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The Struggles With E-Formatting Poetry… October 3, 2011

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, ebooks, epub, indie, indie publishing, Kindle, poetry, publishing.
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Lately I’ve learned a lot about how the e-book’s freedom for the end user to adjust font type and size, along with look and feel, affects how a book may be presented.  This creates a huge challenge in particular with poetry. I’m not even meaning heavy stylized poetry, such as words which form a window. Even the simple stuff starts to become really, really hard. It either all squeezes together, has a line between everything. or can become really confused.

The simplest solution, albeit painstaking when the items one is trying to publish weren’t originally written this way, is to do a manual line break (Shift+Enter) versus a hard return (just the friendly old Enter key). At least in the Kindle version, that helped hold my stanzas together. This included an insertion of a manual line break right before  each stanza as well, otherwise the Kindle thought it needed to indent it like a start of a paragraph – this particular problem took a little longer to figure out.

Yet even these tweaks did not entirely work in my experiences putting together an epub file. Occassionaly for no clear reason, even with manual line breaks, two lines would appear on the same line. Interesting enough, the only way I could fix this was to use hard returns for those specific lines and then they formatted correctly. I could find no other hidden formatting that seemed to affect only these few areas, so I admit I am still at a bit of a loss as to why this happened.

From all I have read, it seems the people in charge of the major ebook formats know the problem but don’t know solutions yet. I hope they find some soon, as I would not like to see more complex poetry – classic and contemporary alike –  lost to the digital age over formatting.

If you want to see my works which include poetry or poetry-like items:

FLYING GLORY FLASHBACK – celebrating the past 10 years of the webcomic Flying Glory and the Hounds of Glory including a history of the webcomic storyline and complete “lyrics” for every “song” written in the series. Currently available on Kindle, and awaiting approval for the NOOK, iBookstore and print.

SEARCH FOR A WOMAN – a value-priced ebook only mix of poetry and short stories of mine, all related around themes of women in various stages of life and in various points in time. Available now on Kindle, NOOK, and at the iBookstore.



1. kjpgarcia - October 3, 2011

Thanks for the tips. I’ve been considering an ebook but I’m worried about losing my formatting.

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