Ron vs the Format Monster!


Now, if you’ve been reading this series, we should be at the Happy Ending. My pal Ron has his rights back. His books are taken down from Amazon. He can do anything he wants with them. He’s no longer chained to an undead zombie publisher.

If you haven’t been reading this series… what’s wrong with you? Go back. Read the series. It’s got sex, adventure, naked women, shaved goats, literature, the Village People make a guest appearance, the cure for cancer, the secret to happiness. Go!

Now! Read! I’ll wait here!

Back? Yes, there was slight exaggeration. But what do I care, you read it.

So, I say “Ron, you’ve got your books back, what are you going to do with them?”

Now, he can take them to another publisher, that’s an option. Some small press publishers will take previously published books. A lot of them don’t. For a lot of publishers, it’s like a sandwich. When you’re publishing, you like to publish a fresh new sandwich. You don’t necessarily want to publish a sandwich that someone has had sex with before. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

But yes, finding another publisher. Definitely an option.

Or he can self publish. A lot of people are doing that these days. I’ve done it… a lot. I gave courses in it. I have a bunch of materials I can give him to get him going and make it easy for him.

He says to me, “I was hoping you would do it.”

Surprised, I quickly look around to see who he’s talking to, someone who apparently walked into the room when I wasn’t paying attention, and is gullible enough to do all sorts of work for free.

But it’s just the two of us.

I have a bad feeling.


Anyway, it’s not a total win.

eTreasures LLC had Ron’s four books up for four years, presumably there were Amazon sales and royalties that he never saw. There were no reports.

Maybe in four years, there wasn’t a single sale? Maybe it sold like hotcakes?

The reality is we’ll never know, it’s just not worth it.

Technically, sure, we could spend a lot of time and effort writing letters, making phone calls, harassing and bargaining with the former eTreasures LLC and its former owner and hope they cooperate.

Or go down to Florida, file a claim or a notice of application, or hire a lawyer to do it, drag the case into court, have a judge issue a ruling which may or may not be complied with, and if its not complied with, we can go back to court some more for certiorari and eventually orders.

We can do all that – maybe two or three years, ten or twenty thousand dollars. A whole pile of Ron hours, or Den hours.

No guarantee. Possible returns of zero, or at best a few hundred dollars?

I mean sure, if this was The Martian, Harry Potter, Fifty Shades of Gray, sure go to down. You can’t hide a runaway success like that, and it’s worth the time and effort to go after that.

But normally? No. On Ron’s? No.

It’s not a perfect world, you don’t get perfect results. You got to focus on what you need, what you can get, and what you need to let go. Don’t spend a fortune chasing a nickel.

Another issue – Ron hasn’t gotten all the rights back.

The book covers for instance, those belong to eTreasures LLC. Even if eTreasures is defunct, doesn’t mean that the covers and cover art are public domain. Most likely the rights revert back to the cover artist, or whoever or whatever inherited eTreasures LLC property.

Whoever it belongs to, it’s not Ron.

Also, the ISBN’s (International Standard Book Numbers) (not to be confused with copyrights or copyright registrations) – Not Ron’s either. They’re requisitioned and owned by eTreasures LLC or whoever or whatever owns that. But definitely not Ron’s.

Extraneous material in the book – the back cover blurb, if eTreasures, its editor or staff wrote that, it’s theirs. If Ron wrote it, it’s his. Stuff like the copyright page, adverts, title page, interior art, or anything beyond the manuscript itself, not Ron’s.

I’m just being technical.

But the important thing is the book itself, the Manuscript. He’s got the rights back.


The first thing we need are the manuscripts. Which is easier said than done. Ron is a prolific guy, but you know how it is, the hard drive fills up, computers get replaced, files go astray, or get forgotten or buried.

Ron manages to find his ARC (Advance Review Copies) from eTreasures LLC. eBooks in ePub format. I think one of them was in pdf.

The ARCs have Ron’s books, but they’ve also got a lot of extraneous stuff that we need to get rid of.

The problem is that they’re not writable formats – you can’t just change and edit it. Or at least I can’t. It’s also not particularly acceptable. So I need to convert it into word.

I’ve never done this before. But somehow, with that remarkable grace and efficiency that you find in a drunk drowning in a bathtub, I get it done.

The result is an unholy nightmare of weird glitches. Basically, word documents, epubs, pdfs, any word processor or document format contains a bunch of hidden control codes and signposts so the document does what you want – spacing, paragraphs, fonts, page numbering, all that fun stuff. It’s different for every format.

When you transfer a document from one format, a lot of those hidden control codes are carried along. Sometimes they keep doing what they’re supposed to. Sometimes they do weird unholy things, often involving goats. And in the new format, often the control codes that the document is supposed to have are missing, so the document misbehaves. What you sometimes get is a weird nightmarish mutant.

So I copied each document, pasted it into wordpad or notepad. These are stripped down word processors that come with your computer. They’re basically short bus word processors, very limited capacities, but that’s what you want. Because they don’t have any control codes.

I saved each of them as a ‘txt’ or simple ASCII text document. Closed notepad, opened notepad, called up the saved documents.

Then I copied each saved text document from notepad, and pasted it onto a blank MS Word program page. That way, I cleaned out all the weird hidden control codes, I got fresh raw texts that I could then format.

This is a really useful way to clean your manuscript and make sure that you’re free of weird ugly surprises. Make a note of that.

I’ve explained all of this to make sure that if this ever happens to you, you’ll know what to do, and you won’t come to me. Seriously, don’t come to me. You’re on your own. I just explained how to do it.

After that, it was a simple matter of formatting each manuscript. First, dumping all the eTreasures LLC stuff and getting to the core manuscript. Then setting and imposing series of styles, choosing a font, font size, page size, margins, setting special conditions for title page, copyright page, chapter headings, table of contents. For four manuscripts. It only took forever and was a highly discernible pain in the ass.

Meanwhile, Ron went on vacation in Nova Scotia. I bought him an extra size suitcase that I could fit in easily, and even punched air holes in it. But I didn’t get to go.

I did make him work a bit – he had to read each manuscript over twice, catching odd line break problems (the only formatting glitch that carried over) and a few typos.

But it worked out. We got it done, all the eTreasures stuff removed, and a set of nicely formatted, edited, proper sized, pristine, clean books ready to publish with Amazon or whoever.

Except for Covers, ISBNs, adverts, blurbs, metadatas, registrations, etc. etc.

No problem.