BLARRRRGH!: an update.

BLARRRRGH!Ever had one of those days when you realize you’re screwed in a variety of ways, none of which correspond even slightly to ways in which you actually like being screwed? I am having that day today. At no point on a Friday should I be checking to see if it’s Monday.

Where do I start?

I just discovered that my web hosting service has discontinued the “Files Forever” service through which I was selling the DRM-free PDF ebook of VWORP!1. The PDF that was previously available through this service was, essentially, the PDF file from which the book itself was printed. This was ideal for a number of reasons: for one thing, what you saw on the screen was what you’d see on the page. VWORP!1 (and this applies to its perpetually-upcoming cousins too) is a very formatting-intensive book, and its layout is there to help deliver a lot of information in a visually unobtrusive, uncluttered manner. There’s an icon system to denote stories with major recurring enemies or concepts… basically, there’s a lot of good stuff packed tightly into those 400 pages.

Any time I’ve run the book through any conversion tool for Kindle or Nook, the result has always been craptabulous: the conversion eats the layout and spits out the bones, trashing the carefully-constructed look of the book. It would take a huge amount of time – to the tune of ceasing all work on the books that are supposed to be out this year – to reformat everything so that it could be done on Kindle or Nook. One of the reasons I was more than happy to simply release the publication PDF file as an ebook was that it freed me from any obligation to stop everything else I’m doing and reformat 400 pages of text. As intensive as the formatting is, “un-formatting” it an equally painstaking process. And disheartening. Is digital publishing all it’s cracked up to be when I can’t make my own book look the way I want?

Sadly, with the abrupt and unannounced dismantling of Files Forever, I’m left with no other choice. WARP!1 is already behind schedule; if I cease all work on it to reformat VWORP!1, I’ll be doing good to get WARP!1 out in time for the 47th anniversary of Star Trek’s broadcast premiere this September (!). (On the other hand, Star Trek Into Darkness seems to have generated so little buzz as to have fallen off the radar, never mind taking weeks before it cracked the $200,000,000 mark that the studio assumed would be crossed within days of domestic release. The original idea was that the release date of WARP!1 was going to be tied to the release date of STID; I’m not entirely sure that strategy is warranted at this point.)

As I close in on finishing WARP!1, I will take the time to “de-format” it as well, creating a Kindle version to be released alongside the print version. The same will be done with VWORP!2 and the Brit SF TV guide.

As much as I don’t want to just say “It’s in print only!” and piss off half the audience, I will tell you this: the effort goes into the print versions and the ebooks are an afterthought. The handy icons and concise formatting, when removed, strip the ebook versions of a lot of their usefulness and uniqueness. I was the layout and copy editor of my school papers for… well, much of my time in school. I am a layout junkie. If there’s a call for organization of information, I look forward to – and pride myself on – creating layouts that convey that information without clutter. Stripped of that ability, I honestly feel that an ebook version can’t help but be second-rate next to the print edition. I apologize for that, and yet there’s a part of me that makes no real apologies for it. The ebook is still an evolving medium, and I hope it catches up with the ability to handle layouts. As it is right now, ebooks are meant for single-column layouts and little else. It makes me feel like I’m trying to go about my craft with one hand tied behind my back.

So here’s where we stand:

VWORP!1 Kindle Edition – by August, come hell or high water
WARP!1 (Print + Kindle) – September?
VWORP!1 Second Edition (Print + Kindle) – November
VWORP!2 (Print + Kindle) – November
The Guide To 42 British Sci-Fi TV Classics – 2014

Thanks for listening to me vent. I realize that “oh, how shall I sell my book?” is a real live first world problem. I just wish it wasn’t a problem at all for me to put it out there the way I originally intended. Heck, once it’s on Kindle, maybe there’ll actually be reviews posted at some point (though given the deafening silence thus far, perhaps I should be careful what I wish for!).

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