Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Little Kindle Music, Please

By Pat Browning

Amy Shojai, past president of the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. (OWFI) decided her out-of-print books deserved another life so she began putting them on Kindle. She has blogged her progress in detail, as a guide for other writers who might like to “Kindle-ize” their books.

Amy is one of the busiest writers I know. Just reading her bio makes me want to lie down and take a nap.

Briefly, Amy Shojai is a nationally known authority on pet care and behavior, is a certified animal behavior consultant, a spokesperson for the pet products industry, and the author of 23 nonfiction pet books and hundreds of articles and columns. She is the behavior expert at, hosts a weekly half-hour radio “Pet Peeves” show at, and appears as an expert on Animal Planet's "Dogs 101" and "Cats 101."

Her award winning columns appear in the Herald Democrat newspaper, at Purina’s and, and She also hosts “Ask The Pet Care Expert” at She appears in a twice-monthly TV “Pet Talk” segment at KXII-CBS.

On April 10 Amy posted this on her blog:
I have had 23 pet care and behavior books published since 1992, all by "mainstream" bigtime NYC publishers. In the beginning, my agent commanded 6-figure advances for my books, and some of these books have sold extremely well.

It sucks to start at the top, cuz there's only one direction to go from there, especially when Internet freebies and economic challenges meet. The Internet and Animal Planet killed the kinds of books I write--prescriptive, heavily researched, highly reliable info-tainment about cat and dog care, behavior and training. Why buy a book, when you can access the information for free--and who cares if it's the latest research from reliable sources or just the "guru of the moment" spouting off. Free = good.

Anyway, I have a number of solid-information books looking for a new life (and audience) as Ebooks. If folks want information from the Internet, I won't fight them--and in fact, I'll HELP them find some solid, good material at a price this economy can afford. Heck, I think some of these titles now sell on Ebay for $90 or so, and meanwhile I can provide updated information in a format they want at a fraction of the cost to readers or to me.

And so began Amy's journey as a Kindle-izer. Formatting non-fiction books like hers may be different from formatting fiction text but even fiction writers can benefit from her experience.

On April 23, Amy posted a recap of her progress.

It's Alive! The Kindle-izing Journey continues...
by Amy D Shojai
April 23, 2010, 1:40 pm

After a little over a month, much research and even more angst, Complete Kitten Care is LIVE and available for $2.99 at Kindle. Whew!

While publishing via the DTP (digital text plaform) provided by Amazon works great for text-only (fiction) works, there are a number of hoops nonfiction cat-egories must leap. Pun intended. I promised a recap for all my followers, and I promise it's not nearly as difficult as I made it. So for all you other DWAA and CWA and other nonfiction authors including all my good friends at OWFI, (maybe even some nonfiction Thriller Writers?) here's how I did it.

1. Create a single document by combining all chapters into one.

2. Format with the "style" templates to code your documents for the table of contents. For each chapter heading, I used "Heading 1" and then "Heading 2" and so on for either section heading and/or breakout boxes of text. I found that the software default for HTML codes in the TOC recognized Heading 1, 2 and 3.

Remove any tables, boxes of information or other such graphics, as they will not translate. Instead format them with bolded or italicized text, or use Heading 4, 5, 6 etc. These won't be recognized in the TOC, but the look/format will remain true once translated into HTML. I used this technique to highlight "pull out" information such as sidebars.

3. Insert any photos at low resolution (72 dpi) but as large as possible to be viewable once published in the Kindle. A gif or jpg file works well. Kindle only displays black and white pictures; HOWEVER, if you have color, why not use them? The FREE Kindle-for-PC does display color, and perhaps in the future the handheld will as well.

For what it's worth, I set my page size to A5 (about 6" x 8.25") to approximate the view from the smaller Kindle, before sizing my photos. I also placed them between paragraph breaks, which worked well at that size--but not as well if the page is read in larger format or changed to smaller type. I suspect there's not much to be done in this case although you can set it to "word wrap" which helps a bit.

4. Insert any links you wish. In my bio section, I've included my other writing venues as well as my website. Throughout COMPLETE KITTEN CARE, any website mentions for products or resources also have live click-able links.

When the books COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT and COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING DOG are updated and published, they will include hot links to veterinary resources, and the experts interviewed for the books.

5. Click on the "references" tab in Word software, and find the "table of contents" command. There are default choices, or you can build your own. I used the template. It automatically lists, in order, every single word you've "coded" with Header 1, 2, and 3, with associated page numbers and clickable bookmarks to that given page.

6. To convert the finished document to HTML, you will SAVE-AS, click on OTHER FORMATS and save as a WEB PAGE, FILTERED. You will lose much of your margins and formatting, but don't let that scare you. Check throughout for any inadvertent missing paragraph tabs. Remember, this will be translated once more by the Amazon DTP software.

7. If you have any photos in the text, the HTML conversion will create both an HTML text document with 'placeholder' spots for images, and a second folder that contains the files of those images. You'll need to 'zip' or compress both of these into a single document. Highlight both files, and then right-click the mouse, SEND TO, and click on compressed (zip) file. THAT is the file you will upload to the Digital Text Platform.

Once you've uploaded, be sure to view the test version. This process can be tedious because each page takes a couple of seconds to load. It is well worth checking for formatting errors at this stage, though. If you publish at this stage, and later find errors, you will need to re-publish all over again.

Good luck! I hope this journey helps others. And once again (cuz it's my blog and I can!), I hope y'all will spread the word about this how-to blog. And if you need good pet care information or know someone who does, please consider my Kindle-ized books.

I've just updated my homepage to reflect the new kitten book--along with a new author photo, what fun!
Happy Writing!
You can read all of Amy’s posts on her Kindle-izing journey at her blog:

The blog also has a link to her web page.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks for posting this, Pat. I have nine out-of-print books that I've been considering putting on Kindle. Now I'm wondering why I haven't done it sooner.

AmyShojai said...

Thanks for the shout out, Pat! Hope the blog helps others.

Mark W. Danielson said...

All good information, Pat, Amy. Like it or not, electronic books aren't going away. Thanks for sharing.

Chester Campbell said...

I have all five of my books, both in and out of print, on the Kindle. I made a little over $100 last year and about $60 so far this year. I've been charging $5.99but I'm going to drop it to $2.99 and see if that'll improve sales.