The Making of an eBook: Part 2.5

I want to briefly follow up on yesterday‘s post about my journey, along with my publisher, toward turning my upcoming collection of short fiction into an eBook. Yesterday I looked at Smashwords in terms of what the site offers potential eBook authors. I found it’s got some real limitations, but also some smart and convenient features that make it a good platform for aspiring eBook authors. But, I decided, it’s not for me and BOA.

My editor at BOA, Peter Conners, agrees and went on to explain a little bit about how the folks at BOA made decisions about their first three Kindle titles:

We spent many hours sitting around a table with our eBook designer and the print versions of our titles, trying to decide how to format our Kindle books. Our view of it was that we needed to standardize some formatting issues to keep an elegant, unified design for our online books that we could replicate for future titles. Where should the copyright page go in an eBook? How about the Acknowledgments page? The cover? Etc. We didn’t merely look at it as slapping our books up online and hoping for the best. If they’re carrying the BOA logo, then we want them to be presented with the same quality as our printed books. We also want readers to know that any BOA book they download through Kindle will provide a similar reading experience–in other words, it will make sense structurally and be presented in a way that compliments the writing.

Basically, that means turning my book over to Smashwords’ Meatgrinder system is a no-go: BOA wants its books its way, and while Smashwords can produce a good looking eBook, it might not be the kind of eBook BOA wants. Plus there’s that no-linked-TOC issue.

And yesterday, Mark Coker of Smashwords wrote me a note to explain that he has plans to fix the TOC issue: “Manual labor we’d have to charge for (and we don’t charge for anything). Once we update Meatgrinder to support linked TOCs, it’ll be free. I don’t have a firm timeline for when we’ll do that, though I do realize it’s one of our few big holes right now,” said Coker.

It may be that BOA will end up doing my eBook the same way it did its first three–using its in-house designer to hand-code the book (and if that’s the case, I’ll take you through that process), but for the time being, I’m looking around for other available ways. If you’ve got an idea of how we might do it, please write in–I want to know. See you next week.