Ebook Schmeebook

Okay, so I got this brilliant idea that I should write a couple of ebooks. I thought, ‘How hard could it be?’ There are hundreds of books, ads, software applications, articles, etc. that tout the awesomeness and easiness of the ebook and I’m no slouch, so really how hard could it be? Every writer’s site I’ve ever visited and all the writer newsletters I get also hawk the ebook as a legitimate and easy format to sell your writer wares. Most of these sites even sell ebooks. And how convenient are they that they take up no space on your bookshelves, are completely transportable and have true nuggets of golden information. Again, how hard could it be?

Apparently, too hard for moi. First of all there is the issue of the software. There appear to be hundreds of different software applications used to create ebooks. I, being the naive writer I apparently am, thought it was simply a matter of converting a file to pdf format and off you went. Oh no, my friends, there are mysterious things called ebook compilers and html compilers and then there are covers and tables of contents, formatting for the various readers out there – Kindle (Amazon.com’s answer to the ebook reader) so lots of choices.

Although, being the broke writer that I am, trying at this point to conserve on every penny I have I went looking for the freeware compilers, thinking, again, ‘how hard could it be?’ And again, my pea-sized brain or maybe it’s just a 20th century brain and I’m not thinking sufficiently outside the box – could not get its wits wrapped around those either. Because then there are editing issues and protection issues and watermark issues and jeez louise I felt myself just spinning slowly off into space.

I have at this writing, downloaded three different free applications as well as a freeware office suite which is reportedly awesome (although I still can’t figure out how to paginate my document and after two hours gave up and took a nap) and had the function of writing ebooks. Well, I will grant that it does allow you to save a document in pdf format, however it doesn’t give you the function of going in and editing that document. So whatever formatting you need to do you need to do it before you convert it. And too, there is the matter of whether or not the formatting will translate in the conversion or if you’ll just end up with a mess of non-sensical characters in the middle of the manuscript… “Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhhhhh!” she said as she pulled out the remaining hair on her head.

I know life would be easier if I could just get the Adobe software, or something comparable but no can afford the $300-$500 pricetag – not anytime soon at least. I will just have to find a way to muddle through all the freeware out there and hope against hope I can actually produce something that resembles a book, eh?

Anybody out there have any suggestions (aside from quick acting poisons) on where to begin on the labyrinth of the Ebook universe? Even a little advice would be better than driving with my eyes closed, which is pretty much how it feels now. In others, help!!!!

No, seriously, any idea, suggestions or actual knowledge? Please share!!!

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10 thoughts on “Ebook Schmeebook

  1. Just how hard could it be? Come on? Really?

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha.. I’m sorry WC, but I can totally relate. Sorry, I can’t help you though, but I’m laughing with you! 🙂

    Daisy

    Daisy´s last blog post..You, with the Snarky Attitude

    Hey Daisy!
    Yup, it’s funny and if it were someone else I’d be laughing too. Yikes. 😉
    Annie

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  2. I totally get where you’re coming from…I’m also getting into this – so I’m in the same boat as you. We’ll find shore soon enough, I’m sure of it.

    Hey Matthew,
    Well it is some consolation that I”m not the only one having trouble with this. Let me know if you have any pearls of wisdom to share. 🙂
    Annie

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  3. Well, I don’t know what you are using to write in, but I use microsoft word. I have used this converter before and it works well. Plus you always have your word document to edit for changes.

    http://www.doc2pdf.net/

    Hey Teens,
    Thanks for the link. I think part of my problem is that I was thinking there was some program out there that allowed you to edit pdfs and I guess there is, it’s called Acrobat but it’s tre’s expensive. What I seem to have figured out is that you create the document in a wordprocessing program and then convert it to pdf format. Once it’s in pdf though that’s it. I had misguidedly believed that there were special programs that did the whole thing, create, convert, edit and so forth. At least that is what I thought of these ‘compilers’ but it seems that is not the case – though I’m still a little lost about why you would convert the file to html first then convert to pdf or maybe I have that part wrong?

    Annie 🙄

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  4. I read your post closer and see you’ve already used converters but I thought this one, if I remember correctly, at least gave you a good wysiwyg so you didn’t have to worry too much about formatting. But yeah, you still can’t edit a .pdf once it is created – you’d have to go back to word.

    Hey Teens,
    wysiwyg????? What in blazes is that or does that mean? Eyes crossed here.
    Annie

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  5. Are you speaking another language? You must be because I just read this whole thing and didn’t understand a word you said/wrote!

    Yes, apparently I am. I’m trying to create an ebook – which is a book in electronic format that can be read and downloaded on the internet. Make more sense now?
    Annie

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  6. Ain’t no big deal. Download and install Open Office Writer, the word processing component of the open source office suite, Open Office. This software is comparable to MS Office but is free.

    Start a new document in Writer. When finished, save the file, then click File>Export>PDF. You’ll be offered options for the resulting PDF. When ready, click OK (or Save, or whatever) to complete the PDF. Wait a few seconds and your finished PDF will appear magically wherever you told Writer to save it.

    Retain the saved Writer file in order to make revisions and/or additions. Save the file after revision, then repeat the File>Export>PDF process.

    Good luck.

    Bobby

    Hi Bobby and thanks for the advice. However, I have to tell you, I did happen to download open office for the very reasons you stated. But it didn’t seem to want to work for me. I tried repeatedly to get the conversion happening and it just hung up. Perhaps it just didn’t like my computer – can’t say. I did manage to create a book cover with their draw program so it wasn’t a total waste. But I did uninstall the program in the end. What was really strange too is that to uninstall it kept telling me I had to close my various email programs – now, how in the heck did it know I had them open? And the actual email addies? Kind of made me think they had a little spyware going on in there, you know?

    WC

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  7. I’m glad I came back to see your reply. I doubt very much that OO has any spyware. If there were any, it would most likely come from a third party site. You should only download OO from their home site.

    If I were to have your experience with Open Office, here is what I’d do.

    !- Make sure your computer meets the minimal amount of resources required to install OO. You can check system requirements here:

    2- We want to get rid of any loose registry keys that may be pointing to your old install of OO. Run a Registry cleaner such as the freeware version of JV16 Tools. You can download it here: When you install it, make sure you have nothing else running. You can uninstall it after you’ve cleaned the registry and run your computer for a while to make sure you’ve not made any unwanted changes. JV16 will make a backup copy of any changes it makes so that you can revert back if needed.

    3- Re-install a FRESH NEW copy of OO.

    3- Again, make sur nothing else is running. Install ONLY the Open Office Writer (word processor) module unless you have a need for the other modules. You probably already know that you’ll be given a choice when the installation process begins. Do not use the computer for any other task untill the installation is complete.

    4- Start turning out ebooks and live happily ever after. 🙂

    Hey Bobby,
    While I appreciate your checking back and providing links (which I did delete) I’m just not that motivated to give open office another try. I have been working with computers and programs for about 20 years now so yes, indeed, I know to check system requirements before downloading a program – and I have programs I am happy with to check for loose registry keys and so forth. And I also know not to have other programs running when downloading. And as it turns out I already had a program that would convert my word doc to pdf – so, the need to download open office again pretty much doesn’t exist. I have however, managed to create an ebook without the help of OO – so I guess in the end I will make them happily ever after.

    Thanks for your advice and interest. I do appreciate it.
    WC

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