The Format Shuffle

printing pressA couple of weeks back, I kvetched about how inconsistent the Compact Universe books looked. Back matter, newsletter info, and also by lists all changed from book to book. Even the bio shifted,. and no book mentioned my triumphant return to Deer Park.

(Editor’s note: By “triumphant,” we mean “He finally has a pool.” – The Management)

But I now have nine novellas, an ebook short, and a novel out, with another novel coming out next month. Updating all that is, to put it mildly, a challenge.

(Editor’s note: Don’t let him kid you. His family is sick of him whining about how hard this is. So are the members of Space Opera: Writers on Facebook. – The Management)

(Author’s note: I’m contemplating a management change if they don’t stop interrupting me. Dicks.)

Like any good indie author, I came up with a system. It began with Draft2Digital’s system of generating title, copyright, teaser, and other pages for a series. The best part is that you set the author bio for one, it generates it across the series. So all I need is a Word doc with the book itself. I did have to tack on an acknowledgements page to the three I’ve done so far.

However, I don’t publish the Kindle editions through Draft2Digital. I use KDP, which means I need a single file to upload. Fortunately, I have a template folder with docs for title, dedication & copyright, newsletter, also by, promo, and author bio. The title and dedication & copyright change from book to book, so those are copied into the book’s project folder and edited for each book. The generic ones are left in the template folder. I copy and paste the content of all the front and back matter files into a copy of Draft2Digital version. It takes about five minutes to change the Kindle source.

Print is actually easier. I have versions of all the files, including manuscript, formatted for use on Createspace. I save them all as PDFs into a print folder then upload them to a PDF merge tool There are open source apps, Adobe apps, and other sites that you can use. I use PDF Merge, which lets you upload files in the order you want them put together. The best part of this is it relieves me of trying to manager page headers in Word.

The best part of all three systems is that I only have to update one file and copy it into all the book folders (at least for print.) In Draft2Digital, I don’t even have to upload any new files unless I change the cover. Kindle editions only require a page or two to be changed. And print can be updated by changing single PDFs without worrying about changing the length of a print copy.

It’s still a lot of work, but it really makes it easier than redoing three versions of every book every time I need to add a book, update my bio, or change the promotional pages.

Now if I can just get the print covers to cooperate in Createspace.