Journeyman

it came out of the wordwork

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Since I was saying this before I was so rudely interupted
coffee
kinzel
I was hoping to take part in some discussions over at a site called tele-read -- alas, the captcha they use disagreed with me -- or sent me to a "page not found" -- 5 times in a row, and my patience is gone and I'm almost out of coffee ...

The discussion point was the varying quality of ebook production. There's a lot of talk about this since ebooks have *finally* been discovered (hey, I was there in 1989, where was everyone?) but anyhow, I saw publisher bashing, writer bashing, and distributor bashing going on and wanted to weigh in and get some feedback, too ...

If anyone at tele-read gets here, they can mentally insert this into the discussion from yesterday:

Several points:

I've recent experience with converting books between formats and discover that some of the conversion programs are apparently capable of introducing their own errors. These are technically not "scan errors" or "OCR errors" since it happens during direct file conversion -- I'm not an expert but ti does appear that font rendering is not as far along as we might like it to be. I'm guessing that it is important to pre-convert to a standard face (I keep hearing Times Roman from people with more knowledge than I have ).... and to watch like a hawk.

The watch-like-a-hawk thing is hard to do when you're bulk converting. For one thing, in the ordinary course of preparing a new manuscript for publication by a "real" publisher any script should/can go through 1)the writer's final pre-submission beta readers (if any... note that this can be a half-dozen readers fro some authors!), 2) the writer's final final fix after the beta-readers, 3) the editor (for base reading and line editing), 4)the copy editor (again, that should be line by line), 5) the writer's go through of the proof (depending on the company there's also a 6) different copy editor reading the proof at the same time!) ... and so there's lots of eyes. In conversion, that can be reduced to one (1) person flipping files. That's a lot fewer eyes, yes.

Note -- you can't expect (nor do you want!) an author with 40 properties in play and contracts to fill to stop everything for each back book. Nor will any frontline editor generally be involved -- this is mere file-flipping, right? Also, you don't want to get your frontline copyeditors involved because this is not a place to fix ordinary copyeditor stuff
(is that the wrong tense? Wasn't her hair red three chapters ago?) ... instead you're looking for errors like TM inserted for every 50th " ' " apostrophe...

I haven't yet seen what other errors might be introduced as the books go upline from here -- I'm creating my files from one base file, converting to the format at hand -- epub/mobi/what have you, adding an ISBN for each format edition -- but it isn't easy to get 6 to 10 sets of eyes on everything before it goes out, else the process becomes unmanageable.

Also, the assumption that "a big publisher" has lots of help at hand and is being lazy by not doing more misconstrues the current state of the industry, where (in NY genre houses overtaken by German conglomerates, for example) there are no extra bodies to throw at this. That's why these things may be farmed out to production houses who have no investment in anything but speed.

Steve Miller

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