I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

What a week. Some ups and downs, doubts and terrors, euphoria and depression. But today, I woke up and said, “I’m done editing this bastard! Time to submit!”

I’d blown my self-imposed deadline by a day. Not so bad.

I’d like to say that the process for submitting to Amazon’s Kindle Store and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store was relatively painless. For those interested, I wrote my novel in Word, saved as an HTML file, then converted to Kindle and EPUB format using Calibre, which is far and away my favorite piece of freeware.

To create a table of contents, I used Calibre’s GUI menu, having set up my Word doc to use H1 and H2 tags for the sections.

Apple’s process … well, let me just say I didn’t expect to spend an entire day troubleshooting this crap.

First of all, there’s the problem that Apple wants you to do one thing; your account can only be linked to app development, or books, or what have you. Easy enough to work around this silly limitation — just create another Apple ID for each thing you want to do — but it is annoying.

While I thought that would be the end of my troubles, it was not. When I clicked ‘Deliver’ in iTunes Producer, I received some not very friendly error messages. A lot of them were of the ‘ERROR ITMS-9000’ variety. It took me nearly a full day to figure out what was happening, so I’m going to share what I did to get my book to finally submit to iTunes.

Basically, iTunes is the fussiest place when it comes to accepting an epub format file. You MUST have a valid file, or it will not be accepted. Apparently, Barnes and Noble and Amazon are more forgiving.

Since I used Calibre, I was at first quite flummoxed. I didn’t know what a valid epub was. The best site I found for telling me what was going wrong was . They allow you to upload your book and they’ll tell you a billion things wrong with it. Taking this error report, I then had to figure out how to make changes to my ebook without using Calibre. How to do that?

Right click on your book. Choose the path that says ‘Tweak epub’ … then choose ‘Explode epub.’ I know it sounds scary, but it’s okay. It will open a dialog box that shows the files in the epub. Select all and open with your favorite text editor. I used TextMate. You could use notepad or Dreamweaver or whatever you like. Just open the files.

I can only speak to the issues I had, but they were:

1. Path names in ‘content.opf’ and ‘toc.ncx’: My title, I Held My Breath as Long as I Could, includes spaces. Calibre coded these as spaces. To be perfectly valid, you need to find and replace every instance where there is a link to your title with spaces to change the spaces to ‘%20’.

2. Bookmarks leftover from Word: These were hidden and broken and needed to be removed.

3. Some crazy crap Calibre put in the <body> tag … strip all that stuff out. Simple body tags will do.

4. Footnotes trouble: Unnecessary “name=” attribute caused an error. I just removed the “name=” attribute from the anchor tags in my footnotes, and it passed.

And that’s it! My advice is to use the site above to get some useful output, and open the files and do your best.

Good luck!

UPDATE! It’s Alive!!!

You can now purchase my book from Barnes and Noble and Amazon’s ebook stores. Still waiting on that iTunes iBookstore, though ….

For Barnes and Noble and all the Nook people, go here.

Amazon Kindle fans follow this spiffy one:

I Held My Breath as Long as I Could Cover

Cover Art, I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

Yesterday was a day of doubt spent wondering about this collection. I told myself that I would hit the publish button October 1st, no exceptions, but I really was considering pushing the date back. This morning, I feel a little better, but I still am going to be pushing myself as hard as I can this week.

For one thing, I’d love to get the stories into shape in time to run them through the content analyzing software application I built for Daukherville last year, but that would require altering some of the code to look at I Held My Breath. Still, it could prove worth it to at least run it through once and check the sentences for word repetition and things of that sort.

The second section continues to prove the most challenging. One story in particular, “The Worm, the Road, and the Sun,” runs for 10,000 words, and that proved way too long for Amanda. Not to mention she had some serious criticisms of the piece, which were entirely valid, and that means additional content work. I’d also love to shave 2,000 words off the length of the piece, but I don’t know right now where to make those cuts, especially given the additions it needs. It would really be a shame to not include it, so I’m feeling a bit like a designer on Project Runway, who’s just received a review from Tim Gunn along the lines of, “Kristopher, I have to be a truth teller … I’m a bit disturbed by this. It feels a bit dark. And the LENGTH! Oh my. I’m very worried about this piece.”

Time to make it work.

I Held My Breath as Long as I Could Cover

Cover Art, I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

And then there were only two weeks left.

Holy crap. The nerves, oh, the nerves. Was up late last night, finishing reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, a great book, when I found myself amusing myself by reading some of the reviews that were published of Wilde’s book when it came out. Great stuff. The kind of stuff anyone who’s received a critical drubbing would love to read. I wonder how many critics who give a scathing review to something consider what it would be like to end up the kind of critic who panned Dorian Gray. The reviewers who ripped it to shreds seemed both arrogant and ridiculously wrong–what a wonderful combination.

I also appreciate Wilde’s confidence in his own work. The man called his own book a classic. What a guy.

I fear what people might say about me after they read “Doggie-Style.” I might really be in some trouble for that one, but I’ve thought it through and decided there’s no point holding back. Either I do what I do, or I do nothing at all. “Doggie-Style” is a messed up horror story of questionable worth, but it is certainly mine. If there’s such a thing as a “Kris Kelly story,” well, “Doggie-Style” would definitely be one of them. This whole collection drips with my issues. I’m naked on this one. So be it.

Man, oh, man … I really hope people get this stuff.

In other news, to sell an eBook on Apple’s iBookstore, it turns out I couldn’t be registered to sell both apps and ebooks. I had to create a whole new Apple ID to register as an eBook seller.

Apple doesn’t want me to diversify.

I visit Stephen King's Bangor house

At the gates

Not a lot of time left now until I shove my ebook out the door. Recently went on vacation to visit the family back home in Maine, swung by Stephen King’s famous Bangor home to see the bats and take a photo of myself lurking at the gates of the master. Wore my Daukherville shirt to warn him of things to come, ha!

All in good fun. He is still the writer I’ve read the most. Even if he wasn’t one of the most prolific, I think that would still be the case. His were the first books I ever read, and to say that I was influenced by him is an understatement; his books were part of the landscape of my childhood, and I’m grateful for it. It was a lot of fun.

But now it’s back to the hard and stressful work of trying to make my stories better. I’ve been working a lot, even if I haven’t been posting much, and I feel great about the first and fourth sections; it’s the damn middle two now that I have to get into shape.

So little time, and it just doesn’t stop being scary. I have no idea if I’m doing the right thing.

I Held My Breath as Long as I Could Cover

Cover Art, I Held My Breath as Long as I Could

In the last month, I’ve kept busy and missed precious few days. I’ve written a completely fresh draft of a story called “Radiation,” which I originally wrote in high school (it’s the story that earned me my favorite rejection letter ever, the letter which said, “This story is almost strange enough to like — unfortunately, it makes no sense at all!!!”). I love the revision. Also been working on revisions to some of the stories here, to mixed results. I have these ideas of what I want to do, but sometimes it just doesn’t work the way I think it should. I’ve got one more month until my deadline for new content expires and I go to strict line-editing, but I’ve already gotten the feeling that these are the stories I’m going with, and that I’m going to need all the time I can get to make this heap of sentences work.

There’s so much to do. There are so many words. The idea that people routinely write long novels blows my mind a bit right now.

Tonight, I’m going to read one of the pieces at Black & White here in Manhattan. Hope the audience likes it. I feel a bit nervous, as always, but it’s been too long since my last reading. I’ve been too much in the lab, and I have to make an effort to get out more.