Does anyone have experience converting a book manuscript from Word to Kindle?

Subject: Does anyone have experience converting a book manuscript from Word to Kindle?
From: Dixie Lang <dlang -at- terracom -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 15:03:43 -0600

Greetings everyone,

My client has asked me to convert a 265-page book manuscript from MS
Word 2007 to a Kindle-readable file.

Before I explain more, yes, I do realize Word is not a solid choice for
manuscripts. At the moment I am stuck with it in Word.

I researched a bit on the Web about Kindle conversions, and I read the
instructions on Amazon. I downloaded the Mobipocket reader and tried the
conversion. Note that I used a stripped Word doc - I created a fresh
doc, and tediously copied the front matter and first chapter through
Notepad to strip all extraneous formatting codes. I then added back the
bare minimum - bold and italics.

I expected Word to write horrendous HTML. What I did not expect was to
lose all the vertical spacing. I was further horrified to see what the
conversion did to a simple table. (Apparently the early Kindle software
does not support tables.)

I then went back to digging up what I could find on the Web about Kindle
conversions. Much of the information is contradictory. Some people
recommended hand-coding the manuscript in HTML.

I have extensive experience hand-coding HTML, so that's not a problem.
The amount of time it would take is the problem - it would totally blow
the client's budget. Further, that would mean the doc would need to
remain in raw HTML, limiting who could maintain it, and raising the
chances that someone down the road will resurrect an old copy of
FrontPage and totally trash the file.

If anyone has done such a conversion, would you be willing to share best
practices? I am particularly interested in:

- settings in Word to output the HTML as cleanly as possible
- "clean up" scripts to remove Word's special formatting codes and
streamline the HTML

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide.

- Dixie

Dixie Lang
Dalton Unlimited
Copywriting and More

(608) 628-6074

dlang -at- daltonunlimited -dot- com
"Fortune favors the brave." - Joss Whedon


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