05 August 2009

trying to publish a poetry e-book

Instead of publishing my first full-length poetry book in the traditional way, I decided I would go all-digital, no paper unless a reader decides to print a hard copy. Factors contributing to my decision include my wish for as many people as possible to read my poems, my geek longing to learn how to create an electronic book, my unwillingness to pay contest fees, my unwillingness to wait a year (or forever) for a publisher to select the manuscript and release the book; and my wish not burden the economy with cost and the planet with pollution caused by paper, ink, printing, inventory, and shipping.

When I began to convert my manuscript from Microsoft Word to PDF, webpage, and Kindle formats, I assumed it would be difficult and it might have been had the text been prose and not poetry. The key problems I encountered were inter-line and intra-line spacing, indents, special characters like em dashes and diacritical marks, and the table of contents. Microsoft Word is a horror, but there is not a replacement yet.

Converting to Kindle format was the most difficult because their converter does not give detailed error reports, and their Kindle previewer is not a full function previewer. Hyperlinks, for example, do not work. Nonetheless, I've done it, although I won't know for sure how well I've done it until I submit the book to Amazon and read it on my Kindle.

I will publish a how-to-guide when I'm finished.


  1. Do not seek to debase Poesy, fair Maiden. "Ebook" and great Literature - these ideas are wholly Incompatible.

  2. I love the feel of a book. I like to touch the paper, smell the ink.

    As much as I enjoy the sight of words in poems and prose, I much prefer that my fingers join in the process.

    I bet you could do both. Self-publish using today's technology, enlisted the aid of a local printer or even Kinko's, and at the same time making your good work available on-line in the pdf you wrote of.

  3. I applaud your forward thinking. I haven't bought a "real" book in years...been reading ONLY ebooks since 2001 or so.

    check out the program Calibre at http://calibre.kovidgoyal.net/

    This may help you in your conversion efforts.

    good luck!