Monday, September 3, 2012

Using Your Kindle and Scrivener For Editing

I've blogged a couple of times recently about the editing process. I've written than I edit my first few drafts on-screen because they are very rough drafts. When I think I'm done editing on-screen I print a hard copy, in courier typeface. I catch many errors when editing on hard-copy that I missed when editing on-screen.

In the past, hard-copy-editing would be the end of the line for me. I'd go through a couple of printouts, then publish the ebook version of my book (after designing the cover, of course). I published my first two books to Smashwords and would download copies of both the EPub and Kindle versions to browse through, to ensure I'd gotten the formatting down. But I no longer publish to Smashwords because I got so few sales there and have come to believe that Amazon is my path to better sales.

I've recently discovered another beneficial mode of manuscipt editing: editing on my iPad using the Kinle app. Here's why I think self-published authors shouldn't ignore this valuable tool.

You should view and edit your work in every form your readers will be exposed to. 

CreateSpace will tell you to scrutinize the proof copy of your printed book; you should donthe same for the Kindle version.

I wrote my current novel completely in Scrivener for Windows. This software allows you to "compile" your novel in the Kindle format. (It does require you to download and install a free piece of software from Amazon.) Once the Kindle file has been produced, email it to your Kindle email address. In about ten minutes, your file will be downloaded to your device. Keep in mind you have to have approved the email address you use to send files to your Kindle. If you fail to do that, your file will not appear on your device.

Once you have your manuscript on your iPad, read and edit away. I highlight words or text I want to delete, without adding an explanatory note. If something's highlighted and there's no note, it means delete. If I want to change one word, I'll simply add a note to that word; no need to highlight anything. If I want to rewrite severals words, even a paragraph, I first highlight the text, then add a note with the changes I want made.

I haven't finished my Kindle edit, but I suspect what I'll do is set my iPad next to my computer and go through the file page by page, making edits and corrections where indicated.

I don't know if this can be done, but it'd be cool if I could send one of these Kindle files to a beta reader, have them make suggestions or notes on their device, then email the file back to me. I can't see how this would work on a regular Kindle, but it seems it would be possible on and iPad because you have access to many files on the iPad when it's plugged into a computer. Come to think of it, you also have access to files on a regular Kindle via a PC, as well. I'll have to look into this and report back.

The takeaway message is, try and view your work in every format your readers might view it in. Don't just edit, also check your formatting. See how the text looks on the page. Are there any huge spaces or tightly-bunched words that make the text look ugly. If the page looks ugly, it won't be inviting to read.

Now, get to work!

(No pictures or fancy formatting this time. I typed this post into Blogger from my iPad. We recently moved out of state and neglected to pack our monitors and keyboards. My wife will be here in a couple of days with the goods.)