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This week: Starting a business, conquering ePub

It's strange to think of myself as a business. I'm just one person, doing something she's been doing since the sixth grade (albeit, I hope, with fewer Mary Sue-type characters and more depth and interest to my work!), and yet — I'm sitting here with a shiny new pen name, books for sale via an international marketplace, and in another week or two at most (I hope) I should have DRM-free ebooks for sale from my very own website. How did this happen?

I think all of us have that one sticking point (or two sticking points, or three, or four). In my case, it's usually taking that first step toward change — if I make that first move, even if it's sloppy and haphazard, I have motivation to keep going. In this case, taking the leap meant getting set up with Amazon's Kindle Market — and now I've got lots and lots of motivation to continue and get a DRM-free storefront set up. \o/

Speaking of that DRM-free storefront, I spent the week banging my head against the ePub format. On its face, it seems like it ought to be a very easy standard to plug my work into — it's all nicely defined, the specs are easy to get your hands on, and XHTML-compliant files aren't difficult to write. In the end, I spent two days working on it, struggling with the doctype declarations and metadata and all kinds of things that seemed as though they should have been easy. Today, I broke through to a point where I was getting everything but my cover and my table of contents to work, and then I was able to solve those, too. YAY! It's just a matter of getting a few kind people to take a look at how the ePub renders in devices and programs to which I don't have (easy) access. (Although the idea of collecting e-readers as a business expense is more than a little compelling.) Pulling this together required immense amounts of combing through tutorials (some outdated, some not), looking at working ePub files (thanks to epubbooks.com for their public-domain free works!), doing some work at the command line (adding a file to a zip archive with no compression turned out to be much easier in Linux) and writing some Perl scripts to cut down on repetitive typing. All those things will come in handy, no question, but I'm also very glad that future books will require little more than digging into the existing file, changing info as needed, and zipping back up.

Also possibly worth noting: This weekend I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary with my beloved (and very supportive) husband. \o/ He's awesome, and I'm very lucky to have him. :)

Posted in Monday post.


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