Friday, October 08, 2010

Kate's Kindle Diary Day 4 - and post number 400!

Wahey, four hundred posts today! A good excuse to add the fireworks, eh? And to tell the truth I was getting a bit bored with Kindle's monochrome qualities.

Today I'm going to talk about Writing and the Kindle.

Maybe ‘digital natives’ will grow up different, but most people I know find it almost impossible to spot errors in documents or emails ‘on screen.’ Yet when the text is printed, it’s immediately obvious that your exclamation marks have been breeding and your mental spellcheck is on the blink.

That was one of my reasons for choosing the Kindle – I can upload my own work, then read it as I would a published book, even annotate as I go along. That was the theory, anyway.
My first issue was working out how to email it to myself. If you have the 3G version, you can email your own Kindle address, and pay a fee to have the material sent to you, based on how large the document is. Seems a bit mean to me, but then again I guess people might abuse it with ENORMOUS documents. You can place a limit on how much each document will cost you, so I’ve set mine to nil, plus the mailboxt is automatically set so that you will only receive emails from designated addresses (otherwise you could end up paying for spam). The emailing process also converts your document into the right .azw format for Kindle.
The alternative is to send to the FREE address which also converts the doc and sends it to your normal email address, so you can use the USB to transfer it to the Kindle, and it also sends it to your Kindle if you’re connected to a wireless network. The latter option proved irritating. I got a message on the Kindle saying an email had been sent but I couldn’t seem to ‘download’ the attachment, or work out how to swap the machine between 3G and Wifi. It all seemed too fiddly so I ended up doing a wired transfer.
But despite these delivery niggles, the reading part works terrifically well. I sent the Word draft of my new Young Adult novel, Soul Beach, and it looked JUST like a book, without the hassle of having to print it out and haul around a ream of paper, or change the formatting on Word so it’s in two columns (something I’ve done before to 'trick' myself into reading it as though a work-in-progress was a book). I could change the font size, spacing and even have the text-to-speech function read it to me. Very smart!
The commenting is also easier than I feared. Just click on a word, type and it allocates a number. You can view your annotations as a list. Having said that, I haven’t yet worked out how you transfer these or use them at the editing stage, but there’s a good article here that suggests you can. It does imply that printing is a pain, because publishers want to avoid people printing off entire books (hmm, why WOULD you do that, though? Seems like a red herring in the piracy stakes). I might actually use a different notebook for thematic questions, in the same way that with a printed paper manuscript I write on the page and then add the annotations on screen later.

This ability to read and work with your own work is cool and arguably the most useful feature for a writer. Though being able to download those lovely samples to research the best in your genre/area of interest and work out how they get readers hooked (or not, as the case may be) comes a pretty close second.
Samples downloaded: actually deleted some (by left clicking on the five-way button, took me ages to work this one out) though I will not name the two excerpts. One YA was overly Gothic for my tastes, and another chick lit was so clothes obsessed I thought it must surely have been written in the 90s. Nope. Published this year. Not for me. Now down to 24 samples.

Money spent: still none, sorry, Amazon. But soon...


Blogger Cathy said...

My Kindle automatically connects to the home wifi first, only goes to 3G if it can't get on to wifi. No switching needed ( assuming you have set it up with your network code etc in advance).

Haven't uploaded any of my own work yet so haven't used the conversion service, but have sent small pdf documents via the wifi to my email address and that worked very well. I've used this for a crochet pattern and various notes, just used Word to convert them into pdf files before sending. This meant I could go paperless when I went away.

9:33 am  
Blogger Kate Harrison said...

Yes, I did set up the code but it seemed a bit erratic. Might be my browser.

But, ooh, that's a good idea about the crafting. Thanks. I guess that online recipes could work well too, if you prop the Kindle up. I saw someone online had put theirs in a ziploc type bag, which would protect from splashes and spills!

3:03 pm  

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