The Pickups and Pestilence launch party is over, the prizes have been handed out… and White Pickups is still 99¢. I think I’ll wait for the holiday weekend to finish before resetting the price. If you’ve been sitting on the fence, you still have a few more days to get it at a discount!
I’ve finally begun the post-beta phase for Water and Chaos. The final third of the title describes the situation pretty well… maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but there’s a fair amount of work to be done. One of the beta readers went in deep, and found a lot of things that the editor would have caught… but the tighter everything is before edit time, the quicker that should get turned around!
Formatting eBooks has suddenly become a hot topic in the last week or so—it’s shown up both in a Goodreads forum I frequent, and in my Twitter feed. Strange, how all this is coming together all at once… I’m working on a “Best Practices” document for work, right after diving in and producing optimized files for Pickups and Pestilence. I thought I’d share the beginnings of some general principles for setting up eBooks here. Be warned: I do get somewhat dogmatic about this stuff. Most of you who read this blog are younger than I am, and you guys are supposed to be the generation that “gets” computers. ;-) Just sprinkle IMO, IMHO, or IMNSHO as needed.
So… what I call the First Principle of formatting eBooks, is widely known in programming circles as the Principle of Least Surprise, or the Principle of Least Astonishment. When producing eBooks, this simply means Respect the defaults. All of them. People expect to be able to set their font, type size, spacing, and so on, in their eBook readers. You need a very good reason to override that expectation—children’s books and comic books are two good examples. Fortunately, this makes your job easier, too—your CSS (styles) is shorter and easier to maintain.
This leads to the second principle: KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly!). A work of fiction isn’t a complex technical document, and I’ve formatted many of those in my day job. You have paragraphs of body text, section breaks, chapter titles. Plus a few special things you’ll do in the title page, and various highlighting in the body text. Each of these gets a “class” name. You should have a dozen or less, all told, including the classes used only on the title page. The other part of KISS is to eliminate anything that isn’t absolutely required to format your book.
More to come later. Lots of eyeball-melting details.