Revising on a Kindle

I’ve started using my Kindle to revise the ninth Kormak novel Masque of Death, and now I am wondering why I never thought of doing it before. This will probably be old hat to many of you, but it’s a novelty for me.

The process of getting the mobi file onto the Kindle was a bit clunky. I exported the book from Scrivener to Word, then imported it into Vellum. In Vellum, I created a mobi file in the standard format I use for Kormak novels, even including the cover. I emailed it to my kindle using the device’s email address. (You can find this in the Manage Your Content and Devices tab of your Amazon account.) It appeared there as if by magic and then I set to work.

(Reading the above, it just dawned on me that there was no need to import the file into Word. I could have just gone straight to Vellum from the .docx export. Oops! Live and learn.)

Looking at the text on the e-ink screen is a totally different experience from reading it on a monitor, a laptop, a tablet or even a smartphone. I mark up any mistakes I spot, either with a note or with the Kindle’s built-in highlighter and move on. Since I have the cheapest form of Kindle without a keyboard or touchscreen, the notes have to be simple. If the flaw is complex, I write down my thoughts on paper.

Once I have read the book I will go back to my computer with my kindle and paper notebook and transcribe all the revisions into my editing file. This will be a lot slower than editing purely in Word or Scrivener, but this method does have one great benefit. It emulates the experience of an actual reader. The book looks exactly like a finished book with the same drop caps and section breaks and header graphics. I feel like I am looking at something written by somebody else. Repetitions, punctuation errors and clunky use of language leap out and slap me in the face. And while it may be slow, it’s not any slower than several of the methods of proofing I have used in the past.

In some ways, this is simply a variant of editing a PDF on the Surface Pro/Asus Vivotab or marking up a manuscript on paper with a pen. It forces me to look at the text in a new light and jars my brain into noticing things that I might not have spotted before. Just varying the experience of what I see seems to be enough to do that. In any case, I am pleased with the results and will certainly use this method again.

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Comments

  1. Michael Mooney says:

    I used to have the habit of printing out a document and proofing from that (a white gloves review, as it was known). Now with less convenient access to printers, I’m stuck with editing on screen which, especially when using mark up, is a lot more tricky.

    • I still used printouts up till a couple of years ago, mate. I switched to PDFs for ecological reasons, and quite frankly because they are easier to carry around!

  2. I’m with Michael. I can proof a story only from a printout. Something about proof reading on-screen that just doesn’t do it. Apologies to the environment.

    • I confess that since reading Deep Work I have been thinking about going back to using paper, Rex. I’ve been trying to spend as little time as I can at the computer.

  3. Check out Calibre for e-book management. It will let you convert from DOCX to mobi and then load it onto your Kindle via USB. I find the kindle email system disappointing and you’re not sending your draft outside your own computer … paranoid? yes I am.

    Here is a full list of things calibre will convert. Might help you spot formatting problems between your different e-book formats.
    Input Formats: AZW, AZW3, AZW4, CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, DJVU, DOCX, EPUB, FB2, HTML, HTMLZ, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT, TXTZ

    Output Formats: AZW3, EPUB, DOCX, FB2, HTMLZ, OEB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PMLZ, RB, PDF, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT, TXTZ, ZIP

    Hope it helps, ignore it doesn’t!

    Cheers!

    • Thanks Aaron– I use the Kindle email system because I am lazy! It saves me from having to hook up the computer and Kindle with cables. (Actually finding the cables is often the problem amid all the clutter.) It’s a little time saved that I can be doing something else in.

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