Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

How to phrase the copyright declarations etc. in an e-book

A very important page in any book is the copyright declaration page. This is always on the back of the main title page in a print book (and so in publishing-speak is called the ‘full title verso’) and it should follow the main title page in an e-book as a separate chapter (see my earlier post on how to sequence your e-book).

Here is a list of the items which should be on the title page verso with an explanation of each and observations where the wording might be different in an e-book. The conventional sequence of the items is taken from New Harts Rules and follows UK (Oxford) style. Differences with Chicago (US) style have as far as possible been indicated. For clarity, the example text is shown in italics, but should of course be set in Roman in your e-book.

Publisher’s Imprint:

This should contain the publisher’s name, full postal address and place of publication:

example: Paradise Press, BM Box 5700, London WC1N 3XX.

It would seem sensible to follow this with a website address if there is one:

example: www.paradisepress.org.uk

The code to make this into a hyperlink is:

<p class="prelims"><a href="http://www.paradisepress.org.uk">www.paradisepress.org.uk</a></p>

Although for e-books for sale on the Applestore, ANY hyperlinks to websites where the e-book is available for sale will cause the book to fail their exhaustive checking procedure, so I omit hyperlinks of this kind from ebooks which I send there.

date of publication:

If a first publication, then the following would seem appropriate:

example: First published in the United Kingdom in 2014

For a first publication the copyright date and publication date should normally be the same.

However an e-book version might come out at a later date than a paperback edition (or vice-versa). So some sort of modification would seem to be called for. Perhaps something along these lines:

Thursday, 19 June 2014

How to sequence your e-book

Obviously, the first thing in your ebook should be the front cover. That is, an html file containing just the cover image. Most likely this will be exactly the same as the print book cover. (See a forthcoming post on creating an html cover for more about this. To be linked here when published.) The rest of the book would naturally be identical in sequence to the print book. An e-book ONLY publication would logically be in the same sequence as a print book would normally be. However there are some things to bear in mind. This post covers the usual sequence of the material in a book and some of the peculiarities of design which the e-book format requires.

The first and obvious difference is that a print book contains pages with two sides. The right-hand (odd-numbered) page is referred to in the publishing industry as a ‘recto’ page and the back of this page is called the ‘verso’. This distinction does not apply in an e-book.

By convention, certain parts of a print book always start on a recto and may have to be preceeded by a blank verso page if need be. This convention can and should be ignored in an e-book. Just put each section of the text into a fresh chapter (html file).

Perhaps the most important thing to take into account is that when your ebook is available on the Kindle Store website, it will be possible for anyone to click on the cover and see a sample of the book. Great, just like in a bookstore. However the kindle previewer doesn’t exactly match what a reader will see on an actual Kindle e-reader. The pages are displayed in a scrolling window, one on top of the other. ‘So what?’ I hear people saying. Well, I have a stubborn belief that my e-book should as far as possible be the same as the print book. And I always follow publishing industry practice and include a ‘half-title’ as the first page of my book. That is to say it begins with a page on which there is the title and just the title. The back of that page in the print book is usually blank and then facing that is the main title page, with the title, author’s name, publisher and logo. What happens in the Kindle Store preview is that the half-title displays immediately above the main title, duplicating the first line of the title, which look plain daft. So I think it advisable to have something between the two title pages:

Thursday, 12 June 2014

How to split your ebook up into chapters using Sigil

Once you have imported your book text into a single chapter in your ebook and converted the markup into CSS styling, you can begin breaking it up into the individual chapters. It is best to do this after formatting the text, as it makes Find and Replace easier if it is done when the entire text is in ONE chapter. (Although Find and Replace can be set to edit multiple files, but why make life difficult?)

In this example I have a single chapter called Section0001.xhtml, which is what Sigil will call it by default:


Keeping the example simple, here is what the chapter text looks like in Sigil using code view (the styling has been omitted from the example for clarity):

Thursday, 5 June 2014

How to style Small Caps in an e-book

I have found that Small Capitals are poorly implemented in e-book readers. In principle, a CSS font-variant property with a value of small-caps could be used to implement small caps, but I have found this not to work very well. Because the rationale for including small caps and the way they have to be done is quite involved, I’m devoting this entire post to it.

In a book, you would expect the first paragraph of a chapter to be unindented. The following paragraphs of the main text are usually indented. But when there is a ‘scene break’, i.e. a change of place, or any other change of perspective, such as point of view, narration or time, the paragraph after the change is usually not indended and set off from the preceeding text by a space.

In a print book, this presents a possible problem if the scene break falls at the foot of a page. The space representing the scene break is subsumed in the page break, and the absence of a visible gap might lead to the reader being confused by a change of scene which hadn’t sufficiently clearly been flagged up. A strategy I have seen used to correct this is to print a short series of stars (centred on the line) in the scene break if it falls at the foot of a page. Actually, it’s a bugger to typeset, but it does deal with the problem. The Chicago Manual of Style referes to this as an ‘ornamental break’. However I tend not to like doing this, as I find myself asking why a particular scene break is apparently being given more prominence than another. Should a reader ask the same question, it will take their attention away from the story, which is always to be avoided. The typesetting and styling should keep the reader immersed in the story at all times. And this is as true of e-books as it is of print books.

But, whilst this strategy works in a print book, notwithstanding my own reservations, it doesn’t work in a e-book, because there are no page boundaries as such: the pages are created by the e-book reader to accommodate however much of the text will fit on the screen.

A strategy I have seen employed in printed hardback thrillers is to set the first three or so words of the paragraph after a scene break in Small Capitals. This is a perfect solution for e-books, as the scene break is flagged very clearly to the reader wherever it occurs on the screen. And, in my humble opinion, looks rather classy. However it is just a bit complicated to do.

Before launching into the details of how to achieve this using html and CSS, I should add a few remarks concerning the publishing industry conventions you should be observing:

 
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