Stillpoint Digital Press http://stillpointdigital.com The human face of digital publishing Tue, 19 Jun 2018 17:18:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/stillpointdigital.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Stillpoint-Enso-Logo-Red-55d2c0d1v1_site_icon.png?fit=32%2C32 Stillpoint Digital Press http://stillpointdigital.com 32 32 97446753 Weekly Roundup — What’s new in digital publishing? http://stillpointdigital.com/weekly-roundup-whats-new-in-digital-publishing/ http://stillpointdigital.com/weekly-roundup-whats-new-in-digital-publishing/#respond Tue, 12 Jun 2018 19:57:59 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=4027 From a scandal that rocked the world of digital publishing to some nice, relaxing podcast recommendations, here’s our latest weekly roundup. Assuming you’ve been following the scandal around Kindle Unlimited abuser “Chance Carter,” you’ll probably be glad to hear his books have been removed from the platform (according, at least, to The Digital Reader) If … Continue reading Weekly Roundup — What’s new in digital publishing?

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From a scandal that rocked the world of digital publishing to some nice, relaxing podcast recommendations, here’s our latest weekly roundup.

  1. Assuming you’ve been following the scandal around Kindle Unlimited abuser “Chance Carter,” you’ll probably be glad to hear his books have been removed from the platform (according, at least, to The Digital Reader)
  2. If you want to make money at publishing the old fashioned way (rather than scamming the system like chance), this article on how to choose a price for your eBook is a good place to start
  3. Facebook has been losing users left and right — but what does that mean for those of us who market our businesses using our Newsfeeds?
  4. Speaking of Facebook, if you’re interested in the digital side of marketing, this post about the future of eBook chatbots is certainly worth a read
  5. If you’ve been doing too much reading, consider resting your eyes and listen to some of these amazing podcasts about digital publishing (courtesy of State of Digital Publishing)
  6. Finally, looking for some book recommendations for the summer? It’s a rhetorical question: of course you are. Check out PW’s 2018 list for inspiration

Also, check out Stillpoint publisher/author David Kudler’s post on TheBookDesigner.com about the advantages and disadvantages of selling your ebook exclusively on Amazon!

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Leave them below, and we’ll get back to you

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Roundup: 6 More Interesting Posts on Ebook Publishing! http://stillpointdigital.com/roundup-6-more-interesting-posts-on-ebook-publishing/ http://stillpointdigital.com/roundup-6-more-interesting-posts-on-ebook-publishing/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 19:01:27 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3992 We’re back! Here are 6 more interesting online publishing tidbits, coming at you hot off the (digital) press. Looking for tips on how to successfully interface with readers online? Don’t reply to comments when you’re hangry, and other helpful tips from Neiman Lab. For those not in attendance at the recent London Book Fair, here … Continue reading Roundup: 6 More Interesting Posts on Ebook Publishing!

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We’re back! Here are 6 more interesting online publishing tidbits, coming at you hot off the (digital) press.

  1. Looking for tips on how to successfully interface with readers online? Don’t reply to comments when you’re hangry, and other helpful tips from Neiman Lab.
  2. For those not in attendance at the recent London Book Fair, here were bestselling author Joanna Penn’s main take-aways.
  3. Facebook’s newsfeed feature is constantly evolving — read this Social Media Today article to keep up to date with how to use its algorithms to your advantage.
  4. For those not up to date with Google’s new GDPR-compliant policy, here’s an interesting read on why publishing trade groups aren’t happy with the tech-giant’s latest update.
  5. If you’ve really been living under a rock re: literary scandals, here’s a quick update on why the Nobel Prize in Literature is postponing this year’s award.
  6. I recently stumbled across this list of best publishing podcasts, and have to say, I’m impressed! If you’re looking for a good listen, shuffle through a few of these — you’ll certainly learn something.

Also, Stillpoint publisher David Kudler posted recently on TheBookDesigner.com about whether or not it makes sense to offer your ebook for free — and the best way to make that happen if you decide it does. Check it out!

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Feel free to let us know below!

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Weekly Roundup http://stillpointdigital.com/weekly-roundup-2/ http://stillpointdigital.com/weekly-roundup-2/#respond Mon, 09 Apr 2018 02:38:54 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3928 April may be the cruelest month, but here at Stillpoint Digital there’s some good news — with a new month, comes a new roundup of this weeks most interesting #eprdctn-related articles.  For those just dipping their toes into the literary arts, check out Just Publishing Advice’s article on how to get started as a writer. … Continue reading Weekly Roundup

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April may be the cruelest month, but here at Stillpoint Digital there’s some good news — with a new month, comes a new roundup of this weeks most interesting #eprdctn-related articles. 

  1. For those just dipping their toes into the literary arts, check out Just Publishing Advice’s article on how to get started as a writer.
  2. Not sure your eBook’s worth writing? Give it a second chance, and take a look at what recently e-published author Cole Schafer has to say.
  3. Interested in how online publishing has the power to impact younger generations? Here’s why Mark Roquet thinks we need to invest more in Ed Tech.
  4. Everyone gets their news in a different way — here’s how the digital newsstand is coming back into vogue.
  5. Every story deserves a chance to blossom into its own. Here’s why Kristen Lamb thinks authors should wait before they edit.
  6. For avid readers/writers looking to become the masters of their own economic fate, these book recommendations for non-marketers may be worth a glance.

Did you like this week’s articles? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

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Elements of Style: CSS for Ebooks http://stillpointdigital.com/css-for-ebooks/ http://stillpointdigital.com/css-for-ebooks/#respond Thu, 29 Mar 2018 12:34:40 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3908 I originally published this post on Joel Friedlander’s wonderful resource for self-publishers, TheBookDesigner.com If HTML is the blueprint, showing how an ebook (or a web page) should be laid out, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the interior design, saying how everything should look. While that may sound superficial, in fact learning to use CSS can … Continue reading Elements of Style: CSS for Ebooks

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I originally published this post on Joel Friedlander’s wonderful resource for self-publishers, TheBookDesigner.com

If HTML is the blueprint, showing how an ebook (or a web page) should be laid out, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the interior design, saying how everything should look. While that may sound superficial, in fact learning to use CSS can have a profound impact on your ebook.

This is a somewhat complicated topic, so I am going to take three posts to cover it. This time round, I’m going to show you what CSS is and how to apply it. In the second post, I’m going to look at some of the different properties that you can use to define how your ebook looks. And in the last post, I’m going to talk about how to know which rules take precedence when.

CSS was created to define the presentation style to any XML document — but it’s most common use is in conjunction with the HTML in web pages and, of course, in ebooks. It’s what allows you to add color, to change fonts and (within reason) typefaces, to define where and how images display, and much more.

The Rule of Law

All CSS really comes down to is a series of rules that define how a particular element (or kind of element) will look when an ereader displays it.[1]

Each rule has two parts:

  1. A selector, which can be:
  • One or more type of HTML element (that is, any instance of a particular tag: <p>, <body>, <em>, etc.)
  • One or more class (that is, any elements that have been given the attribute class=”whatever”)
  • An element with a particular ID (that is, having the attribute id=”whatever”)
  1. A declaration — that is to say, one or more properties defining how the selector(s) should display

So here’s an example from the stylesheet file Styles/Styles.css in the “White Robes” ebook that I linked to a couple of posts back:

h1, .Text-break {color:darkred;}

That’s a lot simpler than it might at first look.

The part before the curly brackets ({}) marks the selector(s); there are two here, separated by a comma:

  • h1: If you look back to my last post, you’ll see that h1 marks the top-level section head — usually a chapter title.
  • .Text-break: This is a class — the name of a particular style. You can tell because of the period at the beginning. [2]

Sometimes you see these selectors combined. I could have marked the second one p.Text-break, because in fact it’s a style that I apply to whole paragraphs — in the case of “White Robes,” paragraphs that contain a single em-dash to be used as a separator between sections of text. But I don’t have to say what kind of element the class needs to be applied to (although that can sometimes be useful). By leaving the p off before the period, I could apply the same rule to other kinds of elements, if I wanted.

The part inside the curly brackets is the actual rule — the declaration. It contains a color property that tells the ereader to turn sections that match those selectors dark red. Simple, right?
Since there can be more than one rule per declaration, each declaration needs to end in a semicolon:

h1, .Text-break {color:darkred;font-weight:bold;}

I’ll get into more detail on some of the various rules that you care about in another post — sorry, this one is already complicated enough!

Location, location, location

Now there are three places you can place a CSS rule:

  1. Inline as part of an HTML tag
  2. In a <style> tag inside the <head> at the top of the HTML file
  3. In a linked CSS file, either in the ebook itself or on the open internet

Inline Style

If you want to apply a CSS style to just one HTML tag, you can do it inline by adding a style attribute to an HTML tag.

For example, if I were to want to center a particular paragraph, I could add style=”text-align:center” to the <p> tag, like so:

<p style=”text-align:center;”>

(Remember: those quotes must be “straight,” not “smart” or “curly.”)

Likewise, if I were to want to make a particular section (or <span>) of text in Garamond, I would do this:

Here is a phrase displayed as <span style=”font-family:Garamond;”>Garamond</span>.

Now, that would only work if Garamond were actually installed on the ereader or embedded in the ebook, so I added the generic serif, which tells the ereader to use its default serif typeface.

Notice that I don’t use a selector when using the style attribute. Since the declaration is inside a tag, it’s clear what the rule refers to. Make sense?

<style> Tag

You can do all sorts of wonderful things when you apply styles inline — but when you do, they will only apply to those tags where they’re added, and they will always apply there, until you search through and change them. (I know, setting all of the text to orange Comic Sans seemed like such a good idea!)

So how can you make your CSS styles more powerful and easier to edit?

Use global styles. These are the equivalent of the styles used in word-processing and page-layout apps — changing the style changes every part of the document to which the style has been applied.

There are two ways to do this in any HTML document — including one of the files that makes up your ebook.

The first is to add a <style></style> block to your file. As I said, it is placed in the <head> section of the file, and would look something like this:

<html>
<head>
<style type=”text/css”>
h1, .Text-break {color:darkred;}
p {color:black;}
#Green {color:green;}
</style>
</head>
<body>
<h1>This header is red</h1>
<p>This paragraph is black.</p>
<p class=”Text-break”>This paragraph is red!</p>
<p id=”Green”>This paragraph is green.</p>
</body>
</html>

Notice that the <style> tag should always include the attribute type=”text/css.” That tells the ereader that this is standard CSS.

That would display this way:

Now, notice that in addition to styling the <p> element black and the h1 element and the Text-break class red, I styled the paragraph with the id attribute Green as… you know, green.

Just as a period before the name tells us that the selector is a class, the pound sign (#) before the name lets us know that the selector is an ID. So in the style tag above, that looked like this:

#Green {color:green;}

By having a single set of declarations in the header, you can save yourself the trouble of adding the same rule over and over again, and then having to change every instance of it if you decide, for example, to make the .Text-break blue instead of red.

CSS Style Sheet

The third way to add style to your ebook’s HTML pages is to create one or more style sheets and link to them in the <head> section of each page.

This works just like having a <style></style> section at the top of your chapter — except the rules will apply not just in one file, but in all of them. This is especially important if you’re working on a longer, multi-chapter ebook.

First create an empty text file with the file type .css. In the “White Robes” ebook, I created the file Styles.css in the directory/folder Styles:

You can also create the file in whatever editing software you’re using. In Sigil, go to the File menu, and then select Add>Blank Stylesheet.

The contents of the file looks almost exactly like the <style type=”text/css”> section I showed you above. Here’s the style sheet from “White Robes”:

Some of those rules might make sense to you; most of them won’t. Don’t worry; the next post will be a primer on some of the most important rules and properties.

Oh — notice that each property in the declaration section (the part inside the curly brackets) is on its own line. Just as in HTML, those line breaks are meaningless. What separates one property from the next is, as I said above, a semicolon. So Sigil puts each rule on its own line for no reason other than making it easier to read.

Also, something important: in CSS, the rule closer to the bottom has priority. So notice in the third rule that says that a whole bunch of different kinds of HTML elements, including the body element will have no margin, no padding, and no border width.[3]

Then the very next rule sets the padding (that is, the space inside the edge of the element before words and images can show up) to five pixels.[4]

Because the second <body> declaration is closer to the bottom, it takes priority. The rule means that every page in the ebook will have a thin white space around the outside edge of the screen or window.

(Prioritization — which rules apply in which cases — is a complicated issue. I will get to it in the third and final post on CSS.)

Okay, so you’ve got a style sheet. But if it’s not linked from the XHTML file, those files won’t show up at all!

So you’ve got to add a <link> element to the <header> block of each XHTML file (that is, chapter) in your ebook to which you want to style sheet to apply.

The link element looks like this:

<link href=”../Styles/Styles.css” rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css”/>

That tells the ereader to look for the file Styles.css in the directory Styles (just where I put it); it tells the ereader that the relationship between the files is that Styles.css is a style sheet for the current XHTML file, and that’s it’s a CSS file.

Once you’ve added that link, all of the formatting that you’ve defined in the sheet will be applied to your now-beautiful chapters.

So, that’s our quick introduction to CSS.

Next time, I’ll run through some of the most important properties that you can define using CSS, and after that, I’ll finish up with a quick overview of style priorities.

Like this post? Sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll get my ebook An Indie Publisher’s Intro to Ebooks for free!


[1] Remember: an element is a block of HTML, usually set off at the beginning and end by open and close tags, like this: <tag>[stuff]</tag>

[2] By the way, you can apply multiple classes to a single element — just separate them with a space: class=”red small-caps”. Two things to keep in mind: First, the later class will take precedence, so if I added a class attribute with the values red and blue, the text would display as blue, since the blue class came last. Second, some older ereaders don’t handle multiple classes well (I’m looking at you, old-style Kindle). I usually try to stick to one class per element for that reason.

[3] You’ll often see a rule like this at (or near) the top of a style sheet; it’s called zeroing out or initialization. It makes sure that there isn’t any carry-over from the ereader’s default settings or other styles.

[4] Yeah, it looks like it’s stuttering; the four 5px values apply to the top, right, bottom, and left padding, in that order. That allows you to customize the spacing between elements quite a lot.

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Weekly Roundup – 6 Fresh Topics in Ebook Publishing http://stillpointdigital.com/weekly-roundup/ http://stillpointdigital.com/weekly-roundup/#respond Tue, 27 Mar 2018 12:44:26 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3894 Don’t call it a comeback! Here’s the second installment in our now weekly roundup of interesting articles in the world of eBook publishing.  Whether you’re an up-and-coming young author or an old hat, Derek Haines’ article on the basics of online publication will surely be of interest. Everyone knows that knowledge is power, but fewer … Continue reading Weekly Roundup – 6 Fresh Topics in Ebook Publishing

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Don’t call it a comeback! Here’s the second installment in our now weekly roundup of interesting articles in the world of eBook publishing. 

  1. Whether you’re an up-and-coming young author or an old hat, Derek Haines’ article on the basics of online publication will surely be of interest.
  2. Everyone knows that knowledge is power, but fewer of us know how to wield it. That’s where this PublishDrive article on smart metadata comes in.
  3. It’s always nice to support a fellow digital publisher — so whether or not you download her eBook, give Kristen Hick’s piece about Advanced SEO a read.
  4. Speaking of SEO, this online marketing post aimed at local business owners is worth scrolling through for anyone trying to boost their small publishing business.
  5. Those of us who work in the creative world know just how damaging piracy can be. That’s why Switzerland’s eBook piracy solution more than piqued my interest.
  6. Last but certainly not least, if you’ve been following the data abuse allegations against Facebook, this think piece about the online publishing realm should certainly interest you.

Also, do check out a couple of my own posts:

That’s it for this week! Questions or comments? Leave them below, and we’ll happily get back to you.

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Speaking in Code: Ebook HTML basics http://stillpointdigital.com/speaking-in-code-ebook-html-basics/ http://stillpointdigital.com/speaking-in-code-ebook-html-basics/#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2018 15:23:54 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3857 This post originally appeared on Joel Friedlander’s wonderful site, TheBookDesigner.com. If, as I keep saying, an ebook is just a website a box, then in order to know how to get in and edit your ebook, you’re going to want to know some HTML. However you choose to work on the file, knowing the basic … Continue reading Speaking in Code: Ebook HTML basics

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This post originally appeared on Joel Friedlander’s wonderful site, TheBookDesigner.com.

If, as I keep saying, an ebook is just a website a box, then in order to know how to get in and edit your ebook, you’re going to want to know some HTML. However you choose to work on the file, knowing the basic building blocks is essential in creating a finished  product that presents your book to its best advantage.

 

When we talk about HTML, we’re actually talking about two separate things:

 

  1. HyperText Markup Language (HTML): The code that makes up every web page you’ve ever seen. This is how we’ll add content to the ebook. That’s what the rest of this post is going to be about.
  2. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS): This is a set of rules for defining how everything looks. It’s how we’ll format the ebook — and that’s what I’m going to be covering in the next post.

 

HTML

Calling HTML the basic building blocks of an ebook is apt in more ways than one. Not only is the markup language the fundamental tool for writing and displaying web and ebook content, but it’s also set up as a series of containers — not unlike the nested building blocks that we used to build with as children. Sometimes they’re piled one on top of the other; sometimes one (or a group) is inside another.

 

Every one of those “blocks” is set off before and after by tags, each of which is marked by angle brackets (< and >). The beginning of a block is marked by an open tag that looks like this: <tag>. That tag ends with a close tag that looks like this: </tag>. All of the content between those tags is said to be part of that container.

 

So you’d start a paragraph with the <p> tag and end it with the </p> tag:

 

<p>It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.</p>

 

The tags will set that chunk of text off as a paragraph. Here’s how that would lock: 

 

Screenshot 2016-09-08 09.39.56.png

 

Simple, right?

 

Now, to make things just a bit more complicated, tags can also take what are called attributes, which tell the ereader how to treat certain tags.

 

An attribute is always added by including the attribute name, an equal sign, straight quotes, and a value. Here’s the same paragraph tag with an attribute added:

 

<p align=”right”>It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.</p>

 

I wonder what that align attribute would do?

 

Screenshot 2016-09-08 10.38.59.png

 

What a surprise! I could also have had the attribute read left, justify, or center.[1]

 

One warning: make sure that the quote marks around the attribute value are straight (i.e., “right”) and not “smart” or “curly” quotes (i.e., “right”). Otherwise the ereader won’t know what it’s looking at and your ebook will break.[2]

 

Now there are (very basically) two kinds of tags: block tags and inline tags.[3] Containers set off by block tags need not be placed inside other containers.[4] Containers set off by inline tags are always placed inside other containers.

 

Block Tags

I told you “block” was an appropriate metaphor in more ways than one!

 

Block tags create self-contained blocks of text — like paragraphs (<p></p>) or articles (<article></article>). Many of them can used at the “root level” of the page — as I said, they need not be inside any other tag (other than the <html> and <body> tags that I’ll talk about later). Many of them can be nested that is, placed inside another block tag.

 

Note that when you nest tags, you must always close the most recently opened tag first. Here’s an example

 

<article>

<p>It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.</p>

</article>

 

Notice that I couldn’t put the end-of-article tag (</article>) until I’d put the end-of-paragraph tag (</p>).

 

(The <article> tag is part of HTML5, the newest version of HTML in use in web and ebook design.)

 

Now, in HTML, hitting the RETURN key doesn’t create a new paragraph as you might expect. Some HTML and ePub editing software will take care of that for you by automatically adding paragraph tags (<p></p>) around your text. If you are used to using a blogging system like WordPress, you probably weren’t even aware that those tags were getting added.

 

When you’re working on the raw HTML in an ebook, however, you don’t get those training wheels.

 

And unless there’s a tag, the text will simply continue to flow. For example:

 

<p>It is a truth universally acknowledged

 

that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.</p>

 

would display as:

 

Screenshot 2016-09-08 09.39.56.png

In other words, it would look exactly the same as if the line breaks hadn’t been there.

 

The advantage to this is that you can place the tags on separate lines of code from the text, which makes it easier to see what tags are still open. Web programming conventions encourage us to indent each nested tag, to make it even easier to see what’s going on:

 

 <article>

<p>

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.

</p>

<p>

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered to be the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

</p>

</article>

 

Here’s how that would look:

 

Screenshot 2016-09-08 09.49.32.png

 

The indentation in the code makes it easier to see which blocks are inside which, and can be invaluable when it comes time to debug (see below). As the example showed, it won’t be displayed as part of the ebook. Nor will the white space between the paragraphs. The only things that will create a space between paragraphs in a web page (or an ebook) is a block tag.

 

More Block Tags

We’ve seen the most commonly used block tag, the wonderful paragraph tag (<p></p>).

 

Here are some more commonly used block tags:

 

<blockquote></blockquote>:

This creates a block quote or extract. Usually this text is displayed in a smaller font size and indented further — but this can be controlled through CSS. You can have multiple paragraphs inside a block quote:

<p>

This quote is from Jane Austen’s masterpiece:

</p>

<blockquote>

<p>

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife

</p>

<p>

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered to be the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

</p>

</blockquote>

 

Here’s how that would look:

Screenshot 2016-09-08 09.53.30.png

 

<table></table>:

This creates a table structure. To set off the rows and cells in a table you need further tags (note that tables are not accepted by some retailers and therefore are semi-deprecated; for another way to create the same effect, use the CSS float property, which I’ll discuss in later posts):

<tr></tr>:

This creates a table row. This must appear inside of a <table> block.

 

<td></td>:

This creates a table cell. These are always inside a <tr> block.

 

<th></th>:

This creates a header cell, which behaves just like a regular (<td>) cell, but can be formatted differently

 

Here’s an example of a basic table:

<table>

<tr>

<th>Pride and Prejudice</th>

</tr>

<tr>

<td>

<p>It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife</p>

</td>

<td>

<p>However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered to be the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.</p>

</td>

</tr>

</table>

 

And here’s how that would look:

 

Screenshot 2016-09-08 10.08.51.png

 

Notice that the paragraphs are side by side now, instead of stacked one on top of the other. That’s because they’re part of the same row (<tr></tr>) block.

 

<h1></h1>:

This is the tag to identify the most important header on a page. Traditionally, there should be only one per “page. In ePub coding, this is often the tag used for a chapter title:

<article>

<h1>Pride and Prejudice</h1>

<p>It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.</p>

<p>However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered to be the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.</p>

</article>

 

Here’s how that would look:

Screenshot 2016-09-08 10.17.06.png

<h2></h2>, <h3></h3>, etc.:

These tags set off lower-priority headings — chapter sub-titles, section heads, etc. (In publishing parlance, these are called A heads, B heads, and so on.)

 <article>

<h1>Pride and Prejudice</h1>

<h2>Chapter One</h2>

<p>It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.</p>

<p>However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered to be the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.</p>

</article>

 

Here’s how that would look:

Screenshot 2016-09-08 10.21.13.png

<hr></hr>:

This displays a horizontal rule — a line that divides the page horizontally. Note that, since there isn’t ever any text between the open and close tags, you can combine them: <hr/>

 

<br></br>:

Creates a line break — not a full paragraph break, but a forced move to the next line. To be honest, these are a last resort; you’re often better off using another block tag.

 

As with the <hr/> tag, the open and close tags are usually combined: <br/>

 

<img src=[file location] alt=A description of the image></img>:

This tag will display an image.

 

The source (src) attribute tells the ebook reader where to look for the image file. The file location will either be a URL (on the open web — it will look like this: http://website.com/image.jpg) or a URI (a file inside the ebook or web page’s local file structure — it will look something like this: ../Images/image.jpg).[5]

 

The alt attribute gives the image a text description, which is important, for example, when sight-impaired readers use text-to-speech to have the book read aloud. It should also display if you have attempted to display an image from the internet and the ereader isn’t connected.

 

As with the <hr/> and <br/> tags, the open and close tags are usually combined: <img src=”[location] alt=[description]/>

 

Others:

There are a lot of other HTML block tags that you can use — especially in the newer ePub3 ebook standard — such as <frontmatter></frontmatter>, <chapter></chapter>, and many more. However, they are not frequently used at this point, and aren’t crucial to creating a well-designed ebook. If you would like to learn more about them, check out the IDPF accessibility guidelines, which offer a wonderful overview of the ePub3 format.

 

Now, I left out three mandatory block tags that appear in every ePub file, the <html></html>, <head></head> and <body></body> tags. The <html> tag is always the outermost block. The <head> and <body> tags are nested immediately inside, with the <head> tag coming before the <body> tag. To be complete, a file must look something like this:

<html>

<head>

<!-[SOME STUFF THAT WE’LL TALK ABOUT IN THE SECTION ON CSS]–>

</head>

<body>

<article>

<h1>Pride and Prejudice</h1>

<h2>Chapter One</h2>

<p>It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.</p>

<p>However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered to be the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.</p>

</article>

 </body>

</html>

 

That’s now an actual, complete HTML page! If you copy and past that into a text editor and save it with the file type html, you can open it with your web browser. Go you!

 

By the way, did you see the <!- and > tags in the header? Those mark the beginning and end of a comment — a coder’s note that isn’t intended to be displayed. They’re very useful both for keeping notes within the code, but also for finding where problems may originate. I’ll talk about that in future posts. 

 

We’d have to add a couple of things to make that code ebook-ready — I’ll be going into those in detail next time — but you could take that same file and import it into an ebook, and it would display perfectly.[6]

 

Inline Tags

These HTML tags are largely used for formatting. Many of them are used with CSS to help make them look pretty, and so I won’t touch on those this time.

 

These tags always appear nested inside of a block tag — usually a paragraph (<p></p>). A few that are important and incredibly useful are these:

 

<strong></strong>:

You put this tag around text to make it bold. The older version of the tag (<b></b>) still works but is no longer recommended. Why? Well, what happens when you place one <strong> section inside another? Usually it’s just bolded — but some fonts or styles have additional changes that can be made.

 

<em></em>:

You put this tag around text to make it italic. Again, the older version of the tag (<i></i>) still works, but is deprecated. Nested <em> tags can do some nifty things. When you put one <em> tag inside another — as in a foreign word or a book title inside of an italicized section the inner text will display not as italic, but as roman (regular) type. (This won’t work on every browser or ereader, but it’s nice when it does.)

 

<a href=[file location]></a>:

This is the tag that made the web what it is and that makes an ebook unlike its print cousin: the hyperlink. Anything within the tag — whether it’s actual text or an image tag — becomes a link.[7]

 

You can either link to an outside web page (a URL) or link to a file (or location within a file) within the file structure of your ebook (a URI).

 

Here’s how you’d create a hyperlink:

 

<h3>Read about <a href=http://janeausten.org”>Jane Austen</a></h3>

 

And it would look something like this:

 

Screenshot 2016-09-08 11.26.39.png

 

<sup></sup>:

This makes the text superscript — that is, it shifts the text up (and usually makes it smaller).

 

<sub></sub>:

This makes the text subscript — that is, it shifts the text down (and, again, usually makes it smaller).

 

<span></span>:

This defines a section within a block of text. It can be used for identification purposes, or, most commonly, for formatting the text. We’ll be going into this one in depth next time.

 

Identity code: the ID attribute

By the way, by adding an id attribute, you can turn any of these tags into anchors — locations within the file. You point an <a> tag at the anchor by adding a pound sign (#) and the id to the file location in the href attribute.

 

So let’s say we gave an image file an id of image (imaginative, right?):

 

<img src=../Images/Image.jpg” alt=”Image” id=”image/>

 

If I wanted to link to the location of the image in a file, I’d create a hyperlink:

 

<a href=../Text/Page.html#image>Click to see the image</a>

 

By the way, each id must be unique in the file — you can’t have more than one id=image”.

 

You can use this to create back-and-forth reciprocal links — something I do all the time when I’m creating footnotes (like, say, the ones in this post). Each <a> gets its own id; you link back and forth. Let’s say you put this into the file chapter1.html:

 

<p>”Here’s a quote!”<a href=../Text/notes.html#note-1” id=”note-reference-1″><sup>NOTE 1</sup></a>

 

and this into the file notes.html:

 

<p><a href=../Text/chapter1.html#note-reference-1 id=“note-1″>Note 1</a> — A note about the quote!</p>

 

You would be able to click on the footnote link after the quote to go to the note, and then click on link at the beginning of the note to go back to the quote. Whew!

 

Obviously, there’s a lot more to learn about HTML. A great free resource is the online reference W3Schools.com. They’ve got a complete and up-to-date listing of every tag, attribute, and weird wrinkle — not just for HTML, but for CSS and Javascript. There are tutorials, examples, and all sorts of great information.[8]

 

Next time, I’ll be talking about how to make our ebooks beautiful. Time to bring on the style!



[1] Okay. So the align attribute is deprecated — that means it’s essentially obsolete and shouldn’t be used. There are better ways to handle alignment, as we’ll learn in the posts on CSS!

[2] This is why I don’t edit code in word processing software like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.

[3] Okay. So block and inline are also possible values for the display attribute. As is block-inline (!), none, and a few more. But honestly? You don’t care about that yet. You may never.

[4] Though many of them can be.

[5] See the discussion on what’s inside of an ebook for my discussion on URIs and URLs.

[6] It would display, but it wouldn’t validate — you couldn’t open the file on an ereader.

[7] You know all of those buttons you’ve been clicking on on web pages and in apps? Those are just images with hyperlink tags around them. (Well, okay, sometimes they’re more complicated than that — but that’s the concept.)

[8] Just remember, when you’re researching for ebooks, you want to use the latest HTML5 syntax. And the W3Schools references will always let you know if a tag is no longer recommended.

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Weekly Roundup: 7 Interesting Articles on eBook Publishing http://stillpointdigital.com/7-interesting-articles-on-ebook-publishing/ http://stillpointdigital.com/7-interesting-articles-on-ebook-publishing/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 18:47:57 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3819 As a matter of principal (both personal and professional) I spend quite a bit of my time keeping up to date with what’s new in the eBook publishing world. Having built up a relatively substantial feed to scroll through, it recently occurred to me that I’m not the only one who could benefit from a … Continue reading Weekly Roundup: 7 Interesting Articles on eBook Publishing

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As a matter of principal (both personal and professional) I spend quite a bit of my time keeping up to date with what’s new in the eBook publishing world. Having built up a relatively substantial feed to scroll through, it recently occurred to me that I’m not the only one who could benefit from a list of new ePublishing articles  to peruse while I’m going about my day.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to start publishing a weekly list of recent articles I think are important, interesting, innovative, etc. Here are this week’s choices:

    1. In a sequel to his universally useful article on what not to do during a book launch, Draft2Digital’s Kevin Tumilson wrote this piece with a slightly more positive spin.
    2. When it comes to the ebook business model, most of us are still figuring out our own best practices — which is exactly why you should check out Bradley Metrock’s interview with Scribd about their switch to an unlimited subscription service.
    3. Fascinated by all things digital? Then this article detailing a fully-automated bookstore opening in Beijing is sure to be right up your alley.
    4. I’m sure you’re familiar with the aphorism “the customer is king.” So is Kevin Callahan, who recently published this no-nonsense article  on how to improve your user experience.
    5. Along the same user-facing vein, there are few things more important to a publisher than a good marketing strategy — luckily, thanks to Therese Walsh’s wisdom, your preorder books will be in good hands.
    6. As ebook lovers, we never get tired of defending our beloved and highly-portable form of reading — which is why this article in defense of ebooks is a particularly uplifting read.
    7. Last but not least, as an editor I couldn’t help but include this succinct but informative article on how to choose (and use!) the right editor for your self-published book.

  1. That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed the articles – feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Timekeeper is on its way! http://stillpointdigital.com/timekeeper-is-on-its-way/ http://stillpointdigital.com/timekeeper-is-on-its-way/#respond Tue, 04 Jul 2017 02:22:08 +0000 https://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3714 Copies of Timekeeper are on their way to all our Kickstarter backers! Thanks again for your support. If you don’t receive yours in a reasonable amount of time, please contact us. Two down, one to go!   Previous update

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Copies of Timekeeper are on their way to all our Kickstarter backers! Thanks again for your support. If you don’t receive yours in a reasonable amount of time, please contact us.

Two down, one to go! 

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Special Offer: Buy Timekeeper, Get Timepiece Free! http://stillpointdigital.com/special-offer-buy-timekeeper-get-timepiece-free/ http://stillpointdigital.com/special-offer-buy-timekeeper-get-timepiece-free/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:45:00 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3682 Heather Albano’s Timekeeper: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure has hit the shelves! It’s available now in ebook or print form at your favorite store! And since we know you might want to read book #1 in the Keeping Time series, Timepiece, before reading book #2, we thought we’d extend your chance to get the book free! … Continue reading Special Offer: Buy Timekeeper, Get Timepiece Free!

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Heather Albano’s Timekeeper: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure has hit the shelves! It’s available now in ebook or print form at your favorite store!

And since we know you might want to read book #1 in the Keeping Time series, Timepiece, before reading book #2, we thought we’d extend your chance to get the book free!

Timekeeper coverWe released Timekeeper the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Between now and June 30, order a copy of Timekeeper from any store, then email us a copy of the receipt, and we’ll send you an ebook copy of the first book for free!

ORDER TIMEKEEPER ONLINE

Once you’ve ordered book #2 (whether as an ebook, paperback, or hardcover), email a copy of the receipt to us, and we’ll send you a copy of book #1!

What a great way to kick off you summer reading (or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, give yourself something exciting to read during those long winter nights)!

But don’t wait — the deal is only good through June 30.


What happens when the Law of Unintended Consequences meets the Time-Travel Paradox?

Find out in the thrilling continuation of the Keeping Time trilogy!


Follow Elizabeth, William, Maxwell, and the rest as they do their best to set time right… again. Struggling to get history flowing correctly, they encounter a brutal dystopian regime, steam-powered airships, breathtaking revelations, and a pocket watch that is both a tool and a trap.

Time travelers, freedom fighters, Frankenstein’s monster, the Battle of Waterloo, and Napoleon invading Britain by dirigible — What could possibly go wrong?

(Science fiction — Steampunk time-travel, historical romance and adventure)

IndieBound
Booksamillion

 

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Launch your summer reading with a free time-travel adventure! http://stillpointdigital.com/launch-summer-reading-free-time-travel-adventure/ http://stillpointdigital.com/launch-summer-reading-free-time-travel-adventure/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:30:24 +0000 http://stillpointdigital.com/?p=3672 Looking for a great way to launch your summer reading? Last month, Heather Albano’s Timepiece: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure hit #1 on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play in the Steampunk genre! It was part of a two-day promotion that was more successful than we could ever have hoped. Well, in case … Continue reading Launch your summer reading with a free time-travel adventure!

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Looking for a great way to launch your summer reading?

Last month, Heather Albano’s Timepiece: A Steampunk Time-Travel Adventure hit #1 on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play in the Steampunk genre! It was part of a two-day promotion that was more successful than we could ever have hoped.

Well, in case you missed it, here’s your chance to get the book free!

Timekeeper coverThe second book in the series, Timekeeper, is coming out on Sunday, June 18 — the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. And if you pre-order a copy of Timekeeper and email a copy of the receipt, I’ll send you an ebook copy of the first book for free!

ORDER TIMEKEEPER ONLINE

Once you’ve pre-ordered book #2 (whether as an ebook, paperback, or hardcover), email a copy of the receipt, and we’ll send you a copy of book #1!

What a great way to kick off you summer reading (or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, give yourself something exciting to read during those long winter nights)!

But don’t wait — the deal is only good through Sunday.

 

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