Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ah, Sweet Mysteries of Smashwords!

       Smashwords continues to baffle me!  I had to try three times to please them in my attempts to publish v.1 of "Termite Queen" and I was sure I had it completely figured out!  You have to simplify things to an absolutely childish degree.  And I did that, and I did it on v.2, and the Meatgrinder took everything without a hiccup.  The books were published and I settled down to await their review for inclusion in the Premium Catalog. 
       So imagine my annoyance when a week or so ago, I get the message for v.1 as follows: "Needs modification.  Problems were found in review."  And what do they say is wrong now?  "Only two chapters in the second part appear in the NCX; please refer to Step 20 of the Style Guide to resolve this issue."
       "NCX" stands for "Navigation Control File for XML."   Apparently some of the EPUB readers like Kobo and Apple require a linked Table of Contents that appears in the left margin of the reader.  The Smashwords Style Guide, Step 20, tells you about this,  but it doesn't really explain how to achieve the result, in spite of what Smashwords says.  Here's what it says: "If you name your chapters starting with the word “Chapter,” Meatgrinder will automatically detect the word and build NCX navigation links into your EPUB file."  Fine!  My chapter titles consist of nothing but the word "Chapter" plus a number.  However, I do have sections that are named. 

       The Style Guide goes on to say: "Your second option is to create a linked Table of Contents (Step 20b below). This is actually my favorite option, because it gives you greater control over the NCX entries. If you create a linked Table of Contents, then Meatgrinder will use the linked ToC to automatically guide its generation of your NCX."  It adds a little farther along: "If you build your own linked ToC in your book, Meatgrinder will detect it and use it instead of its autogenerated ToC. This provides you increased control over the contents of the NCX and the internal ToC."
       It then gives you detailed instructions (which are very useful in more than this context) for building an internal, linked ToC.  So I did that, even though I don't have chapter titles.  I decided that, since my books are so long and e-readers are so difficult to navigate in, a linked ToC would be useful for the reader.
       So I figured that meant I had the NCX problem licked.  That's why I was so annoyed.  I see absolutely no way to fix the problem, so I just threw in the towel.  If people want to buy my books on Smashwords, they can just go to the Smashwords site.  And the NCX is non-essential for the reader, since they have a linked ToC in the text.
       Now, I knew that the same problem existed with v.2 -- in that case, none of the chapters of Part 4 printed in the NCX.  It skipped directly from the section title, "Part Four: Earth: Absolution," to "Epilogue."
       So imagine my bewilderment when a couple of days ago, Smashwords approved v.2 for the Premium Catalog!  It has exactly the same problem as v.1!  I am completely flummoxed!  It's stupid to have v.2 available in the exterior catalogs when v.1 isn't!  I should write to Smashwords, but it's so complicated!  I think maybe I'll write to them and tell them to read this post!  It explains the problem a lot better than I could explain it in an email!


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