Thursday, March 15, 2012

'eZephyr' is almost done

Just three weeks remain to the planned launch of the ebook version of Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America. The last few days have been busy:

Creating an index for an ebook famously requires heavy-duty sweating, and I decided not to try to replicate the one in the original print Zephyr. Rather, I laboriously taught myself how to create a Table of Contents with Word. (Laborious because I don't really know Word very well. I'm one of those users who learns only what he needs to know and then forgets most of it.)

But Calibri, the free ebook creation software that turns Word-generated .html files into .mobi files for Kindle and .epub files for Nook and most everything else, does not do tables of contents very well. Calibri recognizes standard chapter headings such as "Chapter 1, Chapter 2," etc., but won't pick up a Preface, an Introduction, an Epilogue and so on.

There may be a way to make Calibri do the job by going into the software code, but I am not smart enough for that. So I Googled the problem and found a reader's suggestion: Use free software called Sigil to read the .epub file created by Calibri, then tell Sigil what headings to recognize for a table of contents, and finally save the .epub file.

The next step is to feed the .epub file back into Calibri and tell Calibri to save it as a Kindle .mobi file.

Success! Now I have a .mobi file for Kindle and an .epub file for Nook—both with full tables of contents linked to all chapter headings.

Later on I'll do the same for Sony Reader and Kobo, and maybe learn how to use Apple iBook Author to create a fancy interactive ebook with sound and perhaps even video.

Zephyr's not finished yet. Monday I head out on a ten-day trip aboard the California Zephyr to get some more photographs and also interview a few folks for the Epilogue. I'll also stop in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, for a few days to take the waters and see a couple of Amtrakers featured in the original book. Then I'll head on to San Francisco Bay for a weekend.

Being an author is hard work but it has benefits.

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