When you’re an #indiewriter, you do everything yourself, or you pay others to take care of some of the seemingly never ending elements of the self-publishing process. Part of the reason why I entered the independent author world is to learn about all aspects of publishing, so I of course opted to assign all of the chores to myself. You learn from mistakes – well, let’s say I have learned much, including today, when I entered the home stretch of releasing From the Loft.
Today, after some changes precipitated by rushing to publication as I explained in a previous posting, I loaded all updated files to Ingram Spark, confident they would all pass the file validation process, except for one. I knew I’d have issues with the EPUB file – I always do. And I always forget what the issue solution is.
To create the EPUB files, I use a program called Calibre. It’s an amazing freeware product that is intuitive to use, so much as a freeware product can be. If you’re a self-publisher looking for a great e-book management tool, I highly recommend looking at this product. When I launched my first publication over three years ago, Summer’s Drowning, I did so to learn the basics as I prepped for the release of my first novel, Forgiveness, a year later. I’ll detail some of the mistakes and frustrations of that learning process in a future post (creating the correct PDF format was an extreme challenge that had a wonderful, cost-free solution), but creating the EPUB file was not a major hurdle, except for some minor table of content issues.
Previously, I had subverted that by simply removing the table of contents in the Calibre editor. However, this time around I wanted to understand the errors Ingram Spark said I had made (a minor ego hit, yes, but I’m in it to learn, right?), so I closely examined one of the messages that said the play order did not equal 1.
What the heck did that mean?
Google – what a wonderful tool. Apparently, Calibe attempts to build a table of contents based on metadata in the Word document (I format all of my works in Word – again, a topic for a future blog post). However, if a table of contents is not existent in Word, Calibre makes some odd programming assumptions – that which Ingram Spark throws a red challenge flag at.
Here, Calibre’s table of contents editor is your friend. No, not the CLI emulator as shown in the picture above, but its GUI representation. Yes, I know I’ll get flack from old (and I do mean old) network engineering colleagues who think using a CLI to configure network equipment is akin to blasphemy – and I would agree – but xml coding is not, nor will it ever be, my specialty.
I navigated the editor, created a basic table of contents, saved the file, and submitted to Ingram Spark. Success! Another tidbit learned, satisfying a primary objective – learning.
Now I just hope I remember how to do this when I attempt to create the EPUB for the next project.