault. Word, in its attempt to provide easy WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) on-screen editing, has a tendency to sneak a ton of junk into the document, often hidden from the writer.

This stealth formatting usually goes unnoticed when we print to paper, but with ebooks, the formatting often mutates into an ugly unreadable beast. You never know if the reader is consuming your book on a Kindle, a Sony Reader, an Iliad, their iPhone, their laptop, a big screen TV, or any of the myriad other e-reading devices and approaches now available. Each device interprets formatting differently. The ereading software or page display can add another unpredictable dimension to the problem.

The secret to good ebook formatting is to liberate the words from the formatting so that the formatting becomes truly invisible. Eliminate the superfluous formatting and focus on the important bare bones necessities, like indents and paragraph returns. See the Smashwords Style Guide for more.