Make pretty books (and PDFs, Mobi, and ePUBs)

This weekend, among everything else I was doing (Flufy and EDM were out of town), I drastically improved my build system for working with writing. One of the key parts of how I write (using a text editor and Creole-formatting) is to get it into the formats I need it. Most of the time, Microsoft Word for the writing group and PDF for everyone else is fine enough. However, I'm working on getting some of my short stories on Smashwords/Kindle which means I needed to expand it to handle a lot more.

The progress was actually pretty good. I managed to implement a nice system for handling XeLaTeX-based system along with FOP for PDF generation. The XeLaTeX (type that fast, I dare you) creates much nicer PDFs that are also Lulu friendly, but not as easy for me to work on (TeX makes XSL:FO looks child-like).

The Kindle stuff is moving forward nicely, but I have a bit more work with that. On the other hand, a secondary build system I've been mocking out to handle Sam's Dot Publishing's (SDP) catalog conversion to Kindle is much further along on that part. I got the input files almost down to a science. From the files I get, I can get a Kindle book reformatted, cleaned up, and uploaded in about twenty minutes. And I think they look pretty good too.

What I'm figuring out for SDP will roll into my primary build system so my short stories/novels can easily (and mostly automatically) converted into Mobi files (and the Smashwords Word document for their Meatgrinder).

I've been doing the SDP stuff for about two months now. They are a small publisher and could use my help. Hopefully, I'll get paid for what I'm doing but that might be a bit further down the line. Overall, I just like helping people.

As part of work toward automated converting my stories into various formats, I spent five hours waiting for the dog to be groomed working on some additional functionality for MfGames Writing. There are now tools for querying and manipulating both OPF and NCX files from the command line. Most of this is so I can programmically add an "About the Author" or "If You Want to Give Me Money" (e.g., Also by the Author) pages without polluting the source file.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how far I got this weekend on the programming side. (I also banged out about 20k words, cleaned the house, put up some shelves, fix stuffed, and wrote a barcode and QR code generator for SDP.)