An author’s angst

UNTIL NOW I HAVE been self-publishing my books satisfactorily using a print on demand company called ‘X’. I typed the manuscript on Microsoft Word using one of X’s many templates and then uploaded it to the site. In the past, X convert the uploaded document to a .pdf file. As conversion from Word to ‘pdf always results in changes in formatting, I have always had to make modifications of my Word manuscript, often several times, before I am happy with the proofs provided by X. It was always a little time-consuming but, in the end, I produced a printed book that was, if not perfect, always satisfactory.

Now, all has changed. X will no longer accept manuscripts uploaded in Word. Instead, authors are required to submit their manuscripts in the .pdf format after fulfilling extremely detailed formatting specifications, which I must admit are beyond my technical abilities at present. I discovered that a well-known on-line trading company offers a self-publishing process, which permits authors to upload their manuscripts in the Word document format on their downloadable Word templates. I tried this, but the proofs generated by the company’s publishing system looked disastrous, to say the least. Maybe, I could have tried modifying my manuscript’s layout, but there did not appear to be a facility for doing so and, I could foresee hours if not days of frustrating work ahead.

I have spent several months writing my latest book, and even longer researching it, and now I would like people to be able to enjoy it and, I hope, comment on it. So, as many people often say in India: “What to do?”

Well, here is my current solution. I am going to upload my manuscript to one of my personal websites and make it downloadable for anyone who cares to read it. It will be downloadable free of charge because I write for pleasure rather than for profit and I value the thought that people might find what I write of interest. It is more important for me that my writing gets read rather than gets sold. Eventually, I hope to be able to produce a satisfactory paperback version of my latest work, but in the meantime, watch this space!

If anyone can offer me a simple solution to my problem, I would be grateful to see your suggestion!

Broadband on the blink


Does it not drive you mad when in the middle of doing something using the Internet, there is an ‘outage’ during which the Internet service signal becomes disconnected and you become unable to access the Internet?

My service provider is BTinternet, which is usually satisfactory for months on end. Then, out of the blue for a few hours or even a few days, there is either no connection with the Internet or irritating short bursts of connectivity punctuated by frustrating breaks in the service.

In the past, I have rung the BTinternet helpline. Their polite operators make all kinds of suggestions about what can be done with my equipment to improve the service. They also test the line carrying the Internet signal. This is always in perfect condition, so they say. However, even after doing what has been suggested (including installing brand-new routers) and sometimes after an engineer has come to look at our connection, the problem persists, only to correct itself after a few hours or days.

It seems to me that BTinternet is trying to shift the blame on breaks in their service onto me and my equipment. They never admit what I suspect to be the case, namely, that there is a failure in their provision of the broadband service. Having looked at postings on Twitter and the interesting website, it seems that when I am having problems, which BTinternet ascribe to my end of the Internet connection, so are many other people! If BTinternet is correct about faulty equipment at the receiving end, it seems a strange coincidence that so many users’ equipment should go faulty at the same moment.