Editing a New Anthology

One of my writing groups, the Loudoun Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, is producing its second annual anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories. The editor will be S. C. Megale, another member of our writing group.

Additionally, as with the first anthology, I will be producing the Kindle ebook for the anthology, as I am currently doing for the first anthology. Martin Wilsey will be producing the print edition, taking over from John Dwight (who did a superb job on the first anthology). Donna Royston is available for copyediting; she does this professionally in her day job for a technical journal.

The group decided on a theme of “relics” for the anthology, so every story, whether science fiction or fantasy, will feature some sort of relic. Naturally, we expect the writers to liberally interpret the meaning of “relic” for their stories. This, of course, prompted me to suggest the title of “Reliquary” for the anthology, which was enthusiastically accepted by the group.

I’m a big believer in constant improvement. I’d like to build on the success of the first anthology and do even better with the second volume. To that end, here are my goals:

  • Do at least as good a job with the design of the print edition as the first anthology.

  • Improve on the copyediting of the first anthology; we are still finding grammatical issues and typos.

  • All entries should be stories, with a beginning, middle and end. No vignettes or chapters from longer works (unless said pieces work as complete stories).

  • The print edition and ebook edition should come out simultaneously.

  • The second anthology should have a professional-looking cover.

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Never Mess With a Writer

A true story. Thursday night, I was in Wendy’s waiting for my order to be filled, standing next to an older gentleman who had already been waiting when I arrived.

The next person in line, a tall teenager, whose age I estimated at perhaps 18, finished giving his order. He turned towards me and said, “Did you know that the word ‘facetious’ has all of the vowels in order?”

“Interesting,” I said. “Did you know that ‘bookkeeper’ is the only word in the English language that has three double letters in a row?”

The teenager looked at me dumbfounded, while the older man next to me started laughing.

Never mess with a writer.

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Into the Technical Vortex: Producing a Kindle Ebook

Well, I’m in the mix now. I’ve signed up to create the Kindle edition of Uncommon Threads, the anthology released last June by my writing group, the Loudoun Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers. So, I’m deep in the throes of researching how to professionally produce Amazon’s mobi format for Kindle ebooks, as well as the epub format for other vendors.

I’m a software architect for my day job, in which I build large-scale web applications for various clients. At the end of the day, ebooks are HTML. which is something that I’m an expert in. Quite frankly, I think there’s a lot of substandard advice on the web regarding how to produce ebooks.

Or, to put it another way, it’s easy to produce an ebook. It’s much harder to produce a professional caliber ebook that will work on the wide range of readers and reading applications that are available in the wild.

My personal approach is evolving based on my research and experimentation. Right now, it appears as if my process is going to be something like this:

  1. Set up the ebook in Scrivener.
  2. Export to HTML.
  3. Massage the HTML.
        — Remove extraneous HTML elements.
        — Add custom CSS style sheet.
        — Organize HTML and images.
  4. Import HTML into Calibre.
  5. Export to epub format.
  6. Import epub to Amazon.

We’ll just have to see how this all works out. In a way, this is a dry run for producing my own ebooks in the first quarter of 2016.

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