I’m Using Open Office to Format for Smashwords

26 Apr

Paris in 5 1-2 Weeks Day 13 medI’m Using Open Office to Format for Smashwords

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Pictured Left : Paris in 5 1/2 Weeks, Day 13 – To Gare l’Est from the Latin Quarter (my first book formatted via OpenOffice).

10 original images.

Light commentary and links.

Available on all participating outletsAvailable on Scribd

My Author’s Page on Scribd

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“the intent of this blog is to incrementally build a body of thought that works toward integrating various topics, yoga, fitness, and the arts – it’s a process…”


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I’m Using Open Office to Format for Smashwords

 

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Categories : Author Bio Info & Update

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Previous Related Articles :

Question Mark @ the Intersections of Pre-Orders and Scribd Oyster etc

Is Smashwords Opening the Door for Fiction Serials @ Scribd and Oyster?

Scribd One Month Later : 57 Uploads – Problems Fixes and Expectations

First Impression re Scribd & Oyster – I Like It!  And Why…

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Inside this Post :

Intro

My Reluctant Journey to Open Office

Migrating to Open Office

Internal Links Within a Document

Fonky Font Size Changes

Images

Final Thoughts

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Intro

I probably should have titled this “sorta” or “kinda” using Open Office to Format for Smashwords, given the limited features I’m using.

But, considering how important, for my needs, the features are I am using, and how hard it’s been to find an application to do this with, then yes, I’m using Open Office to format to Smashwords.  And actually to Amazon as well, since both accept doc format files for their book uploads.

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My Reluctant Journey to Open Office

American Robin in Snow, Vermont © Felipe Adan Lerma

American Robins in Snow, Vermont © Felipe Adan Lerma

Image in eBook :

American Robins Arriving in Vermont: The First Swoop of Spring, A Photo Memoir

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I’ve struggled, on and off, with a few respites, for a few years, to format my ebooks for successful uploading.

Andrew Updegrove has a nice post about why this is even still a problem, so many years since the advent of Word & WordPress: Why Johnny Can’t Format [a book] .

My immediate problem though, back in late 2011, was to produce a file Amazon, then Barnes & Noble, would accept.

I was using Apple’s Pages application and did tons of Google searches to understand how to create either an HTML or ePub file. With no luck. And was fortunate enough to get a simple key piece of advice: use Pages’ ePub conversion command.

I did, and it worked.

For a long time.

Years.

At that time (2011-12), I was staying away from both iTunes and Smashwords. Both had uploading requiring beyond what it was worth to me.

It’s no small thing when I agree with folk that Amazon enabled the digital book revolution.
Then Apple retooled Pages into a sorta simple text editor.  (Apple has indicated it has and will continue to re-introduce features from the older version back into the newer app.)

And I began desiring to simplify my uploads to non-Amazon eBook outlets. So I needed to now also meet Smashwords’ meat grinder (not my term) document protocols.

AND my Pages’ ePub conversions (using my older Pages app that Apples’ tech support showed me how to still use) were no longer passing Smashwords’ premium checks (my book files weren’t eligible for distribution beyond Smashwords’ site).

Apples’ Pages’ tech did show me that my files, however they showed after ePub check, were clearly still easily and accurately readable via iBooks.  Which is actually, for me, good to know.  If ePub standards variances prevent a Pages’ ePub file from uploading, they will still work with iTunes.

But at the time, I was needing either a clean ePub file, for both Amazon and Smashwords.
Or a clean word doc file.

Pages word doc file conversion started ok, but soon became problematic. Especially after further conversions to both mobi files on Amazon, or epubs on Smashwords.

Pictures (photos) became pixelated.

Links would quit working.

Font sizes changed.

It was a mess!

Though admittedly, much more so re Smashwords than re Amazon.

I was gonna have to learn word, or its equivalent – fast…

Or pay someone.  So yes, learn very fast! :-)

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Migrating to Open Office

Just Cruising

Just Cruising, Original Photography by Adan Lerma

Image in Blog Post :

Life & Love, It’s For the Birds In a Good Way – In Pictures # 14

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I had almost given in to paying to use Words new Apple friendly program, and learn it, when I decided to try Open Office one more time.

I’d tried Open Office about mid-way through the above sequence, and had usually ended up not needing to solve using the program.  Plus, for whatever reason, it didn’t run well on my computer.

Flash forward to last week, and my efforts to have the title at the top of the page, “Paris in 5 1/2 Weeks, Day 13 – To Gare l’Est from the Latin Quarter” (preview below near the end of this post) pass formatting through Smashwords.

The book was already up on Amazon.  But I really wanted it on all outlets, esp Scribd, where my subscription model experiment for ebooks continues.

I needed several problems solved for my Smashwords file : producing internal links within a document, preventing font size changes on conversions, and having my images work acceptably within the file.

Acceptable meant the file’s conversion to an ePub that Smashwords would approve for distribution in their premium channel, which then meant my book would go to iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Scribd and Oyster, the two subscription services Smashwords distributes to.

I Googled Open Office.  Downloaded it.  And started learning a new set of formatting commands.

It must have been the right decision, beyond the fact I (finally) succeeded with my file.

The title of an article posted just a few days ago, says, “Open source Apache Openoffice surpasses 100 million downloads“.

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Internal Links Within a Document

Birds in Winter Tree Photography © Felipe Adan Lerma

Birds in Winter Tree
Photography © Felipe Adan Lerma

Image in Blog Post :

Austin Texas : PhotoPoem # 2 : “Birds in a Winter Tree”

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Many folk won’t need to ever worry about this.  But I have lots of books where I link to images within a book, or reference other portions of my book.

This link, for my second preview example below, is a sample.  The preview itself has an example.

More complex use is in books like, “Inspirations from Life: Thirty Three Years of Poems and Images”.  Here individual images, commentary, and links often reference other items within the book, related in some aspect.  This could include theme, location or object pictured, time of year – just about anything that showed an interesting relationship.

Preview of “Inspirations from Life: Thirty Three Years of Poems and Images”

Apple’s older Pages app has a simple highlight and bookmark command, then equally simple highlight and link to (web, bookmark, etc) command.  All in from one box.

With Open Office, I Click on Insert, choose Bookmark, then name the bookmark.  The book mark itself, I’ve found, does not need to be something highlight.  It can be a space before or after a word, like a title, or point in a paragraph.  And It can be the cursor space at an image, which is handy for having an internal link, or manually added Table of Contents to the actual image, and not end up in a page or space before or after that image.

I’ve found it’s best not to leave spaces in the bookmark’s name, and to remove any quotes, dashes, colons, etc.  Just letters and/or numbers.

Initially, it took me several online searches and formatting experimentations to figure the info above out, but I did get it finally.  Like most things, this should become more second nature with more frequent use.  After all, I’m just starting Day 14 in my Paris in 5 1/2 Weeks series. :-)

Plus, in the process of discovering and remedying the problems I was having with my Smashwords uploads over the course of a few days, I also came across a Users Guide for Apache OpenOffice, which is what I had downloaded and am currently using.

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Fonky Font Size Changes

Creativity & Awareness in Yoga v2

Creativity & Awareness in Yoga v2, Original Digital Art, © Felipe Adan Lerma

Image in Blog Post :

Creativity & Yoga, Thoughts

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“Funky” these font size change problems were not.  So I choose to call them “fonky.” :-)

This is a problem that didn’t show up initially, when I would create a doc conversion from a Pages book file.  But more and more it did.

Sometimes the font change was just a partial sentence or sentence within a larger paragraph.

Sometimes it was just a few words.  Then it was anything with a link, internal or external directed.

Experimenting, I found an equivalent to Smashwords nuclear option for Word, ie, forcing all formatting back to a baseline to work from.  It’s actually a very sensible starting point, that should have eliminated my formatting problems.

In OpenOffice, it turned out (so far) to be selecting all and choosing “Text Body”.  I “think” I’ve made it my default, but that might be just within the document I’ve worked on so far, Day 13 of the Paris photo memoir series.

This did eliminate font size changes in everything except anything with a link.

Smashwords provides authors the ability to download the ePub file that will be used in distribution.  I use several viewers to check for differences: iBooks, Adobe Digital Editions, and Calibre.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the link font size to show the same as the rest of text in my book file was formatted.

More online searches.  Experimenting,

This is what worked:

Format: Styles and Formatting (in a separate box to the right of the file window): Character Styles (second from left icon box, which a capital “A”): Internet Link: Modify (rather than new).

I then chose my font name and style, font size, and clicked OK.  Somewhere, somehow, I managed to name and save it, and I see it come up as a choice here and there.  I’m sure I’ll figure this out better with usage also. :-)

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Images

Fountain Place Saint-Michel © Felipe Adan Lerma

Fountain Place Saint-Michel © Felipe Adan Lerma

Photo in eBook :

Paris in 5 1/2 Weeks, Day 13 – To Gare l’Est from the Latin Quarter

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My last problem proved more frustrating and problematic.  The user guide had info on image anchors, but they didn’t make sense to me right away.  I was used to Pages simple “floating” or “inline” – done by selecting the image and see the choices on the tool bar.

In OpenOffice, my choices of anchoring the image are:

To Paragraph

The graphic is associated with a paragraph and moves with the paragraph. It may be placed in the margin or another location. This method is useful as an alternative to a table for placing icons beside paragraphs.

To Character

The graphic is associated with a character but is not in the text sequence. It moves with the paragraph but may be placed in the margin or another location. This method is similar to anchoring to a paragraph but cannot be used with drawing objects.

As Character

The graphic is placed in the document like any other character and, therefore, affects the height of the text line and the line break. The graphic moves with the paragraph as you add or delete text before the paragraph. This method is useful for keeping screenshots in sequence in a procedure (by anchoring them as a character in a blank paragraph) or for adding a small (inline) icon in sequence in a sentence.

To Frame

If the graphic has been placed in a frame, you can anchor the graphic in a fixed position inside the frame. The frame can then be anchored to the page, a paragraph, or a character, as required.

I went down the line, watching the images jump around the page as each respective anchor was altered (via Right Mouse Click: Anchor: As Character).

It was the (thank goodness!) inclusion of “(inline)” within the description of “As Character” that finally gave me the solution.

Once that final change was made, the file saved, and re-uploaded to Smashwords, I quickly received word that the book file had been Premium approved and the next day it started appearing on Scribd, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and other online outlets.

Smashwords does have a list of videos and other info to help authors like myself, preferring or needing to self-format: https://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq#Publishing

I haven’t seen all the above info on their site, and may well have saved myself much grief and time, but I have searched a few things, and those were helpful.  The videos are something I hadn’t noticed before, so I look forward to taking a look.

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Preview, “Paris in 5 1/2 Weeks, Day 13 – To Gare l’Est from the Latin Quarter”

Continues, in serial book form, my series of photo memoir posts, Days 1-12, free on my site.

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Final Thoughts

I don’t know if there are short(er) cuts to what I’ve discovered so far, using OpenOffice, or if my version would be the same as what anyone else might have (mine says Apache OpenOffice 4.0.1), but I do whole heartedly, so far :-) recommend anyone looking for an all around Word-like alternative, to give it a try.

As I’ve expressed many times, unlike the stock market, publishing and sharing one’s art via ebooks, is not a zero sum game.

We can all play.  We can all win.  We can all enjoy.

Smashwords, for all its challenges :-) definitely enables that.

Best wishes everyone, for ALL of us :-)

 

adan

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My Author Pages are listed on the right side of each page on my site, with a full dedicated page on my site at http://felipeadanlerma.com/poetry-ebooks/

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namaste´- con dios – god be with you

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6 Responses to “I’m Using Open Office to Format for Smashwords”

  1. Andrew Updegrove April 26, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    My pleasure, Felipe. I haven’t personally tried out LibreOffice, although I’ve followed it’s progress closely, as I’ve been personally involved in some of the underlying dynamics (principally, the battle between supporters of the ODF format – upon which Open and Libre are based, and OOXML, originally developed and promoted by Microsoft). I think that it’s fair to say that the dynamism, volunteerism and momentum is behind LibreOffice, as compared to OpenOffice.

    LibreOffice is supported by the non-profit Document Foundation, and you can download LibreOffice at their website here: https://www.libreoffice.org/ You can get a feel for how the two communities present each other by viewing their self-introductory pages.

    OpenOffice: https://www.openoffice.org/why/index.html

    LibreOffice: https://www.libreoffice.org/about-us/who-are-we/

    As you can see, each takes a different approach. There’s lots of history to read between the lines. If you or any of your readers are not that familiar with what open source software, and it’s proponents are all about, you might find this overview I wrote to be a useful introduction: http://www.consortiuminfo.org/bulletins/aug09.php#feature

    • Felipe Adan Lerma April 26, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

      Yes! This is perfect info. I was hoping to get some rounding out, like about LibreOffice. Monday I start a mini media push about this post and this is exactly what the article needs, thanks so much Andrew :-)

  2. Andrew Updegrove April 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Nice post, and I’m sure that it will be very helpful to a lot of folks. I’ve got a tip for you that you may want to give a try, especially since you’ve already gotten the hang of how OpenOffice works. As you know, OpenOffice is an “open source” program, and the terms of the license under which it was created allow anyone to make a new version of it if they wish (and since you can download the actual source code, this is something that a knowledgeable programmer can do).

    Without going through all the detailed history, suffice it to say that after Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, which had supported the development of OpenOffice for many years (it also sold a supported version called StarOffice), After the sale, Oracle de-committed to supporting OpenOffice.

    As a result of this and some other issues, most of the volunteer programmers that had been supporting OpenOffice “forked” the code, and started a new version, called LibreOffice. That was a few years ago, and LibreOffice is now more used than OpenOffice, and enjoys greater ongoing support. Like OpenOffice, it’s free to download, so you might want to give it a try, and see if you get easier and better results with that version.

    • Felipe Adan Lerma April 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

      Andrew, thanks so much for the feedback. I had heard of LibreOffice but only in passing, so it’s good to hear your recommendation for it. I’ll definitely have to give it a try. It’ll probably be when I get done with a full time temp job I’m in til early summer. But having a dependable useable alternative that does the things I outlined having problems doing in my article would be such a relief ;-) If you have any pointers using either one, please leave a link for me (us) here in the comments, be great to have. Thanks, Andrew :-)

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