In some ways, the job of converting my print book New Age Looping for e-readers has felt like remodeling an old farmhouse: You sort of know what you want to do, but every time you started something there turns out to be six things you need to learn first. Then you realize you’ve done two of them totally wrong, and have to re-do them. And along the way you learn something you could do that would make the whole project soooo much better, so you have to back up four steps to incorporate it.
It’s a far cry from having the whole book converted, but it’s progress. New Age Looping: Skipped Stitch Patterns is adapted from a chapter in the print book. Last spring, when I was trying to figure out e-book formatting on my own, I excerpted it to Smashwords. The auto-vetter identified a number of problems that I kept meaning to fix but didn’t know how (insert remodeling analogy of your choice here). With the help of the online class I’m taking, I’ve been able to resolve most of those problems and tackle the big one.
The big one is getting instructional illustrations to work across so many e-reader platforms (Kindle, Nook, tablets, phones, PDFs, and who knows what else will be in common use the day after tomorrow). It might be easier to follow my sister’s advice and switch to writing bodice rippers, except I know more about bodice construction than plot pacing and character development. With text-only books, the copy flows from beginning to end with a chapter break here and there. But for books someone is going to use to learn from text plus illustrations? Well, the formatting is pretty important.
So now I’m in the process of reformatting every single illustration from my print book. This is as much fun as tearing out old polystyrene bead insulation. And I’m breaking the book into at least two segments to keep them within recommended file size limits. This one really hurts, because I wrote the book to present a progression of techniques that build on each other. So that one feels like kind of like this:
That picture is from 2002, when the local fire departments burned our old farmhouse as a training exercise after our new house was built. After the burn, we planted willow beds on that site and they thrive there.Hopefully, when I get all the formatting and tweaking and fussing done on these e-book editions, no one but me will even care that once upon a time this was here and that was there. It will all just work.
And then? The instructor says that in the last class we’re going to learn about building apps. I’m intrigued. What do you think?