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So, at long last, I have published Lifeboats.  Been working on it, on and off, for nearly a year – more like eighteen years, in some respects.  I got a few suggestions from friends, that I tried to fix, mostly.

Learned a lot more about formatting in this case.  I wrote this in Google Docs.  Adding to the confusion, the original version of this was written in MS Works – the built-in (read: free) word processor that came with all Windows back then.  This got copied to Word somewhere over the years, but some of the legacy formatting was still there and got uploaded to Google when I copied everything over a few years ago.  So, for instance, tabs had gotten converted to spaces.  Quotation marks were a swift pain and  had to be corrected in the final Word version, after I downloaded.

There are not too many of my stories that are that old, so some things will be easily avoided in the future.  Here are some general lessons for converting Google Docs through Word for upload to Amazon Kindle:

Don’t use tabs to indent paragraphs.  This is difficult for me, because I do this reflexively.  But though the tab makes the transition from Google to Word, it gets tossed on transition to HTML.  Instead, use the paragraph indent in the paragraph dialogue box in Word.  It is probable that you can do that in Google as well and it would make the transition, but as Google did not give me a way to delete the tabs, I elected to fix all this in Word.  Also, should you find yourself in this fix, if you go to Word’s paragraph dialogue, find the Tab button, which will give you a way to clear all of the tabs in one shot.

Google page breaks don’t seem to translate to Word.  Well, they do, sort of, but they translate to some special character that does not translate to HTML.  I had to go page by page, deleting the special character, which looks like a tiny square if you turn on special character viewing, and replace them with the standard Word page breaks (ctrl-enter).

Towards the end of the process, I elected to use four special astrological characters as section breaks.  These did make the transition to Word, but only when I downloaded it as RTF, and they made the transition to HTML.  It was not until I had uploaded the HTML file to Amazon and looked at the Kindle simulator that I realized…  by gum! they work there too.  That is, they work when the simulator was at its default setting, which is now Kindle Fire.  If you look at the simulator when set to (old) Kindle or some of the other options, the special characters look like little squares – smaller character set, apparently.  I debated for a while and decided to leave it that way since 1) they are selling a bajillion Kindle Fires these days, so most of “my public” will be reading it that way and 2) the little squares are also acting as section breaks, which works for me.  Can always change it later, if I get complaints.

So, this chapter in my writing and publishing life is finally over.  Next?  I would really like to replace the book covers on my three short stories.  They are truly dreadful.  Again, I made them using the ancient MS Paint.  I now find that I have other (free) tools available to me with far more capability and I might get my wife to help me with some photography.  Oh, and let us not forget all those hundreds of NASA images available online (read: public domain).

Then?  Guess I ought to reexamine publishing on Kobe and Smashwords and the iStore, just to see what is involved.  I would also like to publish my one novel that is about as ready for publication as it will ever be, The Vanguard.  Just need to figure out a cover for it and one or two days to convert and upload.  So, lots of ways to go, just got to pick one.

First, however, I think I’ll take the wife to lunch.


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