Uncanny Valleygirl by Alex De Campi #7 – No Athena, And Free Kindle Formatting Download

Three days to Valentine going on sale, and I've spent most of my time in the last week dealing with this music video edit. This is where we'll be on Wednesday:  Comixology will have Episode 01 in all languages for free download on iPhone and about 1/3 of the other languages in Episode 02 (this is an Apple Store Takes Its Sweet Time issue; the rest will come through soon), in the Comixology store. RobotComics will be shipping one language a week for Android and iPhone via a special Valentine app, and I'm waiting for their schedule on what language goes out when, not to mention a link to the app.


Ironically, after my dramas with Amazon last week, Kindle will be the only edition that will be available in all 13 languages from the start. In fact, they are available now. (If that link doesn't work, just search in the Kindle Store for "Valentine" and "de campi".)

But, as usual, there are some caveats. I have to charge for Episode 01, because you can't have free stuff in the Kindle Store. I can't actually build an Amazon store into my site, or utilise any of the great wordpress widgets which do so, because Amazon has decided in its infinite wisdom (and by "infinite wisdom" I mean "pie-faced stupidity") that not only will it not allow associate income/referral fees on e-Books, it won't even allow associates to link to e-Books. It's almost as if they didn't want authors to market content for their kindle. So I've done a workaround, which should be live on Wednesday on our site (click on "Kindle"), but it's not a thing of elegance. It's a thing of brute expediency.

I was told by friends in the publishing industry that Amazon sends that arsey "are you the author" email that it hit me with to nearly everyone, and that I should just fob them off by linking to the Valentine website. I did, and it worked – all books published. (Although, while they suspected my authorship for 8 of the 13 versions of Episode 01, they were quite happy to publish the other 5, plus the 13 versions of Episode 02.)

Speaking of Kindle, click here to download the Kindle format for Episode 01. It's very easy, and it works. Just put your own images in the main folder as screen001.jpg, screen002.jpg, et cetera, and add/delete pages in the html file to suit the length of your book. I strongly suggest only one image per page, and I use 525×640 greyscale images. When done, zip up the file, and upload it to the Amazon DTP. Easy-squeezy! Of course it's up to you to sort out your panels/lettering/page cutdowns so they're legible at 525×640 pixels and in black and white… so not so great for superhero-style comics.

Note also, if you name your image files something OTHER than screen001.jpg, screen002.jpg etc (with the cover as screen001.jpg) you will have to go through and change all the IMG tags in the main HTML doc. So test it out by opening the html in your browser – if you see your images, you've done it right. If you see no images, you've put them somewhere other than the main folder (or put them in a subfolder within the main folder), or there's some difference in your image file names and those listed in the html tags (eg you have screen001.png not screen001.jpg). Don't freak out if the images seem a bit jumbled, they tend to do that in the browser view as the browser doesn't support the Kindle's proprietary-code for page breaks (that's the mbp:pagebreak tag). Freak out only if it's all gone haywire in the Kindle preview once you've uploaded. (Also be aware that the online preview tends to make the images look really crappy and lo-res. They will not look that bad on the actual Kindle.)

We're still working out image issues with Stanza. I've found out they do re-size images, but there are aspect ratio problems when phones are held in landscape format. So my Stanza images will have to be processed to the equivalent of 300 x 450 (vs the iPhone's full screen of 320×480), and pillarboxed. There are still issues with blank pages appearing after images, and with Stanza iPhone not reading some ePub files. So we won't be launching with Stanza, but we will get there at some point in first quarter of next year as Stanza and I work together on this. They are being great troopers about this whole picturebook thing, considering Stanza was really built for text. It's so close to being a good picture-reader too, though… that's the temptation.

I'm kind of glad I have more time with Stanza, too, as I haven't begun the marketing campaign to get my ePubs listed in Fictionwise, the B&N e-Book store, et cetera. While Smashwords' hoped-for development of a separate ePub submission process will sort much of that distribution out for me, I do need to start hitting up some of the stores so the ePubs are on sale somehwere other than my site. The lack of a Stanza launch gives me a jolly good reason to postpone that until 2010, though – that, and the fact that I haven't done the image formatting passes for 600×800 screen e-Readers (Nook, Sony, etc) yet. When I do get the ePubs up, they'll be for sale on the Valentine website.

Of course I'm a bit sad about all of this, I wanted this book to spring forth in all languages and all formats on 16th December (hell, I wanted it to do so on 1st November), and we just didn't make it. I know we'll get there in the end, or at least by March next year, but I wanted more. Then again, Team Valentine has done so much, sometimes we forget to look back at what we have accomplished instead of cursing ourselves for the things we haven't.

Meanwhile, the colours for Episode 03 are in, and Episode 04 is written. I'm actually off dealing with family matters this week, but Episode 03 will be fully lettered in time to get it off to the Apple Store before December 31st.

Do check out the Valentine website, and if you have an iPhone or a Kindle, please consider downloading Episode 01 and buying a copy of Episode 02. It's only 99 cents.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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